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Israel Excavations Yield Many Discoveries
Freund, director of the University’s Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, has been working with a group that includes 10 University of Hartford students, 10 other students from around the United States, and staff from Spain, Israel, Canada, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of South Florida. They have been conducting excavations at Yavne, located about 20 miles from Tel Aviv; Nazareth, in northern Israel; and Bethsaida, on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The students are coming home several weeks ahead of schedule as a precautionary measure, due to the outbreak of fighting in Israel and Lebanon. All of the students will be back in the United States by Monday, Freund said. He and his staff will remain in Israel for a while to finish processing their archeological finds.
“We are one of the few excavations that completed all of its work this summer, a near miracle given the conditions,” Freund said.
And their work has produced some exciting results. Freund described the group’s major discoveries in an email message. Following are some excerpts:
- “We have discovered statuettes, coins, bronze bowls from the famous Temple built by Philip Herod, son of Herod the Great; jewelry, ritual pottery, burned bones from the ritual area (used for sacrifices); and some new buildings at Bethsaida,” Freund said.
- ”At Yavne, we found new buildings, and surveyed meticulously the Mameluke (13th century) mosque in the center of the city. It is the symbol of the city so it is important to gather more information on it,” Freund said. “At the nearby port city of Yavne-Yam, we discovered the pier and the ancient port still under the ground – all using ERT (Electrical Resistivity Tomography) equipment on loan from Komex, Inc., in Canada.”
- ”At Apollonia, on the coast, we identified a full Roman period city -- complete with theater and many buildings -- with aerial photos from balloons and kites and tomography, which reveal that the city is very near the surface,” Freund said.
- ”At Usha, Galilee, site of one of the rabbinic Sanhedrin locations from the second century CE, we came across very large buildings, all buried at a depth of nine feet – all from tomography.”