Local time at Horbat Omrit, Israel

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day 2

Ok, first a little history. When Octavian beat Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, he became the new ruler in the eastern Mediterranean and all the sub-rulers there had to act fast. Most convinced the now Augustus of their new loyalty and none better than Herod of Judea. He built a temple, an Augusteum, to his new best buddy in about 20BCE. Josephus wrote:

So when he had conducted Caesar to the sea, and was returned home, he built him a most beautiful temple, of the whitest stone, in Zenodorus's country, near the place called Panium. This is a very fine cave in a mountain, under which there is a great cavity in the earth, and the cavern is abrupt, and prodigiously deep, and full of a still water; over it hangs a vast mountain; and under the caverns arise the springs of the river Jordan. Herod adorned this place, which was already a very remarkable one, still further by the erection of this temple, which he dedicated to Caesar.

We are at Panium, the cave where the Greeks had a shrine to the god Pan, now called Banias. Or at least our site, where the Augusteum is being excavated, is 2 miles from the cave. And the kibbutz is a further 2 miles away. We went to visit this morning and are pretty much free now. The new arrivals have to recover from jet lag, though these kids seem pretty hardy...

The site was discovered 10 years ago after a fire cleared away the brush and "dressed" stones were seen peaking out of the ground on the top of a hill. In the last ten years much has been exposed. You'll get a complete story of what has been found over the next few weeks! As well as details of my co-workers.

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