Local time at Horbat Omrit, Israel

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Day 16

Well, I've missed a couple of days - combination of fatigue and keeping busy. I'll try not to bug out.

So let's talk about what we're digging: At the lowest level, sitting on the ground is a small "shrine". Perhaps a cave underneath that made the area sacred in some way. This shrine, as our art historian said, could have been built by John and I in a year. Small stones on a small scale. Nevertheless impressive with a small wall surrounding its courtyard and lots of plaster and fresco.

It was built around 40BCE. Why? To whom? Unknown. I suspect Antony and Cleopatra had something to do with it. He was helping her expand her influence into this area and together they were the top dogs.

Another reason to think they had something to do with them was that it was totally destroyed about 20 BCE by Herod to honor his patron Augustus. The platform of his temple (the podium) was elevated and the foundation walls completely covered the shrine, many of whose stones were robbed for the new building. I'll show you a picture soon.

He built a fancy temple with columns on the podium and it lasted almost 200 years. In the late 2nd century CE it was rebuilt and expanded. Hard to tell how long that one lasted until its stones were reused and the earth swallowed it up. Though a small christian church was discovered close by. The picture is looking at the podium level. The black fill was used to expand the first podium and make it larger.

We went to Beit Shean today, the ancient Greco-Roman city of Scythopolis. When someone walked into this city, they knew who was in charge.

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