Before our visit recedes into memory, we must put down some of the impressions that readers have asked for. June was a good time to visit the Land from the point of view of not having to compete with other groups for space on site visits – on some sites such as Kursi and Gamla in the Galilee, we had the place totally to ourselves. And, our northern base of Ein Gev was pure rest and rejuvenation (when we returned from our days out!), as the place had not yet been transformed into a hive of family activity for the school holidays. However, the light is harsher for photography than earlier in the year and this is perhaps the downside to going in early summer, which is otherwise so good, being the prime time for digging and, of course, great for swimming in the Dead, the Med and the Red. We did get some great pics however. Here is our group at the Ophir Observation Point, high above the Sea of Galilee:
Below is the Tel Gezer dig we visited and where we met up with archaeologist Daniel Warner (in green shirt) among others:
Jerusalem was even more chaotic than we remembered, with honking, hooting and sirens 24/7. We were very thankful to have an oasis of calm in the midst of it with a jumbo-sized balcony offering panoramic, golden, views of Mount Zion and the Old City. On the left is the night view from our balcony and on the right the view from the arched entrance to our guesthouse:
From the perspective of an archaeological architect, the thing that made the most impression on me was the much greater prevalence of reconstruction drawings on sites than in times past. Knowing how much these enhance any visit to an archaeological site, this was deeply satisfying.
We saw good reconstructions at the City of David, the Temple Mount Excavations, Masada, Tel Gezer, Bethsaida, etc, but the sparkler in the crown was definitely the new Time Trek at the Caesarea Harbor Experience, which so enthralled the young folk in our party. You have to pay extra on top of the normal site fees in order to visit this, but the NIS17 is definitely worth it. Here, with funds from a trust set up by Baron Edmond de Rothschild in the early twentieth century, a new, whiz-bang, multi-media experience, takes you through episodes of the city’s dramatic history.
Reconstructions showing things like a horse race in Herod’s hippodrome and ships entering his magnificent harbour create an unforgettable evocation of another time. (The site’s website seems to only work in Hebrew <www.caesarea.org.il>). Hopefully, other sites in the country will benefit from such an injection of funds and vision.