Wednesday, December 03, 2003

ARTIFACTS EXCAVATED FROM BETHSAIDA will go on display at the Yellowstone Art Museum, according to the Billings Gazette. Excerpts:

Beginning Friday, 137 ancient artifacts unearthed at the Bethsaida site by [Elizabeth] McNamer [adjunct professor of philosophy and religion at Rocky Mountain College] and others will be on display at the Yellowstone Art Museum. The exhibit titled "Bethsaida: Life Revealed in the Layers" will remain in Billings through March 14.


Visitors to the exhibit will see such items as pottery, coins and fishing implements that date back to the first century A.D.

"We found a fisherman's house that was quite large," McNamer said. "Fishermen were middle-class businessmen."

Members of the archeological team found wine bottles imported from the island of Rhodes in a fisherman's house and golden jewelry, McNamer said. A gold earring will be on display at the museum.

Interestingly, continued excavation of the site unearthed a city that existed in the time of Israel's King David, McNamer said. Bethsaida most likely served as the capital of the kingdom of Geshur.

"We have unearthed the city gate that David would have walked through - it's the largest city gate ever unearthed in Israel," she said.

The exhibit will include a full-scale replica of a stele, a marker with the image of a moon god, to whom people paid homage when they entered the ancient city. According to McNamer, the city was destroyed by the Assyrians in 732 BCE (before the common era).

The city was not rebuilt until a couple of centuries before Jesus' time, McNamer said. In the year 30 A.D., Philip, the son of Herod the Great, dedicated a temple built at Bethsaida in honor of Livia Julia, Julius Caesar's wife.

An incense shovel from the temple and incense bowls were both discovered, McNamer said, and they will be part of the exhibit.

Bethsaida was destroyed in the year 70 A.D. by the Romans. Sixty years later, a great earthquake changed the topography of the land "and because of that, the city was never rebuilt," McNamer said.

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