Moving lithely in his brown Franciscan monk’s habit and sandals, Father Eugenio Alliata stoops next to a newly discovered Second Temple period flagstone to pick up a mosaic piece overlooked by the Israel Antiquities Authority crew that morning. Such finds, he confirms, are a typical byproduct of the ongoing expansion and renovation of the Terra Sancta Museum in Jerusalem’s Old City.The displays include a section of Jerusalem's bedrock. The museum's collection of artifacts from ancient Palmyra is currently on display in Italy.
Located on the second station of the Via Dolorosa — the 14-station path Jesus walked from sentencing to crucifixion — the museum is housed in the lush Flagellation Monastery compound. Archaeological finds are sprinkled among the chapels and well-kept gardens that form an oasis away from the cramped hustle and bustle of the narrow street beyond its gates.
Alliata, the 70-something scientific director of the museum and a professor at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, exhibits a curious combination of old school archaeologist — he enthusiastically points out a recently discovered Byzantine cistern and Crusader period tunnels forgotten by time — and an eagerness to adapt modern technology to enhance the museum’s vast collection’s records and display.
Implementing his vision is the museum’s reboot project director, Sara Cibin, who is on extended loan from the government in her native Italy.
(Cross-file under Palmyra Watch.)
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