When you think of Israel and the Middle East, a frequent desire is to make it as much of an adventure as possible. There are many visions of famed movie archaeologist, Indiana Jones having an amazing archeological adventure through the deserts and making amazing discoveries, like the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail.
While we can’t promise suspense-filled tours of unknown excitement and dangers (in fact, we can tell you you will be quite safe and comfortable), there are amazing ways to incorporate a bit of archeological adventure into your tour and create those movie moments, so get your fedora on and let’s plan your Christian Holy Land Tour adventure!
Visit Active Archeological Sites
There are many wonderful ancient sites to see in Israel, and some of them are still being actively discovered. From Spring to Fall every year universities, researchers and students come from around the world to make new discoveries. There are many places throughout Israel that you can visit and watch an active archeological dig in process. You will see the workers and researchers taking dirt out little by little and maybe even get lucky and be there when the jubilation of a discovery is made! Here are some of the active sites you can add to your tour:
City of David– The City of David is located just outside the walls of the Old City but is actually the Jerusalem the kings of the Old Testament would have known. During the archeological dig season, you will see an assembly line of workers passing buckets of dirt down the line as they unearth the ancient city. Archeological finds found here are plentiful and include a 2,000 year old Roman sword form the time of the Revolt, a bell that fits the description of that worn on the hem of the High Priests garments, inscriptions of names found in the old testament and that doesn’t even mention the physical locations such as the Pilgrims’ Road, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the Pool of Siloam etc. The City of David is truly a treasure chest that keeps giving!
Did you know that when they remove dirt from an archeological site, it is is all thoroughly sifted through in case something was missed? Coins, pottery etc is often found in the dirt that adds to its archeological findings.
Shiloh– The place where the Ark of the Covenant rested for nearly 400 years before Jerusalem is now a significant archeological site in the West Bank. This place is full of archeological discoveries every year. Pots, the possible site where the tabernacle actually stood and the tabernacle storehouse among many other buildings and discoveries have been made. You can view some of the items in the visitor’s center at Shiloh.
Tel Megiddo- This tel (a mound made of layers of civilization) has nearly THIRTY layers of civilization that begins as far back as 40th century B.C. It began in the Neolithic and Chalcolitihic eras, includes gates built by King Solomon in the 9th century B.C. During the summer months you will see crews out investigating specific areas of the site. The current focus is on the Bronze Era. This is one of the longest running digs, but with so many layers, it is no wonder!
Take Part in Your Own Archeological Adventure in a Dig!
While it is very interesting to watch the workers do it, why not roll up your sleeves and take part yourself! Many of our groups incorporate the Dig for a Day program into their tours. This interactive experience allows you to take part in an active archeological dig inside the caves at Beit Guvrin National Park. Many people ask if anyone actually ever finds anything and the answer is yes! The site is rich with artifacts and discoveries are made almost daily, but can’t be guaranteed. Frequent discoveries include nails, oil lamps, pottery shards, etc. Talk to you Tour Operator about adding this memorable experience to your tour!
BONUS: Want to really add a bit of “movie magic” to your tour? In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Jones visits the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. You can too! Your tour operator can add this Wonder of the World to you tour!
Does Finders Keepers Apply to Archeological Finds?
The short answer is NO. The State of Israel immediately has ownership of all artifacts around in the State of Israel, and these items are managed by the Israel Antiquities Authority. They are carefully researched and cataloged by archeologists to uncover and preserve the ancient history of Israel. It is very important to not try to keep an artifact for yourself as you may be inadvertently remove a deeply meaningful piece of Israel and Biblical history! That doesn’t mean you can’t take a piece of history home though…
“That Belongs in a Museum!”… But Your Home Can be the Museum
While you are not allowed to take an artifact with you from a site, there are legitimate ways to take a token of your archeological adventure home with you. Israel is one of the few places in the world to allow you to purchase archeological discoveries. Due to the abundance of discoveries in Israel, there are many opportunities to purchase different antiquities, including coins (sometimes made into jewelry), oil lamps, and other pottery. There are rules to follow though in purchasing these items. The first and most important is to buy from a dealer that is licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Not only does this ensure that you are not engaging in illegal black market activity, but it also ensures that you are getting a genuine artifact. If you have any questions or concerns, ask your tour guide. They will be able to help you know where to make a good purchase if you so desire.
We hope you are able to join us in Israel very soon for your own archeological adventure that will make you feel like you are in the movies! Start planning your tour today!