Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tel Beit Shemesh

I didn't blog yesterday. I just didn't feel like it and it's good therapy to show one's obsessions who's boss. Walking to Shabbat dinner at the family (horribly noisy and extremely loud) I got to spectate on a most excellent sunset. Nice work God.

Ever the intrepid explorer, I got up at 5:30am this morning and coaxed bso out of bed at 6. The destination was Tel Beit Shemesh. One of the archeology lectures that I attended was given by the guy in charge of the dig there. He showed many slides and gave an interesting talk about this border region, stuck between the biblical Kingdom of Judah and the lands of Israel and the Philistines.

So the boy and I set off to Beit Shemesh. The roads were empty except for the scores of cyclists driving off into the wilds. Of course, this being Israel there are no signposts or any indication pointing to the site. So we drove past and visited the Monastery of Beit Jamal, we walked around and saw a fox and some remarkable birds . It was way too early for the Monastery, so we decided to try find the Tel one more time.

After many false starts down various dirt roads, we finally found it. There were arches and walls, which were once houses . According to that bestseller, The Bible, Beit Shemesh was the birth place of the Mighty Samson, who's eye for saucy Philistine women was his undoing. He was born between Zorah and Eshat'ol, right there over the boy's right shoulder .

According to the lecture, it's clear that this was a Jewish settlements, because in all the surrounding Philistine villages, many pig bones were found in the refuse pits, but very few were found on the Tel. It's also clear that there were public buildings on the site , which points to the fact that this was an important part of the defenses of Jerusalem. Parts of the impressive fortified wall still exist .

The reason I was there though, was because of the reservoir. This water system is one of the only ones found that was in use in biblical times. We found the entrance, unlocked and open, and climbed down the rock carved steps . The reservoir was in use for many hundreds of years, it was carved deep into the rock and the water was collected using jars, through this hole in the roof . Unfortunately, us intrepid explorers brought no flashlights, so we could not explore any deeper.

Above ground, spring was everywhere. On the far side of the Tel lives what looks like a family of Bedouin, and their goats . The flowers were particularly spectacular. There were "wild carrots" and some sort of thistle (I think, the internet sometimes lies) . Of course there are all sorts of cacti .

On the way home we tried to avoid all the hundreds of cyclists on the roads . And, of course, stopped for bagelle and falaffels for breakfast, and had to wake the poor chap . The fallafel were perfect, dipped in the zatar (black spice, called Sumac I believe) he rolled up in a napkin . We crunched and munched all the way home, making a huge mess in the car. Great time.


mart said...

Hey BPO, If you need an early Saturday waker to join you on such excursions, let me know.

blackpetero said...

I'm going to try find Tel Gezer this Saturday. Let me know if you are interested Mart. I would love the company.