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August 29, 2016 / 25 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Galilee’

Rare Roman Period Frescoes Discovered in Galilee

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

A team from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has discovered hundreds of fragments belonging to frescoes from the Roman period in the Zippori National Park, west of Nazareth in Upper Galilee. The fragments, which contain figurative images, floral patterns and geometric motifs, shed light on Zippori (Sepphoris), which was an important urban center for the Jews of the Galilee during the Roman and Byzantine periods.

The discovery was made this summer in the excavations at Zippori, conducted in memory of Ursula Johanna and Fritz Werner Blumenthal of Perth, Western Australia. The excavations are directed by Prof. Zeev Weiss, the Eleazar L. Sukenik Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology.

The frescoes decorated a monumental building that was erected in the early second century CE north of the decumanus, a colonnaded street that cut across the city from east to west and continued to the foot of the Acropolis. The building, whose function is not clear at this stage of excavation, spread over a wide area, and the nature of the artifacts discovered indicate that it was an important public building. At the center of the building was a stone-paved courtyard and side portico decorated with stucco. West and north of the courtyard, several underground vaults were discovered. Some of these were used as water cisterns and their construction was of high quality. The monumental building was built on the slope and the vaults were designed to allow the construction of the superstructure located on the level of the decumanus (an east-west-oriented road in a Roman city).

The monumental building was dismantled in the third century CE for reasons that are unclear, and replaced by another public building, larger than its predecessor, parts of which were uncovered during this digging season. The monumental building’s walls were dismantled in antiquity and its building materials — stone and plaster, some colorful — were buried under the floors of a newly established Roman building on the same location. Hundreds of plaster fragments discovered during this excavation season were concentrated in one area, and it seems that they belonged to one or several rooms from the previous building.

Guilloche, in a fresco from Zippori, dating from the early Second Century CE (Photo: G. Laron).

Guilloche, in a fresco from Zippori, dating from the early Second Century CE (Photo: G. Laron).

The patterns on the plaster fragments are varied and are decorated in many colors. Among them are geometric patterns (guilloche) and brightly colored wall panels. Other fragments contain floral motifs (light shaded paintings on red backgrounds or various colors on a white background).

Particularly important are the pieces which depict figures — the head of a lion, a horned animal (possibly a bull), a bird, a tiger’s hindquarters and more — usually on a black background. At least one fragment contains a depiction of a man bearing a club. Research on these pieces is in its early stages but it is already clear that at least one room in the building was decorated with figurative images, possibly depicting exotic animals and birds in various positions.

A bull's head in a fresco from Zippori, dating from the early Second Century C.E. (Photo: G. Laron)

A bull’s head in a fresco from Zippori, dating from the early Second Century C.E. (Photo: G. Laron)

The population of Zippori prior to the Great Revolt against the Romans was not very large, and archaeological finds dating to this period are particularly notable for the absence of figurative images – both humans and animals. The construction of the Roman city of Zippori after the Great Revolt, in the late first century and the second century CE, is indicative of a change in the attitude of Galilean Jews toward Rome and its culture. The city gained the status of a polis thanks to its loyalty to Rome during the Great Revolt, and constructed monumental public buildings, as befit a polis, that stood out in the urban landscape. This building boom also included the monumental building discovered north of the decumanus whose walls were decorated with frescoes, and whose remains were discovered during this season.

The new finds in Zippori contribute significantly to the research of Roman art in Israel. To date, excavators have uncovered the walls of several public and private buildings from Roman Zippori (second and third centuries CE) which were decorated with colorful frescoes in geometric and floral patterns. This season’s finds are the first, only and earliest evidence of figurative images in wall paintings at the site. The finds date to the beginning of the second century CE. Parallels to these finds are virtually unknown at other Israeli sites of the same period. Some panels bearing depictions of figures were discovered a few years ago in Herod’s palace at Herodium, and according to Josephus (Life of Josephus 65-69) the walls of the palace of Herod Antipas in Tiberias were also decorated with wall paintings depicting animals; but beyond that, no murals with depictions of figures, dating to the first century and the beginning of the second century CE, have been discovered to date in the region.

The discovery in Zippori is unique and provides new information regarding murals in Israel under Roman rule. Zippori is well known for its unique mosaics. The newly discovered frescos are now added to the city’s rich material culture. While the earliest mosaics discovered at the site date to around 200 CE, the ancient frescoes precede them by about a hundred years and are thus of great importance.

These finds raise questions relating to their socio-historic background. Who initiated the construction of the monumental building that was discovered north of the decumanus? Who is responsible for choosing the patterns that adorn the walls, and for whom were they intended?

The various finds uncovered throughout the site indicate that Zippori, the Jewish capital of Galilee, was home to many Jewish inhabitants throughout the Roman period, but the city also had a significant pagan community for which the temple was built to the south of the decumanus, opposite the monumental building, parts of which were discovered this season. It is difficult at this stage of the excavation to determine who was responsible for the construction and decoration of this monumental building. However, the new finds clearly reflect the multi-cultural climate that characterizes Zippori in the years following the Great Revolt, in the late first century and the second century CE.

JNi.Media

High School Students Help Discover a Unique 1,600 Year Old Pottery Workshop in the Galilee

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

Galilee (TPS) – High school students assisting an Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeological survey discovered an ancient Roman pottery workshop in the Western Galilee.

“We have been conducting a large scale survey and excavations in the town of Shlomi at the request of the local municipal council and the Israel Lands Authority for the past six months, ” IAA geologist Anastasia Shapiro told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “We unearthed an impressive factory for the manufacturing of jars, urns, and various vessels as part of the project.”

According to Israeli law, IAA experts must conduct an archaeological survey of any construction site before issuing approval to begin building on it.

The pottery factory, which includes a unique kiln, storehouses, water basins, and mosaic floors, was dated by the IAA to the late Roman Period, roughly 1,600 years ago.

“The kiln, which was only recently discovered, is the ‘cherry on top’ for this excavation,” Shapiro explained to TPS. “As archaeologists, we have encountered many ancient kilns, but they were all built or constructed out of stone. This one, however, is the first to be discovered that was actually excavated into the rock.”

According to Shapiro, it is very rare to discover a complete kiln as they tend to break or be destroyed with time. In this case, the entire structure of the kiln has been preserved as it is made out of one piece of solid rock.

“There is no other known discovery like this. It is simply one of a kind,” said Shapiro.

IAA archaeologists also concluded that the pottery workshop itself was an important, thriving one. The ceramic debris that was discovered around the kiln indicates that two types of vessels were manufactured by the workshop–storage jars that could be transported overland and amphorae that were used to store wine or oil to be exported from Israel by sea.

The discovery was aided by a large group of high school students from neighboring communities and from the cities of Nahariya and Qiryat Bialik.

“The students who volunteered on this project since May exposed the walls of the ancient workshop prior to the discovery of the kiln itself, as well as other features of the complex, such as water holes and mosaic floors,” explained Shapiro.

The students who assisted in the discovery were part of a large group of students who have been participating in archeological excavations in six different sites around the Galilee. The Ministry of Education has been encouraging Israeli teens to enhance their education outside of the classroom in order to increase student involvement in various public projects in neighboring communities.

“One can learn a lot during a history lesson in school, but there’s nothing like actually holding history in one’s hands,” Gilad Zinamon, an IAA education coordinator, told TPS.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Secular Israeli Parents Say Religious Summer Camps ‘A Better Deal’

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Secular Israeli parents are enrolling their children in Orthodox Jewish summer camps this year, despite the dress code requirements.

The reason? It’s just a better deal.

Prices for summer camps in Israel are soaring, with fees for the typical municipal program costing as much NIS 3,000 for even the youngest campers in the kindergarten “bunks.”

In the religiously observant summer camps, children are required to dress modestly; girls wear skirts and sleeves, and boys wear yarmulkas. A resident of Bat Yam interviewed by the Hebrew-language Mynet website said it was a matter of being practical. “Instead of paying 3,000 shekels for a daughter at an urban camp I pay 450 shekels,” he said. “What does it matter if the child needs to go with a skirt? If the secular summer camps want us, they have to cut prices.”

In accordance with the Ministry of Development of the Periphery and the Galilee, a certain percentage of the students are entitled to subsidized municipal camp scholarships. But many families are not entitled to these benefits and face skyrocketing costs in having to find ways to keep their children busy during the hot summer months.

For working parents, that dilemma is a nightmare. “When I opened the envelope with the registration form for the municipal summer camp for my children I was horrified,” Natalie S. told JewishPress.com. A resident of the northern Negev development town of Arad, she and her husband both work full time.

“There was no way that I and my husband could afford more than 2,000 shekels per child for each of our two toddlers for a two-week program this summer, and to keep the kids home was simply not an option,” she said. “It’s not fair. How do people do this, and what are we supposed to do with them the rest of the summer? How am I supposed to keep my job while we figure this out?”

In Bat Yam, a number of secular families decided the solution lay in a network of private hareidi-religious summer camps where the fee was barely a fifth of the price. One of the parents interviewed by Mynet declined to reveal the name of the camp, fearing their children would be rejected, since they did not share their secular beliefs with the camp.

“I am sure the director knows the truth and there are many families like ours,” the parent said.

One of the camps operated in the city this summer is Bnei Zion, associated with the Sephardic religious Shas party and designed for school-age girls. The tuition is NIS 450 for a three-week session, including Fridays, according to the camp’s director, Yosef Rachamim. The program includes field trips, inflatables, a trip to the Jaffa port, a picnic, a barbecue, swimming pool time and other attractions.

Hana Levi Julian

IDF Begins Military Drills in Northern Israel

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Residents in northern Israel may hear explosions or see military vehicles passing by in the next few days.

The IDF Northern Command is conducting military drills in the Galilee and Golan Heights, beginning Wednesday and continuing through the rest of this week.

The sound of artillery and other ordnance is to be expected.

Last week the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization abducted 300 cement workers and contractors from the Al-Badia company in Dumeir, about 28 miles from Damascus, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

A new round of peace talks between opposition forces and the Syrian government were scheduled to start Wednesday (April 13), but were not to include Da’esh (ISIS), Al Qaeda, Army of Islam or any other radical Islamist group such as the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat Al Nusra (Al Nusra Front) group.

Da’esh and related terror groups are largely in control of Syrian territory close to the border with Israel.

Syrian sources said Tuesday that Da’esh now controls 90 percent of the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus, home to Arabs from the Palestinian Authority.

The camp is also a major base for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization, which has ties to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Hana Levi Julian

New IDF Barrier at Northern Border Frustrates Hezbollah

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Innovative new barriers under construction along Israel’s northern border seem to be frustrating Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist organization.

An article published by the Hezbollah-backed Al Manar TV news outlet commented this weekend (Feb. 20) that the “artificial barriers” were being built “in order to prevent Hezbollah fighters from invading Galilee.”

According to the report, the IDF has been building “cliffs and scarps that turns the military movement in the area very difficult.”

The news outlet claims the IDF is creating the barriers as an acknowledgment of its “incapability to face the Islamic Resistance fighters directly. An Israeli officer considered that Hezbollah has not abandoned the southern front despite [his] intervention in Syria.”

The article went on to predict a “victory” by the Syrian army and Hezbollah as the “probably outcome of the crisis.”

Hana Levi Julian

Howling Winter Storm Drops Snow, Sleet, Hail and Rain

Monday, January 25th, 2016

The wind is still howling through the Negev and the snow has piled up in the ski resort of Mount Hermon, where operators already had closed down the access road before the first flakes fell.

By 9 am some 50 centimeters (20 inches) of snow had fallen at the ski resort.

Snow has continued to fall in the Golan Heights and the Galilee, with some gusts of up to 80 kilometer-per-hour (50 mph) winds.

By 10:30 am, the white stuff was drifting down on to the holy city of Jerusalem. At midday, a shopper in the capital told em>JewishPress.com that the supermarket he was in was flooding from “who knows where.”

A Jerusalem supermarket is flooded by a winter storm.

A Jerusalem supermarket is flooded by a winter storm.

“J.R.” reported it was “freezing, just freezing” in Jerusalem and that “everything – you name it – is coming down from the skies.”

Hail pelts a car parked in Jerusalem.

Hail pelts a car parked in Jerusalem.

Snow was continuing to fall in Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and Kiryat Arba at 1:30 pm Monday. Rain, sleet, and some hail mixed with snow were spotted in the northern Negev as well.

Roads around the Dead Sea region – in particular, Highway 90 – closed down due to flooding.

Freezing and close to freezing temperatures are expected to continue in Jerusalem and points north.

Temperatures are expected to be a bit warmer in Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva.

Hana Levi Julian

A New Luxury Hotel in the Upper Galilee Set On Attracting More Tourists

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

By Alexander J. Apfel/TPS

A new luxury hotel, which took more than 20 years to complete, is set to open in Israel’s Upper Galilee. The Galilion hotel features 120 luxury rooms, a large conference center, a health spa and a swimming pool.

The project was planned and overseen by chief architects Gadi Rubenstein and Oshrat Brown, who were able to secure an investment totalling NIS 90 million ($23 million) for the project, which began in 1995. In an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS), Rubenstein said that residents from Kibbutz Kfar Giladi of the Upper Galilee approached him with the idea to transform kibbutz-owned land into a tourist project.

Rubenstein said that while the hotel was not the first in the region, it is the first independent hotel unattached to a kibbutz or pre-existing enterprise since the land was acquired from Kfar Giladi some distance from the kibbutz itself. The hotel, whose construction began in 2011, is part of a larger venture which will include the opening of an industrial center that will have a farmers’ market, a spa health club and restaurants.

“There has never been such a project in the Upper Galilee,” Rubenstein told TPS.

Additionally, tourists will also have the opportunity to fly in an observation balloon and see the entire Galilee region and Mount Hermon from a height of 150 meters. Organized walking and driving tours will also be available into the Agamon Hula bird nature park in the Hula Valley.

“The Agamon Hula nature park is a great tourist attraction – hundreds of bird species come here during migration seasons,” pointed out Rubenstein.

“Previously people would come to the north just to travel around but now I hope that they will stay for longer periods of time,” said Rubenstein.

Rubenstein anticipates that the Galilion hotel will be open for business by May or June.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/a-new-luxury-hotel-in-the-upper-galilee-set-on-attracting-more-tourists/2016/01/13/

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