Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Israel Trip - Beit She'an

After our visit to the Yardinit, we headed south through the Jordan Valley and the historical site, Beit She'an.  This was my second visit.  My experience at this site is one I love to talk about.  

On my first trip in 1996, we had gone through several days of visiting archeological ruins and I was getting tired of  it.  I remember saying, "If I see one more ruin, I'm going to scream."  I laugh now as I think of that, because I was about to learn something wonderful.

The morning of the visit to the site (in 1996), we boarded the bus and our tour guide,Yael, said we were going to enter the site from the back, which meant we were going to climb a very steep hill.  That hill is pictured at the beginning of this post.  Yes, we climbed that hill, with me complaining the whole way.  The weather was warm that day, the sun beating down, and I thought we would never reach the top.  But when we did...oh, my...I will never forget the sight of Beit She'an at the bottom of that hill.  This is what I saw:

I stood in awe as I viewed the city below me.  Beit She'an is the remainder of a Roman city.  You can see the main street with the Roman columns lining the roadway.  The street is lined with shops.  At the top, and in the middle,  is the amphi-theatre.  To the right, near the top is the white roof covering the bath house.  Most of the city was completely covered in dirt until the 1950's.  Much more of the city had been excavated by the time I visited the second time, in December, 2013.  Can you imagine what this city must have looked like two thousand years ago?

The picture below is a closer view of the area that contains the bath house.

I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of that hill and explore those ruins.  The picture below is how the road probably looked in the Roman period.

Some visitors strolling through the area.

You can see how massive the columns are here.

The streets were constructed with slopes which allowed water to run out of the area.  Ingenious, right?

The mosaics on the floors of the shops  and the bath house were intricate and beautiful, and fascinated me:

The mosaic pieces were only about 1/2 inch square.  Such great artistry and workmanship.

As we explored, we learned from our tour guide, Natalie, that an earthquake destroyed this city in 749 A.D. She pointed out that the epicenter of the quake was within the city because some of the columns fell in one direction, while others fell in the opposite direction.  Interesting.  She also showed us the column to which I am pointing in the photo below:

The dark black mark on the column indicates the level of soil covering the city.  At the time it was discovered, this column was the only thing appearing above the dirt.  Can you imagine that?  This entire city was completely covered with dirt.  Over the thousands of years, different groups controlled the city, and it was common practice to cover the old buildings and build new structures on top.  

Excavations of Beit She'an began in 1949, and continued through 1996.   There is much more interesting information about this site at this link: http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/BeitShean.html

Another area we all found interesting was the toilet house.  Yes, the Romans bathed together, and also sat on the toilet together.  Can you imagine?  My husband said they had close quarters like this on the Navy aircraft carriers in the 60's.  Underneath the seats were troughs that had running water to take away the waste.  Those Romans thought of everything, didn't they?

Two of the girls in our group clowning around.  These two kept us in stitches for the whole trip.  They were a hoot!

I couldn't figure out if this toilet seat was for a VERY large person, or if it was just broken.  

The intricate beauty of the decorations throughout the city really caught my eye.  Here is Shelby admiring a piece of wall adorned with a sunflower design:

Sunflowers are my favorite, and Beit She'an is at the top of my list of favorite places to visit in Israel.  

Next stop on the tour was Mount Scopus in the Holy City of Jerusalem.  Don't miss it next week, Gail-Friends.  

 I'm linking up today with:

Modest Mom Monday Link-up 
Meet-Up Monday
Chatting at the Sky Link-Up for August

A Wise Woman Builds  
Whole Hearted Wednesday  
 Wake Up Wednesday
Favorite Things 
Hearts for Home 

Fab Creative Friday
Friendship Friday 
Freedom Friday


  1. What a fabulous experience. I'm so glad you made the hike to the top!

    1. me, too! Not sure I could have made it on this second trip.

  2. Israel really needs our prayers at this time. Enjoyed reading about your visit and seeing the sites.

    1. Yes, Gayle. I'm glad you stopped by today, and that you are praying for Israel, too.

  3. I loved seeing the ruins in that country. I didn't see these but enjoyed your pictures. Thank you for sharing them. It does make the people that lived back in Bible times seem more real when you realize they also saw these but not as ruins.

  4. Isn't it fascinating to see how the Romans really were "ahead of their time" in engineering? Sometimes I wonder where our civilizations would be had Rome not fallen, and iif all of that wealth of knowledge and building hadn't been forgotten in the aftermath.

    Great photos, and what a tremendous experience. Thank you for sharing!

    - Melissa

  5. So beautiful! I love the history and the intricacy of the art work. I love thinking that people lived their normal, everyday lives in that beautiful setting. Thanks for sharing!

  6. The Holy Land is definitely someplace my husband and I are hoping to visit someday. The photos you shared on today's post reminded me of my visit to Pompeii.

  7. I have always wanted to visit the Holy Land. Beautiful pictures that really bring it to life. Thank you so much for sharing all of your insights!

  8. I got to visit Israel in 1996, too! But we didn't go here - what a neat find and beautiful details.

  9. I visited Israel twice in the 80's. What a life-changing experience, and I'm sure you feel the same. Your pictures are beautiful, and I love this theme. Thanks for sharing! ~ Renee