Beit She’an, a small city in Israel’s periphery with a population of some 20,000 and located in the north at the meeting point of the Jordan River Valley and the Jezreel Valley, is known by many today as a site where infiltrations from Jordan used to occur. However, the name Beit She’an — the modern city was established in 1949 — has an illustrious ancient past that dates back to 4000 BCE and is mentioned in the Bible (I Samuel 31:10).
The ancient city’s location, amid fertile agricultural land and an abundance of springs in a mostly barren area at a then-international crossroads, meant that Beit She’an was a city of paramount importance in the biblical period and also later in the Byzantine period when it was the capital of the late Roman province which was known (circa 400 CE) as Palestina Secunda or NysaScythopolis. Today, the glorious remains of this forgotten past of the Roman and Byzantine periods — the Roman theater, mosaic floor, baths, colonnaded streets — are enclosed in the Beit She’an National Park and allow for a fascinating journey back through time.
The Beit She’an excavation project was initiated by the late Prof. Yoram Tsafrir who passed away in 2015. GTI Fund financial strategist Ofer Levin was a generous supporter of Prof. Tsafrir and his excavation, including towards the many years that he devoted to publishing the project’s final research reports.
Ofer Levin’s support for the project included providing the funds to locate and gather the relevant artifacts; and to recruit specialists to complete specific research of items such as ceramics, coins, inscriptions, engravings etc. In terms of publication, Volume 3A of this highly edifying project by Dr. Benjamin Arubas is currently in the advanced stages of editing; and the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archeology will be publishing an accompanying Qedem Report.
“The Hebrew University and its Institute of Archeology have been at the forefront of research in Israel for years. The Beit She’an excavation project reveals another aspect of the past and helps us gain a better and clearer understanding of the lifestyles of the ancient inhabitants of this country,” says Ofer Levin.
*Photo by AG