Renovations in Israel are ever far from simple. No one figured that the Beersheva bus station redevelopment would uncover an ancient Byzantine city buried deep below.
Two well-preserved churches, a Roman camp and several other structures were exposed in the recent excavations and what was most surprising was that no signs of destruction were discovered. Rather, it seems that the ancient residents of the town appeared to have left on their own.
The city is extremely well preserved, and archaeologists attribute this to the fact that the area was abandoned in the seventh century. The site will be preserved by a conservation crew after the public has an opportunity to view the site. The site will later be recovered and protected while the artifacts will be put on display at the new bus station.
The redevelopment of the city's old bus station mandated that an archeological dig be performed in order to see what lay under the facility, passengers had an opportunity to see the uncovered remains with their own eyes. Just a foot or two below the surface archaeologists found remains of a bustling Byzantine city of Beersheba, thought to be home to several thousand people as well as a popular stopping place for Negev travelers.
Like today, Beersheva's Old City bus station was the city center of life for the ancient civilization residing there 1,500 years ago.
According to a report in the Jerusalem Post:
"For Byzantine Beersheba, this was it," says Dr. Daniel Varga, excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), who conducted the dig. "This was the heart of the Byzantine city, right here. Two Byzantine churches were built within a radius of 300 meters from here, and right over there was the Roman military camp."
To read more about the Beersheva dig, read here.
Elisa L. Moed is the founder and CEO of Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.
Publication date: May 2, 2012