William Carey University: Summer Travel and Excavation Program

STEP 2008 ISRAEL Recap

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enroute Day 1

1 Nov

Departed USA from Gulfport, MS for overnight flight to Israel.

RIGHT: Our means of conveyance (Continental Airlines)

Day 2

2 Nov

Arrived in Israel at Ben Gurion airport in the morning; entered the West Bank by small bus to visit Herod the Great's mountain palace at Herodium and Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity; then to Jerusalem for views of the city, dinner, and a well-deserved night of rest. 

AT LEFT, above : the STEP group in the 6th century Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
AT LEFT, below: entrance to the Grotto of the Nativity

RIGHT, above:  poking around in Herod the Great's palace at Herodium  
RIGHT, below: Brinkley, Jamie, Wendy, Amber, and Deanna at Dominus Flevit on the slopes of the Mt of Olives, with the Old City of Jerusalem in the background

Day 3

3 Nov

A full day in the Old City of Jerusalem: we started by walking on the Old City walls, visited the Jewish Quarter and Temple Mount excavations, Pools of Bethesda/St. Anne's, the Via Dolorosa, and Church of the Holy Sepulchre; after some time for shopping, we made a late night passage through the restricted Western Wall Tunnel, that was excavated underground along the west side of the Temple Mount; overnight Jerusalem

AT LEFT, above:  walking along the rampart at the top of the Jerusalem Old City walls
AT LEFT, below: in the Jewish Quarter, with the Dome of the Rock and the SW corner of the Temple Mount in the background

AT RIGHT, above: Charley on the stones of the Temple complex wall,  at the SW corner of the Temple Mount, where they fell during the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70
RIGHT, below: Wendy and Deanna in St Annes, a Crusader period church at the site of the Pools of Bethesda

Day 4

4 Nov

We began with an early trip to the Temple Mount, now the Moslem Haram esh-Sharif; after this, we visited the Garden Tomb, which many protestants believe was Jesus' tomb; then, a side trip to the roof of the Holy Sepulchre, followed by a special tour of the City of David excavations by an archaeologist working there and a dark wade through Hezekiah's Tunnel exiting at the Pool of Siloam; an evening trip to the Shrine of the Book to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, dinner and overnight in Jerusalem

AT LEFT, above: Amber on the Temple Mount
AT LEFT, below: archaeologist Dalit Weinblatt gives a special explanation of the City of David excavations

AT RIGHT, above: some of the group at the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount
RIGHT, below: Josie and Amber in Hezekiah's Tunnel, built to secure Jerusalem's water supply during the siege of the Assyrian Sennacherib in 701 BC (Isa 36)

Day 5

5 Nov

We made a morning departure from Jerusalem to Caesarea, Herod the Great's artificial seaport on the Mediterranean and site of a later Crusader fortress city; after a long visit there, we proceeded to Megiddo (source of the word "Armageddon"); then a visit to the Jewish catacombs at Beth Shearim and Nazareth sunset at Mt. Tabor.  Overnight: Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee 

AT LEFT, above: Ame' in the Roman theater at Caesarea
LEFT, center: the girls of the group at the remains of Herods palace at Caesarea, with the Crusader harbor in the background
LEFT, below:  Travis and Amber in the Crusader fortress of Caesarea

AT RIGHT: Travis, Brinkley, Jamie, Deanna, Amber, and Charley at the aqueduct of Roman Caesarea
RIGHT, center: in the Jewish catacombs of Beth Shearim
RIGHT, below: the group at the exit of the water tunnel at Megiddo


Day 6

6 Nov

Drive to the far north of Israel for a visit to the medieval fortress of Qaalat Nimrud, on the slopes of Mt. Hermon, Caesarea Philippi, and the beautiful setting of Tel Dan; return south to visit the huge Old Testament city of Hazor, destroyed by Joshua; then back to the Sea of Galilee for Capernaum and the Church of the Loaves and Fishes; sundown at the dramatic Cliffs of Arbel followed by a well-deserved meal (perhaps at one of the premier Chinese cuisine establishments in the world); overnight Tiberius

AT LEFT, above: the group from the keep of Qaalat Nimrud
LEFT, center: Josie in a loophole at Qaalat Nimrud
LEFT, below: Josie and Wendy at Caesarea Philippi

AT RIGHT, above: Ancient Dan? and not-so-ancient Dan
RIGHT, center: Travis in the mudbrick Middle Bronze Age (time of Abraham) gate at Tel Dan
RIGHT, below: Josie plays the part of Asherah, revered by Deanna, Wendy, Amber, and Brinkley, one possible interpretation of the structure in the Iron Age gate at Tel Dan

Day 7

7 Nov

The day began early with a climb up to the Anchor Church above Tiberius; this was followed by a visit to Capernaum, the "home" of Jesus during his northern ministry, a stop at the Jordan River, and an unplanned and very difficult climb down and up (and then back) to Gamla, the "Masada of the north;" after recovering, it was down the Jordan Valley, stopping at the impressive Old Testament and classical site of Beth Shean and Qumran, site adjacent to the caves that yielded the Dead Sea Scrolls, complete with climb around the cliff and a scroll cave; at dusk, we floated rather buoyantly in the Dead Sea and then retired to an overnight  overlooking the Dead Sea

AT LEFT, above: Wendy photographs the Sea of Galilee from the "Anchor Church" above Tiberius
LEFT, center: the group in the synagogue at Capernaum
LEFT, below: Travis enjoys the view from the peak at Gamla

AT RIGHT, above: Wendy at Beth Shean
RIGHT, center: the group in Qumran Cave XI
RIGHT, below: Jamie floats in the Dead Sea with Brinkley looking on

Day 8

8 Nov

Early ascent to heights of En Gedi, where a desert spring, wild ibex and hyrax, and a temple from the 3000s BC overlook the Dead Sea; drive south along the Sea to Masada, the fortress/palace of Herod the Great and site of the last stand of the Zealots in their rebellion against Rome. Afternoon drive up into the Negev to Arad, where there is an Israelite fortress and "high place" temple rising above an extensive Early Bronze Age city (about 2500 BC). Overnight in a Bedouin tent camp in the Negev

AT LEFT, Above: Charley and Jamie check out a waterfall in the Nahal David, near En Gedi
LEFT, center: Josie and Wendy at another waterfall
LEFT, Below: Amber and Wendy look off of Masada, above a Roman siege camp

AT RIGHT, Above: total weirdness in the High Place at Arad--this has something to do with pagan goddesses . . .
RIGHT, center: Amber and Wendy compete with sunset at the huge Makhtesh ha-Gadol crater
RIGHT, Below: Bedouin meal served in a tent!

Day 9

9 Nov

A morning visit to Avedat (a Nabatean and Byzantine caravan stop and fortress) preceeded a drive from the Negev to  the Shephelah, visiting Beer Sheba, Lachish, Mareshah, and underground complexes used by rebels in the Second Jewish Revolt; a late afternoon visit to Gath, home of Goliath (and in the middle of nowhere) rounded out the day before retiring to Jerusalem for the night

AT LEFT, above: Travis and Amber in a gate at Avedat
LEFT, below: the guys in and on a 6th century basilica church at Avedat

AT RIGHT, above: the group in a carved out underground complex (here a cistern) at Maresha
RiGHT, below: (from top): Charley Tynes, Brinkley Lovette, Travs Osteen, Daniel Caldwell, Deanna Roberts, Wendy McCarty, Jamie Moore, Josie Taylor, Clay Combel, DCB in a "columbarium" (probably an ancient dove cote) in the underground complex Horvat Tabaq, dug by Jewish rebels during the 2nd Jewish Revolt against Rome

Day 10

10 Nov

A morning of shopping and exploration in the Old City of Jerusalem was followed by an afternoon visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial and museum; evening return to hotel for cleanup and dinner, followed by a  late transfer to the airport for return flight to the USA.

AT LEFT: Amber at the elaborate orthodox shrine at the supposed spot of Jesus cross within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

AT RIGHT: Charley and Caldwell look over the Old City from the bell tower of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer

Day 11

11 Nov
Arrived at home after overnight flight

AT LEFT: the group on our safe arrival at George Bush International Airport in Houston
all photos by Daniel C Browning Jr or Rachel B Browning

Updated: 30 July 2009