Tel Beit Shemesh is one of the most important biblical tels in the Land of Israel. Archaeological excavations have been going on at the site for over 100 years. In recent years, a large-scale excavation has taken place in the eastern part of the site, under the direction of Boaz Gross, Vice President of IIA. The excavation, commissioned by the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Netivei Israel Company, focused on documenting the area before bulldozers went in to pave Road 38 as a two-lane road. Netivei Israel has pledged to allocate a significant budget for the development of Tel Beit Shemesh as an audience-catching archeological site, with a spacious bridge that will connect the two parts of the tel that are split by the route of Road 38.
Based on our experience, IIA recommends developing Tel Beit Shemesh and operating it on completion, as part of a community archaeology project. According to this approach, all planning steps must be shared with the community. For example, the municipal education system would, with the assistance of advisers on our behalf, develop extracurricular educational programs in which students will come to the tel and study relevant topics in the field, including: Archaeology, history, Bible, heritage, nature and ecology.
In order to realize this concept, the site planners will have to take into consideration the development of learning spaces on the site that will suit groups and provide protection from sun in summer and rain in winter. The site will be planned in such a way that it will be possible to hold cultural activities and holiday events during the year, as well as verifying that the site plan is linked to the urban fabric and the tel becomes part of the community.
According to our concept, Beit Shemesh schools will provide educational programs, tailored to different ages, teaching archaeology and the historical heritage of the city and its immediate surroundings and will actively involve students in excavations in Tel Beit Shemesh, site development and ongoing maintenance. These programs are based primarily on experiential learning and less on frontal teaching. IIA staff will be happy to hold meetings with school staff in the city to develop programs for each school according to its dimensions.
Involvement of the Community in Excavations:
During the year, especially during holidays, we will conduct an archeological excavation at Tel Beit Shemesh, to which the city’s adults and young people will be invited. Those interested in participating in the excavations are asked to contact us and register.