Alright, so let me start this post by saying that Bet She'an was probably one of the coolest archaeological sites I've ever been to. I love learning about Roman history, and this ancient city has left tons of Roman artifacts behind-largely in tact. I know many volunteers and I agreed that this was one of the favorite sites we visited, even in the 112 degree heat.
Bet She'an was built in the fifth millennium BCE. During the Late Canaanite period, the city was ruled by the Egyptians. After a battle, King David took the city (along with Migiddo, which you will read about later on) and it became a major center during King Soloman's reign until it was destroyed in 732 BCE. After, the city of Nysa-Scythopolis was built on top. This happened very often in history, and is what the word "tel" refers to-cities built upon cities.
During the second century BCE, the city was mostly populated by a Jewish population until 63 BCE when the Romans conquered it. It was one of the ten cities of the Decapolis, and it became one of the most important cities in Northern Israel.
In the Byzantine period, Bet She'an became mostly Christian, and the population reached as high as 30,000 to 40,000. A major earthquake hit the city in 749 CE and ruined most of buildings. The city was largely forgotten about and a small city, Beisan, was built on top. Bet She'an started to be excavated in the 1920's with most of the major renovations being carried out in the mid 1980's.
You will also note a famous tree pictured below that was featured in the last scene of Jesus Christ, Superstar.
Junior Archaeologist Assignment:
Take your logbook with you to any shopping area in your town. Create a map showing all of the businesses that are there-what do you see? In Bet She'an, there was a theater, market, and places to worship. Do you see any of these things? What do these places tell you about how people in the area live?
Question of the Day:
Do you think that all of the cities that we have seen in Israel have had this same layout? Why or why not? Why do you think that cities like this show us in more detail the way that people lived during this time period than others?