The Church of the Glorious Martyr
During salvage excavations conducted south of Ramat Beit Shemesh by the Israel Antiquities Authority with the support of the Israel Ministry of Construction and Housing, remains of an impressive Byzantine church were discovered. It is not known precisely when the church was built but mosaic inscriptions at the site commemorate its expansion under Emperor Justinian, and later under the patronage of Emperor Tiberius II Constantine.
One inscription mentions that the church was built in honor of an anonymous “glorious martyr”, whose remains were kept inside; A martyr (from Greek, meaning "witness") was a sacred figure and model of absolute devotion, willing to die for their faith.
The exhibition “Glorious Martyr” presents finds, which shed light on the importance of the Church of the “Glorious Martyr” as a significant site for pilgrimage during the Byzantine Period.
Mosaic inscription found in the Church courtyard: I Malchus, by the mercy of God, priest and abbot of this holy place, giving thanks to God and the glorious martyr, for my salvation and memory have made the mosaic pavement and the buildings and all the marble work which is in the most holy martyrium and the bronze gates of the crypt in the month of August of the 6th indiction in the year 344*.
*According to the era of Eleutheropolis (Beit Guvrin), year 344 is 543 CE. Photo: Assaf Peretz
Anchors Aweigh: Seaports of the Holy Land
The exhibition presents rare prints, photographs, maps, and drawings of the ports of the Land of Israel from the 16th to early 20th centuries.
Port cities in the Land of Israel had an important role throughout history. After the expulsion of the Crusaders in the late 13th century, European rulers gave up hope of ever re-conquering the Holy Land, and religious warriors were replaced by Christian and Jewish pilgrims. These pilgrims continued visiting ruined ports on their arduous journeys to holy sites. Many of them dropped anchor off the shores of Jaffa, which was called the “Port of Jerusalem,” and from there embarked in convoys to the Holy City and other sites. The port of Jaffa grew in significance during the 19th and 20th centuries, when it became Palestine’s primary point of entry under Ottoman rule, especially for the early waves of Jewish immigrants.
The exhibition “Anchors Aweigh: Seaports of the Holy Land” presents images of the historical port cities - the points of entry to the Land of Israel - from the 16th to early 20th centuries. This extraordinary collection offers a glimpse of Palestine’s ports over hundreds of years, documenting their important economic and cultural roles, and bearing witness to the many different types of pilgrims, traders, and adventurers who risked their lives to reach the Holy Land. Long before photography was invented, engraving and printing were the primary means for people to experience the lands beyond their reach. The exhibition features fifty-four prints, maps, and sketches from the collection of Yossi Gilben, along with pictures from the collections of the late Dan Kyram. On display are prime works by artists, including David Roberts, William Bartlett, Henry Finn, and more.
The Collection of Yossi Gilben: Most of the exhibition’s prints and photographs come from the private collection of Yossi Gilben, whose life was profoundly influenced by the Mediterranean Sea. As a young teen, in the 1950’s he had already sailed around the walls of Acre’s Old City as a student at the Maritime Officers School. During his military service, he served on the destroyer, the INS “Yaffo,” and fought in the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War. The story of Israel’s ports are inextricably linked with the story of his life.
Jaffa, The Ancient Joppa. Steel engraving by T. Fleming; drawn by B. Foster, c. 1840. Yossi Gilben Collection.
Highway through History
This exhibition displays a sampling of the important 7th century BCE finds from the rescue excavations of Tel Beit Shemesh carried out under the auspices of the Hebrew Union College. These discoveries sparked nationwide debate over the competing importance of preserving cultural heritage and the increased need for urban development. In the face of this controversy, the National Roads Company of Israel (Netivei Israel) and the Israel Antiquities Authority worked together to reexamine their plans.
Photography: Tal Rogovski
Finds Gone Astray
The Land of Israel, along with its neighbors, is home to vast numbers of archeological sites from every period of human civilization. Naturally, such a wealth of sites and antiquities has become the focus of much archaeological research, but it has also drawn the undesirable attention of professional looters who exploit the demand for ancient artifacts among private collectors and cultural institutions around the world. Working hastily to reach layers that contain the richest finds, these looters use tools and excavation methods that cause irreversible damage to archaeological sites.
With the establishment of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria in 1967, the Antiquities Department (ADCA) was charged with oversight of archaeological research, as well as the prevention of looting and unauthorized trade in antiquities. Over the years, the ADCA has confiscated tens of thousands of artifacts either stolen from archeological sites in Judea and Samaria or smuggled into the region from other parts of the Middle East. In recent years, the ADCA has devoted considerable efforts towards raising awareness of these finds among researchers and the general public. The display in front of you is part of this endeavor and opens in conjunction with the publication of the first volume in a series of catalogues that will showcase the objects confiscated from looters and unauthorized dealers in antiquities by the ADCA.
Out of the Blue | From the Depth of the Sea to the National Flag
An Exhibition which follows the thread of the mysterious blue color, tekhelet, from the Mediterranean shores over 3,500 years ago to the national colors of the State of Israel.
What is the secret of Tekhelet and Argaman, two precious colors which have held great significance for generations and up to present day?
Out of the Blue showcases unique archeological and historical items of profound cultural significance. The exhibition will display for the first time two-thousand-year-old tekhelet and argaman dyed fragments of textiles found in the caves of the Judean Desert and Masada. Also on display: a unique crown embedded with the rare lapis lazuli gemstone, the only known jar in the world that was painted entirely in purple, featuring royal inscriptions of Darius I, king of Persia, in four languages, and fascinating archaeological evidence for the purple dye industry from Tel Shikmona and Tel Dor. Finally, visitors to the exhibition will see rare prayer shawls and historic flags as Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary year.
In the Valley of David and Goliath
This exhibition brought Bible, Archaeology and the Land of Israel together in one exhibition.
In the Valley of David and Goliath revealed the historic findings from the archaeological site Khirbet Qeiyafa, in the Elah Valley, for the very first time.
Among the exciting artifacts displayed were two intriguing inscriptions, perhaps the oldest Hebrew writing ever to be discovered.
Other revelations on view were unusual cultic shrines that were discovered in ritual rooms.
Most significantly, a unique stone carved cultic shrine model decorated with architectural elements that may echo the biblical descriptions of King Solomon's Temple and his palace in Jerusalem.
Since November 2017, the exhibition was on display at the new Museum of the Bible, Washington DC.
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Photo: Oded Antman
Moshe Zabari - Retrospective
Exhibition of world renowned contemporary sculptor and Judaica artist, Moshe Zabari, A master craftsman for more than 60 years.
The exhibition displayed selected works by Zabari, emphasizing the influence of Jewish sources and ancient art on his creations.
The Book of Books
The exhibition traced over 2,000 years of the Bible, through some of the most important biblical texts including original fragments from the Septuagint, the earliest New Testament Scriptures and original pages from the Gutenberg Bible.
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Photography: Gidi Avineri
A stunning display of gold jewelry and vessels from throughout the ancient world: a fantastic collection of Etruscan fibulae, breathtaking jewelry from Greece and Rome, belt buckles worn by soldiers in ancient China and many other artifacts from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia and the Black Sea region.
Sound the Shofar - A Witness to History
This exhibition revealed little known facts about the Shofar tracing its use and symbolism through history from the ancient world to modern times in an exceptional display of artifacts and multi-media. A wide variety of ‘Shofarot’ from around the world were displayed, each connected to personal stories, traditions, dreams and aspirations. Together – they revealed the story of the Jewish people across generations
Angels & Demons, Jewish Magic through the Ages
This exhibition explored the practice of magic in Jewish tradition from ancient times to day through archaeology, folklore and superstition in an all encompassing display of amulets, khamsas, jewelry, manuscripts and books of spells. These mystifying objects were assembled together for the first time to illustrate this riveting subject.
Glories of Ancient Greece
Exquisite Greek ceramics and enchanting bronze figurines, spanning almost two millennia of history, were the focus of this specially commissioned pavilion at the heart of the BLMJ. A choice selection of Minoan vases from the islands of Crete and Santorini, as well as Mycenan vases from the Greek mainland represented the origins of the development which became known as the great aesthetic classical art one thousand years later.
Echoes of Egypt
This exhibition displayed an impressive collection of photos, paintings, maps and prints of Egypt's magnificent monuments and daily life in the nineteenth century.
Photography: Gidi Avineri
Sounds of Ancient Music
137 important findings, among them rare musical instruments preserved from ancient times and life size replicas of ancient instruments created by the sculptor, Moshe Frumin. The mysterious sounds of the past were revealed with all their glory in an unusual exhibition combining sight and sound.
Sweet As Honey
This exhibition presented a collection of ancient art including frescos, mosaics, statues, seals, and coins that depict the sources of honey. The exhibition was enhanced with beautiful photographs and explanations in three languages that illustrated depictions of honey and its sources in ancient times.