Visitors to Israel are often amazed by the juxtapositions of ancient and modern that define their tour experiences. With findings dating back to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries, Beit She’arim National Park definitely falls on the ancient side of the continuum. Located approximately 12 miles east of Haifa, Beit She’arim is best known for its range of intact burial sites. The most famous is the grave of Rabbi Judah HaNasi, the compiler of the Mishnah, a central Jewish reference text that is still studied today. So impressive are the archeological finds at Beit She’arim that it appears on a tentative list for being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the past five years, two new caves were opened to the public here, so that there are now more than 20 burial caves to explore. The Beit She’arim burial caves are richly decorated with reliefs and paintings rich with Jewish symbols, including the shofar, which is associated with the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur holidays; the lulav and etrog, which are still used on Sukkot; and the Ark of the Covenant and a menorah with seven branches, which are symbols of the Temples in Jerusalem. Other images that are not specifically Jewish – such as boats, animals and geometric patterns – can be found here as well. Images of Greek gods in human form are also pictured. Inscriptions appear most often in Greek, but there are some in Hebrew, Aramaic and in the obscure Aramaic dialect known as Palmyran. In addition to touring the caves, the top of park’s hill has many ruins of the ancient city of Beit She’arim to explore. Look for the bronze statue of Alexander Zayid, who was among the founders of two Jewish defense organizations in the early 20th century, including Hashomer. Literally, Hashomer means “the guard.” It was an organization of Zionist pioneers that defended and protected the nascent Jewish agricultural settlements in pre-state Palestine. Also on the hill is the tomb of the Muslim Sheikh Abreik, distinctive because of its double dome. In 1956, a construction crew at this site unearthed what was eventually identified as a nine-ton piece of glass. When a furnace for glassmaking stood here, ancient Beit She’arim must have been home to a remarkable glassmaking operation.
Beth Shearim was an important Rabbinical center in the time of the Mishnah, and one of the Sanhedrin’s seats. Later, the site was abandoned, and even its location was forgotten. Rediscovered in the 1930s, today Beth Shearim is an important archaeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the fertile plains of the western Jezreel valley, Beth Shearim (In Hebrew ‘House of Barley’) was a Jewish center in antiquity. In the 2nd century CE Beth Shearim housed the Jewish high court (the ‘Sanherdin’) and was also the hometown of Rabbi Judah ‘Hanasi’ (‘The Prince’). During the Temple’s period, the higher court assembled in the ‘Hall of hewn stones’ which was on the Temple Mount. Later, after the destruction of the Temple, it resumed its activity in Yavne, and later it wondered between Usha, Sheferam, Beth-Shearim, Sepphoris, and Tiberias. The Talmudic-era Sanhedrin was disbanded by the Byzantine Christian Authorities in 425 CE, and was never resumed again. Read more about the Sanhedrin and a tour following the Sanhedrin here. Bet Shearim was also reputed for its cemetery, where many Rabbis were buried in catacombs. But following the Galus rebellion, in 350 CE the site was abandoned, and eventually even its location was forgotten. Beth Shearim was rediscovered by chance by Alexander Zaid, a Jewish pioneer who oversaw Jewish properties purchased in the Western Jezreel valley. He reported on the discovery of an ancient burial cave to the Hebrew University. An archaeological expedition dug the cave and its surroundings and discovered that it was part of an ancient cemetery (necropolis), adjacent to a city from Roman times. A Greek Inscription engraved over one of the tombs indicated the deceased was native of “Bisara” – the Greek name for Beth Shearim. Beth Shearim was finally re identified. The excavations yielded evidence mostly of the city’s cemetery. Hundreds of burials, mostly in stone coffins (sarcophagi) were recorded in over 50 burial caves set like catacombs. Some of the coffins were well decorated, and some were found with inscriptions. It is estimated that many Jews wanted to be buried here, as it was the burial site of the famous Rabbi Judah Hanasi. Of the city itself little in known, and most of ancient Beth Shearim is still waiting to be excavated. Nevertheless, two basilica-shaped public buildings found near the city’s walls are possibly ancient synagogues and perhaps even the Sanhedrin’s council building. Visiting Beth Shearim Today, Beth Shearim is a national Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is known mostly for its catacombs, now all lit up. One of the caves was developed to a museum that also includes an introduction video. The site is children-friendly and can be a great adventure for kids fond of mystery caves. A tour of Beth Shearim can be combined with in a day tour in the north.
Come and discover specially designed Ancient Israel Music tours. Visit the ancient sites and special nature grounds - close your eyes and follow the sound of the ethereal vocals and ancient percussion instruments. Take a listening journey of exotic music from the forgotten time of the prophetesses of yore and get lost in the music.
A unique tour covering amazing and exciting sites that have yet to be discovered by everyone. As their popularity is rising, they are excited to offer a very authentic experience for all, such as Beit Shearim - The city of Dead, a winery with social values, and the most beautiful mosaics in the Holyland in Zippori. Rich history, exciting archeology, great wine, and a funky guide all combined in one tour. I love guiding, I love the land of Israel and nothing makes me happier than to share this love with others. I present very rich and informative guidance while presenting the information in a very vivid manner.