Discovery of Biblical Town of Beit Shemesh Puts Archaeologists at Odds With Israeli Highway Construction

A major archaeological discovery in Israel raised the question of how to preserve the past without stopping progress towards the future when a modern highway and an ancient town came to a crossroads.

“No one expected it, including the Israel Antiquities Authority,” said Yehuda Govrin, who headed the salvage excavation at Beit Shemesh.

What they found was the biblical town of Beit Shemesh from the time of Isaiah and Hezekiah.

A major archaeological discovery in Israel raised the question of how to preserve the past without stopping progress towards the future when a modern highway and an ancient town came to a crossroads.

“No one expected it, including the Israel Antiquities Authority,” said Yehuda Govrin, who headed the salvage excavation at Beit Shemesh.

What they found was the biblical town of Beit Shemesh from the time of Isaiah and Hezekiah.

“We thought the Assyrians destroyed (it) and it took years for us (the Jewish people) to come back and that everyone left and there was no one here.  But it’s not true. And we know it’s not true because we have these finds,” said Amanda Weiss, director of the Bible Lands Museum (BLM).

Archaeologists thought a much earlier site on the other side of the road was all there was to ancient Beit Shemesh.  But before expanding a highway they excavated and found a treasure.

“If the Israel Antiquities Authority would have known this is what was there, they wouldn’t have allowed the development of the road there,” Govrin told CBN News.

“What they understood from the finds is that after the city of Beit Shemesh was destroyed in the year 701 by Sennacherib the King of Assyria – a very, very famous historical and biblical event — a new settlement was found not on the top of the mound but on the slope, on the eastern slope of the mound,” said Yehuda Kaplan, curator of the Bible Lands Museum exhibit ‘Highway Through History‘ that contains artifacts from the site.

“And (it’s) a very, very interesting settlement with a lot of olive oil industry and also a lot of administration,” Kaplan told CBN News.

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Source: CBN