Wednesday, January 31, 2007
I am exhausted. We left at 7 am today to visit the sites of Samaria and Mt. Gerizim, the town of the Jewish sect known as Samaritans. It was not part of the regularly scheduled program, but was being visited by a production team staying here who will be making a doco on Biblical archaeology. Samaria is a site I have been very interested in seeing as it is an important site with ashlar masonry and going there last time wasn't possible because of the intifada. Getting there was a bit tricky as it is in the occupied territories and near the separation wall. We visited the site in an armored vehicle with a military escort. It was an interesting experience and a beautiful site, but the masonry was badly eroded. My friend Norma Franklin who works on the architecture and mason's marks at Megiddo and Samaria is discussing the early remains at Samaria in the photo.
After leaving Samaria, we went to Mt Gerizim which was also quite beautiful, but cold as you see. The archaeology was less interesting to me than meeting the son of the chief priest, but Karen Britt, who took this photo was excited to see this octagonal church. Gerizim is the home of the Samaritain sect of Judaism and they carry out a number of practices that are no longer undertaken in the modern religion. Among these is that each Passover they slaughter a bunch of sheep and cook them in fire pits. Seeing the place where they did this was very interesting. Although the facilities were modern, they reminded me a lot of what one sees in 13th c. Cyprus. Earlier this week I spent 2 relaxing days at the Dead Sea with a friend I went to school with at UCLA, who now teaches at Beer Sheva University.