Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 21 April |
Saint of the Day: St. Anselm of Canterbury
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Archaeologists believe they have found the biblical city of Bethsaida

ANCIENT CITY OF ZER

Courtesy of The International Studies and Programs | Bethsaida Excavations Project

J-P Mauro - published on 07/11/18

The size of the wall suggests the city was one of the largest in the area.

Israeli authorities report that during excavations in the Golan Heights, Southern Syria, experts found the remains of a brick gate that was once part of the ancient city of Zer, better known in the New Testament as Bethsaida. It was in Bethsaida that Jesus cured a man of blindness before instructing him not to return to the city, and where he fed 5,000 from just five loaves of bread and two fish.

Lead archaeologist Dr. Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska began digs at two sites in the Bethsaida Valley after working at the site of Et-Tell for the last 30 years. At one site, they unearthed the remains of a brick wall, which Arav told the Jerusalem Post he believes to be the defensive wall of Zer:

“There are not many gates in this country from this period. Bethsaida was the name of the city during the Second Temple period, but during the First Temple period it was the city of Zer,” Arav said, pointing to Joshua 19:35, which says: “The fortified towns were Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Kinnereth.”

Ancient-Origins reports that the wall has been provisionally dated between 1000 and 550 BC, which puts it in the time-frame of Zer. Further evidence of the location’s identity comes from the large area that the wall encompasses; Zer was described as a thriving urban settlement in the Bible.

Local authorities were pleased by the find and hope that it might bolster tourism. As with any site where Jesus performed a miracle, it is an important Christian landmark, the further study of which may lead to a better understanding of biblical-era city fortifications. The site is also significant to the history of early Israel, as this shows that one of the largest cities in the region was Jewish.

It is expected that more digs of the area will commence soon.

Tags:
Archaeology
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
KIDS,WATERMELON,BEACH
Cerith Gardiner
New study shows that these 2 childhood habits make you a happier ...
2
EUCHARIST
Philip Kosloski
5 Fascinating facts about Jesus in the Eucharist
3
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
4
MASS
Philip Kosloski
5 Essential things used at Mass and their symbolism
5
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
6
PRINCE PHILIP
Cerith Gardiner
The lasting lesson from the late Prince Philip
7
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.