• Inside a bell cave (limerock)

Beit Guvrin National Park consists of over 1000 acres of green hilly land. Scratch the surface and find a hard layer of ‘nari’ rock covering a layer of softer chalk.

This geology has allowed people to build caves, and complex cave networks, for thousands of years. Underground ‘facilities’ at Beit Guvrin include dovecotes, burial chambers, storerooms and hideouts. A visit to Beit Guvrin means exploring plenty of caves and subterranean life, and also the ancient city of Tel Maresha which lies at the highest point in the park. Tel Maresha was fortified by the Judan King Rehoboam following an Egyptian attack on the region.

The city probably reached its height of importance during the Hasmonean period when it was conquered by King John Hyrcanus who forced conversion on its inhabitants.  In 2014 Beit Guvrin was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Beit Gurvin is also home to the Archaeological Dig for a Day project. The ‘Dig for a Day’ program is a special experience which allows you to dig in and get your hands dirty! This is a great activity for the whole family, with kids and adults each taking their own lessons away from the experience. Based at Beit Guvrin, this activity lasts for about three hours and includes: digging, sifting, pottery examination and touring the National Park of Beit Guvrin with an exciting crawl through unexcavated cave systems. To put the dig in context, Beit Guvrin is the ancestral home of King Herod, where vast underground labyrinths of man-made rooms are being systematically discovered and cleaned.

These rooms were part of underground industrial complexes dating from the Hellenistic period. Remains of olive oil production, weaving installations, water cisterns and baths confirm the high level of material culture at that time. This site offers a wealth of discoveries and practical experience for those who want to “dig” while here in Israel.

The dig at Beit Guvrin was a hit with all the family.

Jack L, Chicago

Beit Guvrin

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