On The Road to Jerusalem
It is with a sense of awe that I share with you today's travel adventures. On our way to Jerusalem we stopped at two ancient ruins - the first, the mosaics of Beit Alpha.
On December 30, 1928 members of Kibbutz Beit Alfa discovered a mosaic floor in the nearby fields. Excavations revealed a highly decorated and well preserved mosaic featuring a zodiac and many human and animal figures. The ancient Jewish art dates back to the Byzantine period, roughly 500 CE. Debates continue regarding the Greco-Roman influence to include a non-Jewish symbol as the zodiac in the artwork of a synagogue.
We continued on through the Jordan Valley to our next stop, the ruins of Beit She'an. When you enter the ancient Roman city, it leaves you breathless, each site more magnificent than the last.
The city, known as Scythopolis, flourished during the 2nd and 3rd centuries as the Romans introduced international trade in the region. It was a city of great wealth, but also a culture of great extravagance.
The bath house, wet sauna and massage room offered many temptations. From the imported granite pillars to the mosaic floor along the entire main road, the city was one of excess.
When mosaic tile went out of style, the expensive artwork was covered with a new marble road! The Roman Temple was built on the mountain with an incredible panoramic view of the city. Scythopolis came to an abrupt end in 749 CE when an earthquake destroyed the region.
Our final destination today - the Holy City of Jerusalem. As we drove through the check point, I must say, much to my surprise, this was the first time I saw any military presence since our arrival 4 days ago. Thank you to all of you reading this blog who have commented, concerned for my safety - maybe I'm being a bit naive, but I have felt safe the entire time I've been here, and am confident that will be the case throughout the trip. As we approached magnificent Haas Promenade, our tour guide had us get out to take in the view. It is nothing like I have ever seen and so much more than I could have imagined. I am filled with emotion as I take in every essence of this spiritual place.
...and prepare to explore Jerusalem tomorrow!