People in Israel cannot just excavate to build structures and building–even in their own property. There is so much lying under the ground that the Antiquities Department of Israel should issue permits.
If a property owner digs and uncovers something with archaeological significance, they need to stop digging and the government will have to intervene. That can delay whatever building project they have planned.
What is now Israel and Palestine–and other parts of the Middle East are built upon layers and layers of civilization.
We visited Gezer, located somewhere between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Underneath the hill, archaeologists have uncovered walls, upended stones that might have served as places of worship for Canaanite religion, a water system tunnel, and inscriptions that confirm its biblical name of Gezer.
Interestingly, Gezer (Jezer or Abu Shusheh in Arabic) means ‘carrot,’ according to our guide.
The concept of “Tel” is an important one. It shows that cities and civilizations are built on top of each other. A city is destroyed–by natural calamities or war–and then rebuilt; destroyed, and rebuilt all over again. Until there is a hill or mountain formed over the course of hundreds or thousands of years.
There is so much to uncover and unpack. The Bible tells a lot of stories about the people who lived in this land in the Middle East in the ancient past. With the Pilgrimage we are on, we get to see archaeological evidence of some of those stories.
But it is equally challenging to unpack the conflict and the stories in contemporary Israel and Palestine.