Homepage


Ein Gedi Oasis Excavations

Past, Present and Future

By Dr. Gideon Hadas


 Ein Gedi is one of the most beautiful places in the world, if not the most… a combination of stony desert mountains, green oasis fed by mountain springs and the many-coloured Dead Sea, the lowest place in the world. Its geology and history are equally fascinating. The ancient Jewish village of Ein Gedi was inhabited in Biblical times and destroyed and rebuilt again and again over the centuries. Before the founding of kibbutz Ein Gedi in 1956 it had not been inhabited for 500 years.

The Ein Gedi oasis site lies at the foot of the Judean Mountains, on the western shore of the Dead Sea, between the nature reserves of Nahal David and Nahal Arugoth. In between is the settlement spur, where the village was built over the period of many years and where, at the eastern part, is the Byzantine period synagogue, roofed today by a large tent. To the north and to the east are plantations of date palms of kibbutz Ein Gedi. To the west, high above the settlement is the vast Judean desert.

In January 2015 we intend to reveal the magnificent Hasmonean or Herodian public building (palace?) which awaits discovery in the oasis. Many of its architectural elements have been found — in the Roman Bath, where its capitals were reused as paving stones, and in many places in both the Roman and Byzantine villages, reused as building stones.

 

Towards the end of this season we might finish revealing the eastern wall of "Halfi's Son's House" that we excavated last season with its bordering alleys in the north and west. By doing so we will accomplish exposure of the full details of three dwelling houses of the Byzantine village, the "Treasure House" (2011), "Halfi's House" (2012, 2013) and "Halfi's Son's House" (2013).  

 

 

 

 The first excavations in Ein Gedi, directed by Professor B. Mazar in the 60's, uncovered the First Temple settlement at Tel Goren and the Chalcolithic temple. In the 70's Professor D. Barag and Dr. Y. Porat excavated the Byzantine synagogue and started to reveal a few buildings. In 1995 I cleaned the alleys and bulks that remained there since the 70's.   

From 1996-2002 Professor Y. Hirschfeld uncovered the adjoining Byzantine village. I worked with him during these seven years as an area supervisor.

After Professor Hirschfeld announced that he was ending his work in Ein Gedi, I took upon myself to carry on the study of the oasis. In this I was encouraged and helped by a devoted team of international volunteers who understand the importance of continuing this work. So was born the archaeological expedition of the Ein Gedi Oasis Excavations.

During 2003 - 2010 we, the Ein Gedi Oasis Excavations expedition, uncovered part of a Jewish village from the late Second Temple (Roman) period. We have uncovered some ten houses all of the same period, complete with the clay vessels used by their inhabitants and the ovens where every family baked its own bread and meals. We also exposed an alley between the houses and now have a better understanding of the rural Jewish settlement which was here ca. 2000 years ago.


Over the years of excavations it became clear that the Jewish settlement in Ein Gedi began at the end of the First Temple Period in the 7th century BCE, and ended in the 6th century CE.  That is to say, in the Ein Gedi oasis, Jewish settlement existed continuously for about a thousand years. It was assumed that all during this period, the permanent dwellings of the settlement in Ein Gedi were only built along the natural ridge on which lies Tel Goren and the Byzantine village.

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately, we envisage a complete archaeological park between the two nature reserves of Nahal David and Nahal Arugoth encompassing Jewish settlement from the First Temple, Roman and Byzantine periods.

The excavations and processing the finds rely exclusively on donations, which can be sent to:

Israel Exploration Society - Ein Gedi Oasis Excavations directed by G. Hadas

POB 7041, 5 Avida St., Jerusalem 91070, Israel

Or to:

Bank HapoalimBranch 690

King George St. 16, Jerusalem, Israel

Account no. 100497

Name of the account:  Israel Exploration Society

Ein Gedi Oasis Excavations directed by G. Hadas

Fax 972-2-6247772

  Instructions for transfer of funds via P.E.F.:

To: P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc.

317 Madison Avenue, Suite 607, New York, NY 10017, USA

Attention: Mr. Ben Harrison Frankel, President

Tel. 212-599-1260

Fax. 212-599-5981

                                                                                          Updated Sept. 2014