Digging Through Time

Author name: Naama Tuchfeld 01.08.2021

Last week, kids from the United States who came to Israel to tour their heritage were amazed at what they discovered there – including coins and pottery from the time of the Mishnah and the Talmud.

צילם האני שינאווי Kids from the Rama Israel Seminar excavating at Korazim. Photo: Hani Shinawi.

In the heart of a small but unique and vibrant archaeological site in northern Israel you’ll find an exciting, educational visitor experience, which enables Holy land tourists to “make history” with their own hands: Digging Through Time – at Korazim National Park.

Korazim National Park director Dekel Segev of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority: “Korazim is a Jewish village a little more than 2,000 years old, that reached its height during the period of the Mishnah and the Talmud. What’s special about the site is not only the variety of remains and archaeological finds, but the wholeness of it. And here’s a place where you can truly say “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That’s because it’s one of the only sites in Israel where you can see an authentic Jewish farming village from antiquity with all of its parts – a magnificent synagogue built of local basalt stone, a ritual bath, dwellings, olive oil presses, a winepress for producing local wine, in short – everything that the inhabitants of a Jewish farming village needed in one small, compact place.

“As part of the latest innovations at the site, including revamping existing walking paths and building new ones and a scavenger-hunt type game for kids, we’ve created a new experience – an archeological excavation we call “Digging Through Time.” It’s intended for tourists, schoolchildren, educational communities and the general public. We’ve learned that some visitors want to do more than just tour – they want to have a hands-on experience, to take part in making history. At Korazim National Park they can tour with a specialized archaeologist, and have an opportunity to dig themselves. The excavation and the atmosphere around it, the finds they discover under the guidance of archaeologist Achia Kohn-Tavor – make this experience one of the most memorable of all their experiences and site visits in Israel,” Segev says.

“It’s important to note that although Korazim is a Jewish village from A to Z active continually for some 1,000 years, most of the people who visit it are tourists and pilgrims from abroad, which meant that during the coronavirus outbreak the site was really hurting. But we used this time to invest major efforts in developing the site, and we’re excited to once again greet tourists and visitors,” Segev adds.

Last week, for the first time after the long COVID-19 break, six groups of 17-year-old Jewish kids from the Rama Israel Seminar landed in Israel for a six-week program, and are enjoying the opportunity to excavate at Korazim. Three other groups are arriving for another Israel Nature and Parks Authority program, Volunteer for Nature, at Tel Hazor National Park – about one hour’s activity in the site’s 3,000-year-old water system.

Watch Video:

Archaeologist Kohn-Tavor, of Dagesh Tourist Archaeology says: “It’s exciting to introduce Jewish young people from the United States to their ancestors. The opportunity to uncover the past with your own hands at Korazim National Park is unique. Today for example, we found the bones of animals that the ancient inhabitants of Korazim raised and made their living from – sheep, goats and cows. We can learn a lot from every single find.”

And what do the teens say? They love it!.

  • “Coming to Korazim helped me understand Israel from a different perspective. It’s not a big site, but it allows us a peek at our history because any find, no matter how small, represents an important historical period.”
  • “This was a very interesting experience, and it was also super fun to dig and discover things together.”
  • “The excavation itself was fun and it was amazing to discover things in our history this way.”
  • “My group found a lot of things we didn’t expect. It was really cool. Lots of fun.”

Watch Video: Mischa Trainor – Ramah Israel Seminar, the teen who found the coins

Kohn-Tavor adds: “Two coins were found in one of the rooms of the wealthy house we’re excavating in the tourist excavations. The building, which existed for some 800 years, had rooms from different periods. The two coins were found in one of the rooms that was dated to the fifth century CE. 

Coins found at the Korazim excavation. Photo: Hagay Dvir

“We also found a fragment of a bowl in that room, a vessel that had been imported from North Africa in Talmudic times. The special thing about it is the rosette with petals shaped like dates. Such stamps are found on prestigious objects and we’ll study this one and look for parallels to it.”

Fragment of a bowl from the Roman–Byzantine period decorated with images of dates. Photo: Achia Kohn-Tavor