Bethsaida @ ASOR 2022

The Debate over the Identification of Bethsaida-Julias

A member-generated session at the 2022 annual meeting of the ASOR (formerly the American School of Oriental Research but now the American School of Overseas Research) in Boston on Friday, 18 November.

Three (3) representatives of the Et-Tell excavations will debate with 3 representatives of the El Araj excavations about the identification of their respective sites in the first century of the Common Era.

The team from Et-Tell will be Rami Arav, Carl Savage and Greg Jenks. Dr Jenks is the Executive Director of the CCCRH Foundation.

The abstract for the paper by Dr Jenks reads as follows:

During three decades of excavations at Et-Tell more than 600 coins have been found. Around two-thirds of these coins are from the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods, including 60 Jewish coins issued by Hasmonean and Herodian authorities. The coin record from Et-Tell reveals a distinct transition from Seleucid imperial authority to Jewish coins issued by the Hasmoneans. This pattern is sustained through to the end of the first century of the Common Era and suggests that Et-Tell was the location of a Jewish community through the Hasmonean and Herodian periods. The coins also reflect the elevation of Bethsaida to city status by Philip in a gesture to Tiberius on the anniversary of his mother’s death. Due to the early death of Phillip in 34 CE this process seems not to have advanced much beyond a formal declaration, the dedication of a small temple to Julia/Livia and some minor fortifications. The coin data indicates that the elevated site of Et-Tell was abandoned towards the end of the Early Roman period, with just three Late Roman/Byzantine coins having been found. This is consistent with geological studies relating to seismic activity in the region and changes to the northwest corner of the Kinneret at the time.

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