Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

1618-1619 Mordecai Aviam – Galilee Churches and Finding Bethsaida

Mordecai Aviam, Kinneret College

Mordecai Aviam, Kinneret College

At the end of our recent Book & The Spade Israel tour, I had a chance to sit down and talk with Israeli archaeologist Mordecai Aviam about two of the big projects that he’s working on. We did the interview in his office at Kinneret College, on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee, where he is senior lecturer in the Department of the study of the Land of Israel.

The first half of the interview covers his research into Byzantine churches of the Galilee, pagan populations that became Christian when Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire. He is in the middle of excavating a number of the church sites, looking for mosaics that give information about church history.

The second half of the interview covers the recently begun excavation of el-Araj, a site along the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, which may be the New Testament city of Bethsaida. For 30 years the nearby site of et-Tel has borne the Bethsaida identification, but there are issues with et-Tel and el-Araj has compelling discoveries which may indicate it is the real Bethsaida.

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