Israel to commence large scale excavations at Tel Shilo

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The Israeli government has authorized a large scale archeological dig at Tel Shilo, the ancient biblical site that housed the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and served as the Jewish nation’s spiritual capital under the leadership of Joshua and the Judges for nearly 370 years.

Tel Shilo [Credit: Ferrell Jenkins]

Tel Shilo, which is located north of Beit El in the Binyamin Regional Council (Samaria), adjacent to the modern settlement of Shilo, has become a popular attraction for local and foreign tourists.

While the goal of the dig is to showcase the life and times of ancient Israel, Tzofia Dorot, manager and public relations director of the Tel Shilo tourist site, acknowledged that the location (in the heart of the Ephraim Hills) could prompt an international uproar.

“No doubt, this is going to make political waves, on a local and international scale,” she told The Jewish Press. “And it couldn’t come at a more crucial time with everything that is going on in the region, with the international community clamoring for Israel to make concessions.

“The effort to discredit and delegitimize our connection to the Land of Israel is gathering steam. It has been particularly intense since Arafat denied that the Jewish Temple ever existed in Jerusalem. But even before the announcement of the large-scale dig, we were been seeing more and more local and foreign visitors here every day. I am certain that once we begin the actual work the interest and visits will increase exponentially.”

Remnants of ancient Shilo’s ramparts were uncovered in previous excavations, including parts of the city walls, homes, wine and oil presses, cisterns and huge warehouses containing enormous earthen jars that once contained oil, wine and flour destined for use in the Mishkan.

A number of residents of modern day Shilo, which was re-established in 1977, have picked up where their forefathers left off, engaging in a variety of agricultural endeavors. Several boutique wineries in the region have been lauded by local and international wine experts as being among the best in the country.

Dorot is actively engaged in raising funds for a new Tel Shilo educational and historical visitor’s center in anticipation of headline-making discoveries. “Recently,” she said, “we had three companies present their ideas for development of a major visitor center. I believe that once we’ve uncovered the secrets buried here for over 2,000 years, many people will come forward to help us create a magnificent center.”  

Author: Steve K. Walz | Source: The Jewish Press [March 23, 2011]

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