Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Final Day

I’ve had a few people ask me for an entry for my final day, so let me give you a wrap up.

This last day had a bit of “miserable” to it. It was cold, windy, and rainy. At times it was pouring rain sideways. Some parts of Israel had wind and water damage with this storm and after we left, Jerusalem got some snow. Winter travel has some downsides.

Because of the weather, I left my main camera at the hotel. But I did take my tiny Canon to take a few shots…just not the kind of pictures you’re used to.

Our first stop was the Garden Tomb, just north of the Damascus gate. A few people have suggested this was Jesus’ tomb, but it is from the 7th-5th centuries BC and couldn’t possible have been where Jesus was laid. I took my friend Shawn there because it is well known and somewhat interesting, but it gets far more attention than it deserves. No pictures this trip.

We next went next door to a French Dominican school and monastery, the Ecole Biblique. The École Biblique is the oldest research institute in the Holy Land. It was founded in 1890 within the framework of the Dominican Monastery of St Stephen. It seems to be built in the same location as a Byzantine monastery, long destroyed.

We went there to have lunch with my friend Tom Powers and a man I had long wanted to meet Father Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, a scholar who wrote the best archaeological guide to Israel that there is.

While we were there, Tom showed us the iron age tombs that are on the property. They seem to come from the 7th-5th centuries BC and were probably tombs of a wealthy Jerusalem family. Some have suggested they were royal tombs for the kings of Judah; possible, but there is no evidence to support that.
The tombs were re-used during Byzantine times so all the bones and material from the iron age were removed at that point – leaving archaeologists no information of who used them first.

 Still they are impressive and still contain bones from the Byzantine ear. Bodies were put on the upper flat areas to decay. Then after about a year the bones were moved to the areas under these “benches”. I was deeply sad not to have all my camera gear here and my pictures are poor.

We had a wonderful lunch with Father Jerry. I can see why most Dominicans I've met are a happy lot.

Next, we taxied to the Israel Museum. They have some amazing stuff in their collection (and a few leaks in their roof). Photographs are not allowed, but my camera seem to have mysteriously snapped a few shots along the way.

Heel bone with Roman nail still in it
 Inscription naming Pontius Pilate
 A warning stone from the Temple Mount
 The stone that noted the location rams horns were blown on the Temple Walls
A stone from the 8thC BC that mentions the "House of David"

We got back to our hotel, slogged our luggage out of the Old City in the rain, took a bus to the airport, and got aboard our midnight flight to JFK. I don’t sleep on airplanes, so I was up from 7am Tuesday in Jerusalem till I hit my bed in Ellensburg at 5pm on Thursday. It took me a week to recover (had a nasty cold too).
Amazing trip and like every trip I’ve taken there, I can’t wait to go back. Thanks for looking!