North Central University teams up with the Center for Holy Lands Studies to uncover the history of Khirbet el-Araj, the potential biblical site for Bethsaida.
A partnership has formed with Dr. Mordechai Aviam, the lead archaeologist for this excavation. Dr. Aviam conducted a shovel testing on the recent CHLS tour, in which 16 North Central students, including Josiah Baker, Mercedes Johnson, Peter Matz, Hogan McDonald, Lucas Menzies, Alayna Morgan, David Nguyen, Whitney Reames, Misael Sente-Diaz, Frankie Sieg, Marissa Sipes, and Hannah Young, Allison Ayotte, Josiah Kennealy, Kristin Mindeman, and Victoria Pyron, along with Old Testament and Hebrew Professor, Dr. Buzz Brookman, were able to participate.
Even though the excavators cannot prove from a shovel testing whether or not this area is the biblical Bethsaida, what they now know is that the artifacts in this area date back to biblical times. Now that the survey is complete, it is conclusive that there is no reason why el-Araj should not be the biblical site for Bethsaida.
Looking toward the future, Dr. Tracy Paino states that there is a "possibility of moving the survey to the next level, an archeological excavation of El-Araj."
"This is exciting" Dr. Paino states, "and could provide insight into the area of Jesus' Galilean ministry and the life of those who lived there during that time period."
Dr. Buzz Brookman reinforces this sentiment, stating that "uncovering of several architectural pieces heightened our desire for future excavation at this site even more."
The partnering and lead institutions are now in the process of collaborating in order to develop a plan for full excavation.