‘3,000 Years of History Are Literally Just Beneath Our Feet’
You’re sitting under the overhang of a medieval church in Jerusalem. There’s no air conditioning, and the sun is high in the sky, making the ancient stones and intricate carved reliefs glow in the bright morning light. It’s hard to believe that this is the same part of the world where your ancestors lived.
There’s nothing ancient here. Only a few hundred years of history. But for thousands of years, this part of the world has been in history books – and, in Jerusalem, it’s the most famous history book, at least until they’re finished studying it.
“Here, you’re looking at the remains of the Roman amphitheater where tens of thousands of Roman soldiers fought on a very hot day,” recounts Professor Jonathan Roseveare, the project’s head archeologist.
Every summer, thousands of people flock to Jerusalem to pay homage to the Jewish Bible that they will be reading for the next three years. “This is not just some sort of fun. I think that this is very important to understand the world in terms of your own history,” says Roseveare.
For the past year, the British Museum has been working with a group of archaeologists and historians at the University of London to excavate and study the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are housed at the Jerusalem municipality’s museum. One of the museums’ top priorities is to recreate the Holy Land as it looked in the times of the Torah, so that visitors can see the very place where it was written. In doing so, Roseveare hopes to make the ancient history of his adopted city more accessible to laypeople, as well as to the public.
“It’s almost like taking home a piece of home,” he says. “In this town, you’re not just walking out of your building; you�