Source: The Times of Israel
What can you give your country for its 70th anniversary? For thousands of school pupils and volunteers, the answer is the sweat of their brows as they worked to prepare a new public 70-kilometer (43-mile) walking path called the Sanhedrin Trail. As a byproduct of their backbreaking work, they also stumbled upon a priceless 1,400-year-old intact oil lamp engraved with an eight-armed menorah, remains of important glass industry, and an extremely rare gold coin from Suleiman the Magnificent.
In the Galilee, where Jewish life was re-established 1,900 years ago after the bloody fall of the Second Temple, thousands of Israeli students and volunteers have created a “smart” trail connecting the different centers in which the Great Sanhedrin sat under the rule of the Roman Empire.
After its inauguration on April 22, 2018, tourists will be able to walk and learn about the archaeology, nature, and historical surroundings through high-tech milestones, which transmit information and activities directly to hikers’ smartphones.
“There is no other a trail in Israel that utilizes such an application, and in this respect, we, the archaeologists, are making history,” said Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Yair Amitzur in an Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) press release.
Amitzur, who from personal experience says hiking the entirety of the trail takes about five days, hopes that in the future there will be organized camping sites along the route (so hikers don’t need to sleep in the rough as he did). In the meantime, the IAA’s Sanhedrin Trail website can help Hebrew-speaking travelers arrange their route and point to accommodations.
While developing the trail, pupils participated in archaeological excavations at sites including Usha, the first seat of the Sanhedrin in the Galilee following the Bar Kochba revolt of 132-136 CE. Previous excavations of the small Galilee town site, as documented by the IAA’s Hadashot website, have uncovered remains of a thriving community, including building foundations, a mosaic floor, rock-hewn tombs, wells, wine presses and an oil press.
During the recent excavations with the school pupils, more evidence of settlement was discovered, including an intact 1,400-year-old oil lamp engraved with an eight-branched menorah, such as one would use during the holiday of Hanukkah. The menorah of the Temples, and the symbol of the State of Israel, only has seven branches.
The IAA received help to bring the educational-tourism project to fruition from the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage – Landmarks Project, Finance Ministry, National Religious Education Administration (Hemed) and the Shelah Department of the Education Ministry, municipalities, local and regional councils, Nature and Parks Authority, Jewish National Fund and others.
Read mre in The Times of Israel.