Digging Up Ancient Roots

Gamla was a major settlement during the Early Bronze Age (c. 3200-2000 B.C.E.). The site, however, is best known as a Second Temple Jewish settlement from the writings of Josephus Flavius. Here, the Roman general Vespasian nearly met his death and the great Roman army was routed once and nearly defeated at the hands of this small city of determined Jews. In the end, the residents of Gamla along with many refugees from the already conquered Galilee met their tragic fate.

In 1968, Israeli archeologists identified the site. For 18 seasons archeological digs have uncovered a rich wealth of Jewish history from the time of the Second Temple. The Jews who settled Gamla had returned from exile in Babylon. They were deeply religious, as evidenced by the synagogue which is the oldest in Israel. The site has four ritual baths (mikveh), one related to the synagogue and the others to olive presses - ensuring ritually clean oil.

Thousands of artifacts have been found including household items, ornaments, farm implements, fashion accessories, hardware and weaponry. The artifacts are made of bronze, lead, iron, glass, bone, ivory, precious and semi-precious stones, seashells, limestone and basalt. About 6200 coins have been found, including a rare, crudely made bronze coin inscribed "For the redemption of Jerusalem the Holy", which indicates that Gamla identified itself in unity with the struggle for Jerusalem against the Romans in 66 C.E.

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