As requested by those wishing to see the country and its amaizing archaeological and historical sites, to meet its people and and visits its new cities we opened several tours for 2018.
The Nabatean and the Dead Sea : 3 days tour
The Nabatean, an ancient nation started around 800 B.C. ruling the Northern region of Arabia, Trans-Jordan, Sinai and the Negev. 1500 years of History that started in leading caravans through the desert, then, building flourishing cities in the middle of the desert, with amazing architecture and farming achievements.
This special society has vanished around 700 A.D. It’s cities were destroyed by the Muslim desert tribes invasion in 636 and finally covered and re-conquered by the desert.
Not much is known about their History as there is no written History left by the Nabatean. The name is derived from “Nabatu”, meaning digging, probably pointing their big secret, where to find drinking water and digging wells. They knew and controlled all the water wells in the desert. Thus, the caravans from India and Arabia carrying precious merchandise of perfumes, salt and spices to Damascus and Persia, were safe when led by the “professionals” desert guides. The Nabatean were the only ones to know where these water wells were located.
On this trip we will discover more about this “Tribal Federation” that formed the Nabatean people. We will learn about their Nabatean Capital city – Petra in Jordan and the other six ancient cities in the Negev, Nitzana, Rehovot, Shivta, Halutza, Avdat and Mamshit.
These cities are the proof to the golden age period when the Negev Desert was flourishing. These towns were serving as supply centers to the caravan’s and were the stations to change animals. Not only commerce was controlled by the Nabateans. Agriculture was flourishing in the desert. The Nabateans developed new systems (studied today..) of farming by stopping the rain water, gathering it to irrigate the green terraces planted with wheat, grapes and other fruit trees.
In 636, the Moslem invasionto the area, brought an end to this amazing culture. The cities were abandoned and destroyed.
Today we can visit the impressive remains of some of the Nabatean cities.
Day 1 – Depart from Jerusalem. Drive south to the Capital of the Negev, Beer Sheba. An introduction to archaeology in the desert. Visit “Tel Sheva”, the archaeological mound of the settlement that started in the Chalculitic period. Archaeologists revealed 15 strata of the different period of the city, mentioned in the Bible with Abraham digging a well.
Continue on the “spice route” to Mamshit, 5 km from the town of Dimona. The city was “brought to life” by reconstructing part of the building and reviving the agriculture system, now days functioning just the same as 2000 years ago.
Mamshit is also known as Memphis in the Roman’s History books. We find it also in the mosaic floor of Madaba in Trans-Jordan.
Being the Eastern most city in the Negev, exposed to invaders from the desert, the city was walled and large garrison stationed within its walls. The city was located on the highway between Hebron and Eilat on the Red Sea, the sea gate to the South and Far East.
In the archeological digs, we found some large public buildings, large treasures of coins, showing that the city was an important administration center.
The water supply was fluent from the rain flowing winter time along the Mamshit River and from the many wells dug around the city. We will visit the Caravan’s Inn, the city gate, the palace, the administration tower and the churches.
Overnight will be in a Bedouin tent, experiencing the life of the Bedouins, the desert nomads.
Day 2 – After a typical Bedouin breakfast, drive to Shivta, one of the most impressive and important archeological sites in Israel declared by UNESCO as World Heritages site. Shivta was flourishing for 800 years, before it was destroyed and covered by the dunes of sand, to be revealed by the archaeologists in the last century.
As we come close to the site, we can see the advanced farming fields partly reconstructed. Orchards of vineyards in the middle of the desert!
Shivta started 2000 years ago as a small village on the highway serving the camels caravans on the spice and incense route. Slowly it grew to one of the leading Nabatean towns in the desert. The city became a farming center on the 4thcentury, when the main route stopped passing by.
Agriculture in Shivta was a miracle. By accumulating the rain and flood water, building flood gates and dams as well as sophisticated canal nets, the Nabateans managed to make the desert bloom!
In our visit, we will get impressed by the ruins and remains of animal stables, orchards, gardens, vineyards and wheat fields. All in one of the driest areas in Israel.
We will get impressed by the huge water pools and canals built to irrigate the fields. Will see the three churches built in Shivta. One with a large crossed shaped baptism font, used to baptize also adults, as the Nabateans converted together, a tribe of adults and children.
The highlight of the visit will be visiting the reconstructed flourishing garden growing olive trees, vines, almonds, carobs, figs and pomegranates. All with no water source nearby. Irrigated only by rain water accumulated to this purpose.
We continue to Avdat, a Nabatean town, founded in the 3rd Century B.C. as a small village with a similar History to it’s sister towns, Mamshit and Shivta. The town grew and became an important city on the spice route. In the Byzantine period it had 3000 inhabitants.
We will visit the two floors building of a rich family, the large fortress, a very interesting tower and of course the sophisticated water system and a large wine press carved in the rock, indicating that producing wine, was part of the local industry.
Overnight in a hotel on the Dead Sea shores. Enjoy the spa facilities at the hotel as well as floating on the unique salty waters of the lowest place on the Globe.
Day 3 – After breakfast, drive to Massada, to explore the amazing fortress constructed by King Herrods. Ascend and descend by cable car. See the remains of the 2 palaces , the impressive walls, the huge storage rooms, the synagogue and the Byzantine church.
Get impressed by the sophisticated water system, that Herrods built, channeling the rain water into several water cisterns curved in the mountain.
Drive to Ein Gedi, to see the beautiful mosaic floor of the synagogue. Before returning to Jerusalem, visit the Essen’s town, Qumran. Learn about this unique sect, probably the one John the Baptist cam from. See the ritual baths, the synagogue as well as the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls where found in.
Drive back to Jerusalem.
Following the Crusaders: 3 days tour visiting fortifications, cities and fortresses built by the Crusaders, famous battle fields, hidden churches and secret graves. We will visit Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, Galilee, Acre and more interesting sites
3 days tour of the Crusaders’ Latin Kingdom, (1099 – 1291 C.E.),Castles and fortifications in Jerusalem , inland and the Port Cities along the Mediterranean shores
We will start the adventure with half a day visit to medieval Jerusalem, the holy city captured during the 1st Crusade. We will visit the JerusalemCitadel (Tower of David), discuss its remarkable history, archaeology and its symbolic significance in the past up to the present. We will walk through the Hospitallers (knights of Saint John) Quarter and visit the church of the Holy Sepulcher. Later we will leave the Holy City and drive (down to the Jordan River in order to visit the place where, according to tradition, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist). Then we will drive north along the Jordan Valley and visit Belvoir, one of the most remarkable (and one of the best preserved) castles, built by the Franks signifying the prime of crusader military architecture. Overnight in a Kibbutz Guesthouse in Galilee.
We shall start our second day with a visit to the recently excavated 1st century synagogue of Magdala, where a very intriguing decorated stone object was found. From Magdala we shall climb on the steep volcanic slopes of the eastern Galilee to where in early July 1187 the Franks suffered a decisive defeat to the Muslim forces under the volcanic hill known as The Horns of Hattin. Overlooking the battlefield, we will learn how landscape reconstruction and archaeological finds (some from the battle itself) enable us to understand this significant historical event better than ever before. We shall then visit the crusader castle of Vadum Iacob, overlooking the Jordan River, which was built and destroyed within eleven months. There we will learn about the castle’s remarkable story and its archaeological and geological significance. A drive across the Galilee to the west will take us to the Teutonic castle of Montfort, we will view the castle from Park Goren and learn about the castle and what archaeological studies have taught us about it. We will end the day in the port city of Acre (Akko), the best preserved Crusader’s town in the world, lately declared as a Heritage town of Humanity. Dinner and overnight.
After breakfast we will explore medieval Acre, we will visit sites such as the Hospitallers headquarters, the Port and the Templar’s Tunnel and the impressive Knights’ Halls.. While driving down the Mediterranean coastline, we will drive up to Mount Carmel for a magnificent panoramic view over the Bay. Continue south for a short stop by ChâteauPelerin (Atlit) that was built with the serious aid of pilgrims and was the last Frankish stronghold in the Holy Land (1291 C.E. ). Our trip further south the coastline, will take us to Caesarea. Here we will see the beautiful remains of the Crusaders’ wall and moat as well as the Roman Theatre and Aqueduct. We will also stop at the town and castle of Arsuf, to see the recently located battlefield of where Richard 1st King of England inflicted a decisive blow to Saladin and his men on September 7th 1191, during the 3rd Crusade. We will end the day visiting the historical and enchanting Jaffa, the main port city of the Crusaders, located at the southern part of modern Tel Aviv.
The tours will be professional, intensive and focused, and will be accompanied and led by the best relevant experts of archeology and guides in Israel. We will visit unique places which are closed to the public, and will be opened especially for us. In these visits we will present unknown relations between past and presents in the land of the bible. These tours were specially designed to be spectacularly interesting, combining past and present:
1) Jerusalem & The Judean Wilderness: 3 days tour in Jerusalem, dedicated to its historical stratum and surroundings.
2) Following the Crusaders: 3 days tour visiting fortifications, cities and fortresses built by the Crusaders, famous battle fields, hidden churches and secret graves. We will visit Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, Galilee, Acre and more interesting sites.
3) Ancient Port Cities :– The Melting Pot of Civilizations: 3 days tour to the Biblical cities along the Mediterranean cost line, from south to north. Ashkelon, Ashdod, Jaffa, Caesarea, Haifa, Akko, and modern Tel Aviv. 4) The Living Ancient Deserts: 2 days tour, from Qumran and Massada to the Nabatean Kingdom.
5) Massada Dead Sea and Qumran: 1 day tour to the Dead Sea area. (Pre-conference & After-conference)
6) Biblical Cities and Fortifications of Judea: 1 day tour. (Pre-conference & Post conference)
7) Classical Jerusalem: 1 day tour of Old & New Jerusalem (Pre-conference & Post conference)
5-11 March 2016, special tour * : "Jerusalem and the land of the Bible"