Beitin, the subject of the project, is an archaeological complex located 5km northeast of Ramallah in Palestine and 14km north of Jerusalem. In a small village with a population of a mere 2,000 lie an ancient tell (archaeological mound), necropolis from various periods, ruins with an ancient tower (called Burj Beitin), water reservoirs from the Byzantine period, and pre-modern agricultural facilities. These archaeological features provide a broad overview of the history of the region from around 3,500 BC to a hundred years ago.
Significance of the City of Beitin (Bethel)
The site of Beitin, particularly that of the Bronze and Iron Ages, has been identified with the city of Bethel, which appears frequently in the Hebrew Bible, and is thus an invaluable site in understanding the faith and world of the Bible. It is a place where Patriarchs Abraham and Jacob, the forefathers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam stayed and particularly identified with the place where Jacob dreamt of angels coming up and down a ladder. When the United Monarchy separated into north and south, a national temple of the northern kingdom was built at Beitin and a “golden calf” is said to have been placed there to stand against the Temple of Jerusalem in the southern kingdom. Thereafter, written records show that people who returned from Babylonian captivity formed a community at Beitin (Bethel), and the area prospered as a pilgrimage site during the Byzantine period. Today, as more than half of the world’s population are believers of these religions, Beitin is expected to become a place of interest to many people and attract tourists from around the world.