Unearthing ancient Israel

The Beit Lehi excavation site, about 22 miles from Jerusalem, contains this Byzantine-era chapel. This chapel is only one part of an ancient village discovered in 1961. Photo Courtesy of Darin Taylor

Israeli soldiers first discovered the Beit Lehi site in 1961, but it wasn’t until 1983 that the first excavation of the site began.

In 2010, a small group of UVU students experienced the trip of a lifetime. These students had the opportunity to go to Jerusalem and practice the skills they learned in the classroom.

From Oct. 8-17, students from the Engineering Graphics and Design Technology department spent 10 days mapping and surveying the ancient archaeological site of Beit Lehi, which is about 22 miles from Jerusalem.

“The Beit Lehi Foundation first approached us because of the unique skill sets the EGDT students possess,” said Darin Taylor, department chair of EGDT. “These students are capable of doing the initial site surveying and mapping.”

Archeologists have found an ancient village with a well-preserved mosaic floor of a Byzantine-era chapel and several subterranean rooms.

According to Taylor, this project will be beneficial for many students from different departments. EGDT students will also be able to create the design of the visitor center with a gift shop and theater, walkways around the site, parking lots and roadways.

Students in the Digital Media department also went on the trip in October. They are working on making a documentary about the excavation process. They are also making a film that will be shown in the visitor center’s theater once the structure completed.

Students Grant Nixon, Ryan Phillips and David Nelson enjoy exploring during their time in Israel. Photo Courtesy of Darin Taylor

“There could also be other opportunities for Construction Management students, as well as others, in the future,” Taylor said.

EGDT student Grant Nixon found the trip entertaining and very useful. The students were able utilize skills attained in the classroom.

“You have class projects at school, but this was a complete, real-world experience working on the site,” Nixon said. “Being able to see things that most people aren’t able to see was exciting.”

Taylor agrees with Nixon and believes this is a great opportunity for students to get real-life experience that many people will never get.

“You can stand in front of a classroom for days on end and try to explain how to survey a project such as this with only a minimal effect,” Taylor said. “But to actually take the students to a foreign country and to literally place them on an archeology site such as this is an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

The group was able to work with one of the world’s top archeologists, Oren Gutfeld, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“He is like a modern Indiana Jones,” Taylor said.

For a more details about the trip and the site, visit
http://virtual.UVU.edu/beit-lehi2010 or

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