Aerial view of the Iron Age palace at Bethsaida. The red arrow indicates the path of a possible escape tunnel leading from the palace to the city wall. Photo: Courtesy Bethsaida Biblical Archaeology via Popular Archaeology.
Aerial view of the Iron Age palace at Bethsaida. The red arrow indicates the path of a possible escape tunnel leading from the palace to the city wall. Photo: Courtesy Bethsaida Biblical Archaeology via Popular Archaeology.

Robin Ngo / 02 MAR 2015 – An escape tunnel may have been identified underneath the Iron Age palace at Bethsaida, Popular Archaeology reports. The tunnel would have served the royal elites living in the palace.

Located on a basalt hill overlooking the northeast coast of the Sea of Galilee, the city identified as Bethsaida was founded in the 10th century B.C.E. Excavations conducted at the site have uncovered evidence of Iron Age fortifications, a palace and a massive gate complex, suggesting that the city was the capital of the Biblical kingdom of Geshur. In 732 B.C.E., Geshur was destroyed by the Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser III. According to the New Testament, Jesus healed the blind man (Mark 8:22–25) and fed the multitude (Luke 9:10–17) at Bethsaida, which in the early first century C.E. was a fishing village.

According to Bethsaida Biblical Archaeology project director Rami Arav, while excavating a room in the Iron Age palace, the ground suddenly collapsed, exposing an entrance to a tunnel.

“Ground Penetrating Radar revealed that the tunnel leads to the space in between the outer and inner city walls,” Arav told Bible History Daily. “It looks like an escape tunnel and recalls to mind a similar escape way mentioned in 2 Kings 25:4:”

Then a breach was made in the city wall; the king [Zedekiah] with all the soldiers fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were all around the city.

“Due to safety and technical reasons, the tunnel was not excavated thus far. This year we plan to solve the problems and excavate the tunnel,” Arav said.

Watch the Bethsaida Biblical Archaeology project’s video presentation of the evidence of the tunnel:


Source: BAS 16 JAN 2015

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