We just spent an exhausting – but exhilarating – day exploring the underground sites of the Hellenistic city of Maresha.
Our guide Amit Dagan was amazingly enthusiastic despite the stifling heat of the day. He was full of very practical tips regarding which caves are most essential to visit and how to do a “one-cave-that-has-it-all” tour for a tour group that has a very packed day.
Perhaps most importantly, Amit demonstrated to us how to manage a large group – and keep them cool – even during the hottest days, showing us where to stop and what to explain at each point, and which explanations can be saved for the shade of the refreshments area!!
In all, we explored about a dozen columbarium, quarries, burial caves and cisterns. According to Amit, archeologists estimate that there are over 4000 of these caves in the area of Maresha… so only 3988 to go!
A final treat of the day was our visit to Chirbat Midras, the ruins of Midras, where we crawled through tunnels and caves from the time of Bar Kochva. Here also our guide showed his professionalism by emphasizing techniques and strategies for creating the proper atmosphere for tour groups, so that our tourists can have a great time while still focusing on the courage and hardships of those times.
Kudos to Machon Lander for once again teaching us so much, and, perhaps more importantly, for demonstrating effective strategies for sharing what we’ve learned!
Today we had a great trip to Ir David, just outside of the old city walls of Jerusalem. I had always imagined Kinds David and Shlomo living in the Jewish Quarter of today’s Old City… boy was I wrong!!!
Aharon Horowitz, the head of the Tourism School in the City of David, started off our tour from the Haas and Goldman promenades in Armon HaNatziv, where using a topographical map and the beautiful view of the Old City behind him, diagrammed for us the exact outlines of the REALLY OLD city of Jerusalem. That is, the city that David built approximately 3000 years ago. When he finished his opening presentation I could almost see the city as it must have looked so long ago.
After a quick bus ride, we approached Ir David on foot, via the Valley of Hinom. We were able to get a good feel for the layout of the area around Ir David and the challenges King David faced in conquering the ancient city.
Once inside the city, highlights of our tour included a walk through the Canaanite-era Tunnels built to bring water into the city, and an amazing 3-D movie showing the beauty of the city as it stood during the times of King David.
There’s so much to see and learn in Ir David that Machon Lander has scheduled another full day of touring for us here. We’ll even get to wade through the water tunnels that Hezekiah built. Would you believe there is still water flowing through these tunnels today? I can’t wait!
Class of 2010