Early in January I'm off to the Tall el-Hammam dig once more. This will be my fourth season and every year is filled with unexpected discoveries. This season we hope to document a cross-section of the aqueduct uncovered last season and set down another square in the Roman structure. It would be good to find evidence of the exact dates for the structures. Coins found last season were too corroded to get any reading. However, all indications are that they date to the first century BC to second century AD.
Edersheim states that Herod Antipas resided in Livias instead of Tiberias during at least the building project of his capital city (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. New updated ed. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1993, chapter 28). If Tall el-Hammam is Livias, which I strongly believe, then this would place Herod Antipas here during his reign. Edersheim argues that if Herod was living in Tiberias then we would hear more about Jesus from him. However, John the Baptist features large in Herod's mind, not only due to John's condemning message, but also due to the close proximity to Herod living in Livias. Our structure could be connected to Herod Antipas. Perhaps this was Herod Antipas' bath house given its size. We shall see what the archaeology tells us this season.
I will only have two weeks this year but will make the most of them. A side trip to the Wadi Rum is also in the works. This is the desert region where T.E. Lawrence (Arabia) was filmed. We will see if time permits and we can pull together the necessary logistics to make it happen. Again this season I hope to post various photos of the trip.
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