Bethsaida was the birthplace of the apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip. It was also mentioned in the New Testament as a place where Jesus performed several miracles.
Excavations were started in 1987 at El-Tel, about 1.5 kilometers north of the Sea of Galilee, in search of this lost settlement. For years, historians disagreed about the position of the site, as it was said to be situated on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Since then, it has been discovered that earthquakes changed the geography of the area and the fertile valley which now separates the site from the lake was once covered by water.
Underneath the 1st century fishing village, archeologists discovered the ruins of an ancient city dating back to the 10th century BCE. The excavations have uncovered large areas of the city, including the remains of a palace and the largest and best preserved city gate yet discovered in Israel. This iron age city is believed to have been the capital of the kingdom of Geshur, which covered the areas north and east of the Sea of Galilee. According to the Hebrew Bible, King David visited here and later married the princess of Geshur, Ma'achah.
In 1990, Israeli archeologist, Dr Rami Arav founded the Consortium of the Bethsaida Excavations Project which is based at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. Excavations are still in progress. Click here to keep up-to date with their progress or even join the dig yourself!
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