The building of the Terra Sancta Museum

The new archaeological wing of the Terra Sancta Museum is under construction at the Monastery of the Flagellation in Jerusalem. A modern and advanced museum, unique for the beauty and the importance of the items that will be exhibited. Some rooms will be opened in spring 2018, when objects found during the archaeological digs led by the Franciscan Fryars of the Custody of Holy Land will be exhibited.

From the entrance, the visitors will walk across a cistern to get to an introductory room dedicated to the Franciscan archaeology in the Holy Land. They will then pass through some ancient structures (traditionally called “Herod’s house”), including a Hellenistic cistern, up to the Herodian room. They will then reach the rooms dedicated to the Daily life at the time of the New Testament and the Monastic movements. Finally, they will get to an educational room focusing on the daily life of Christians in the Antiquity (nutrition, coinage, funerary customs, etc.). Ancient structures and archaeological evidences are constantly found and included to enrich the Museum exhibition.

In the modern building, the architects and the engineers of the Custody are working on the structure consolidation, being this one of the first reinforced concrete buildings realized in Jerusalem. The test results of the seismic retrofitting could report the opening of some rooms of the Museum (Capernaum, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Magdala, Tabor, Betania, Getsemani, etc.).

During the floor removal, previously unknown rooms have been discovered. In the modern building, the architects found a tank dated to Ottoman age, containing a doorway of the Herodian age probably used to cover the Ottoman gutter. In the same place Ottoman pottery has been found, as well as English earthenware presenting trademarks.

The findings in the Mameluke rooms of “Herod’s house”.

During the preliminary excavations, the architects found three blocks belonging to a polished floor dated to the Roman age (I-II century AD), probably reused in Medieval structures. They also found tiles of mosaics and a big column made of the red Bethlehemite stone, probably dated to Byzantine age, used under the floor to cover a cistern. “All these elements are important because they strictly belong to the history of this place and highlight on the ancient Jerusalem, too. For instance, they could prove the existence of an ancient ecclesiastic building in the area surrounding the Monastery” (E. Alliata).

“A Museum within the museum”, a great permanent exhibition that will be of great interest for Christians as well as laics, local communities, pilgrims, Jews, and Muslims. The Museum will therefore bring the visitors to a virtual archaeological pilgrimage in the Holy Places, making them understand the contest and the historical age of the objects exposed.

Anyone can support the development of this great project.

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