(CMC) Although these stones do not speak, they tell many stories. Millenia of cultures, customs and popular traditions can be discovered in these seemingly unimportant fragments.
However, for those who can dig into the past, there is an unknown wealth that can be found here. At the Sanctuary of St. Lazarus in Bethany, a project has been trying to unravel some of the mysteries of this place.
Art Historian – ATS Pro Terra Sancta
“As a non-governmental association and with the support of the Custody of the Holy Land, we wish to expand and improve the pilgrims’ visits to this area, so that they may understand why this place is so important. We are close to the tomb of Lazarus, a very important site for Christians.”
One of the discoveries was made in the room located above Lazarus’ tomb. Archaeologists believe that this may have been a church, around the year 1200. But research in the field should continue in order to reveal further findings.
Dr. IBRAHIM ABU AMR
Director of the Institute of Archaeology – Al Quds University
“We are working by means of the stratigraphic study of the terrain, through which we found various periods: from the Crusader to the Ayyubid periods, as well as the Mamluk and the Ottoman periods.
However, it is really important to know where all of this is located. For example: we discovered a tower; but, where is it located? We only found a part of it. So, we need to dig deeper to find more information about this place.”
The work has been completed through a project that involves the collaboration of the Custody of the Holy Land, Al Quds University, the Pro Terra Sancta Association and the Mosaic Center of Jericho.
According to the Treasurer of the Custody of the Holy Land, this is a project that enriches local youth.
Fr. IBRAHIM FALTAS, ofm
Bursar – Custody of the Holy Land
“The nice thing about this project is that the young Palestinians are the ones who excavate: they are the ones who work here. And this is really something new, because a lot of people come here to visit the holy sites from all over the world, but the Palestinians don’t often visit them. I am very pleased to see local youth participating in this effort.”
And they acknowledge that this opportunity will be an incentive for the career path they intend to follow.
“The importance of participating in the excavation is to gain experience in this field and to find new discoveries that are still unknown, such as the ancient civilizations and cultures.”
This is a project that involves a joint effort with students from Al Quds University in Jerusalem. So, while learning about history, Christians and Muslims build a life together, in harmony.
“In this period, in which Muslims and Christians seem to always be fighting….we want to send out the message that this is not the case everywhere. In many cases, Christians and Muslims live together, sharing the cultural heritage and sharing their lives, and they love each other.”