Holy Land Tour: Jerusalem’s Top Archeological Museums

Everyday, archeologists are unearthing incredible discoveries from thousands of years ago throughout Israel.  It almost feels that every city you visit in Israel has its own archeological site with artifacts unique to a certain time period. Many of Israel’s largest cities have been populated since ancient times, but you don’t have to go to these cities to see their history.  Jerusalem is home to many incredible archeological museums featuring explorations and archaic items from all around Israel.  Discover Israel’s history through any of these impressive museums.

Israel Museum

Ranked among the world’s leading archeology museums, the Israel Museum holds countless artifacts that were found throughout Israel from throughout history.  With different sections dedicated to different aspects of Israeli history starting from as early as the Stone Age.   The Israel Museums also displays exhibits with artifacts from around the world, as well as being home to a fascinating art section featuring masterpieces from all different time periods. 

 

Shrine of the Book

The Shrine of the Book holds one of the most fascinating discoveries in history, the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls, written by an ancient Jewish community, are some of the oldest Biblical texts found in the world and have deepened our understanding of the history of religion! Located in the Israel Museum complex, the building has a cave-like feeling, similar to the Qumran Caves by the Dead Sea where the ancient scrolls were found. The Shrine of the Book is also home to the Aleppo Codex, a manuscript of Masoretic text with a very interesting history that is worth seeing. 

 

Rockefeller Museum

One of the oldest museums in Israel, the Rockefeller Museum was opened in 1938 by the British Mandate Department of Antiquities in East Jerusalem.  Even after the British left Israel, the Rockefeller Museum stayed an archeological museum under the Jordanian Rule of Jerusalem until 1967 when Jerusalem was reunified. The artifacts on display were found throughout Israel in the 1920s and 1930s by the British Mandate in Israel and are displayed in chronological order starting with prehistoric artifacts. The building itself is unique to Jerusalem, and definitely worth visiting!

 

Tower of David

The famous tower that sits across the Jaffa Gate, also known as the Tower of David, has hidden secrets within it’s walls. What used to be a fortress for hundreds of years, is now an incredible museum.  The tower that stands today is from the Mamluk and Ottoman period but stands on hundreds of years of historic fortresses, with the earliest found being from Hasmonean times.  With artifacts dating as far back to the first buildings of Jerusalem from the Canaanite Period, right up to 1948 with Israel’s Independence. The Tower of David is not to be missed out on! 

 

Jerusalem Archaeological Park

The Jerusalem Archeological Park is located at the Southern Wall of the Old City and the archeologists there are constantly uncovering history right before your eyes. Excavations have been going on for decades, but there is always something new to be discovered.  As the sounds of prayer fill your ears from the nearby Western Wall, you can see the ruins of where the Second Temple once stood. Inside the park, there is a virtual reality reconstruction of the Temple for those who wish to see a more tangible perspective of how the Temple once looked. 

 

Wohl Archaeological Museum/Burnt House

Located inside the Old City are two “off the beaten path” archaeological museums.  Each museum shows a different part of the ancient Herodian Quarter, where the rich and the priests used to live.  You can see how the people of Jerusalem used to live by walking through their homes, seeing their decor, and earthenware.  Unfortunately, the entire area had been destroyed by the massive fire that ultimately destroyed the Second Temple, but incredible artifacts have been discovered.  The Burnt House is unique in the way that archeologists have discovered who lived in the house.  Visit the Katros family home, and learn how the family of priests lived while serving in the Second Temple. This is an incredible experience you wont find anywhere else.

 

Many of these museums are hidden gems in Jerusalem, making them not as crowded or busy as other attractions, allowing you to take your time and take it all in.  These museums allow for a deeper looking into general history but also Israel’s ancient history, which is also Jewish history! To be able to see first hand artifacts from our own history, makes learning about it so much more exciting and memorable.  Any of these archeological museums will enhance your next trip to the Land of Israel.

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