Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Zippori / Sepphoris, Caesarea Philippi, Druze Village, and Fresh Cherries!

This morning, we left Nazareth around 6:30 to drive north toward Syria to the excavated site of Zippori (Sepphoris). Zippori means bird. This place was on the trade route from Egypt to Mesopotamia.
It was a stunning route with gorgeous landscapes and trees. We saw lots of horses along the way and passed the Sea of Galilee (basically a lake).
Once we reached Zippori, we split into two groups and walked up to the excavated area on top of a small hill. One can see Haifa from the hilltop! 

The place was absolutely full of fruit-heavy trees - pomegranates, figs, and apples as well as tons of flowers! So beautiful!
At Zippori, we were able to see how the houses were arranged, some gorgeous mosaics, a large room containing a triclinium, and an amphitheater from the time of Jesus that is still in use! 
There were pottery shards everywhere and a few active archaeological sites. 
Next, we entered the area that formerly belonged to Syria, called Golan Heights. Again it was a beautiful drive, yet, this time, it was mingled with the stark realization that the tiny yellow signs all along the winding highway were warning against walking in the fields. The area has not yet been 100% cleared of land mines (1947-1968). 
We saw cherries, apricots, and tons of figs along the way. (Later, Iyad let us stop at a market and we bought bags of fresh cherries!) 

We stopped at a scenic overlook and saw UN Peace Observer buildings at the border between Israel and Syria and rolling farmland. 
For lunch, we crossed the Jordan river in the northern Golan Heights to reach the town of Mas'ade, a Druze village. Mas'ade is one of the four remaining Druze-Syrian communities on the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights and on Mount Hermon. We learned a bit about the Druze community. Some members of the community wear special coverings as part of their religious convictions. 
After lunch, we made out way to Caesarea Philippi National Park where we climbed to the temple of Pan and saw Roman ruins and a cave. After the short hike, several of us at down by the bubbling Mt. Hermon Springs and put our feet into the icy waters. 
Here is today's video collage! :-)

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