Christian friends of Israel from the United States have decided to depart from the usual tourist track in Israel and they come to the country several times a year as volunteers to maintain an antiquities site in the Arava.
Approximately 10 members of the “Blossoming Rose
organization, from all parts of the United States, have chosen to adopt the site of Biblical Tamar – Mezad Hazeva, in the Arava, and for the past week have participated in a conservation maintenance course conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The eight day course (February 25 – March 5) is organized by the Negev Archaeological Center and the Conservation Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority and is taking place at the site itself, where the participants sleep, learn and undergo a shared experience.
The course exposes the participants to international conservation principles, the documentation and surveying of antiquities before the conservation process, conservation methodology at the sites and the different materials that are utilized. Most of the studies focus on actual work at the site and the conservation of various buildings that were discovered in the excavations which were conducted at Hazeva from 1985 to 1994. Furthermore there are fieldtrips throughout the Negev in which the participants acquire knowledge about the world of archaeology, while at the same time the emphasis is placed on the conservation and reconstruction that were done at the antiquities sites.
Upon completion of the course the participants will receive a certificate from the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The site of Biblical Tamar – Mezad Hazeva is located west of the spring Ein Hazeva, in the central Arava. It is situated along an important crossroads from which there were routes that led to the west, south and northeast:
The road west ran through the Ascent of the Scorpions and continued to Mamshit and ‘Aro‘er and on to Beer Sheva.
The road south ran the length of the Arava to Yotvata and the region of Eilat.
The road to the northeast went to the region of the Dead Sea and Ein Boqeq and on to Ein Gedi and Jerusalem.
There was probably an important military administrative center at the site of Biblical Tamar which dated to the time of the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah and the Nabatean and Roman period. The principal remains there are three fortresses that date to the time of the First Temple period, which were built one atop the ruins of its predecessor and above them are building remains that date to the Nabatean and Roman period. One of the most impressive discoveries at the site is an assemblage of Edomite cult vessels – approximately seventy in number – mostly made of clay and a few of stone, which were found buried together in a pit in the northern part of the site, near the remains of the a small elongated building. The vessels had been intentionally smashed.
The Blossoming Rose was established in 1984 and its center is in the United States. The organization carries out various projects for the benefit of Israel, such as a daily prayer for the sake of Israel conducted at a designated hour throughout the United States, a program for volunteering and touring throughout Israel and the Middle East and other programs such as one that aids in locating the “lost tribes” – the Tribe of Manasseh from India etc. The organization’s main program in Israel is being carried out at the archaeological site of Biblical Tamar, out of a desire to make the desert bloom and to make a contribution to Israel’s past.