Bethsaida Excavations Project

Archaeology of the First Century

The nature of the question of asking for evidence of a first century Bethsaida incorporates a lot of the surrounding presumption of what the first century looked like in the Galilee region. To quote Mark A. Chancey on the matter: "Indeed one wonders if some scholars have started with the view that Galilee's population was mixed and then searched for reasons to explain why it was so." Chancey also makes the point that “the presence of Hellenism at a site does not necessarily indicate the presence of pagans, and the presence of pagans does not necessarily of Hellenism.” That observation contravenes many earlier studies that make use of the language that F.E. Peters employs. Namely that “since the days of the Greek colonization in the wake of Alexander they lived in an atmosphere dominated by Hellenism and the Hellenized Syrians who ruled the cities. Peters' comments are echoed or presaged in many studies that may fall into two basic categories: those of bucolic Galilee or those of urbanized Galilee. The varying views include a kind of “ghettoized” division between Urban Hellenism and rural Judaism, one which expects “Athens-on-the-Kinneret” nearby to Talmudic villages. These perspectives, albeit caricatured representations of them, represent the influence of religious and literary restorations of what life must have been like in the first century. All may have to accept another reality, that perhaps Philip Herod's “second city” was one filled with unrealized delusions of grandeur appearing only in imagination and not actualized in the humble basalt structures at et-Tell. more



Religion, Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Galilee
A Region in Transition
Edited by J
ürgen Zangenberg, Harold W. Attridge and Dale B.Martin, 2007.

What is a Galilean? What were the criteria of defining a person as a Galilean--archaeologically or with
respect to literary sources such as Josephus or the rabbis? What role did religion play in the process of identity formation? Twenty-two articles based on papers read at conferences at Cambridge,Wuppertal and Yale by experts from 7 countries shed light on a complex region, the pivotal geographic and cultural context of both earliest Christianity and rabbinic Judaism. Contents include: Identity at Ground Level:
New Evidence from Sites and Regions of Galilee-- Carl Savage: Supporting Evidence for a First-Century Bethsaida

The Archeology of Worship in Biblical Israel
Baltimore Hebrew University April 22-23, 2007
The interdisciplinary interplay of Biblicists, archaeologists, and other scholars will illuminate not only the ideology and practice underlying Biblical literary depiction of worship, but will also demonstrate how archaeological evidence helps to create meaning and leads to a richer understanding of worship as depicted in the Bible. Presented a poster on The Sacred Precinct of Bethsaida/Et-Tell. poster

A Rare Aureus from Antoninus Pius at Bethsaida
Israel Numismatic Research, Volume 6, 2011 The Israel Numismatic Society website (

Biblical Bethsaida: An Archaeological Study of the First Century
by Carl E. Savage
In his illuminating, well-researched book examing the archaelogical site of Bethsaida, Carl E. Savage explores archaeological evidence to offer readers a protrait of the religious beliefs and practices of the commuity lining near the north chore of the Sea of Galilee during the first century CE. Using archaeological data, he describes the material proactices of Bethsaida's ancient inhabitants. Savage evaluates the historical plausibility of various social reconstructions for the region, and finds that the image that emerges of the first-century Bethsaida is one similar to tose of other Jewish communities in the Galilee.

The book is now available from Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0--7391-3781-9 link

Bethsaida in Archaeology

Bethsaida in Archaeology, History and Ancient Culture

This volume is an archaeological analysis, history, and description of a key excavation of the site of biblical Bethsaida, the most important Holy Land location in the narrative of Jesus life. This volume presents some of the pre-eminent biblical archaeological scholars in the field, all of whom were associated with Professor John T. Greene, either in the process of decades of archaeological exploration of the ancient site of Bethsaida, or in some other related activity in the field of biblical studies and religion. Professor Greene has been a leading scholar in the excavation and publication of field reports and historical and biblical analysis of the rich lode of discoveries that Bethsaida has revealed to us. This volume will be the highly sought-after summary of the historical-biblical information now available about ancient Bethsaida, the location at which Jesus vacationed, taught, healed, and announced his self-perception as the promised Jewish Messiah who became a new kind of Christian Messiah after his death by crucifixion on a Roman cross in approximately 30 CE in Jerusalem. Bethsaida in Archaeology, History, and Ancient Culture: A Festschrift in Honor of John T. Greene, describes the operational life of the ordinary people, religious communities, military movements, and socio-political hierarchy, from a ground-level perspective of the centuries before and during the lifetimes of Philo Judaeus, Jesus of Nazareth, and Flavius Josephus. It is unique in its popular presentation of this key era for scholarly research, appealing to both scholars in the field and informed non-professional readers, as well as scholars in corollary disciplines. This volume will be immensely sought after by a wide range of those persons who expect interesting, important, and highly readable works from municipal and academic libraries, as well as the popular book stores throughout the English speaking world.-- Carl Savage: The Sacred Precinct at the Gate

Cambridge Scholars Publishing (January, 2014) ISBN-10: 144385364X ISBN-13: 978-1443853644

Macht des Geldes

Macht des Geldes - Macht der Bilder: Kolloquium zur Ikonographie auf Münzen im ostmediterranen

Raum in hellenistisch-römischer Zeit

This anthology, edited by Anne Lykke, is based on the corresponding interdisciplinary colloquium of the same title "Macht des Geldes - Macht der Bilder" (power of money - power of images) which was held in the context of the research training group "Gotterbilder - Gottesbilder - Weltbilder" (images of gods - images of god - images of the world) at the University of Gottingen in February 2011. The papers discuss new approaches to research on ancient coins in the area of the eastern Mediterranean in the Hellenistic- Roman period, reflecting particularly on the different functions of the ancient iconography of coins as a political propaganda tool and thus as one of the main sources for ancient images of political power.--Carl Savage: Political Propaganda in Gold

Abhandlungen Des Deutschen Palastina-Vereins (Book 42), Otto Harrassowitz (November 2013) ISBN-10: 3447069988
          ISBN-13: 978-3447069984





Dr. Carl E. Savage is Associate Professor of Biblical Archaeology at the Theological School of Drew University. His educational background is in biblical interpretation as well as sociology of religion, the origins of Christianity and archaeology. He is a registered professional archaeologist and serves as the Assistant Director of Excavations for the Bethsaida Excavations Project. Dr. Savage is a past president of the Association of Doctor of Ministry Education (ADME). He began teaching at Drew's Theological School in the Fall of 1999. He received his A.B.(1975) in Sociology and Religion from Princeton University, his M.Div. (1978) and D.Min. (1983) from The Wesley Theological Seminary (Washington, D.C.), and his M.Phil. (2001) from the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies at Drew. He received his Ph.D. with distinction in October 2007.










Bethsaida Photos

§  2006 Season Session 3

§  Rhodian Wine Amphora

§  GCW assemblage

§  Figurine Assemblage

§  The Leshem Inscription

§  Limestone Vessels

§  Roman Pit 1999

Other Archaeological Projects

§  Qumran Grave Mapping

§  Cave of Letters Report

§  Mary's Well

§  Yavne

§  Temple of Bethsaida

§  Chamber IV of the Gate


Jewish Bethsaida

The Sacred Precinct of the Gate poster....

Find of the Week Archive 2005 pictures...

The Bethsaida "A" 2004 find of the season ;)...

Evidence for First Century Bethsaida ppt...

Bethsaida 2006 Season
full story...
see photo link above for session 3 photos

Carl E. Savage  ¦  23 Seminary Hall  ¦  Madison, NJ 07940  ¦  (973) 408-3586  ¦