musee israel




The museum is the only one of its kind in the region, with unique artifacts from the area as well as rare finds from the Mediterranean region. This museum is located near one of the country's most important ancient roads, over which goods, people and armies traveled from the Mediterranean basin to the lands of the east.


The museum was founded in 1963 by Elazar Unger and other member of Kibbutz Nir David, the collection was donated by archeologist, painter and scholar Daniel Lifschitz. The museum lies on an archeological mount.


The museum displays a wide variety of artifacts from a range of historical periods. The earliest finds exhibited are flint tools dating back to the Neolithic period (8500-4500 BCE, discovered at Tel Kitan). From the Roman Period, a replica of a bronze statue of emperor Hadrain found in Bet She’an (original stands in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem). Surrounding the museum in the courtyard are architectural elements dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods.


Israelite Village

The Israelite Village exhibit demonstrates early weaving techniques, using ancient tools that were excavated at the archeological museum site. Also on display are a variety of vessels found in burial caves, dating back to 2000 BCE.


Greek Art

One gallery of the museum is entirely devoted to art of the classical Greek world. Among the objects on display are geometric, black and red- figured vases, as well as figurines that were discovered in Greece and Italy.


Exhibition of Etruscan Artifacts

Etruscans believed to have originated and evolved in what is today known as Italy. The museum includes a rare collection of artifacts that reflect the daily life of war and agriculture of the Etruscans, as well as fine, detailed gold jewelry. The artifacts exemplify the use of advanced technologies


The Persian and Egyptian Room

Another gallery houses Persian Art from the 3rd to the 1st millennium BCE; including decorated pottery from Samarkand, glass vessels, and a fragment relief from the royal palace at Persepolis. Egyptian style scarabs, faience, and alabaster vessel and Coptic textiles are also on display.


Youth Department

Our youth department offers admirable educational programs that include hand-on activities and arts and crafts programs.

Dror Segal

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Webpage: www.gan3.co.il


From the Quarry to the Temple, Shrine and Holy Place:

Rocks and minerals taken from the bowels of the earth

Dror Segal – director and curator of the Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology, 'Footprints in the Valley' complex – Gan Hashlosha National Park.

A person touring Mediterranean countries, from Spain in the west to Turkey in the east and Egypt and Tunisia in the south, is likely to encounter giant quarries from which ancient man extracted raw materials for construction, primarily marble and granite. In Israel such quarries are much more modest in dimensions; however thousands of cubic meters of local stone were extracted from them, consisting mainly of limestone, dolomite, basalt and eolianite. Each type of quarry was of decisive importance in the evolution of local society and culture, and in producing impressive buildings that still stand as recognizable parts of the landscape—even after thousands of years of erosion, theft of stones and neglect.    

Those same buildings, so impressive in their dimensions, splendid in their beauty and sophisticated technological construction, all originated from deposits and cliff of natural stone taken from the ground. These stone resources were located and then turned into quarries by ancient man, virtually in each period from the dawn of civilization.

The pyramids, temples, palaces and huge theatres, all trace their origins to the quarry.

This exhibition, on display at the Museum, offers visitors a taste of the characteristic aspects of quarrying, transport, construction and maintenance involved in human construction in ancient times.

Concealed deep in the bowels of the earth are numerous additional surprises: Different types of rocks—igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic—and a wealth of minerals in a variety of colors and possessing singular qualities.

During the course of human evolution, particularly in recent centuries, man has learned to extract the earth's treasures. Occasionally nature 'serves up' minerals and stones, right on the earth's surface, while in other cases, people were forced to dig deep mines in order to extract the minerals. Man learned to exploit the fruits of the earth in order to create jewelry, work tools, medicinal materials, and numerous products for construction and industrial production. A portion of the products originating deep in the ground have become dominant and essential in all areas of our lives and in driving the modern economic system.


Contents of the exhibition

Work tools

From the dawn of human civilization, man learned to create and use tools including tools used for digging, chiseling and stonecutting. At first he made use of various stone tools. He learned how to utilize hard stones such as flint, basalt and granite for the purpose of splitting stone, filing, digging and even producing real tools such as the basalt bowls displayed in the Museum. With the advancement of human civilization and through the historical periods, man began to make use of metals, firstly with bronze and later on with iron. Quarrying tools became more sophisticated and took on a form very similar to the modern pickaxe, hammer, hoe, and chisel. At a later stage, steel was also developed which resulted in tools becoming more durable and efficient. Furthermore, a significant revolution came about, mainly at marble quarries, through the use of diamonds, mainly in chain saws and drills.

The tools presented in this exhibition are made of iron. They were borrowed through the courtesy of Dr. Eitan Ayalon of the "Man and his Work Center" at Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. The tools include axes, hammers, chisels, and wedges, which have served for quarrying and stonecutting in past centuries. The majority can still be seen in use among stonecutters in rural areas as well as among artists and sculptors.

Artists and builders in ancient times knew how to create a specific tool to match a precise action, for example a chisel, serrated hammer, sharpened lever to separate a stone or mineral block from a rock, and the like.

A hoard of marble artifacts

Excavations led by Dr. Edna Stern of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Acre discovered a treasure of approximately 350 marble artifacts and slabs, mostly in colors. The marble hoard was uncovered in the storehouse/cellar of a burned and destroyed house. It is attributed to the end of the Crusader Period and the house was apparently abandoned and destroyed with the Mamluk conquest in the 13th century. It appears that hoard's owner collected the artifacts as a precious financial commodity for commercial purposes. The marble was apparently removed from floors and walls of ancient Roman buildings and was prepared for secondary use in tiling and covering walls. The key question is: Was the marble imported from overseas for the purpose of marketing it in Israel, as a choice imported product? Or was it gathered from existing buildings in Israel? The second possibility hints that the phenomenon of importing colored marble and using it in construction in Israel during the Roman and Byzantine period was more common that imagined up to now.

The exhibition presents marble artifacts representative of this vast hoard along with additional marble slabs originating from Hippos-Sussita and the Museum's collection.

Mineral collection

The exhibition includes rocks and mineral originating from deep in the ground, from all across the world. Countries of origin include New Zealand, Namibia, Canada, Germany, South American and more. The minerals of are various types and possess an abundance of attributes and colors. They serve a broad variety of purposes, from jewelry and make-up, medicinal purposes and agriculture, to all branches of industry.

The collection belongs to the Institute of Earth Sciences – Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The exhibition is a joint project, undertaken in association with researchers from the University.

The minerals are presented in display-windows modeled after stones used in the Street of Shops (Sylvanus Street) in ancient Beit She'an. The limestone for building the Street was quarried entirely from quarries in the Gilboa Mountains.

Reconstructed models

Professor Arthur Segal of the Faculty of Archaeology at Haifa University has been kind enough to lend us a large and especially impressive collection of various reduced scale models of famous architectonic structures—from the classical world of Greece and Rome. These are proposed reconstructions of magnificent and famous buildings that existed in the classical world, in our region, and in the entire ancient world known in those times. Among the models are three buildings considered to be among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world: The Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and the workshop of Phidias at Olympia, who sculpted the Statue of Zeus. The models also include architectonic elements from Beit She'an and neighboring Decapolis cities. The proposed reconstructions were prepared in the framework of a course taught by Prof. Segal at the Technion to students of architecture as well as a course at the Faculty of Archaeology and the Department of Maritime Civilizations at Haifa University taught by Dr. Kashtan (from a family of famous architects). The structures were made of stones quarried from famous quarries in the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea region, mainly in Greece, Asia Minor and Egypt.

Simulated stone structures at the exhibition

The exhibition also includes simulated stone structures, mainly the Street of Shops in ancient Beit She'an (Sylvanus Street), stone pools from the Middle Ages used to prepare clay for producing ceramics and more. As mentioned, these structures were constructed from limestone and dolomite, which were supplied from the large quarry in the Gilboa Mountains.

Stone bowl fragment

This stone bowl fragment was discovered on the grounds of a quarry on Mount Gilboa. In addition to the bowl on display at the exhibition, there are processed stone artifacts that were intended for an oil press. These artifacts serve as proof that aside from its designation for removing blocks of stone, the quarry was also the site of a workshop for initial processing and preparation of stone artifacts, as was customary at major imperial quarries.

Stone artifacts in the Museum's permanent exhibition

Numerous stone items are on display in the Museum's halls and courtyards. Most are made of limestone and dolomite quarried from the Gilboa Mountains. Presented alongside them are items made of basalt originating from Ramot Yissachar and the Lower Galilee, all the way to the area of Hamadiya and the outskirts of Beit She'an. Also among the exhibits are imported items made from marble, granite, alabaster, soapstone, and other types of stone. The majority of these artifacts were used in construction as pillars, bases, capitals and frames. The exhibition also includes furniture and small artifacts also used in constructing ancient buildings, in tiling, covering walls, altars, coffins, sculptures and other facilities. Virtually all originate from an assortment of quarries in Israel and overseas.


I wish to thank Hebrew University researchers Prof. Alan Matthews, Dr. Gila Kahila, and Avishai Abbo. My deepest thanks also go to: Dr. Eitan Ayalon and the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, Prof. Arthur Segal, Dr. Michael Eisenberg, Dr. Nadav Kashtan and Prof. Yaacov Kahanov of Haifa University, Dr. Edna Stern and the Israel Antiquities Authority, Dr. Shimon Ilani, Isabella Ben Aharon, Elad Armon, the management of Gan Hashlosha National Park and the staff of Gan Hashlosha and the Museum.