BAR 23:01, Jan/Feb 1997
97 Dig Opportunities
Prize Find: An Incense Shovel from Bethsaida
Slowly it emerged from the ground: a beautiful, 8-inch-long bronze incense shovel, the prize find of the 1996 excavations at Bethsaida, near the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The shovel lay in a first-century C.E. refuse pit. Just a few meters away is the corner of a building. In part because of the shovel, we have tentatively identified the building as a Roman temple. Situated on top of the mound, the building is oriented in an east-west direction and has a ground plan typical of Roman templesa porch with at least one column at the center, a pronaos (approaching hall), a naos (the holy of holies) and an opisthodomus (back room). Among the debris were decorated stones and figurines, which also lend support to our identification of the building as a temple.