BAR 32:03, May/Jun 2006
The Spade Hits Sussita
BAR Article—“Sussita Awaits the Spade”—Leads to Excavation
Fifteen years ago, I (Arthur Segal) sat in my study reading an article in BAR by Vassilios Tzaferis about Sussita, a dramatic site overlooking the Sea of Galilee that had been destroyed in a violent earthquake in 749 C.E. and had never been resettled. The columns of a church at the center of the site were still lying on the ground like toothpicks, just where they had fallen 1,250 years ago.
The site had been surveyed at the end of the 19th century by the German engineer and excavator Gottlieb Schumacher, who located the main street, a city gate, the remains of walls and towers, as well as a monumental Roman structure. In 1937 members of Kibbutz Ein Gev, led by the redoubtable Mendel Nun, an expert on the entire region surrounding the Sea of Galilee and now in his ninth decade, identified the two anchorages of the city. After Israeli independence in 1948, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) built a frontier outpost here facing the Syrian border, unfortunately causing considerable damage to the site. In the 1950s a rescue excavation of areas exposed by the IDF uncovered a church, baptistery and what was probably a monastery.1 In the 1990s an Israeli-German expedition conducted a number of surveys and trial excavations over the traces