Israel is building parks around urban-based archaeological sites

As part of a joint project of the Israeli Ministry of Heritage, the Antiquities Authority, and the local and regional government centers, the thousands of ancient buildings and artifacts near residential areas throughout Israel will become accessible to the public through urban parks that will be developed around them.

The new project was announced during a Sunday morning conference in the historical-artifact-rich city of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut. The Ministry of Heritage, the Antiquities Authority, the Regional Government Center and the Local Governments involved announced the project called โ€œArchaeological Heritage in the Urban Areaโ€. As part of the initiative, the State of Israel will invest 15 million shekels (NIS) in the development of historical heritage assets in the lands of municipal authorities.

At the conference, various mayors and councils were invited to preserve and develop the archaeological cultural heritage assets within their areas of responsibility, funded by the state. 

Similar projects already exist in the new heritage neighborhood in Modi'in, where an archaeological park is being established that will present findings from the Hasmonean era discovered by the Antiquities Authority during excavations in the city. Additionally, in Rosh Ha'ayin and Ashqelon archaeological parks are being established in the heart of the two cities.  Modi'in is a central Israeli city that was planned and established in the late 1990s on the land from where the Maccabees of the Hasmonean dynasty rose up against the Greek Seleucids, wrestling Jerusalem, and the Temple back into Judean hands. The area is rich in ancient Canaanite, Israelite, Greek, and Roman sites as well as artifacts.

Haim Bibas, Mayor of Modi'in-Maccabim-Reut and Chairman of the Local Government Center in Israel said in his statement that โ€œthe preservation and development of local archeology strengthen the affinity of the city's residents to the city's heritage and history. The participation of the community in the preservation and development of the sites, as we are currently doing with the school students in the city, will enrich the knowledge and expose the residents to the history of our people, and of the settlement in which they lived. I thank all the partners in this important program."

The Minister of Heritage, Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu added: "The Ministry of Heritage seeks to tell the unifying and moving story of all of us. The Land of Israel is saturated with thousands of instructive stories that teach about the great soul that this nation has. I look forward to seeing the sites continue to be established and no less important - the masses of Israelis coming to visit." In Judea and Samaria, efforts to protect archaeological sites that date back to biblical times has been hampered by the Palestinian Authority's efforts to 'cleanse' Jewish heritage from the land. 

"In the State of Israel there are dozens of significant and impressive heritage sites that are hundreds and thousands of years old, located in the heart of cities, and which have been neglected and abandoned over the years," says Eli Escocido, Director of the Antiquities Authority. "Now, the Ministry of Heritage and the Antiquities Authority are being mobilized - through its conservation director, for a move that is not only Preserve the ancient buildings and deal with the danger of their collapse and make them accessible to the public but also activates the community so that it connects to its roots and its local story."

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