I have never been to Israel. But after visiting the Explorations in Antiquity Center just an hour outside of Atlanta in LaGrange, Georgia, I have a much better idea of what it was like to live there 2,000 years ago.
The center, which opened in July 2006, is the creation of Dr. James Fleming, archaeologist and longtime teacher in Israel (full disclosure: he is also a member of BAR’s editorial advisory board). He had previously created and operated the World of the Bible Archaeological Museum and Pilgrim Center in Ein Karem near Jerusalem. In 2006, however, reduced tourism due to increasing violence in the Gaza Strip and West Bank led him to relocate the museum in the United States.
At the main entrance to the center, five different columns along the porch show the progression from a simple Minoan capital to an elaborate Corinthian one, demonstrating the development of architectural styles over time and the cross-cultural ainfluences in the Mediterranean world. The porch is also home to the Houses of Worship Time Tunnel, where we walked through re-creations of different ritual spaces, starting in a Bronze Age temple, continuing through an Israelite shrine, an early synagogue and a Byzantine church.