JERUSALEM, Israel – Interest in the history of the Holy Land is at an all-time high. Soon, visitors to Jerusalem will not only be able to see the ancient artifacts but also the science behind their discovery, helping them understand how archaeology brings the Bible to life.
The Israel Antiquities Authority's unique facility in central Jerusalem spreads across nearly nine acres, giving visitors a true glimpse of the history discovered throughout the land.
"In this huge campus, we want to exhibit all the antiquities that were found in Israel, all over the generations and also the research, how we are making all of the research and publishing what we are finding in archaeological excavation," IAA Deputy Director Uzi Dahari told CBN News.
Most of the 10-story building in central Jerusalem is hidden from view. That's because architects wanted it mostly in layers underground, much like an archaeological excavation.
"The public will come to the roof, not to the bottom and from the roof, which is level zero, you will go level by level from one to 10 – 10 levels in the building – from up to down – and above it is a huge canopy like the shelter we are building above our archaeological excavations," Dahari explained.
At a special dedication ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the facility and its timing for providing undeniable evidence of the Jewish people's historical connection to their homeland.
"This campus gives an overwhelming answer to those who try to deny or debate, to erase our history in our land," Netanyahu said.
IAA Director Israel Hasson says the new facility will provide visitors with a connection to history through the archaeological process.
"In this period we are in, that around us others are smashing and breaking and destroying history and symbols, [while] here we are building this building and our intention is to empower the human historical heritage," Hasson said.
The goal is to present both the beauty and story behind these ancient pieces, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are housed next door in the Israel Museum.
"Here we want to show the public and also children what's the meaning of the scrolls, how they made it from which material, what was the process of the Jewish alphabetic that was used in the scrolls," Dahari explained.
Lab work will be on full display and visitors can zoom in for a closer look through cameras. They can also see just how challenging the work is by trying their hand at putting scroll fragments together at an interactive exhibit.
There's a lot of field work going on, with about 300 excavations taking place countrywide every year.
"You know Israel is very small, 22,000 square kilometers," Dahari said. "In it we have declared so far 30,000 archaeological sites, which means every square kilometer we had more than one archaeological site, which means that most of Israel is one big archaeological site."
That includes all of Jerusalem and most of Tel Aviv.
"Density like this [does] not exist – not in Egypt, not in Italy, not in Greece, not in Jordan, not anywhere – only in our country because it's the Holy Land, a kind of core for everything," he said.
The campus should be open to the public next year so visitors can come away with a greater understanding of the heritage and history of this land.