- Director of Excavations
- Bethsaida Excavations Project
Dr. Rami Arav teaches in the Department of History and the Department of Philosophy and Religion at UNO. Biblical Archaeology, Jesus and Archaeology, Egyptian and Babylonian texts and archaeology are among his special topics courses. He is extensively published on the archaeology and history of the Land of Israel and of Bethsaida in particular. He has directed numerous archaeological excavations, including the Cave of Letters.
In 1987, Dr. Arav undertook a ten-day probe of et-Tell (literally "the mound") on the northeastern coast of the Sea of Galilee in Israel to determine if the 21-acre site was indeed Bethsaida. His conclusions were promising, but Dr. Arav knew more work must be done to reveal more of the ancient layers. In 1990, Dr. Arav founded the Consortium of the Bethsaida Excavations Project, which since then has been housed in International Studies & Programs at UNO. He continues to lead groups of students and scholars on digs every summer.
In 1996, Dr. Arav and his team uncovered the remains of an Iron Age (time of Hebrew Bible) City Gate complex at Bethsaida, which has led the scholars on a new quest - to find out more about the Iron Age city that no one expected to find underneath the Hellenistic-Roman remains. It is now believed the Iron Age Bethsaida was the capital of the kingdom of Geshur. Geshur is notable in the Hebrew Bible for its visit by King David, and his subsequent marriage to Ma'achah, the daughter of the king of Geshur. Dr. Arav's recent work has focused heavily on the Iron Age City Gate complex - one of the biggest and best preserved in the region - and its link to a previously excavated palace.