The archaeological site on Kursi Beach is situated 1 km northwest of Kursi National Park within the Kursi Beach Nature Reserve. The entire compound was declared a nature reserve in 1980 and was named after the nearby Byzantine site. It is commonly believed that this was the settlement of Kursi mentioned in the Talmud, or the “Land of the Gadarenes,” or “Land of the Gergesenes” mentioned in the New Testament as the place where Jesus cast out demons into a herd of pigs during the Miracle of the Swine (Luke 8:26–39; Mark 5:1-20; Matthew 8:28–34).
In December 2015, the team of the Kursi Beach Excavation of the University of Haifa were troweling and sweeping an area next to a straight line of stones when they uncovered the first Hebrew letter, peeping through the dirt of the centuries. The inscription saw the golden light of a Galilee afternoon for the first time since the earthquake, to the wonder and excitement of the volunteers and Dr. Haim Cohen. ‘Marmaria’ were the first words the team saw.
Experts from some of the highest posts in the Israeli archaeological world puzzled over the slab for hours. Some pieces are missing, but the sensational message that seems to be emerging is that the slab commemorates, or is dedicated to, someone called Marmaria (son of Mary). Bearing in mind that Jewishness is always handed down through the female line, this becomes very significant indeed. Some experts say that ‘marmaria’ refers to marble, which the slab is made of, but this is not confirmed as of now. We can also read the sentence “King will heal you and bless you, AMEN.” A large harbor was unearthed as well next to a synagogue.
The 2019 season will be even more interesting, so please make sure you book your space as a volunteer early. Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The aerial footage shows a vast site with many unusual and interesting archaeological features, and our Ground Penetrating Radar is saying the same. We have firmly established that there is an ancient harbor at the site, and we can see evidence of many more buildings and roads.
How does a dig team work? What do archaeologists look for at a dig? In this documentary DVD, learn how excavators work and what we can learn from archaeology. Learn more >>
East shore of the Sea of Galilee
Roman, Byzantine, and Early Arab
October 28 – December 12, 2019
October 1, 2019
The accommodation in the hostel at Ein Gev kibbutz is simple but clean and only five minutes away from the dig site. The kibbutz is a 20-minute drive from Tiberias and 1.2 hours from Haifa. Rooms are shared between two or three occupants, but we will try to accommodate couples if we can. All rooms are air conditioned and weekend laundry services are provided free of charge.
Yes — by appointment
Haim Cohen is the Director of the Kursi Beach Excavation and a Research Fellow at University of Haifa.