It seems like I have been talking a lot about the weather, but it is big news around here. Almost the whole northern part of the country had snow yesterday. We were able to go to Bethsaida, the ancient town where Jesus perform the miracle of the fish and loaves, where we laid lines to complete data collection using GPR and ERT on Sunday morning. That will be our last data collection for the trip. I have been doing research at Bethsaida since 1999, mostly geophysics mapping and some environmental work. Bethsaida has a long history from many centuries before Christ to abandonment in the third century AD after a large earthquake. It is going on 28-years now that the site has been undergoing excavation, led by my former institution (1992-2001) the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
I also visited the Israel Technological University in the afternoon to discuss LIDAR research at Mary’s Cave in Nazareth. During the summer of 2014 a professor and several students from this institution completed a survey of the cave. They are doing research on algorithms to improve the quality of LIDAR data, and used the cave and our project to test their newest model. We also discussed options for student and faculty exchange. They are primarily engineering but there is some over lap between civil and environmental and some of what we do in BSNES.
Here are two three of the LIDAR plots for Mary’s Cave. It is an amazing tool and we are only now scratching the surface regarding how the technology can be included in our research design at Mary’s Cave and other locations. The plots are a plan view of the cave, side view and virtual view. It took about two hours to collect the data to produce these plots.
We completed a 20 meter long ERT line in the cave as well, and a line on the surface above the cave. Local rumor/folklore indicates a number of things about the cave. For one, it has been noted that persons who gather water from what is now called Mary’s Well would often stop at the cave to cool off as they carried the water back to their homes. The cave could have also been incorporated into a former church that is no longer on the site. The cave served as the egress to tunnels that would take one to St.Gabriel’s Church of the Annunciation. The line on the surface above the cave may provide an indication if there are now collapsed tunnels moving away from the cave. The plot for this line is still being processed.