Educational archaeology experience coming to Fort Worth this summer

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Students and adults can put aside Indiana Jones movies and experience the true adventure of archaeological discovery this summer in Fort Worth, Texas. An interactive, educational dig site has been constructed in conjunction with the Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition opening this July and will offer people of all ages the opportunity to discover history and participate in a working archaeological dig site.
The Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition will feature at least 16 ancient Dead Sea Scroll fragments, including seven fragments that have never been seen publically, as well as many other artifacts from the Bible Lands. The exhibition will be open to the public from July 2, 2012 – Jan. 13, 2013.
Elementary, junior high and high school students, as well as adults, who come to the exhibition can pick up a spade and learn how archaeologists uncover the past through an interactive replica of Qumran, the ancient site inhabited by the Jewish sect that likely preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls. During this educational experience, students can unearth and take home a 2,000-year-old pottery sherd donated by the Smithsonian Institute. The Smithsonian donated 20,000 pounds of pottery sherds for the dig site.
The site is far more than an oversized sandbox. Constructed with 80 tons of stone, this educational reconstruction of the Qumran dig site was developed by Trey Thames, a Ph.D. in Biblical Archaeology and Old Testament student at Southwestern. Thames gained firsthand experience in biblical archaeology through Southwestern Seminary’s ongoing digs in Tel Gezer, Israel, and Kourion, Cyprus. Several years ago, he created a similar interactive dig site for high school students in Houston.
The 80-by-100-foot site was built to about 90 percent scale of the actual Qumran site in Israel, complete with replica building walls, ritual baths, cisterns, a kiln, and burial sites. Visitors can tour the historical reconstruction and learn about peoples of the past before picking up tools and getting their hands dirty.
Archaeology students at Southwestern with excavation field experience will supervise the site and offer instruction on the latest in archaeological techniques and methods. Thames expects many schools coming to the site for field trips and says the team will provide two hours of teaching with additional time available for students to practice their newly acquired archaeology skills.
A large canopy will shade the excavation area and protect it from rain. Additionally, a separate mound with thousands of pottery sherds donated by the Smithsonian will be available for younger children to dig in and play. They, too, can keep one of the 2,000-year-old sherds as a souvenir.
Admission to the simulated excavation project is included with entrance into the larger exhibition, but separate tickets for the dig site only can also be purchased. During the week, prices for the exhibition are $25 for adults, $15 for students, and $12 for children ages 12 and under, with discounts available for senior adults, military and groups of 10 or more. On the weekends, adult and student prices are $28 and $18, respectively. Dig site only tickets are $10.
To learn more about the Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition, or to purchase tickets, visit

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