The Nov/Dec issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) features a relatively-new “theme park” – the Explorations in Antiquity Center – in LaGrange, GA. This is about one hour SW of Atlanta on I-85.
The center, which opened in July 2006, is the creation of Dr. James Fleming, archaeologist and longtime teacher in Israel. He had previously created and operated the World of the Bible Archaeological Museum and Pilgrim Center in Ein Karem near Jerusalem. In 2006, however, reduced tourism due to increasing violence in the Gaza Strip and West Bank led him to relocate the museum in the United States.
Among its attractions:
- Re-creations of ‘ritual’ spaces such as a Bronze Age temple (pre-United Kingdom), an Israelite shrine (a biblical “high place” ? ), an early synagogue and a Byzantine church.
- A large “Scripture Garden” with a genuine Bedouin tent, terraced olive trees and grape vines with presses (for occasional visitor use!), a replica of an Israelite house, a replica 1st-century tomb with rolling stone, and much more.
- Authentic plants and trees imported from the Bible lands.
- Activities for the kids such as baking bread over coals, piecing together broken clay pots, and especially the Kids’ Dig Excavation Area where young ones can participate as archaeologists on a replica of an actual excavation.
- A “biblical meal” with traditional foods such as fruits, nuts, lentil soup, etc. held in a replicated dining room.
The center is still expanding and is making plans to exhibit ancient artifacts on permanent loan from Israel.
This sounds like an excellent way to spend a day if one has an interest in Bible times, Bible cultures, ancient history or archaeology. I’m going to arrange for a visit during on of my next trips through Georgia.