My Visit to the “Explorations in Antiquity Center”

Have you dreamed of visiting the Bible Lands only to find yourself underfunded? It happens to a lot of people, but there is an alternative for residents of the United States. An authentic, less expensive taste of Bible places exists near Atlanta – not so far away as the Eastern Mediterranean.

Last spring my wife and I took ten Jr. High/High School-age students to the Explorations in Antiquity Center in LaGrange, Georgia. I had previously blogged about this biblical archaeology museum in the U.S. Bible Belt, but this was my first visit.

I was not disappointed. We spent more than 3 enjoyable hours at the museum. Our group learned a lot and had a delicious, all-you-can-eat “biblical” lunch to boot.

The central attraction is an archaeological garden with realistic replicas of ancient discoveries such as altars, wall & gate fortifications, tombs, an olive press, and other Bible-related structures. You can arrange a la carte activities such as bread making (make it, bake it, eat it in traditional Bedouin style), a kid’s dig area (excavate for artifacts!) the “biblical meal” at lunchtime and a “Time Tunnel” showcasing various worship sites between 1500 B.C. and A.D. 500. You can also arrange for various biblical presentations/lectures on and off site.

Our group enjoyed the archaeological gardens tour and added the “biblical meal” experience. The guide’s explanations in the archaeological gardens were generally good and the meal afterward was quite delicious! We dined 1st-century style, without utensils. (The room is not designed for people to actually “recline” at the table. That reenactment generally does not go well.)

Here are a few photos from our experience. (Apologies in advance for the shadows in some photos. It was just that time of day.)

Enjoying an authentic, made-in-the-Middle-East Bedouin hospitality tent. Abraham would have had something similar to this when he hosted special visitors in the first part of Genesis 18. Note that the table is a large, flat rock. Quite practical in a culture designed for portability. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

An early Israelite altar (l) and a Canaanite altar (r). The Israelite altar's characteristic features are uncut stones and a ramp. See Exodus 20:25-26. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Replica of a tomb at Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem where the 'priestly blessing' of Numbers 6:24-26 was found inscribed on a small silver scroll. The inscription is the earliest Hebrew scripture yet found, dating to the 7th century B.C. - around Jeremiah's time. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Some of our group attempting to draw water from a well. They succeeded in their quest. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

A local authority sitting in judgment in the city gate. Anyone who has visited Tel Dan in Israel may remember seeing a similar structure in its gate complex. Ancient Near Eastern cultures frequently used city gates as places to arrange contracts, transact business and appeal to kings or local leaders for judgment. See Gen. 23:17-18, Ruth 4:7-12 and 2 Samuel 19:8. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Replica of an ancient city gate as viewed from inside the city. The battlements above the gate and the uphill slope into the city contribute to the gate's defensive purpose. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The "biblical meal" is a feast that begins in true Passover Seder fashion. The first appetizer is an enjoyable sampling of bitter herbs. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

First courses of the biblical meal include fresh unleavened bread (which also serves as a scooping utensil for other foods), boiled eggs, fruit, olives and an assortment of nuts, complemented with grape juice. Soup, hummus and roast chicken kabobs were also served in generous quantities. (Photo by Marta Mathis)

The biblical meal was a freshly prepared all-you-can-eat affair. Even our teenage young men filled up. (Photo by Marta Mathis)

Its location is not where you would expect, amid small corporate office parks, but I had no trouble finding the museum. I printed the directions/map from the web site.

The center requests donations toward a building that will eventually house artifacts on loan from Israel. I believe that will be a good addition to an already-excellent experience.


About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
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One Response to My Visit to the “Explorations in Antiquity Center”

  1. george says:

    I was interested in the picture of the tomb you had posted. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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