After the cave, I drove us all back to our apartment and parked the van (and was very proud of myself doing so, parallel parking not being a strong talent of mine) (okay, it wasn’t quite parallel parking, but sort of pulling into the curb and then shimmying back and forth a bit). Most everyone decided to take it easy the rest of the day, but Zee, LaDonna, and I bused into the city to meet Bradley at the Rockefeller Museum.
(Our bus trip was one of the hardest we’ve done–it wasn’t
horribly crowded, but it did get progressively more full till there was only a little standing room. And the traffic around the Old City was extra terrible that day at that time–I don’t know why, but I rode the same bus at the same time the next day and it wasn’t bad–which meant we were 30 minutes later than we planned and the driver skipped our stop, which meant a hot walk back up the hill. I was unamused, but we survived.)
The Rockefeller Museum, now part of the Israel Museum system, was created in the 1930s while Palestine was under the British Mandate. It is an old-fashioned museum, with no flashy displays and video presentations–not even all of the artifacts on display are labeled! And there’s no gift shop or museum map or guide. No air-conditioning, either; but the lovely tall ceilings and high windows and hugely thick walls, which made it quite lovely inside. Building for your climate is a real thing!
Sign on the outside of the Rockefeller Museum–from the 1930s! “Government of Palestine, Department of Antiquities”
Not “Entrance” or “Entry”, “Enter Here” or just an arrow. “Way In” I love this sign so much.
There was a tour group entering the museum at the same time as us, so we darted ahead several galleries and were able to enjoy the artifacts at our own pace. Then we went back to the beginning and looked at the ones we skipped. Perfect!
Whitewashed walls, gorgeous high ceilings, really thick outer walls–and a little scaffolding, of course!
Decorative fragments from Hisham’s Palace, near Jericho.
Ceiling medallion, carved stucco and stone, from Kihrbet al-Mafjar (Hisham’s Palace) 7th C. CE, near Jericho. I think this would give me nightmares.
Carved wooden panels from the al-Asqa Mosque, 8th C AD, removed during renovations in 1938.
These carved stones and stucco are so intricate and beautiful. It’s weird to think about these being made during the seventh century AD. That seems so impossibly long ago!
Me in Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem. I loved this place so much. It is such a little jewel of a place. I felt like Amelia Peabody, somehow! (Elizabeth Peters’ mystery character, for those not in the know)
Zee (and little tiny LaDonna behind him), stucco and stone carvings, Hisham’s palace.
The stone work! It was so intricate!
17-18th C AD wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl model of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Part of the roof can be removed, and you can see inside!
Of course, the Church is surrounded and connected to numerous other buildings, so you don’t get the feel of this AT ALL when you are there. But it’s kinda cool to see how the Church would look all by itself.
Carnelian carved beads, 1200-1000 BC, Tel Bet She’an. I love carnelian–it’s such a gorgeous stone. These are amulets of divine figures and lotus seeds.
And I love intaglio–carving into a stone or pottery to create a seal or signet. 1000 – 800 BC, Tel Bet-Shemesh
Look at how complex this goldwork is!
The entire museum has a very 1930s’ Mediterranean vibe that I adore.
Israel is a very westernized country–this was the only squat toilet I encountered the entire trip. Fortunately for my thighs, this bathroom also had two sitting toilets to use. Whew.
LaDonna, next to a basalt stele from the 12th C. BC–according to the antiquities website: “Seti I, making offerings to Ra-Harmachis; one of the earliest references to the Egyptian army divisions in the hieroglyphic records”
I loved this stele, because while most of the basalt was solid, one or two parts were vesiculated–you can see one in the middle part of the monument. Geology!
Our old (really old) pal Rameses III, grandson of Rameses II, 11th C. BC. Basalt, found in Tel Bet She’an. I love this picture of LaDonna–she has a similar one next to another Egyptian statue in NYC at the Metropolitan Museum.
Keryn, Ramses III, and Bradley (left to right, in case that wasn’t clear). It was so fun to be silly–and much easier because there was no one else around!
Star of Ghassul, one of the oldest mural known. 6000 years old, it is made with red, brown, yellow, black, and white paints. These murals (not just the star but the masked figures, animals, and other geometric designs) are from the Chalcolithic period, and were found in caves.
One of my favorite things about ancient jewelry and worked gemstones–like this sardonyx and agate and carnelian necklace–is the evidence that people in the past loved shiny, shiny things as much as I do today.
A simpler, more relaxed type of museum experience. For someone who feels compelled to read every word of every sign in a museum, this was very calming for me. Most things didn’t even have a label (other than a number), much less an explanation. So I could look my fill and move on.
The museum part of the building is shaped like a box, surrounding a gorgeous little courtyard. Again, smart building–you can catch breezes from all sides, and the fountain in the center of the courtyard provides cooling air.
Every building in Jerusalem is supposed to be faced with the gorgeous creamy limestone that is everywhere. It makes for a beautiful sight, everywhere you look.
This artifact is my absolute favorite, simply because of the marvelous absurdity of it. Here’s the story: the marble “Amazon sarcophagus”, from the early 3rd C CE Roman period, is expertly and beautifully carved on the box itself. The detail of the mythological battle between the Greeks and the Amazons is so well-done! And then there is the figure of the man and his wife–which are completely unfinished. The explanation states that “in all probability, local artisans were not skilled enough to finish the carving begun in Greece.” It’s a global economy!
That horse has seen some things, man.
The poor guy who spent so much money on the imported sarcophagus, and never got immortalized in stone.
Looking toward the east and the “tower” of the Rockefeller Museum/Department of Antiquities complex.
On the west end of the courtyard is a lovely little alcove completely covered in these gorgeous blue tiles, with a little fountain.
I love these tiles! They are so soothing and relaxing to look at. I think I should tile our little back porch/patio–what do you think, Mom and LaDale?
Such high, little, pretty windows.
Zee next to the fountain in the courtyard. I love the fountain’s mouth–he looks very uncomfortable with that water running out of his mouth!
This kid! Zee was the most adventurous of all our kids, followed closely by Yummy–they both came on almost every adventure. Heber came on slightly less, and then Em and Gee–and, given their personalities, isn’t a surprise at all!
Bigfoot Zee–and aren’t we glad his feet aren’t truly that big. Can you imagine the shoe prices?
Bradley had SO much fun filming everywhere with his new 360 camera. The fact that we were almost always alone in our expeditions made his picture taking even more enjoyable. Here he is “hiding” from the camera as he takes a 360 picture of the empty courtyard.
Looking to the west alcove in the courtyard. The column right in front is Roman, with the imperial eagles and goddesses.
Looking down a forbidden corridor. What a pretty place to work!