Ancient jewelry, science and water parks, and family fun await.
By ANN GOLDBERG
It is an archaeologist's dream to have his hunches confirmed by ancient writings found at the site of a dig. But dreams don't get fulfilled overnight as Natan Idlin of Kibbutz Revadim discovered.
Not long after the establishment of the State of Israel, Idlin discovered some shards of ceramics in the fields of the kibbutz, which proved to be typically Philistine. Living so near to three of the five other famous Philistine cities - Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Gaza - and with Gat's site having been identified, there remained only one more unidentified Philistine city, Ekron. Idlin was convinced that he was living on it. But it was only in the 15th and final season of excavations that an inscription was discovered that confirmed all his hunches: "Achish, son of Padi, Sar of Ekron."
At the Museum of Ekron on kibbutz Revadim -on the road between Nachshon and Reem junctions - you can see many of the artifacts discovered during the long excavations of this ancient town. You can walk down a Philistine street and get an idea of what life was like in Ekron, how the people worked - mainly by making olive oil but also doing weaving and making pottery.
Now there is another thriving industry in Revadim - ancient-style jewelry made of Roman glass. There has always been an enormous amount of glass buried in the ground here. Although whole artifacts that are discovered become the property of the Antiquities Authorities, it's a free-for-all when it comes to the millions of tiny shards to be found.
The 2,000 years that these pieces of glass have been exposed to the oxide-rich soil have given them a green-gray patina, yet each piece is different. The artists at the local glass company design jewelry based on motifs found on the artifacts discovered at the dig and set each piece in silver. Each item has a certificate of authenticity.
For visitors who want to stay in the area overnight or for a few days, there is a country-style accommodation center with rooms furnished in Philistine motifs.
Not far from here you can relax at the Hamei Yoav Spa, the only spa situated in the center of the country. Bathing in the salty, mineral-rich water of the spa's hot springs reduces tension and increases blood circulation and oxygenation of the blood. There are 11 sulphur pools, as well as Jacuzzis, hydro massage, and a host of other health treatments.
Another popular facility is the water park at nearby Kibbutz Hafetz Hayim. This religious kibbutz has been a must-go site for the religious public both locally and from abroad for many years, especially for those with young children. The water park has a half olympic-size pool, a huge wave pool, and many varied slides for all ages and all levels of thrills, including some for toddlers. There's also an amusement park with a roller coaster, carousels, and bumper cars, as well as a petting zoo and plenty of wide open space for games and picnics. There are separate hours for men and women in the park areas, and many religious neighborhoods throughout the country arrange bus trips to the kibbutz.
Another favorite with youngsters is Beit Halomotai, situated near Givat Brenner. Here kids can have a complete day's fun in the water park, on the tarzan slides, in the ball-pool, driving pedal-cars, and riding the mini-train. They can also enjoy arts & crafts or have fun with computer games.
At the world-renowned Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, the whole family can gain some fascinating insight into user-friendly science. The kids will have a terrific time feeling, for example, what it's like to walk on the moon at the Clore Garden of Science, situated in the gardens of the institute. There are 50 exhibits on all sorts of intriguing subjects, with hands-on fun for kids and adults to explore.
Then visit the Hulda Forest, aka Herzl Forest, which was one of the first forests planted by the Jewish National Fund in the early 1900s. Stretching over 200 acres, it has a wide variety of fruit trees, sycamore, and pine. At Herzl House, in the middle of the forest, you can view photographs and short films depicting the life of the early pioneers in the area and the household implements they used in their daily life.