Iron Age complex
Biblique is located along the ancient road to Damascus, approximately 1/4
mile outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City. The modern
Dominican monastery and French School for Biblical archaeology (Couvent
Saint-Étienne and L'École Biblique et Archéologique
Française) sit on the slope of the hill adjacent to the Garden Tomb,
in a region of Jerusalem that was once a large necropolis.
The modern complex is built on a portion of the Byzantine monastic compound
constructed by Empress Eudocia in 438 AD and dedicated (possibly re-dedicated)
in 460 AD.
When one first approaches the monastery and school, they see a church projecting above an imposing steel gate and stone walls. They are standing on Nablus road, across from the Ministry of the Interior offices, making this one of the more bustling streets of East Jerusalem.
However, upon entering the compound, the visitor is immediately struck by the contrasting quiet beauty of the monastic setting. Through the main arch in front of the church, one enters a Byzantine atrium from Eudocia's day. Tradition holds that she, her granddaughter, and the first Christian martyr Stephen are buried under the main entrance to this basilica.
The modern basilica for the Dominican community is build on the foundations of Eudocia's church, constructed in the Byzantine style by the 19th century Dominican architects.
Mosaics from the original structure are visible around the floor and outside, adjacent to the building. One of the founders of the community, Pere Lagrange is buried just behind the alter visible in this image. A visitor to the church is greeted by wonderful acoustics, which complement the morning, noon, and evening offices held in the church.
In addition to its affiliation with the Christian protomartyr and munificent Empress, the monastery houses a world renowned library for biblical studies.The library is found underground, housing a biblical studies collection second only to the Vatican, and drawing scholars from around the world to this location throughout the academic year.
Associated with the monastery is the École Biblique, or French School for Biblical Archaeology. The École has been home to scholars such as Pere R. Devoe, Abel, Vincent, Benoit and others, and today boasts a faculty of considerable repute as well. Approximately 25 students frequent the school, working on graduate degrees in Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Near Eastern archaeology. Several students from the Biblicum in Rome attend classes here as well in the Spring semester.
Behind the school, church and library is the cloistered area of the monastery, where one finds added serenity from the hustle and bustle of the Middle Eastern daily life. Housing for the students and faculty are found here, as is the museum of archaeology and several tomb complexes, including the one from which the project collection was exhumed. An apartment which serves as the project laboratory is also found in this area of the monastery.
Click on the indicated words to enter other areas of the project: tombs from which the remains were exhumed, to view the results of the skeletal analysis, to survey the material culture commingled with the bones, or to review the results of each field season.
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