PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Since the doors opened to the Khirbet el-Maqatir exhibit in January 2017, more than 600 people have walked through the doors of the historical York House in Pikeville to view the exhibit.
The story of Khirbet el-Maqatir is outlined in the brochure for the exhibit.
After the fall of Jericho, Joshua and the Israelites moved against the fortress of Ai. Though defeated in the initial attack, Joshua devised a strategy which led to the conquest of Ai, the first century village on the site may be the remains of Ephraim mentioned in the book of John.
The Khirbet el-Maqatir is a world class archaeological exhibit, where approximately 250 ancient artifacts from biblical times are on display, the display is set up as a walk through so visitors can view biblical history through multiple periods.
The tour begins in the Byzantine period and walks visitors backward through the history, exploring the world of the first century Judea, the might of Rome, the might of the Mesopotamian empires, the period of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, an Egyptian tomb, the fortress of Ai at the time of Joshua’s conquest and the time of biblical patriarchs.
Exhibit director, Tommy Chamberlin said, “We are very proud to have a world class Biblical archaeology exhibit that would mirror what you would normally find in a large metropolitan city right here in Pikeville, Ky.”
Some of the items visitors will find on display throughout the exhibit are Gate Socket stone, a stone from the ancient city gate of Ai/Khirbet el-Maqatir, which is found in the Gates of Ai room of the exhibit along with the Jericho Pot and the Tel Beth Shamesh Mudbrick, Ai reflects the time period in the Bible at the time of Joshua seven and eight. Egyptian scarab from Khibet el-Maqatir, this helped confirm the fortress to the Late Bronze age and supported the identification as Ai of the Bible, the Nebuchadnezzar Brick from the ancient Babylon with the cuneiform stamp impression, idols from the Old Testament.
The Shekel of Tyre, which is likely the style of coin given to Judas to betray Jesus is on display as well as the Canaanite Sacaphagus Mask, which is located inside the Egyptian Tomb.
Many of the items mentioned are included in the exhibit director’s top ten of artifacts to see along with the Khirbet el-Maqatir Limestone Basin, the Roman Era Limestone Cups, the Infant burial jar and Hezekiah’s Seal.
The Horn Archaeological Museum and David A. Dorsey Museum of Biblical Archaeology contributed over 200 additional artifacts from various time periods of the ancient Near East that are related to the biblical era.
Visitors touring the Iron Age Room may get the chance to hold a real sling stone from Israel, artifacts in this room date from 5000 to 1500 years old.
During a tour of The Lost Fortress of Ai exhibit visitors can look at artifacts from the early bronze-age and the Bab-Edh-Ohra, which many believe is Sodom.
On the first floor of the exhibit visitors will a first century storage jar from KeM, ancient oil lamps and scrolls from the Dead Sea.
The original plans were for the exhibit to be housed in Pikeville from January until June, however, due to the overwhelming response to the exhibit, the artifacts will be staying in place until at least the end of August.
This is only the fourth stop for the exhibit in four years, this is the only stop for the exhibit which includes the additional 200 artifacts.
Chamberlin, who is the University of Pikeville alumni President reached out to the Associates of Biblical Research, to arrange to send the exhibit to Pikeville. Prior to arrival in Pikeville the exhibit had only been on display in major cities such as Dallas and Chattanooga.
To date the exhibit has welcomed visitors from five states and private tours are scheduled for this summer with people from as far away as California, with additional private tours scheduled for groups from Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
An on-site gift shop offers a wide variety of books, coins and magazines. Also in the gift shop different types, sizes and textures can be obtained through various donation amounts.
Interns from the University of Pikeville donate their time to conduct the tours with guidance from Mr. Chamberlin.
“This exhibit is something special for our community and myself and the volunteers enjoying walking people through 300 years of history,” said Chamberlin.
The exhibit will have special hours designated during Hillbilly Days, April 20-22. The exhibit will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
After Hillbilly Days the exhibit will return to the regular operating hours.
Public exhibit hours are Friday 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Private bookings with guided tours are available Monday through Thursday and on Friday mornings.
Kendra Mahon is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News, she can be contacted at [email protected] or 304-235-4242 ext 2278.