An overview of the complex in Jerusalem. An overview of the complex in Jerusalem. An overview of the complex in Jerusalem. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

The Disney World of archaeology is about to open

The 350,000-square-foot complex will be home to 2 million ancient artifacts.

There's the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and there's the Star Wars theme park being built by Disney. But what's out there for fans of Indiana Jones, who grew up watching the swashbuckling archaeologist? While an actual theme park devoted to the beloved fictional character is not here yet, something even better is about to open.

The Israel Antiquities Authority just unveiled a whopping 350,000-square-foot complex containing nearly 2 million archaeological objects. Another 15,000 excavated objects will be added each year. Entire sections will be devoted to thousands of pieces of ancient glass, textiles, jewelry, rare coins and pottery. There will be a wing especially devoted to mosaics discovered during archaeological digs with five full-time conservators on hand in a laboratory.

Some of the mosaics that will be on display at the museum.Some of the mosaics that will be on display at the museum. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

A 250-seat auditorium – called the Universe of Archaeology Theater – will showcase movies related to Israeli archaeological finds. It will also be used for public lectures, conferences and study groups. A 12,000-square-foot rooftop archaeological garden will offer magnificent views of the southern hills of Jerusalem. And the complex will be home to the world's largest collection of Dead Sea Scrolls.

Dubbed the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, the center will house collections that are currently spread out at various locales throughout the Mediterranean country. The facility will be used to educate the public about the archaeological heritage of Israel by drawing archaeologists, students, researchers, tourists and the public to visit.

The design concept for the campus is premised on making the building a metaphor for archaeological excavations. It will feature three levels descending like the strata in a dig, complete with courtyards, galleries and footpaths overlooking labs and artifacts.

Above, a portion of the large collection of ancient glass will be on display.Above, a portion of the large collection of ancient glass will be on display. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

The project is being shepherded by famed Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, whose eye-popping buildings and skyscrapers can be seen all across the globe. Just last month, Safdie received a lifetime achievement award from the prestigious Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York.

Israel is a hotbed of archaeological finds. In recent years, everything from a 5,000-year-old beer keg to a 900-year-old Aladdin-like lamp has been discovered there.

The archaeology complex is set to open sometime next year. Until then, we can always sit back and enjoy an Indiana Jones movie.

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