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The Department of Ancient Studies at Gutenberg University has received € 30,000 through the Cultural Preservation Program of the German Federal Foreign Office to help with the restoration of a Palace of the Caliphate on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
The palace complex covers a 5,000 square meter plaza and was discovered between 1932 and 1939 by German archaeologists from the Berlin Art Museum and Society. The place where the palace is located belongs to a German company and is managed by the Israeli authorities.
The palace was built by the Caliph Walid I (705-715), which established the first Caliphate between 661 and 750. A few years after construction began, a very strong earthquake struck the palace and caused a fissure in the center of the mosque and in the east wing of the building, which likely caused construction to stop before the structure was complete.
Since excavation began in 1930, the ruins have been exposed to the inclemency of vegetation and time. The restoration project is promoted by the German Federal Foreign Office, extolling the importance of the 50-year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel.
"This project has been launched just in time, you cannot let the years continue to pass," said the archaeologist Hans Peter Kuhnen, project manager, who has been involved in archaeological research at Khirbar al-Mnya together with students from the University of Mainz since 2009.
Every year we have witnessed the palace's gradual deterioration. With the financial support of this project, Germany took on the responsibility of restoring an important archaeological site that had not been able to be excavated, without the support of the German initiative, since 1930. At the same time, Israeli students can have the opportunity to work in the archaeological restoration of the palace ».
Since 1981, Germany has been supporting various projects for the conservation of cultural heritage throughout the world as part of the Cultural Preservation Program.