Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

November 12, 2006


LaGrange Antiquity Center a great place for a day trip


          Churches often arrange day trips for seniors. That, in fact, is one of duties these days – to help plan such excursions. Some, like most sermons, are more exciting than others. I cringe at the thought of planning a trip that turns out to be a waste of time.

          Now and then a trip I figured would be humdrum turns out to be most enjoyable. When my wife signed us up to go with a group to see the Bonny Plant Farm in Union Springs, I took along a good book. Was I surprised! What those folks are doing on such a big scale is extraordinary.

          Next year some of us are driving over to Wilcox County to take a ride on the new Gee’s Bend Ferry and see the famous quilts the women have made. That should be a lot of fun. The ferry, built with two million dollars of federal money, is a good example of our tax dollars at work.  

          One key to a successful trip is making it back on the same day you leave. The reason is simple. Most old folks like to sleep in their own beds at night. They don’t mind leaving early but they want to be back home by dark.

          The best trip I have taken lately was to see the Explorations in Antiquity Center at LaGrange, Georgia. Having been to the Holy Land years ago, I was skeptical that a day at this place would be time well spent. Once again I was wrong; our group was enthralled with this unique museum.

          Our guided tour began at the entrance designed like a time tunnel with columns spanning 2000 years (Canaanite, Minoan, Israelite, and Corinthian).  Remarkable replicas of four ancient temples are constructed near the columns. The volunteer guide was well versed in the history of ancient times.

          He led us inside where we listened to Dr. Jim Fleming talk about life in biblical times. The good doctor spoke informally for an hour that seemed like fifteen minutes. Fleming, founder and CEO of the World of the Bible Center Foundation, is one of the world’s most knowledgeable scholars of biblical antiquity studies.  

          Lunch was served in a large room designed to show us the way a first century banquet meal would have been served. The food was excellent, to my surprise, since I had halfway expected we might have to eat grasshoppers dipped in chocolate.

          Several dishes were prepared using ancient recipes used for Passover and very likely used by Jesus for what we call the Last Supper. 

Fortunately we did not forsake the use of chairs as was the custom in the days of Jesus. However, we did have to eat with our hands and without the use of the customary utensils. Knowing this in advance we had all washed our hands carefully.

          Bowls of food items were placed on each table and these we shared with others. Some of the foods served were  grapes, olives, artichoke dip, dried fruit, apples, unsalted mixed nuts, honey, unleavened bread, carrots, lettuce salad, lentil soup, chicken or beef on a skewer, applesauce, hummus (a paste of mashed chickpeas), bitter herbs (hot pepper, green onion, parsley), grape juice or water to drink. Red or white wine was offered to those who desired it.

          With no fork or spoon available we used the bread (soft tortillas) to scoop up the dip or other items.  My two sisters, Neva and Margie, enjoyed the trip with us. They were as impressed with the tasty food as we were. Dessert, we learned, was the honey and the delicious bread we enjoyed.

          Instead of an “after dinner” speaker, we had a very astute woman lecture us while we ate. She was both interesting and entertaining though she crammed a two-hour talk into about 75 minutes.

          After lunch we strolled through an open courtyard as our guide showed us archaeological replicas of items from daily life in biblical days. She made biblical stories come alive for us as she talked about the wilderness setting, farming terraces, desert waterfall oasis, sheepfold cave, drilling wells, vineyard terraces, and burial tombs.  They also have an area for children called "Kid's Dig" with replicas of excavations: dinosaur bones, Roman house, and an Egyptian temple.  

          Prices of resources in the museum store were reasonable. There are many educational materials and products from Israel and the West Bank. For information about tours go to or call the center at 706-885-0363.

          Even if you have traveled extensively in the Bible lands you will a trip to the Antiquity Center well worth your time. And after spending several informative hours learning about daily life in biblical times, you can return home in time to go to bed with the chickens.  + + + +