It has been depicted in artwork and lamented in poetry and prayer for nearly
2,000 years: the exile of the Jewish people from their homeland in the first
century AD, following the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
But what if the exile never happened?
That is the central, provocative question of Exile: A Myth Unearthed, a documentary that looks at the exile through the lenses of archaeology, history, myth and religion, asking what it means for our understanding of history and the contemporary struggle over land in the Middle East.
Since 1985, teams of archaeologists have been painstakingly unearthing artifacts from the ancient town of Sepphoris, in Galilee. Their findings are revolutionizing our knowledge of Jewish history.
Exile travels from Sepphoris to Masada, from Jerusalem to the catacombs of Rome, and features interviews with leading historians and archaeologists. Throughout the film we also follow a group of tourists visiting sites in the Holy Land and hear the traditional interpretation of events such as the siege of Masada—an interpretation which stands in sharp contrast to recent evidence.
The issues raised in Exile are of more than passing historical interest. The myth of exile is an essential narrative in Middle Eastern and European history, and of critical importance to both Christian and Jewish theology. And the possibility that many Jews, such as those of Sepphoris, simply remained where they lived, raises uncomfortable questions. Could some Palestinians actually be their descendants?