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In Ancient Galilee, Donkeys Go Digital

Life in biblical times wasn’t always idyllic. If the rains came early, or not at all, crops would wither before harvest time. Disagreements over land and livestock could escalate into violent tribal warfare. Childbirth was dangerous, life expectancy was low, and survival a struggle.

From a technological standpoint, advancements in tools and manipulation of natural resources came with its own set of challenges: how could an fledgling army scale the massive walls of Canaan or combat a fleet of iron chariots? Gold and silver can be mined, but how does one keep the valuable minerals from corroding? And what happens when your donkey loses its Wi-Fi signal?Wait – the ancient Canaanites weren’t blessed with portable wireless access? Well, that won’t be a problem for you – provided your biblical reenactment tour visits the park of Kfar Kedem in northern Israel.


As the AP reports, Kfar Kedem, located in village of Hoshaya in the Galilee, is aiming to provide tourists with a unique combination of the ancient and modern. Visitors, swathed in biblical robes and headdresses, ride on the backs of donkeys through the sunny, rolling hills of the Old Testament landscape. They can listen to birds chirping, gaze out on fields of olive groves… or play “Words With Friends” on their iPad.

See the feedbag slung around that donkey’s neck? There’s no grain in there – it’s actually a Wi-Fi router.

Park manager Menachem Goldberg explained the idea behind the merging of BC and AD technologies, telling the AP that he hopes the melding of old and new will connect the younger generation to ancient Galilee life while allowing them to share, tweet and snap the experience instantly to friends.

“You take some pictures, you want to change your picture on Facebook — you can do it,” Goldberg said.

The high-tech donkey tour has been operating for less than a week, but has already caught the attention of tourists – and media outlets. (One particularly eye-catching headline, courtesy of The Times of Israel: Internet for Those Who Won’t Get Off Their Asses. Bah dah bum.) Currently, only a few of the park’s 30 donkeys are equipped with the routers, but Goldberg plans to increase that number if the experiment is a success with tourists.

“Come touch your past,” the park’s website urges prospective visitors. Just don’t forget to charge your laptop, sync your iPhone, and download the Google Map of Galilee to your tablet before setting off on your journey.

It’s just like life in biblical times.

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