Kids’ app goes old school for Israel’s ancient artifacts

Antiquities Authority steps into 21st century with smartphone game that shows off Holy Land’s archaeological treasures

Screenshot of Dig Quest (Photo credit: Courtesy)
Screenshot of Dig Quest (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Kids who want to know more about ancient Israel but can’t get out into the field can now dig into a new app put out by the Israel Archaeological Authority.

Dig Quest, available for iOS (iPhone and iPad; Android on the way) devices, lets kids assemble puzzles, search for ancient artifacts, and thumb through the Dead Sea Scrolls to discover Israel’s hidden treasures.

Geared towards English-speaking kids age 7 through 11, the app, according to the Antiquities Authority, gives kids “a feel for what archaeologists do as they experience the excitement of discovery and the creativity and skills involved in solving mysteries from the distant past.” Using iPad and iPhone touch technology, players tap and brush their way through jugs, cisterns, ossuaries, and other ancient artifacts to search for coins, tools, mosaics, and other valuable archaeological finds. Among the app’s features is a translation of portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which players can also listen to with Dig Quest’s audio feature.

The app offers two games – a puzzle, in which players discover fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls and assemble them, and an interactive quiz with 30+ playing levels based on ancient mosaics. Players take on the role of Gabe, an Indiana Jones-style archaeologist who, the IAA said, is modeled on real-life Israeli archaeologists.

While most people are familiar with the Dead Sea Scrolls, the app also focuses on another historical treasure that many people are less familiar with – the Lod Mosaic, a Roman mosaic that was discovered during construction of a highway in the central Israeli city of Lod in 1996. The mosaic, measuring 50 by 27 feet, is one of the best-preserved mosaics ever found in Israel. It was removed from the ground only in 2009, and since then has been on a tour of the world, on display in museums such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, the Field Museum in Chicago and Berlin’s Altes Museum. The app features a game in which players identify various figures and drawings on the mosaic – with the challenges getting more difficult as the levels progress.

The game was developed by Crater House, a San Francisco-based game studio that specializes in advanced gaming apps. The app, said IAA, is a great way for kids and adults to get to know the work of the authority, which is “the keeper of Israel’s state treasures, including nearly 2 million archaeological objects, among them the entire collection of Dead Sea Scrolls, and more than 30,000 archaeological sites.”

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