Al Badd Museum

Al Badd Museum

Al Badd Museum is located in the Najajreh Quarter in Bethlehem, close to the Market place. The building belongs to the Giacaman family, which is affiliated to the Najajreh Clan, one of the eight clans that still make up the social fabric of Bethlehem’s autochthonous communities. (Read more)

It dates back to the 18th century and reflects the vernacular style typical of Bethlehem homes – a courtyard around which rooms serving different functions – living, business- are built.

The Badd is an Arabic word that refers to the traditional oil press. The history of olive oil production in Palestine is over 5,000 years old, and many people depended on this industry to earn their livelihoods. Many families, including the Giacamans, owned oil mills, which they rented out every year to olive grove owners during the harvest season. These presses consisted of a flat rock placed in the center of a hole on which the olives were placed and crushed using a top circular stone which is vertically mounted and rotated in a tub, crushing the olives against the floor of the tub. The circular stone was rotated by a pair of donkeys or mules and the soft pressure of the stones and their slow rotation produced the paste from which the oil could be extracted.

It was not until the mid-20th century that traditional presses were replaced with modern machinery and today they have quite disappeared. In a move to keep up with the rising demand for organic and traditionally pressed oil, the West is witnessing a revival of stone oil mills.

The 19th-century museum underwent renovation works between 1998-2000 by the Palestinian Department of Antiquities, in coordination with the UNDP and the Greek Orthodox Society. Then in 2014, it was restored by the French Consulate General in Jerusalem, followed by a celebration of its inauguration.

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