Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Judean Desert Excavation Project Begins

The Israel Antiquities Authority has issued a press release, forwarded to us by Joseph Lauer, about recent excavations in the Cave of the Skulls in the Judean wilderness. Here are a few paragraphs and photographs from the press release:

Last week, the Israel Antiquities Authority took a first step in the plan by commencing a complicated and extraordinary archaeological excavation in search of scrolls in Nahal Tse’elim. A team from the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery accompanied by researchers from the Caves Research Center of the Hebrew University and hundreds of volunteers from across the country is participating in the excavation, which is taking place with the support of the Heritage Project in the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs. The excavation is being directed by archaeologists Dr. Eitan Klein, Dr. Uri Davidovich, Royee Porat and Amir Ganor. For many years, IAA inspectors have been proactively enforcing the law in the desert, during the course of which they have made a number of seizures and foiled bands of antiquities robbers that sought to become rich through the detrimental exposure of items of great historical importance. However, these actions are a mere drop in the ocean and the Israel Antiquities Authority stresses that only by excavating all of the scrolls in the ground and transferring them to the state, will it be possible to ensure their well-being and preservation for future generations.

[...]

The Cave of Skulls, where the excavation is taking place, is located about 80 meters from the top of the cliff, and c. 250 m above the base of the wadi. Because of the difficulty in reaching the site, the Israel Antiquities Authority obtained a special permit from the Nature and Parks Authority to construct an access trail, which requires the use of rappelling equipment for the safety of the participants in the excavation. More than 500 volunteers and field personnel from Israel and abroad were required for the undertaking, and they are sleeping and living in a camp in desert field conditions. Many requests by individuals offering to participate have been denied because of the lack of infrastructure to provide for such a large group of archaeologists, volunteers and interested parties. The current excavation season will end in another two weeks, assuming this will be sufficient time in order to extract the valuable archaeological information from the cave.

According to Amir Ganor, director of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, “The excavation in Nahal Tse’elim is an operation of extraordinary complexity and scope, and one that has not occurred in the Judean Desert in the past thirty years. Despite the rigorous enforcement actions taken against the antiquities robbers, we still witness acts of severe plundering that unfortunately are possible in such large desert expanses. There are hundreds of caves in cliffs in the area, access to which is both dangerous and challenging. In almost every cave that we examined we found evidence of illicit intervention and it is simply heart-breaking. The loss of the finds is irreversible damage that cannot be tolerated”.

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The cave where the archaeological excavation is being conducted is situated c. 80 meters from the top of the cliff and c. 250 meters above the base of the wadi. Photographic credit: Guy Fitoussi, courtesy of the IAA Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery.

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Volunteers at work in the archaeological excavation. Photographic credit: Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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The ancient text that dates to the Year Four of the Destruction of the House of Israel (139 CE), which was seized in a joint operation by the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery and the Israel Police. Photographic credit: Shai Halevi, courtesy of the Leon Levy Digital Library, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Arutz-7 has posted a 1.5-minute video.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists working at Jerash (biblical Gerasa) have discovered part of a life-size statue of Aphrodite.

“American and Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a rare structure called a nilometer in the ruins of the ancient city of Thmuis in Egypt’s Delta region.” It was built in the 3rd century BC and used for 1,000 years.

British archaeologists have identified the remains of a 16- to 18-week-old mummified fetus that was found in Giza nearly 100 years ago.

The Antiquities Ministry of Egypt has completed a project to lower the groundwater at the Edfu Temple.

A plan has been approved that will remove all the mines around the traditional area of John’s baptisms on the Jordan River.

Haaretz (premium) visits the site of Tell el-Ajjul, once a prosperous Canaanite city south of Gaza but today at risk of complete destruction.

“Those who trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion which cannot be moved but abides forever” (Psalm 125:1). Wayne Stiles uses photos to explain what this means today.

Two archaeology students have crowdsourced images to create a VR reconstruction of the Mosul museum. The article includes a cool YouTube 360 video.

The Palestinian Museum opened this week in Bir Zeit, but it has no exhibits.

The enforcement of a new antiquities law is making it harder for black market antiquities to be sold in Israel.

Israel will be returning two Bronze Age wooden anthropoid sarcophagus lids found by IAA agents in an Old City dealer’s shop.

Of 28 Egyptian obelisks standing today, only 6 are in Egypt. That's one of many interesting facts about obelisks in a WSJ article that is based on a book by Bob Brier entitled Cleopatra’s Needles.

Allison Meier reviews the new exhibition in NYC, “Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus.” The article includes many photos.

Charles Jones has recently updated the list of titles in JSTOR which focus on Antiquity. It now includes 243 titles.

Dubgallu is a new forum for scholars of the ancient Near East. Registration is free, and open to anyone who academically studies the ancient Near East.

There’s a sale on for various electronic editions of the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Old and New Testaments Logos, Accordance, and Olive Tree.

The Atlas of Palestinian Rural Heritage looks interesting. Some themes covered: Tilling - Harvesting - Moving the Harvest - Threshing - Sifting - Grinding - Making Dough - Baking Bread - Cooking - Making Grape Syrup - Sesame Oil - Olives and Olive Oil - Storage - Bard - Domestic Birds - Honeybee Farming - Milk - Shepherd - Washing - Water - Gathering Rainwater.

If you have a passion for biblical geography, perhaps you would consider supporting Seth Rodriquez to go to Zimbabwe to teach future pastors about the land of Israel. This is a great opportunity to help others learn about what we love.

I’ll be traveling for a few weeks and the regular roundups will resume when I return.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Steven Anderson

Old City from west, db6605212212

On this day 50 years ago, David Bivin took this photo while standing on the edge of no man’s land looking toward the Old City of Jerusalem, then occupied by Jordan. Photo from Views That Have Vanished.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Caesarea Shipwreck Discovered

Two scuba divers made the find of a lifetime last month when they discovered a shipwreck dating to the 4th century AD. In what has been called the most extensive underwater discovery in Israel in 30 years, the divers found statues, anchors, and lumps of coins, all remarkably well preserved on the seabed near Caesarea. The following quotations and photos are from the IAA press release.

“Many of the artifacts are bronze and in an extraordinary state of preservation: a bronze lamp depicting the image of the sun god Sol, a figurine of the moon goddess Luna, a lamp in the image of the head of an African slave, fragments of three life-size bronze cast statues, objects fashioned in the shape of animals such as a whale, a bronze faucet in the form of a wild boar with a swan on its head, etc.”

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Bronze artifacts discovered in Caesarea

“One of the biggest surprises in particular was the discovery of two metallic lumps composed of thousands of coins weighing c. 20 kilograms which was in the form of the pottery vessel in which they were transported.”

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Two lumps of coins, together weighing about 45 pounds

“‘The location and distribution of the ancient finds on the seabed indicate that a large merchant ship was carrying a cargo of metal slated recycling, which apparently encountered a storm at the entrance to the harbor and drifted until it smashed into the seawall and the rocks.’ A preliminary study of the iron anchors suggests there was an attempt to stop the drifting vessel before it reached shore by casting anchors into the sea; however, these broke – evidence of the power of the waves and the wind which the ship was caught up in.”

DCIM\100GOPRO\GOPR0297.

The ship’s anchor

“Metal statues are rare archaeological finds because they were always melted down and recycled in antiquity. When we find bronze artifacts it usually occurs at sea. Because these statues were wrecked together with the ship, they sank in the water and were thus ‘saved’ from the recycling process.”

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A figurine of Dionysus, the god of wine

“As soon as they emerged from the water divers Ran Feinstein and Ofer Ra‘anan of Ra‘anana contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority and reported the discovery and removal of several ancient items from the sea.”

צילום-מועדון צלילה קיסריה העתיקה.2

The divers, Ran Feinstein (right) and Ofer Ra'anan after the discovery. Photo by The Old Caesarea Diving Center

The IAA press release includes a 2.5-minute video. All of the high-resolution photos may be downloaded here. Unless otherwise credited, all photos are by Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The story is also reported by The Times of Israel, Haaretz, and others.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Caesarea harbor aerial from west, tb121704936

Caesarea harbor, aerial view from the west
Photo from the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Gezer Water System—Is It a Water System?

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

At the annual meeting of the Near East Archaeological Society last November, Dan Warner gave an update on the excavation of the Gezer water system. The tunnel seems to date to the Middle Bronze Age: the pottery from the tunnel is Late Bronze and Middle Bronze, and the tunnel's position vis-à-vis the Canaanite Tower indicates a relationship between the two. The tunnel possesses a number of interesting features which raise questions about its function—was it in fact a water system, or was it something else?

The tunnel descends 150 feet below the surface and has a barrel-shaped ceiling and stairs. There are two carved arches some distance apart, sort of like ribs, that have no real architectural purpose and appear to be ornamental. One of the rib-arches can be seen in the photo below. There are also niches carved into the walls of the upper part of the tunnel, some of them decorated with arches or recessed frames, and one of them with a betyl. Some of the niches can also be seen in the photo below.

 Photo from NOBTS Archaeology Blog.

Dan Warner's team has now cleared 80 feet beyond the earlier excavation of Macalister. At the base of the tunnel, there is a basin and beyond that a man-made cavern which extends east. According the geologists, the aquifer is 30 meters beneath the cavern, so this is not obviously a water system. If it is a water system, why did they carve niches and arches and a cavern? And why is it so large? Could the tunnel have instead had a different function?

I was struck by some similarities to a cultic tunnel at Arsameia on the Nymphaios River, near the more famous site of Nemrut Dağ in Turkey. Dan Warner did make mention of the cultic use of caves in the Greek world (both in literature and archaeology), so I proceed to note the similarities here even though there is really no apparent geographical or chronological connection between Gezer and Arsameia. Arsameia-on-Nymphaios is a cultic center which occupies the highest elevation in the photo below.  

Arsameia-on-Nymphaios from southwest (from PLBL vol. 9).

At the site, there is a Great Rock Chamber carved into the mountain, various stelae, and a monumental staircase. But there is also a tunnel which descends diagonally into the mountain. Above the tunnel there is a relief of Heracles (Hercules) and Antiochus I Theos, king of Commagene, and the longest Greek inscription in all of Anatolia. Like Gezer, the tunnel has stairs and a barrel-shaped ceiling. The tunnel is 520 feet long and terminates in a small cavity with no indication of its function.

 Arsameia-on-Nymphaios tunnel entrance with inscription and relief (also from PLBL vol. 9).

Arsameia-on-Nymphaios tunnel entrance with inscription and stairs (also from PLBL vol. 9).

The tunnel at Arsameia-on-Nymphaios is described in Brijder's new book. He calls it "a mysterious, dark and incredibly long tunnel in rock."
After such enormous labour and effort it was disappointing that the very long, deep and dark tunnel had not yielded any evidence as to its function. It is clear that it did not lead to a subterranean spring. The suggestion of a water tunnel does not seem to be very convincing either, although it cannot be excluded. Dörner notes: ‘The tremendous effort that went into digging this rock tunnel of Arsameia could only have served a very special purpose, and since the tunnel is situated at a particularly central spot in the cultic area of the hierothesion, the thought of a cultic function of the tunnel simply occurred to me’ (figs. 161–162). According to him, the making of a rock tunnel was not defined by practical intentions, but by religious ones. ‘It seems rather logical to assign the large rock tunnel in Arsameia to the cult sphere of the god Mithras, who is the “God born from the rock.”’ (Brijder 2014: 255)

As a side note, the Great Rock Chamber/Hall also has a tunnel with barrel-shaped ceiling and stairs. The tunnel is not nearly as long—only 33 feet. The tunnel leads to a small platform which overlooks a square, 20-foot-deep chamber without any doors or stairs. Again, the function of the tunnel and chamber are unclear, but Brijder inquires whether this could have been intended as a burial chamber and later converted to a cenotaph.
Arsameia-on-Nymphaios Great Rock Chamber from below (PLBL vol. 9).

Arsameia-on-Nymphaios Great Rock Chamber interior with tunnel (PLBL vol. 9).

Arsameia-on-Nymphaios Great Rock Chamber tunnel with steps (PLBL vol. 9).


It will be interesting to see what new developments come from Gezer this summer, and if Dan Warner can come closer to determining the tunnel's function. An article about last year's work on Gezer tunnel can be read here, and the excavation website is here.


Brijder, Herman A. G., ed.
2014  Nemrud Dağı: Recent Archaeological Research and Conservation Activities in the Tomb Sanctuary of Mount Nemrud. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Weekend Roundup

A leaked report of a scan of King Tut’s tomb suggests that there are no hidden chambers. A few days earlier, scholars at a conference disagreed on the significance of radar scans.

Three tombs on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor are being opened to the public for the first time.

The symphony orchestra of the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater performed in the Roman theater of Palmyra recently.

Of 28 Egyptian obelisks standing today, only 6 are in Egypt. That's one of many interesting facts about obelisks in a WSJ article that is based on a book by Bob Brier entitled Cleopatra’s Needles.

The collapse of one of the walls of Solomon’s Pools has raised concern that the entire pool could be in danger.

If you’ve never visited the site of ancient Dan, this article is a terrific introduction, drawing out the biblical history, making sound application, and illustrating with numerous photos.

A new 15-volume series entitled the Dead Sea Scrolls Editions will be published by Brill.

The ASOR Archive Photos of the Month is an easy way to revisit the past.

Archaeologists have discovered the weight-loss diary of the prophet Daniel, according to a report in the Babylon Bee.

HT: A.D. Riddle, Joseph Lauer, Agade

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Interview with Gabriel Barkay

Gabriel Barkay has been excavating in Jerusalem for more than 45 years and he is the winner of the Jerusalem Prize for Archaeological Research. He is also a favorite professor for many who have studied biblical archaeology and the history of Jerusalem. If you know him, or have a great interest in these subjects, you will enjoy a fascinating interview with him by Nadav Shragai, published today in Israel HaYom. Here are a few excerpts:

His greatest discoveries:

Although he has never worked for the Israel Antiquities Authority -- Barkay says he prefers a university framework that offers freedom of opinion and thought -- he has acquired an international reputation thanks to two things: The first is the historic discovery of the Priestly Blessing Scrolls, the most ancient archaeological discovery of a biblical text dating to the period the Bible is believed to have been put together. The discovery of the scrolls had wide-ranging influence on biblical research, and the assessment of its historical reliability. The second is the project of sifting dirt from the Temple Mount. Barkay describes the Mount as "a black hole in the history of archaeology in general and Israeli archaeology in particular."

Why he chose to excavate at Ketef Hinnom:

"I got to Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem, which is where I found the scrolls, through theoretical calculations. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the ancient residents of Jerusalem and ask myself where I would hold various activities that were part of the city but not inside it. For example: Where would I bury the dead? Or grow vegetables? Where would I set up army camps or quarry building stones? I looked for places that would meet the paradoxical demands of close enough and far enough.

"When I checked the map, these all coincided at the site where St. Andrew's Church is located today, near the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. I also discovered that Josephus Flavius' literary description put the siege camp of Pompeus in 63 B.C.E. there; that this was where Titus ' fortifications had been when he laid siege to Jerusalem in 70 C.E."

His escape from the Nazis:

Gabi Barkay was born in 1944, the day his mother, Rachel, arrived in the Budapest ghetto. His father, Eliezer Breslaver, who later hebraicized his last name to Barkay, was imprisoned in a Nazi labor camp in the Ukraine.

The young Barkay and his mother avoided the death march from Budapest to Vienna. In January 1945, the Red Army entered the ghetto and liberated them.

"Many owe their death to Josef Stalin. I owe him my life," Barkay says.

Read the full interview here.

G Barkay, Michael Avi-Yonah on Temple Mount, db6806245107

Gabriel Barkay and Michael Avi-Yonah on the Temple Mount in 1968. Photo by David Bivin.

Gabriel Barkay teaching on southern Temple Mount steps, tb110906700

Gabriel Barkay teaching on the southern steps of the Temple Mount in 2006.

HT: Joseph Lauer

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New Book by McKinny on Sale

[UPDATE: The sale appears to be over. There are some new copies selling at 50% off in the Marketplace.]

I’m not sure why, and I’m not sure how long it will last, but at the moment Amazon is selling Chris McKinny’s new book for 90% off ($83.95 marked down to $8.61). My People as Your People: A Textual and Archaeological Analysis of the Reign of Jehoshaphat came out a few months ago and it’s a beautiful synthesis of historical and archaeological research on a particularly important era in Judah. Here are the chapter titles:

  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Chapter Two: Israel of the Omrides
  • Chapter Three: The Battle of Ramoth-gilead in 1 Kings 22:1-36, 2 Chronicles 18, and Historical Implications from the Tel Dan Stele
  • Chapter Four: Jehoshaphat’s Reign According to 1 Kings 22:41-50
  • Chapter Five: An Archaeological Survey of Judah in the Late Iron IIA Using Archaeology as a Source for Reconstructing History
  • Chapter Six: Conclusion
The hardcover book is 159 pages plus an extensive bibliography. It is published by Peter Lang in their American University Studies series.

Readers of this blog know Chris McKinny from his many contributions here, including:

So I thought you’d want to know about this steal while it’s available.

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Saturday, May 07, 2016

Weekend Roundup

Shmuel Browns reviews the new “Pharaoh in Canaan” exhibit at the Israel Museum and shares many photos.

Carl Rasmussen gives two reasons why he likes to visit Magdala.

Haaretz posts several impressive photos from this year’s celebration of the Samaritan Passover.

Tom Powers visits the Pools of Siloam through photographs of the American Colony. He also suggests (in a comment) that both pools existed from much earlier than the time of Jesus and he proposes distinct purposes for each.

“In an area of Israel that offers fewer attractions to visitors, Tel Arad is like coming upon an oasis of archeology.”

Fifteen years after the excavation of the “Cave of John the Baptist,” Popular Archaeology revisits the site with James Tabor.

Birket Ram is an interesting lake in the Golan Heights. Ferrell Jenkins looks at several historical sources and shares a wide-angle photo.

Leon Mauldin pays tribute to Ferrell Jenkins on his 50th Anniversary Tour.

A slackliner walked from one tower to another in the Tower of David Museum. Video here.

A 23-year-old Israeli hiker fell to his death when climbing in Wadi Rum in Jordan.

An oil deposit has been discovered near the Dead Sea.

The Biblical Museum of Natural History opened in Beit Shemesh in 2014.

It’s time to stop referring to the urban legend about NASA discovering Joshua’s long day.

Emek Shaveh has petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to halt the transfer of the library and artifacts from the Rockefeller Museum to west Jerusalem. The Israel Antiquities Authority has responded that they’re only moving the library to protect fragile books.

Archaeology of Jordan Online went live this week. They provide a lot of great links (but don’t yet list our photo collection).

The latest edition of The Holy Land Magazine is online and features articles on Magdala, Shiloh, Tiberias, and Neot Kedumim

Revue de Qumrân is finally available on JSTOR.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Charles Savelle, Paleojudaica

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Thursday, May 05, 2016

Interactive Map - The Allotments of the Southern Tribes

by Chris McKinny 

The tribal town lists and boundary descriptions in the book of Joshua (chapters 13-21) are the most significant textual sources for the geography of the ancient Israel/Judah since they contain the vast majority of place names mentioned in the entire canon. In a soon-to-be submitted (and hopefully accepted) dissertation, I deal with the specific identifications of all of the towns and topographic markers mentioned in Joshua 15 (Judah); 18:12-28 (Benjamin); 19:1-10 (Simeon); and 19:40-46 (Dan) within the framework of a larger argument about the date and purpose of the town lists of Judah (Josh 15:21-62) and Benjamin (Josh 19:21-28). Over the course of the project, I compiled a digital archaeological database/atlas of all of the sites mentioned and discussed in the dissertation (embedded below). This project is called the "Interactive Map: A Historical Geography of the Administrative Divisions of Judah: The Town Lists of Judah and Benjamin in Joshua 15:21-62 and 18:21-28" (click to open in a separate window). The entire map is searchable and each entry (click on each button to expand) includes the biblical place name (in English, Hebrew and Greek), the identified ruin with an archaeological breakdown from the Middle Bronze until the Byzantine period including the Iron II size in dunams, and a bibliography of the archaeological data. The bibliography for the archaeological data contained in the database/atlas can be accessed here.

Satellite Bible Atlas users may also be interested in a more traditional map of the town lists/administrative division that I have prepared using the SBA's base map. A PDF of the map can be accessed here. I have added a JPEG version of the map below.





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Sunday, May 01, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

A mosaic found in Antioch on the Orontes from the 3rd century BC reads “Be cheerful, enjoy your life.”

The Washington Post has more on the discovery of a waystation built during the early years of Queen Hatshepsut.

A scholar believes he has found the oldest depictions of demons in ancient Egypt.

Atlanta Jewish Times has a story on Jodi Magness’s on-going work at the Galilean village of Huqoq.

New book: Hazor: Canaanite Metropolis, Israelite City, by Amnon Ben-Tor. Available from the Israel Exploration Society.

The Hazor Expedition needs more volunteers this summer. Get all the details here.

A recent donation to the Yale Babylonian Collection includes 360 cylinder seals from the third and fourth millennia BC.

ISIS has destroyed two gates of Nineveh, but most of what they bulldozed is modern reconstruction work.

Most of the 200 objects displayed on the ground floor of the Palmyra Museum were destroyed, including the famous Lion of Allat.

The US Senate has voted to ban all imports of antiquities from Syria in order to discourage looting.

Archaeologists are trying to solve the mystery of why 150 people were buried with shackles near the port of Athens.

An article by Philippe Bohstrom in Haaretz (premium) traces the history of writing materials from clay tablets to wax tablets.

Construction workers in Spain discovered a trove of 1,300 pounds of Roman coins dating to the 3rd and 4th centuries.

A replica of Noah’s Ark will sail from the Netherlands to Brazil before coming to the United States.

Another reason to visit Jordan: Jordanian Food: 25 of the Best Dishes You Should Eat

Wayne Stiles explains why the Judean wilderness is a perfect place to escape.

HT: Charles Savelle, Joseph Lauer, Agade, Ted Weis, Steven Anderson

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Archaeologists have announced the discovery of a 13th dynasty scarab in a gold ring at Tel Dor.

Excavations begin this summer at el-Araj, a candidate for the site of Bethsaida. Nyack College is participating and inviting others to join them.

The Temple Institute held a public practice reenactment of the Passover sacrifice last week. A few dozen photos have been posted.

Two Israeli Jews were arrested for trying to carry a goat up to the Temple Mount to make a Passover sacrifice.

A senior Egyptian archaeologist has claimed that the Pharaoh of the exodus was not Egyptian. Paleojudaica provides some analysis.

The 8th-century citadel at Ashdod Yam was vandalized recently by youths who shared photos on social media. The teens who caused the damage have now apologized.

What’s there to see in Ashdod? Aviva and Shmuel Bar-Am lead readers on a tour of the sites.

Wayne Stiles shows you what you’ll see if you walk down the Kidron Valley.

For an CT article, Gordon Govier asks evangelical scholars to weigh in on the recent study that literacy in ancient Israel was more widespread than previously believed.

The full text is online for Lawrence Schiffman’s recent lecture entitled, “In the Valley of David and Goliath: Digging Up Evidence on the United Monarchy.”

Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary eBooks are on sale now for $4.99 each.

Now free online in pdf format: John J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquest, 2nd ed. Sheffield: The Almond Press, 1981.

A bidding war has resulted in sale of 1,000 historic photographs of the Holy Land to sell for nearly $1.5 million. Note to the loser: we can provide you with more than 1,000 images for half price!

Seth Rodriquez, a long-time contributor to this blog, has been invited to teach a course in biblical backgrounds at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zimbabwe and he would appreciate your prayer and financial support.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The World of the New Testament in New York City

(by Gordon Franz)

There are two special exhibitions in New York City that illustrate the World of the New Testament. The first is at the Onassis Center in the Olympic Tower on 5th Avenue. This exhibit is entitled: “Gods and Mortals at Olympus.” All the objects from this display come from the city of Dion, a Roman colony in the first century AD, at the base of Mount Olympus. The port of Dion was probably where the Apostle Paul embarked on a ship to Athens on his Second Missionary Journey (Acts 17:14). Two highlights of this exhibition are a headless cult statue of Zeus Hypsistos (“Almighty”) and a mosaic of the epiphany of Dionysus, the god of wine and merrymaking. This exhibition is open until June 18, 2016. There are free guided tours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1 PM. Admission is free. Click here for more information.

The second special exhibition is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Avenue and is entitled “Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World.” One-third of the 264 artworks on display come from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The church at Pergamon was one of the seven churches in the early chapters or the Book of the Revelation to receive a letter from the Lord Jesus (Rev 2:12-17). Three highlights of this exhibit are the 11-foot wide painting of the acropolis by the 19th century German artist Friedrich von Thiersch; a model of the altar of Zeus that some commentators suggest is “Satan’s throne” (Rev 2:13); and a 13-foot-tall statue of Athena Parthenos, similar to the one in the Parthenon in Athens, but on a much smaller scale. This exhibition closes on July 17, 2016. Admission is free with museum admission. The website says: “If you buy tickets at a museum ticket counter, the amount you pay is up to you . . . . Please be as generous as you can. Suggested admission is $25 for adults, $17 for seniors, $12 for students, and free for children under 12.” Click here for more information.

Pergamon. Items inspired by the outstanding artistry and technical achievements of ancient Hellenistic culture

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Thutmose III Pendant Discovered in Jerusalem

A 12-year-old girl participating in the Temple Mount Sifting Project discovered an amulet dating to 1200 BC with the name of Thutmose III. From the press release:

The small amulet is in the shape of a pendant, missing its bottom part, measures 21mm wide, 4 mm thick and its preserved length is 16 mm. A loop on top allowed it to be strung and hung on the neck. The raised decoration displays a cartouche – an oval frame surrounding Egyptian hieroglyphics bearing the name of the Egyptian ruler. Above the oval framing is the symbol of an eye, and to its right are remnants of yet another hieroglyphic symbol depicting a cobra of which parts of the head and tail are preserved.

1 Egyptian Amulet - Zachi Dvira

While Egyptian scarabs bearing the name of Thutmose III have previously been discovered in Jerusalem, this represents the first time his name has been found in Jerusalem adorning an amulet. “Objects bearing the name of Thutmose III continued to be produced in Egypt long after the time of his reign, reflecting the significance and lasting impression of this king,” said Barkay.

The amulet can be reconstructed based upon the discovery of an identical pendant found in Nahal Iron in northern Israel, announced in 1978,” said Zachi Dvira, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. “Along with that pendant, which also bore the name of Thutmose III was another amulet bearing the name of King Seti I, an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled Egypt during the late 14th – early 13th centuries BCE. This seems to indicate that both pendants date to the same time period, namely the late 14th – early 13th century BCE.”

The press release includes more information. The story is also reported by The Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post, and others. A higher-res image of the photo above may be found here.

HT: Joseph Lauer

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Weekend Roundup

The oldest known glass production factory in Israel has been discovered on Mount Carmel. High-res photos are available here.

A new study by Tel Aviv University points to widespread literacy in Israel in 600 BC. Christopher Rollston offers a summary and reflections. An op-ed at the Jerusalem Post is entitled “Holy Shards.” The academic article is available to subscribers here.

Three Palestinians were arrested attempting to smuggle a statue of Herod’s wife Mariamne. A photo of the statue is here.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project will soon be announcing the discovery of a pendant with the cartouche of Pharaoh Thutmose III.

The Big Picture returns to Palmyra.

Dubai's plans for the world’s tallest skyscraper are inspired by the hanging gardens of Babylon.

Wayne Stiles goes to Ein Harod to learn how to move from fear to faith.

Yale’s “Old Babylonian Period Mathematical Text” is one of the university’s most-reproduced cultural artifacts.

The Iraqi government is turning Saddam Hussein's palace in Basra into an archaeological museum.

With Passover around the corner, Haaretz looks at indirect evidence of Israelite presence in Egypt before the exodus.

A Passover sacrifice event will be held on Monday on the Mount of Olives.

Luke Chandler notes that the official website for the Khirbet Qeiyafa excavations has been updated.

The summer excavation of Khirbet el-Maqatir is on and applications are being accepted until April 30.

Ferrell Jenkins and Leon Mauldin are traveling around Israel and sharing photos from their trip.

Filip Vukosavovic has resigned his position as Chief Curator at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem.

Now free online: The Bible in Its World: The Bible and Archaeology Today, by Kenneth A. Kitchen.

Many people liked the photo we shared this week on Facebook and Twitter of the Mount of Olives before the churches were built.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle, Ted Weis, Agade

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