Tuesday, February 21, 2017

New Tour: Paul’s Walk from Troas to Assos

I’ve mentioned before “Paul’s Walk from Troas to Assos” tour that is being led by Mark Wilson and Meg Ramey. I think it will be a fantastic trip because not only will you see many important sites in western Turkey, but it is rare to have the opportunity to experience the land by an extended walk that follows in Paul’s footsteps.

I’ve just learned that scholars and pastors qualify for a 50% discount on the trip. Whether you’re in that category or not, I think the trip will be extremely worthwhile. I have traveled with both Tutku Tours and Mark Wilson and they are top-notch.

The walk is about 30 miles (48 km), spread out over three days. They have a bus that will provide transportation for any not up to walking all of it.

Here’s the link for the itinerary and brochure. The dates are May 20 to 31 and the deadline for signing up is soon.

I took the three photos below on my trip to Turkey last month. I imagine the scenery will be even more beautiful in the spring.

Troas outer harbor, tb010517947

Harbor of Troas

Roman road west of Assos, tb010517863

Preserved portion of Roman road between Troas and Assos

Assos harbor sunset, tb010417628

Sunset from Assos harbor

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

The New York Times recounts the recent destruction of Palmyra and reviews a new online exhibit by The Getty Research Institute, “The Legacy of Ancient Palmyra.”

The search for hidden chambers in King Tut’s tomb continues this year.

A Japanese team has discovered the tomb of a royal scribe of Amenhotep III.

Ferrell Jenkins has posted on an attractive display of ossuaries at the Hecht Museum in Haifa.

Seth Rodriquez explains what happened to Judah after they were exiled.

Thomas Kiely of the British Museum reviews The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant c. 8000-332 BCE in the Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology series.

On the ASOR Blog, Anna-Latifa Mourad argues that the Hyksos were foreigners but not invaders.

Since 1833 there has been no mosque in Athens. Until this year.

Daniel Falk will be lecturing on “The Myth of the Dead Sea Scrolls” at Baylor University on Tuesday, February 21.

Alexander Schick will be lecturing at The Jordan Museum in Amman on Thursday, February 23, 5:00 pm, on “Uncovering the Scrolls: The Early and Late History of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” All are welcome.

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

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

A Roman-period gate has been discovered at Beit Shearim (“house of gates”).

A study of LMLK seal impressions reveals that there was a massive spike in the earth’s magnetic field in the time of King Hezekiah. I expect that G. M. Grena will have more to say about this on his blog soon. (UPDATE: now online here.)

A preliminary report from the 2016 season at et-Tell (Bethsaida?) is now up at The Bible and Interpretation.

A man who fished a Persian-period amphora out of the sea at Ashdod has turned it over to authorities.

I enjoy seeing my photos (especially of more obscure sites) put to good use, and no one does it better than Wayne Stiles. This week he ventures over to Ein Parath.

Lawrence Schiffman has written an article for Ami Magazine on the discovery of Qumran’s 12th cave.

Liberty University has a story on their role in the Qumran excavations.

James VanderKam considers it a “bit premature to call it Qumran Cave 12.”

Gordon Govier talks with John DeLancey about Qumran Cave 12 and upcoming excavations in Israel on this week’s edition of The Book and the Spade.

Is Genesis History? is a new documentary showing on theaters on Thursday, February 23. I’ve heard good reports from those who have seen it.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Paleojudaica

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Sinkholes and Tourism at the Dead Sea

The shrinking Dead Sea is a perennial news item, but The Times of Israel’s article today has some new information on the subject that I haven’t seen in previous reports. There’s also a 360-degree-video taken from a boat moving along the shore.

The article addresses numerous items of interest, including:

  • The explosion of sinkholes from 100 to 6,000 in the last 25 years.
  • The closing of multiple tourist spots along the shore.
  • The reduction of the Jordan River to 5% of its original flow.
  • How fresh water coming from the mountains creates the sinkholes.
  • Israel’s increase of water released from the Sea of Galilee from 9 to 30 million cubic meters in the last 4 years.
  • The debate about how the mining industry contributes to the problem.
  • How Einot Tzukim is fighting to stay open for tourists.
  • The upside of the highway bypass at En Gedi.
  • One scholar’s proposal for an “open geological park” to enable visitors to view the sinkholes.
  • Why another scholar believes the sinkholes are good.

This well-illustrated article written by Melanie Lidman is here.

Dead Sea from Masada, tb060916736

The Dead Sea from Masada (June 2016)


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

In light of the recent revival of the half-shekel temple tax, John Delancey looks at the biblical background of this coin.

Wayne Stiles shows how the Hinnom Valley is not only a picture of evil, but also one of redemption. And, as usual, he shares some great visuals.

Ferrell Jenkins has created an index of his articles on the Romans and Jesus’s ministry.

If you’ve ever wondered what the building looked like from which Eutychus fell out of the window, Carl Rasmussen has an idea.

Where did Jesus speak the words of John 15-17? Leon Mauldin looks at the options.

Juliette Desplat describes the history of the Philae island and temple that were partially submerged for years before the temple was relocated.

The Met has moved its large image collection from OASC to public domain.

Free article from BASOR this week: “Back to Solomon’s Era: Results of the First Excavations at “Slaves’ Hill” (Site 34, Timna, Israel),” by Erez Ben-Yosef.

HT: Ted Weis, Agade, Joseph Lauer, Paleojudaica

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Excavations are set to resume at Masada, and the focus will be on Herod’s gardens and the rebels’ houses.

Tel Aviv University will begin excavations at Kiriath Jearim this August.

The IAA has inaugurated a “new” trail in the Davidson Center Archaeological Park. The “mikveh path” is described as being “experiential, circular, and modular.”

Craig Evans discusses the new DSS cave find and shares with readers the insights of Randall Price. The article includes a picture of the 12th cave's location.

Some scholars are claiming that any future finds relating to the Dead Sea Scrolls belong to Israel.

The latest discovery, with the blank scroll parchment, may help to detect modern forgeries.

The Oriental Institute Museum has made available an Ancient Near Eastern Cross-Cultural Timeline.

The Steinsaltz edition of the Talmud is being published online and will be available for free in Hebrew and English. This joins an already extensive collection of Jewish texts at Sefaria.

HT: Ted Weis, Agade, Joseph Lauer, Paleojudaica

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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Cave 12 Discovered at Qumran

Archaeologists have discovered a cave on the cliffs above Qumran that held Dead Sea Scrolls until it was looted in the mid-1900s. Eleven caves have previously been identified containing ancient scrolls, but no new ones have been discovered since Cave 11 was found in 1956.

From the Hebrew University press release:

Excavation of the cave revealed that at one time it contained Dead Sea scrolls. Numerous storage jars and lids from the Second Temple period were found hidden in niches along the walls of the cave and deep inside a long tunnel at its rear. The jars were all broken and their contents removed, and the discovery towards the end of the excavation of a pair of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s (stored within the tunnel for later use) proves the cave was looted.

Until now, it was believed that only 11 caves had contained scrolls. With the discovery of this cave, scholars have now suggested that it would be numbered as Cave 12. Like Cave 8, in which scroll jars but no scrolls were found, this cave will receive the designation Q12 (the Q=Qumran standing in front of the number to indicate no scrolls were found).

"This exciting excavation is the closest we’ve come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave,” said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation. “Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we ‘only’ found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen. The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more."

The finds from the excavation include not only the storage jars, which held the scrolls, but also fragments of scroll wrappings, a string that tied the scrolls, and a piece of worked leather that was a part of a scroll. The finding of pottery and of numerous flint blades, arrowheads, and a decorated stamp seal made of carnelian, a semi-precious stone, also revealed that this cave was used in the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods.

The press release includes the photos shown below, all courtesy of Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld. The story is covered by the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, and The Times of Israel (briefly).

The entrance to Cave 12

Excavation of Cave 12

Jar fragments in Cave 12

Remnants of scroll in Cave 12

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Monday, February 06, 2017

New Release: Bible Mapper WebViewer

There is a new Bible Mapper WebViewer that is designed to be a quick reference tool, for use on computers, tablets, and phones. Here are several ways to use it:

  • Navigate around a blank base map of the biblical world.
  • Enter the name of a biblical site and it will appear on the map. You could try Shechem, Lachish, or Capernaum.
  • Choose a biblical passage and all sites mentioned in it will show. You could try Joshua 6-8, Mark 1-2, or Revelation 2-3.
  • Select another webpage and it will map all biblical sites on that page. Try, for example, the Sea of Galilee page at www.LifeintheHolyLand.com.
  • Add roads from the OT or NT periods.

In my testing, the maps load quickly and the sites are identified accurately. A time or two I had to refresh the page, perhaps because I had too much data.

This new tool is different from the original Bible Mapper (still available in free and paid versions here), which allows you to save, export, and print customized maps. I could see students and teachers using this in personal Bible study as well as in the classroom. I am grateful to David Barrett for creating such a handy resource for us all.

Note: See Mark Hoffman’s blog for his experience with the WebViewer.

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Saturday, February 04, 2017

Weekend Roundup

Israeli authorities seized dozens of stolen ancient artifacts in Acco recently.

January’s “Find of the Month” for the Temple Mount Sifting Project is a murex trunculus.

Wayne Stiles considers the history and geography of Bethsaida and makes a present-day application.

Philippe Bohstrom looks at the history and biblical connections of the Amorites in the first part of a series for Haaretz (premium) on the Peoples of the Bible.

Yonatan Adler investigates the archaeological evidence for Jewish ritual purity in the time of Jesus, focusing on ritual baths and chalkstone vessels.

A new exhibition at the Onassis Center in NYC begins on March 9: “A World of Emotion in Ancient Greece, 700 BC - 200 AD.”

The half-shekel Temple tax is once again being collected.

The ASOR Archive Photo of the Month shows the excavations at Bethel (Beitin) in 1934.

After decades of travel in the Holy Land, Ferrell Jenkins made it to biblical Ibleam and its water tunnel.

HT: Charles Savelle, Agade, Paleojudaica, Gordon Franz

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Luke & Acts: Historical Reliability - 2

(Posted by Michael J. Caba)

This ongoing series of posts considers the historical reliability of the New Testament books of Luke and Acts by examining the relationship between the texts and other ancient sources. Primarily intended to assist those with a teaching ministry, it will cover both well documented and obscure correlations and will include periodic summaries and source references as relevant.

The first two verses of the third chapter of the Book of Luke contain references to eight individuals in prominent positions at the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist. The text itself is shown below.

"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar-when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene-during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness." (Luke 3:1-2, NIV)

The second individual in the list, Pontius Pilate, is a well known figure who is referenced in a number of ancient sources (e.g. Tacitus, Josephus). These sources include the inscribed limestone slab shown here that was found in Caesarea Maritima, Israel in 1961. It was originally made in c. AD 30. It is written in Latin and reads, "Tiberium Pontius Pilate Prefect of Judea."

Future posts will continue to explore this list of eight people as well as other correlations between the books of Luke and Acts with various ancient sources.

For information on similar artifacts related to the Bible, see Bible and Archaeology - Online Museum.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Weekend Roundup

Scott Stripling provides an account of the 21st and final season of excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir, possible location of biblical Ai. They found a Bronze Age stele in the final week of excavations.

Breaking Israel News provides an illustrated report of Noam Arnon’s exploration of the caves below Hebron’s Machpelah 35 years ago.

A medieval building constructed atop the Byzantine-era synagogue at Huqoq may also have served as a synagogue.

Carl Rasmussen links to some new excavations in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Shem Tov Sasson brings his readers along on the annual two-day Bar Ilan University’s Archaeology tour, this year to the Aravah (part 1, part 2).

A large display of Greek ceramics is now on display at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

The Louvre is planning to display some of its antiquities in Iran this spring.

“The European police have arrested 75 people and recovered about 3,500 stolen archaeological artifacts and other artworks as part of the dismantling of an international network of art traffickers.”

Iraqi authorities discovered more than 100 Assyrian artifacts in the home of an ISIS leader.

Critical Perspectives on the Practice of Digital Archaeology” is the title of a conference being held on Friday and Saturday at Harvard.

The Center for the Study of Christianity at the Hebrew University is sponsoring a conference in June with the theme, “Origen’s Legacy in the Holy Land—A Tale of Three Cities: Jerusalem, Caesarea and Bethlehem.”

“Students should study Egyptology and Assyriology.”

If Israel was compared to the playing board of Monopoly, Wayne Stiles identifies “Boardwalk” as Tel Megiddo.

I recently returned from a great study tour led by Dr. Mark Wilson. If you’re looking for an outstanding opportunity to learn the biblical lands outside of Israel, he’s leading a May walking tour in Turkey and a September-October tour of Malta and Italy.

The latest episodes at The Book and the Spade include The Library at Herculaneum, with Brent Seales; Jesus and the Remains of His Day, with Craig Evans; and the Top 10 Biblical Archaeology Stories of 2016, with Clyde Billington.

There will be a one-night showing next month of the new documentary, “Is Genesis History?

Leen Ritmeyer notes a special offer by Carta Jerusalem that includes a discount as well as a free copy of a new biblical archaeology map of Jerusalem. I plan to post more on that map shortly.

We’re now on Instagram, posting a photo every day. We continue to do the same on Facebook and Twitter.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 4

A new exhibit has opened at the Israel Museum entitled, “Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art.”

Now on display in Australia is the British Museum’s famed bronze Head of Augustus from Meroë.

The Museum of Troy is scheduled to open later this year.

Though relations have recently been repaired between Turkey and Israel, there’s no movement towards returning the Siloam Inscription, Gezer Calendar, and Temple Balustrade Inscription to Jerusalem.

Silver objects from the Roman Empire, including the Berthouville Treasure, are on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

The Eastman Museum is continuing its efforts to bring online its vast photographic collection. For example, a search for “Jerusalem” returns 24 pages with early photos by T.H. McAllister, Charles Chusseau-Flaviens, and the American Colony.

If you missed the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit, “Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven,” you can see many photos here.

Once again in control of Palmyra, ISIS has destroyed the ancient theater and tetrapylon.

The Associated Press examines the destruction of Nimrud caused by ISIS. Agatha Christie would be very unhappy.

The Crusader castle known as Crac des Chevaliers has been damaged in the Syrian war, but the extent of destruction is currently unknown.

Armed Libyan citizens have mounted patrols to protect Leptis Magna, an ancient city of Rome.

A majority of the artifacts coming out of Syria are modern fakes.

Plans are underway for a restitution (reconstruction?) of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

De Gruyter has made a number of its works published in 2016 open access.

Giovanni Garbini and Joseph Fitzmyer both passed away in the last month.

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

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 3

Gordon Govier lists his top 10 discoveries in biblical archaeology in 2016.

The Biblical Archaeology Society has selected its top 10 biblical archaeology discoveries of the year. LandMinds has a one-hour video podcast discussing the list.

Haaretz provides a list of the best archaeological finds in Israel in 2016.

Live Science suggests the 9 biggest archaeology findings of 2016. And they identify 5 big archaeology stories to watch for in 2017.

Brandon Marlon writes about 18 interesting sites that most tourists to Israel miss.

ASOR is offering a free e-book of the “5 Most Popular Biblical Archaeology Articles from The Ancient Near East Today” to subscribers to the weekly newsletter.

Recent excavations in Paphos, Cyprus, have discovered fortifications and a thick layer of crushed murex shells. “Team leader Maria Iacovou noted that this is the first time that archaeological evidence for the production of the highly valued purple dye from murex shells has been found in Cyprus.”

A marble sculpture of a Roman noblewoman was discovered by a farmer in Crete following a recent storm.

Twelve tombs from the 18th Dynasty have been discovered in Gebel el Silsila.

A study of a toy Roman chariot reveals that ancient charioteers affixed an iron strip to the right wheel in order to improve their chances of winning.

As tourism in Egypt continues its lull, officials are trying new ways to attract visitors.

There is only one archaeobotanist in Egypt, but he is hoping this will change.

Ongoing work at Laodicea has uncovered the sacred agora.

This May: Archaeology and History of Lydia: From the Early Lydian Period to the Late Antiquity (8th century B.C.-6th Century A.D.): An International Symposium.

Robert Alter will be lecturing in Nashville on January 30.

The Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society has a lecture series scheduled for the coming months.

HT: Ted Weis, Agade, Joseph Lauer, Explorator, Paleojudaica

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

“Siloam Street,” now dubbed “Pilgrims Way,” leading from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount, was inaugurated recently.

Excavations begin this summer at Kiriath Jearim and applications for volunteers are being accepted.

Carl Rasmussen recently took the “Behind the Scenes of the Western Wall” in Jerusalem tour and shares some photos.

The Roman milestones on display along Highway 38 (the “Diagonal Route” in the Shephelah) have unfortunately been moved to KKL-JNF’s Givat Yeshayahu offices.

The 2016 issue of ‘Atiqot has been released.

The Fall 2016 issue of the electronic newsletter DigSight has been published.

Restoration work on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is nearly halfway done.

Archaeologists will begin using robotic submarines in excavations of Atlit-Yam.

Who are the Christians in Israel today?

Islamic guards attempted to evict Gabriel Barkay for saying the words “Temple Mount” on the Temple Mount.

Reuters has created a photo story on the Sea of Galilee.

Wayne Stiles has written a great post on the many interesting sites in the Golan Heights.

The Atlanta Jewish Times has a story about the Biblical History Center in LaGrange, Georgia, and a second story about its founder, James Fleming.

“Ancient Jerusalem in VR” is now available on Google Play ($1.99)and the Apple store ($2.99). You can find some screenshots and videos here. Note: the support website is down at this writing.

You can now experience Petra with a 360º experience for Google Cardboard

HT: Ted Weis, Agade, Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle, Explorator, Pat McCarthy, Paleojudaica

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