Sunday, July 31, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Archaeologists working in Manisa in western Turkey have discovered a dinner set that dates to 150 BC.

Philippe Bohstrom profiles the Phoenicians and their contributions to civilization.

A map of all of Egypt’s archaeological sites and museums has been created, with a digital version to be released online next month.

An underwater Roman era basilica found only 20 meters off the shore of Lake İznik in the northwestern province of Bursa will be revived for tourism, as an "underwater museum" project at the site is underway.”

The Bolton Museum is planning to spend millions of pounds to create a new Eternal Egypt Gallery.

Michael Harbin looks at the Bible, archaeology, and modern patterns to understand what an agricultural community in the time of the Judges might have looked like.

The World Video Bible School has released the first five of a scheduled 20 programs. These include Jerusalem, Jesus’s northern ministry, Dan, the Mount Gilboa region, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

A youth group working alongside archaeologists in Ibillin in northern Israel have uncovered a Canaanite fortress.

A pottery workshop from the Roman period has been excavated in western Galilee. High-res photos are available here.

After a four-year break, excavators are back at work at Tel Dan.

Jodi Magness provides an update on this summer’s excavations of Huqoq on The Book and the Spade.

Israel’s only mummy is now on display in a special exhibit at the Israel Museum that opened this week.

A project featuring ten mosaic replicas was unveiled in Jerusalem’s Cardo this week. A Jerusalem Post article indicates that the project will take a year to complete.

A group of Israeli archaeologists was attacked when touring the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount Sifting Project has a firsthand report.

Israel’s High Court is allowing the transfer of the ancient library at the Rockefeller Museum to the new IAA headquarters.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is looking for help in identifying some of their finds.

Wayne Stiles explains the King’s Garden in Jerusalem, past and present.

CBD has a good deal going on the New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Get the original four volumes for $148, or get all five for $260. The update volume is available separately as well for $111. (Used sets at Amazon are a little more and new are $400+228.)

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Egyptian Statue Discovered at Hazor

Earlier this morning, Hebrew University sent out this press release with photos:

In a historic find, a large fragment of an Egyptian statue measuring 45 X 40 centimeters, made of lime-stone, was discovered. In the course of the current season of excavations at Tel-Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Only the lower part of the statue survived, depicting the crouching feet of a male figure, seated on a square base on which a few lines in the Egyptian hieroglyphic script are inscribed.

The archaeologists estimate that the complete statue would equal the size of a fully-grown man. At present only a preliminary reading of the inscriptions has been attempted, and the title and name of the Egyptian official who originally owned the statue, are not yet entirely clear.

The statue was originally placed either in the official's tomb or in a temple – most probably a temple of the Egyptian god Ptah – and most of the texts inscribed on the statue's base include words of praise to the official who may have served and most probably practiced his duties in the region of Memphis, the primary cult center of the god Ptah. They also include the customary Egyptian funerary formula ensuring eternal supply of offerings for the statue's owner.

The monumental Egyptian statute of a high official from the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, found in the administrative palace at Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. (Photo credit: Shlomit Bechar)

The three volunteer excavators who found the statue, from left to right: Valentin Sama-Rojo from Spain, Bryan Kovach from the United States, and Elanji Swart from South Africa. (Photo credit: Shlomit Bechar)

This statue, found this year, together with the sphinx fragment of the Egyptian king Mycerinus (who ruled Egypt in the 25th century B.C.E.) discovered at the site by the research team three years ago, are the only monumental Egyptian statues found so far in second millennium contexts in the entire Levant.

The discovery of these two statues in the same building currently being excavated by the research team, indicates the special importance of the building (probably the administrative palace of the ruler of the city), as well as that of the entire city of Hazor.

[…]

In the course of close to 30 years of excavation, fragments of 18 different Egyptian statues, both royal and private, dedicated to Egyptian kings and officials, including two sphinxes, were discovered at Hazor. Most of these statues were found in layers dated to the Late Bronze Age (15th-13th centuries B.C.E.) – corresponding to the New Kingdom in Egypt. This is the largest number of Egyptian statues found so far in any site in the Land of Israel, although there is no indication that Hazor was one of the Egyptian strongholds in Southern Canaan nor of the presence of an Egyptian official at Hazor during the Late Bronze Age.

Interestingly, most Egyptian statues found at Hazor so far date to Egypt's "Middle Kingdom" (19th-18th centuries B.C.E), a time when Hazor did not yet exist. It thus seems that the statues were sent by an Egyptian king in the "New Kingdom" as official gifts to the king of Hazor, or as dedications to a local temple (regardless of their being already "antiques"). This is not surprising considering the special status of the king of Hazor who was the most important king in Southern Canaan at the time. The extraordinary importance of Hazor in the 15th-13th centuries B.C.E. is indicated also by the Biblical reference to Hazor as "the head of all those kingdoms" (Joshua 11:10).

All the statues at the site were found broken to pieces and scattered over a large area. Clear signs of mutilation indicate that most of them were deliberately and violently smashed, most probably in the course of the city's final conquest and destruction sometime in the 13th century B.C.E. The deliberate mutilation of statues of kings and dignitaries accompanying the conquest of towns, is a well-known practice in ancient times (I Samuel 5:1-4; Isaiah 11:9) as well as in our time.

The full press release is here, and the story is being covered by the Jerusalem Post and other outlets.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Forty-five shipwrecks, many dating back to ancient times, have been discovered off a Greek archipelago that is one of the Mediterranean's richest underwater archaeological sites.”

A large and Roman mosaic has been discovered in Larnaca, Cyprus. A short video shows the excavation.

“A large number of expansive rock tombs which could constitute part of the world’s largest necropolis have been discovered during work carried out by the Şanlıurfa Municipality around the historic Urfa Castle in southeastern Turkey.”

“Excavation teams at an ancient site [Side] in the southern province of Antalya are struggling to find sponsors after it emerged that the site contains an ancient brothel.”

The Lion of Babylon is not faring well in part because of the visitors that keep climbing on its back.

The oldest writing found on papyrus is now on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Scholars believe that have identified an ancient security system that protected the pharaoh’s burial chamber in one of the pyramids of Giza.

Philippi is in the latest group of sites to be named a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Some British MPs are proposing the return of the Elgin Marbles to smooth Britain’s departure from the EU.

Two Hellenistic marble sculptures from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin will remain on loan for the next two years at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The ancient Mamertine Prison in Rome will soon be open after three years for restoration and excavation.

After a $73 million renovation, Yale will soon be re-opening the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

“Dendrochronological and radiocarbon research by an international team led by Cornell archaeologist Sturt Manning has established an absolute timeline for the archaeological, historical and environmental record in Mesopotamia from the early second millennium B.C.”

Ben Witherington III has more than 20 posts on his recent trip to Turkey. Highlights include visits to the Miletus Museum, the Izmir Museum, and the Zeugma Museum (which has a splendid mosaic).

New book out from Eisenbrauns: “Did I Not Bring Israel Out of Egypt?” Biblical, Archaeological, and Egyptological Perspectives on the Exodus Narratives, edited by James K. Hoffmeier, Alan R. Millard, and Gary A. Rendsburg.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Explorator, Daniel Wright

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

The archaeological co-directors provide a summary of this summer’s work at Tel Ein Jezreel.

Archaeologists working at Bethsaida have found some monumental towers guarding the approach ramp to the city gate.

Haaretz (premium) reports on the latest discoveries in the Mount Zion excavation, including a bathtub and a cup with a priestly inscription. Joel Kramer’s drone photo gives a good perspective.

Wayne Stiles reflects this week on lessons to be learned from Jeremiah’s hometown of Anathoth.

For the first time, researchers have succeeded in sequencing the genome of ancient barley grains found in a cave near Masada.

An update on the renovations of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity includes photos of newly restored mosaics.

IAA inspectors raided a shop in the Old City of Jerusalem suspected to be selling antiquities without a license.

Invitations are now open for a 2017 conference entitled “The Anglo-German Exploration of the Holy Land, 1865-1915.”

Eric Mitchell has begun a series on biblical archaeology for the Christian Examiner.

An article in Forbes asks how augmented reality will affect archaeological sites.

With a recent grant, plans are moving forward in the creation of the Digital Library of the Middle East.

Gordon Govier speaks this week with Cynthia Shafer-Elliott about “Daily Life in Ancient Israel” on the Book and the Spade (part 1, part 2).

Some Leon Uris favorites are on sale for Kindle now: Exodus, Mila 18, QB VII, and others.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Explorator, Daniel Wright

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Philistine Cemetery Discovered at Ashkelon

After thirty years of excavations, the final season at Ashkelon ended on Friday. As the excavation closed, a new Ashkelon exhibit opened at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, and a sensational find was announced at the press conference. For the last four seasons, they have been excavating a large Philistine cemetery that sheds new light on this ancient people. From National Geographic:

While more than a century of scholarship has identified the five major cities of the Philistines and artifacts distinctive to their culture, only a handful of burials have been tentatively identified.

Simply put, archaeologists have found plenty of pots, but very few people.

Now, the discovery of a cemetery containing more than 211 individuals and dated from the 11th to 8th centuries B.C. will give archaeologists the opportunity to answer critical questions regarding the origin of the Philistines and how they eventually assimilated into the local culture.

Until this discovery, the absence of such cemeteries in major Philistine centers has made researchers' understanding of their burial practices—and by turn, their origins—"about as accurate as the mythology about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree," says Lawrence Stager, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Harvard University, who has led the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon since 1985.

For background and more details, see the full story or other reports in The Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post. Aren Maeir, director of the excavations of Philistine Gath, has some additional comments.

HT: Jared Clark, Chris McKinny, Joseph Lauer

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Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Noah’s Ark and Red Sea Mosaics Discovered in Huqoq Synagogue

Jodi Magness has discovered more mosaics in her excavations of the synagogue of Huqoq in Galilee. In previous years she uncovered a mosaic of Samson and the foxes and another of Samson carrying the gate of Gaza. From the UNC press release:

The mosaic panels decorating the floor of the synagogue’s nave (center of the hall) portray two biblical stories: Noah’s Ark and the parting of the Red Sea. The panel with Noah’s Ark depicts an ark and pairs of animals, including elephants, leopards, donkeys, snakes, bears, lions, ostriches, camels, sheep and goats. The scene of the parting of the Red Sea shows Pharaoh’s soldiers being swallowed by large fish, surrounded by overturned chariots with horses and chariot drivers.

“These scenes are very rare in ancient synagogues,” said Magness, Kenan Distinguished Professor. “The only other examples that have been found are at Gerasa/Jerash in Jordan and Mopsuestia/Misis in Turkey (Noah’s Ark), and at Khirbet Wadi Hamam in Israel and Dura Europos in Syria (the parting of the Red Sea).”

[…]

“This is by far the most extensive series of biblical stories ever found decorating the mosaic floor of an ancient synagogue,” said Magness. “The arrangement of the mosaics in panels on the floor brings to mind the synagogue at Dura Europos in Syria, where an array of biblical stories is painted in panels on the walls.”

The mosaics have been removed from the site for conservation, and the excavated areas have been backfilled. Excavations are scheduled to continue in summer 2017. For additional information and updates, visit the project’s website: www.huqoq.org.

The full press release may be read here. The National Geographic story is online here. As is customary with the Huqoq excavation, few photos are published.

Huqoq excavations from east, tb053116394
Excavations of the synagogue of Huqoq

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Sunday, July 03, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Archaeologists working in Pompeii have “discovered four skeletons and gold coins in the ruins of an ancient shop in Pompeii.”

Archaeologists working at Carthage have uncovered a “smart cooling system” for chariot racers.

As restoration work on the Roman Colosseum moves from outside to inside, officials hope to use it one day for cultural events.

A stele depicting childbirth won an Egyptian Antiquities Ministry poll.

Digital scanning is revealing previously unseen portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls and raising new interpretive questions (Haaretz premium).

The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review includes stories on Paul’s riot in Ephesus, Eilat Mazar’s excavations in the City of David, and the reconstruction of the Umm el-Qanatir synagogue.

The Syrian military has cleared thousands of booby traps from Palmyra, yet some are claiming that they are looting. Franklin Lamb has a detailed first-person report in two parts.

Barry Britnell reports on his recent visit to the Biblical History Center (formerly the Explorations in Antiquity Center) in LaGrange, Georgia.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a couple of photos related to the Story of Sinuhe.

Duane W. Roller reflects on geography in the ancient world.

The Associates for Biblical Research are looking for a Pre-publication Editing Assistant Volunteer for Bible and Spade.

We’ll be taking a couple of weeks off from roundups, but we’ll include any stories you suggest when we return.

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

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Saturday, July 02, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Repairs inside the Dome of the Rock are complete, and when they took photos this week, it was revealed that the reconstruction of the tile floor proposed by the Temple Mount Sifting Project is accurate.

The study of fish bones found in a 7th-century AD shipwreck near Dor indicates that a now-extinct subspecies of St. Peter’s fish was being transported on the boat (Haaretz premium).

Scholars are offering competing explanations for the massive trash dump in the Kidron Valley from the first century AD (Haaretz premium).

A jogger along the shore of Ashkelon discovered a 12th-century AD oil lamp.

Aren Maeir is providing daily updates of the excavation of Gath.

The Tel Burna team gives an update from the first two weeks of their season. Chris McKinny’s work on the LB cultic building looks particularly promising in the remaining two weeks.

Jennie Ebeling and Norma Franklin discuss several important facets of their excavations at Jezreel.

Luke Chandler discusses the possibility of a Judahite water system at Lachish and the need for funds to excavate it.

If you’re interested in a brief, well-illustrated study of the world’s largest stones used in construction projects, check out Tom Powers’s latest post.

Felicity Cobbing of the PEF was present at the opening of the Palestine Museum in Ramallah and shares her perspective.

The senior staff of the Ashkelon excavations is wrapping up their final season this month and beginning a new project at Tel Shimron with a geophysical survey this summer.

Appian Media was recently filming in Israel for their upcoming Following the Messiah video series. They are posting updates on the project and their travels on their blog.

The Fifth Gospel is a new iBook that explores the land, the culture, and the archaeology of the Bible. It was designed for high school students and features maps, interactive quizzes, photos, and short film clips. Check it out on iTunes.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

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