Saturday, December 30, 2017

More Top 10 Lists for Biblical Archaeology in 2017

In Christianity Today, Gordon Govier has identified “Biblical Archaeology’s Top 10 Discoveries of 2017.” He and I discuss his article in the latest The Book and the Spade.

Haaretz has produced a list of stories they published each month.

Atlas Obscura identifies “the 50 Greatest Finds of 2017” from all parts of the globe.

Bible History Daily posts a list of the top 10 blog posts that received the most web traffic in 2017, but none are related to an archaeological discovery this year.

Live Science has created a slide show of the “big year” that 2017 was for biblical archaeologists.

Bryan Windle has compiled a list of top ten discoveries in biblical archaeology based on his weekly updates for the Associates for Biblical Research.

The International Business Times has published a list of the 11 most significant archaeological discoveries of the year.

What did we miss? If you see any other lists, add a comment below or send me an email and I will update this list.

We wish a happy new year to all our readers!

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Friday, December 29, 2017

Hopes and Dreams of 2017

Many plans were announced over the year that we linked to in weekend roundups. You can decide for yourself what you would consider most important and what you think will never materialize. And you can check back in a few years and see what dreams have come true.

Israel’s Tourism Ministry has approved construction of a 4-mile-long cable car line connecting Upper Nazareth and the lower slopes of Mount Tabor.

Construction has begun on the “Sanhedrin Trail,” running from Beth Shearim to Tiberias. It will be a “smart” trail that “will communicate with the hikers using an innovative, augmented reality-based application.” The project also includes the building of a visitor’s center in Tiberias.

Solomon’s Pools will be renovated with a $750,000 grant from the US Consulate in Jerusalem with hopes of turning it into a major tourism site.

A $14 million elevator will be built at the Western Wall Plaza to allow the elderly and disabled to go to the Jewish Quarter.

Authorities are planning to stop the flow of sewage down the Kidron Valley.

“The ancient city of Ephesus . . . is set to once again have a harbor on the Aegean coast, according to an ambitious new project.”

Turkey is planning to restore and open the stadium of Perga.

The 7-year long excavation project of Carchemish has ended and the Karkamış Ancient City Archaeological Park is supposed to open on May 12, 2018.

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

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

More Top Stories of 2017

There were a number of interesting and significant stories this year that didn’t make it into the “top ten” list we posted yesterday.

Old Testament Period

Excavations in the City of David revealed evidence of Jerusalem’s fall in 586 BC.

The massive “Spring Tower” built over Jerusalem’s Gihon Spring may date to the 9th century BC, instead of to the Middle Bronze Age.

Ten jugs from the time of Eli and Samuel have been discovered in excavations at Shiloh.

Archaeologists working near biblical Aphek have discovered a large water reservoir dating to about the time of King Hezekiah.

The team working at Tel Burna has uncovered more evidence attesting to Canaanite ritual activity.

Scholars at Tel Aviv University have used multispectral imaging to reveal text on ancient “blank” potsherds from the First Temple period.

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.

Early excavation work at Kiriath Jearim revealed a 9-foot-wall.

Archaeologists excavated a dolmen on the Golan Heights with a 50-ton capstone and unique artistic decorations.

Archaeologists excavating in the Timna Valley near Eilat discovered fabric dyed red and blue.

New Testament/Second Temple Period

Archaeologists excavated an Edomite/Idumean temple in a live-fire zone near Lachish.

Archaeologists have reported the discovery of a large ritual bath(mikveh) at Macherus.

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.

Fragments of a second “arch of Titus” were discovered in Rome.

Roman and Byzantine Periods

A mosaic from a Georgian church or monastery has been excavated in Ashdod-Yam, leading archaeologists to believe they may have finally discovered the Roman-Byzantine city of Ashdod-Yam.

A large 4th-century AD winepress was excavated in the Ramat Negev region.

Archaeologists discovered a well-preserved Roman-period road in the Shephelah of Judah.

A 6th-century mosaic discovered near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem has a Greek inscription mentioning Emperor Justinian.

Other Stories

The Museum of the Bible opened in Washington DC.

Hershel Shanks retired from Biblical Archaeology Review, a magazine he founded in 1975. 

  

Tomorrow

Various plans were announced this year. Check in tomorrow for our “hopes and dreams of 2017” edition.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Top 10 Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology from 2017

What are the top discoveries of the year? Here is my list, based on a review of the stories and roundups posted on the BiblePlaces Blog throughout 2017.

1. Dozens of seal impressions naming officials of the First Temple Period were found in the City of David.

2. A capital from Solomon's Colonnade was discovered in Temple Mount Sifting Project.

3. A Timna copper mining camp was dated to time of David and Solomon through the analysis of donkey dung.

4. New excavations at el-Araj challenge the identification of et-Tell with Bethsaida.

5. A small Roman theater was found next to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.

6. Evidence of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem was discovered along the road from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount.

7. Merneptah’s destruction of Gezer was found, corresponding to its mention in the Merneptah Stele.

8. The Augustus Temple Altar foundation was unearthed at Caesarea.

9. Analysis of the traditional tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher supports a 4th-century date, as long believed.

10. Seven inscriptions were discovered in three Byzantine churches excavated in Galilee this summer.

All ten of these come from Israel, and five come from Jerusalem. Three are related to the Old Testament, and six are from the world of the New Testament.

You can revisit the top stories of previous years at the links below:

Tomorrow I’ll post a list of other significant stories and discoveries from the year.

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 3

The first-ever issue of Biblical Archaeology Review without Hershel Shanks at the helm has been published. This annual excavation issue also includes articles on an ancient Jerusalem trash dump, Canaanite art at Hazor, and the Ketef Hinnom silver amulets.

Carl Rasmussen explains Paul’s walk from Troas to Assos with photos and a map.

A writer for The New York Times describes his visit to Alexandria.

A study shows that black ink from Egyptian papyri contains copper.

The Egyptian government is working on a bill to increase the penalty for smuggling antiquities to life imprisonment.

Police in Turkey have recovered over 26,000 artifacts from a smuggling ring in Istanbul.

The German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land (GPIA) has launched a new website for its project DOJAM – Documentation of Objects in Jordanian Archaeological Museums.   

The winter issue of the Oriental Institute’s News & Notes is online.

The ancients used meteoritic material in the forging of daggers, axes, and jewelry.

Rome will begin charging tourists to visit the Pantheon.

The New York Metropolitan Museum purchased a 14th-century illuminated Hebrew Bible before it was to be auctioned by Sotheby’s.

How did the 1917 Jerusalem surrender flag end up in Ohio?

William Dever, Carol Meyers, and Israel Finkelstein were among those receiving awards at the 2017 ASOR Annual Meeting.

LiveScience suggests some major finds in biblical archaeology in 2017.

Merry Christmas!

HT: Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, Agade

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Yehiel Zelinger discusses the excavations of Bliss and Dickie on Mount Zion and shares a great photo of his own excavations there. (I’d love to see a labeled version, if anyone knows of such or can create one…)

Archaeologists working in Turkey have uncovered evidence related to the collapse of the Assyrian empire.

The first phase of the renovation of St. Catherine’s Library is complete.

The BBC tells the story of the relocation of the modern inhabitants of ancient Gadara through its former security guard.

The third issue of the newsletter of Tel Aviv U’s Institute of Archaeology includes field reports from this year’s work at Ashdod-Yam, Kiriath Jearim, Beth Shemesh, and the City of David.

And now Hollywood gives us . . . Samson. (Whether you are interested in the trailer or not, click the link to see how archaeologist Aren Maeir keeps his volunteers in line.)

Ferrell Jenkins shares a beautiful aerial photo of Jerusalem from the west.

A writer for Haaretz (premium) asks, Why doesn’t Israel have a museum for Jesus?

LiveScience looks into the backstory of a bone that Oxford scientists believe comes from the real St. Nicholas.

The city of Nazareth has cancelled Christmas celebrations in protest of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Was the census that brought Jesus to Bethlehem a coincidence?

Among the specials for Accordance’s 12 Days of Christmas is the Biblical Archaeology Review (1975-2012).

We’ll have part three of the roundup tomorrow with another dozen stories.

HT: Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, Agade, Mark Hoffman, Charles Savelle, Explorator, Chris McKinny, Mike Harney

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Underwater excavations of Corinth’s harbor at the port of Lechaion have exposed five-ton stone blocks and a perfectly preserved wooden post. This article has lots of illustrations. A 2-minute video takes you there.

The New York Times reports on the numerous ancient finds from Rome's ongoing subway project.

Archaeologists have been excavating a large Byzantine church complex near Beth Shemesh.

Excavations have revealed that the population of Shiloh switched from Gentile to Jewish following the Maccabean Revolt.

New excavations have revealed a Hasmonean-era settlement at Susiya near Hebron.

Israel’s Culture Minister is initiating a $70 million plan to uncover, preserve, and develop historical sites in Jerusalem and vicinity.

The Israeli government has approved funding for a hiking trail through the West Bank and Golan Heights.

“The ancient city of Hazor in the Galilee seems to have muscled its way to fame and fortune partly by developing a unique business in farming sheep, instead of goats like everyone else in Canaan 3,700 years ago.”

Recent excavations at Jericho show a close relationship between the city and Egypt.

Archaeologists have traced the history of a menorah relief in various buildings in Tiberias.

A young girl discovered a Hasmonean-period oil lamp in a porcupines’ den near Beth Shean. Elsewhere antiquities thieves denied their activities by claiming that they were “just hunting porcupines.”

New book, with free ebook download: Finding Jerusalem: Archaeology between Science and Ideology, by Katharina Galor.

Cuneiform cookies are all the rage this Christmas. This video will teach you how to bake Ugaritic Tablet Biscuits.

HT: Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, Agade, Mark Hoffman, Charles Savelle, Explorator, Chris McKinny, Mike Harney

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Walking the Bible Lands: Registration Ends Today

Registration for Walking the Bible Lands ends today. If you haven’t checked out the new free Christmas videos about “The Promise that Changed the World,” you can do that here. By joining Walking the Bible Lands, you get great new content every month, plus several bonuses right now.

  • Sites & Insights
  • Dig This!
  • Audio Devotional
  • Audiobook: Going Places with God
  • Audiobook: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus

Everything is explained right here.

Registration closes at midnight and the price will never be this low again. Check it out here.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Favorite Book of the Year: Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

At a faculty roundtable last month, we went around and answered a series of questions for our students majoring in Biblical Studies. One question asked was, “What is the best book you’ve read this year?” My answer was Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus, by Lois Tverberg.

Officially the book doesn’t release until next month, but that’s too late for Christmas. And I’ve learned that the author has some copies available now. I want to encourage you to consider buying one or more, from her directly, before it’s available at Amazon and other bookstores.Image result for Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

You get an idea for what the book is about from the subtitle: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding. You can also get an idea from the table of contents and the free sample chapter. And the endorsements are stellar. Here’s what I wrote for the back of the book cover:

Just what exactly did Jesus share with his disciples on the road to Emmaus? This excellent book unfolds so many valuable truths in the Scriptures that are often ignored or misunderstood. Lois Tverberg is a trustworthy guide whose insightful discoveries provide a delightful appetizer to some of the most exciting passages in the Old Testament. I'm recommending it to everyone I know.

Let me break that down a bit.

This book addresses many of my favorite subjects, including individualism vs. community, intertextuality, and the concept of a righteous king.

This book highlights some of my favorite OT passages, bringing out the glory of Isaiah 53, Daniel 7, Zechariah 9, and 2 Samuel 7.

This book is full of truths that are precious to me from my study of Jesus’s Bible (aka the Old Testament). I don’t think these truths should be radical, but it took me too long to learn them and I find my students are usually ignorant of them.

This summer my family memorized Isaiah 11-12. If that strikes you as strange and you’re asking, why not something “practical” such as in the Book of James, then this book will definitely help you understand why I want my kids’ brains steeped in this glorious passage of Isaiah.

Frankly, most of us Christians have done it all wrong, starting at the back of the book (in the New Testament) and wondering why certain things don’t make sense and why the Old Testament is mysterious in so many places. We need to start at the beginning, and I highly recommend Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus as an easy way to get you excited to do that yourself, with your family, or in your church or Bible study.

You’ll be able to buy it in bookstores next month, but I would encourage you to consider buying it directly from Lois now because: (1) you can give them as presents; (2) you’ll be supporting the author directly, and she deserves the reward for her many years of labors on this!

I’ll close with what I wrote to Lois after I finished reading the preview copy: “My prayer is that this book will reach many—for the good of their souls and the glory of our Savior!”

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Monday, December 11, 2017

One Hundred Years Ago Today: Allenby Enters Jerusalem

One hundred years ago today, British General Edmund Allenby entered Jerusalem on foot and issued a proclamation declaring British control of the city. Two days earlier the Turkish authorities had surrendered, ending 400 years of Ottoman rule (1517-1917).

The photographic department of the American Colony was on hand to capture these historic moments. The most famous photo shows the mayor of the city surrendering to the British with a white flag.

Surrender to British, 1917, mayor with white flag, mat00162

Below is a photograph of the letter of surrender.

Surrender 1917, copy of letter of surrender, mat02222

General Allenby was advised to make a contrast of his entrance into Jerusalem with the rather ostentatious ceremony of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898, and he dismounted his horse to walk through Jaffa Gate into the city.

Allenby entry 1917, troops entering Jaffa Gate, mat02225

Around the corner stands the entrance to the historic “Citadel of David,” and on its podium Allenby read a proclamation.

Allenby entry 1917, Pasha reading proclamation, mat02228

The proclamation was translated into six other languages and posted throughout the city.

Allenby entry, proclamation of martial law, mat05790

The text of the proclamation, read by Allenby 100 years ago today, is as follows:

To the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Blessed and the people dwelling in the vicinity: The defeat inflicted upon the Turks by the troops under my command has resulted in the occupation of your city by my forces. I therefore here and now proclaim it to be under martial law, under which form of administration it will remain so long as military considerations make it necessary. However, lest anyone of you be alarmed by reason of your experience at the hands of the enemy who has retired, I hereby inform you that it is my desire that every person should pursue his lawful business without fear of interruption.

Furthermore, since your City is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind, and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for many centuries, therefore do I make known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer, of whatsoever form of the three religions, will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.”

Thus Allenby declared that while the city was under martial law (as the Great War continued for another year), he guaranteed the status quo for places of worship.

After the proclamation, Allenby was photographed riding his horse away from Jaffa Gate.

Allenby exit, on horseback at Jaffa Gate, mat00169

This photograph below was taken on the day of Jerusalem’s surrender and shows five British generals.

Surrender of Jerusalem, 1917, British generals, mat05788

A monument to the surrender was later erected in Romema in west Jerusalem where it still stands until today.

Monument of Jerusalem's surrender to British in Dec 1917, tb060601206

All of the black and white photos above come from the Early 20th-Century History volume of the American Colony and Eric Matson Collection. The complete PowerPoint file of the 1917 Turkish Surrender is available as a free download.

For more information, see:

The story of the surrender at the blog of the Israel State Archives (ISA)

“General Allenby Shows How a Moral Man Conquers Jerusalem”Haaretz (premium)

General Allenby’s Entry into Jerusalem – a 14-minute film held by the Imperial War Museum (details here)

Picture of the Week: Surrender of Jerusalem, 1917 – a post on this blog by Seth M. Rodriquez

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Egypt announced the discovery of two private 18th-dynasty tombs in Luxor yesterday.

Heath D. Dewrell provides an introduction to child sacrifice in Israel that is based on his recent monograph on the subject.

The Jewish Week interviews Lawrence Schiffman about his involvement with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society has posted its schedule of spring lectures.

Writing on Forbes, Sarah Bond suggests five ways to listen to the music of the ancient world.

With Germany’s refusal to recognize Israeli ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Israel Antiquities Authority is not allowing any scrolls to be part of a special exhibit at the Bible Museum in Frankfurt.

This week on The Land and the Book with Charlie Dyer: a discussion on Biblical Customs and Curiosities with George Knight.

Tel Lachish and Tel 'Eton are the latest stops on the tour schedule of Israel’s Good Name.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a photo of a new scene he saw on his last visit to Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.

If you've ever wondered how an expert restores dozens of pottery sherds into an intact vessel, watch this short video.

Check out this site if you're interested in touring southern Jordan on a bike. Or ride your bike 850 miles (1,400 km) in the Holyland Challenge from Mount Hermon to Eilat.

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

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Israeli archaeologists have found that early Muslim coins and vessels were inscribed with menorahs.

Scholars have discovered more than 1,000 seal impressions from the 2nd-3rd centuries AD in southeastern Turkey.

“An Egyptian-European archaeological mission working in Luxor Governorate uncovered a collection of 27 fragmented statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet.”

The gate of Amenemhat I is being moved from north Cairo to the Grand Egyptian Museum.

Haaretz (premium) reports on a new study of the decoration of the Temple Mount by Orit Peleg-Barkat. Leen Ritmeyer considers her work on the Royal Stoa and proposes another plan.

On Academia: Yosef Garfinkel argues for the identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa as an Israelite site.

The excavations of the Galilean synagogue of Huqoq are summarized following a recent lecture by Jodi Magness.

Shmuel Browns shares a beautiful photo of a supermoon rising over the Dead Sea this week.

Now released: The second and third videos of Wayne Stiles’s new series, “The Promise That Changed the World: A Journey through the Birth of Christ.”

Barnes & Noble has a 25% off coupon, good in store or online (GETGIFTING), valid through Sunday. Here are four recommendations:

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Rodger Young, Steven Anderson

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Saturday, December 02, 2017

Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists have excavated an Edomite/Idumean temple in a live-fire zone near Lachish that they first identified using drones. High-res photos and a video are available here.

An ancient gymnasium with well-preserved mosaics has been discovered near biblical Iconium (modern Konya) in Turkey. (References that suggest it was near the Laodicea mentioned in Revelation are apparently incorrect.) For more photos, see this article in the Turkish press.

Scholars have identified the first-known Greek copy of the Apocalypse of James.

Owen Jarus corrects some misinformation about the “castle” recently “discovered” under the waters of Lake Van.

You can learn more about pigeons and ancient dovecotes from Jennifer Ramsay’s article at the ASOR Blog.

Turkish authorities have arrested four men who tried to sell an ancient Torah manuscript.

Indiana Joan, a real-life tomb raider, is 95 years old and lives in Western Australia.

Carl Rasmussen explains how the Altar of Augustan Peace (Ara Pacis) illustrates an aspect of “the fulness of time” when God sent his Son.

The First Days of Jesus, by Andreas J. Kostenberger and Alexander Stewart, is for sale for Kindle for $2.99.

The second edition of the NET Bible has been released. Print copies are available here. In an act of remarkable transparency (and courage!), they have posted a complete list of changes.

R. Steven Notley (Nyack College) will be lecturing on “Geography, Christianity and the History of Second Temple Judaism” at the Yeshiva University on Wednesday, December 6th, 6:45-7:45pm in the Furst Hall Room 308, 500 W 185th St, NYC.

The New York Times reviews the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Chanan Tigay describes his worldwide hunt to unravel the mystery of Moshe Shapiro’s “Dead Sea Scrolls.”

Now open: The Jordan Trail runs from Gadara (Um Qais) in the north to Aqaba in the south. The official website includes downloadable maps and GPX files. Here’s a fun video on hiking the trail by Epic Trails.

HT: Charles Savelle, Agade, Joseph Lauer, Bill Schlegel, Mike Harney, Wayne Stiles, A.D. Riddle

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Friday, December 01, 2017

New Christmas Videos Filmed in Israel

Wayne Stiles has created a new Christmas video series entitled “The Promise That Changed the World.” These three videos were filmed entirely in Israel and include new drone footage.

The first video focuses on the prophecies of the birth of Jesus, and this video was released this morning. The second video looks at the birth of Jesus and the announcement to the shepherds. And the third video is centered on the Magi and King Herod.

They are all free and you can access them here. If you’ve been a reader here for long, you know how much I appreciate Wayne’s insights.

Christmas thumbnail episode 1

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