Monday, February 08, 2016

Recommended Study Tour in Jordan

I highly recommend that students and teachers of the Bible go on a study trip in Jordan. You have no idea how much biblical history happened on the other side of the river until you spend two weeks seeing it all. It is extremely rewarding.

The best study tour of Jordan for students of the Bible is that taught by Dr. Ginger Caessens with the University of the Holy Land. I studied under Dr. Caessens in both Israel and Jordan and learned so much. She is offering the course again this summer and I encourage you to go!

Here are a few of the places you will visit: Gadara, Gerasa, Jabesh Gilead, Ramoth Gilead, Pella, Bethany beyond the Jordan, Rabbath-ammon, the Jabbok River, Penuel, Mahanaim, Adam, Sukkoth, the Dead Sea, Heshbon, Medeba (the map!), Ataroth, Aroer, Callirhoe, the copper mines of Feinan, Petra, Little Petra, Wadi Rum, and much more!

The UHL website has all of the details.

Petra Kazneh, tb053008804

The Kazneh of Petra


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Weekend Roundup

A farmer on a hike with his family near the Horns of Hattin discovered a scarab depicting Thutmose III.

An ancient canal system used 2,000 years ago to irrigate terraced agricultural plots has been unearthed at an excavation near the Roman-era fortress Metzad Bokek in southern Israel.”

A boat from the Third Dynasty has been discovered at Abusir in Egypt.

A recently uncovered first century AD fresco found in London is described as the earliest one of the earliest surviving frescos from Roman Britain.

A shipwreck from 2000 BC has been discovered by Turkish researchers in Marmaris Hisarönü Gulf in the Mediterranean.

Accuweather has identified five archaeological discoveries preserved by nature, including the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Eilat Mazar says that plans to expand the prayer area near Robinson’s Gate will “absolutely ruin the site.” The Grand Mufti is also opposed. An artist’s rendering is here.

David Ilan will be lecturing on “How Ancient Israel Began: A New Archaeological Perspective” at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, on February 9, 6:00 pm.

Aren Maeir has been appointed to the board of the Israel Parks and Nature Authority. (Now we know who to blame if the parks aren’t perfect!)

Sy Gitin’s eulogy for Trude Dothan is now posted at the Albright Institute’s website. The Biblical Archaeology Society honors her memory by making 8 articles by and about her free to the public.

Wayne Stiles explains Amos’s sarcastic wordplay on the place name “Lo Debar.”

ASOR has posted a “post-mortem” on the Jehoash Inscription, but I doubt it will convince anyone not already convinced.

Nimrud Rising is a new project that uses “innovative digital technology solutions to create an immersive virtual reality recreation of Nimrud.”

On the anniversary of James Michener’s birthday, Benjamin Glatt explores the origins of The Source.

The Palestine Exploration Fund reveals the identity of the “mystery objects.”

The Associates for Biblical Research has received a $10,000 matching gift pledge towards its excavations of Khirbet el-Maqatir.

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

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Images Related to the Bible from the New York Public Library

On Jan 6, 2016, the New York Public Library released more than 187,000 items in their digital collection into the public domain. Mark Hoffman sent along some of the treasures he found and that motivated me to dig deeper. The list below reflects highlights of what we discovered.

You might begin by checking out the interesting visualization of the project. When you’re sufficiently overwhelmed, you can follow the direct links below, beginning with collections including the land of Israel and concluding with Egypt, Mesopotamia, and biblical manuscripts.

The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. From drawings made on the spot by David Roberts . . . With historical descriptions by the Revd. George Croly . . . Lithographed by Louis Haghe, 1842-49. 252 images.

Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie : dessins photographiques recueillis pendant les années 1849, 1850 et 1851 [Egypt, Nubia, Palestine and Syria: Photographic Drawings Collected during the Years 1849, 1850 and 1851], by Maxime Du Camp, 1852. 127 images.

Jérusalem: étude et reproduction photographique des monuments de la Ville Sainte, depuis l'époque judaïque jusqu'à nos jours [Jerusalem: study and photographic reproduction of the monuments of the Holy City from the Jewish era to the present], by Auguste Salzmann, 1856. These 42 images are the earliest known photographs of Jerusalem.

Palestine, by Robertson and Beato, 1857. 19 images.

Egypt and Palestine, by Francis Frith, 1858-59. 78 images.

Sinai and Palestine, by Francis Frith, 1862(?). 40 images.

Plates from the Queen’s Bible of 1862. 71 images.

Jerusalem Explored, being a description of the ancient and modern city, with numerous illustrations consisting of views ground plans, and sections, by Ermete Pierotti. Translated by Thomas George Bonney, 1864. 64 images.

Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem, by Charles W. Wilson, 1865. 46 images, but it does not include the survey map.

Views of Egypt, Palestine and Syria, by Félix Bonfils, 1867-71. 32 images.

Palestine and Syria, by Bonfils, Zangaki, and Arnoux, 1870s. 19 images.

Voyage d'exploration a la mer Morte, a Petra, et sur la rive gauche du Jourdain [Exploration of the Dead Sea, Petra, and the Left Side of the Jordan River], by Melchior Vogüe, 1874. 84 images.

Picturesque Palestine, Sinai and Egypt, by Charles W. Wilson, 1881-84. We like our version better, but this one is free.

Maps of Asia, 1890. 64 images.

Palestine and Egypt, March 1894, by Bonfils, Zangaki, and Arnoux, 1894. 65 images.

Assortment of photographs of Palestine and Jerusalem, 1870-1900. 36 images. Includes some of the American Colony photographs.

Views of Interesting Places in the Holy Land. Published by the American Sunday School Union. 8 sketches that are not high quality.


From Egypt . . .

Description de l'Égypte: ou, Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Égypte pendant l'expédition de l'armée française [Description of Egypt: and Reports of observations and research that have been made in Egypt during the expedition of the French army], 1809-28. 903 images. The extraordinary work of Napoleon’s expedition.

Pantheon Egyptien: Collection des personnages mythologiques de l’ancienne Egypte [Egyptian Pantheon: Collection of Mythological Figures of Ancient Egypt], by L. J. J. Dubois and J. F. Champollion, 1823-1825(?). 90 color illustrations.

Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, by J. G. Wilkinson, 1837. 100 images.

Pyramids of Gizeh, from Actual Survey and Admeasurement, by J. S. Perring, 1839-42. 62 illustrations.

Monuments Égyptiens, bas-reliefs, peintures, inscriptions, etc., by E. Prisse d'Avennes, 1847. 54 images.

Collection of Views of Egypt, including Cairo and the Pyramids, by G. Lékégian and Pierre Marchandon de La Faye, 1880s or 1890s. 58 images.


From Mesopotamia . . .

Monuments of Nineveh, from Drawings Made on the Spot, by A. H. Layard, 1849. 100 plates.

Monument de Ninive, découvert et décrit, by Paul Emile Botta, 1849-50. 398 images.

Voyage en Perse [Travels in Persia], by Eugène Flandin and Pascal Coste, 1851-54. 346 images.

A second series of the Monuments of Nineveh; including bas-reliefs from the palace of Sennacherib and bronzes from the ruins of Nimroud, by A. H. Layard, 1853. 73 images.

Ninive et l'Assyrie [Nineveh and Assyria], by Victor Place, 1867-70. 90 images.

The Bronze Ornaments of the Palace Gates of Balawat (Shalmaneser II, B.C. 859-825); edited, with an introduction by Samuel Birch; with descriptions and translations by Theophilus G. Pinches, 1880-[1902]. 94 images from the palace of the king we now call Shalmaneser III.


Biblical Manuscripts . . .

Samaritan Pentateuch, 1232. These 277 images are currently only available in low resolution.

The Xanten Bible, from Xanten, Lower Rhineland, 1294. Includes the Torah and Writings. There’s more information about this manuscript here. 518 images in low resolution.


We welcome suggestions of other collections that we missed. Add a note in the comments or send us an email (see address in sidebar) and we will update this list.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Weekend Roundup

Several Aramaic and Greek inscriptions with the word “rabbi” have been found in the cemetery of Sepphoris at the time when Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was alive.

A large church in the underground city of Nevşehir in Cappadocia has been discovered with many colorful frescoes. They estimate that the church dates to the 5th century.

Turkey is planning to restore Göbekli Tepe in order to boost tourism.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is using lighting to restore the original colors to the Temple of Dendur.

The botching of the repair job on King Tut’s beard has resulted in a disciplinary hearing for eight officials.

Egypt is trying to revive tourism with 3-D scans of the pyramids, opening of new museums, and a highly publicized radar study of King Tut’s tomb.

Photography is once again permitted in the Egyptian Museum with purchase of a camera ticket.

Trude Dothan, long-time excavator of Philistine sites, died this week.

Lost photos of Lawrence of Arabia have been discovered in the archives of the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland.

A short piece at the Jerusalem Post remembers Edward Robinson on the anniversary of his death in 1863.

Clay tablets suggest that the Babylonians invented astronomical geometry long before the Europeans did.

Can you identify these “mystery objects” discovered in the PEF collection?

Dale Manor is on The Book and the Spade this week talking about his on-going excavations of Tel Beth Shemesh.

Tim Frank’s Daughter of Lachish is now available on Kindle. I really enjoyed this work of historical fiction set in the biblical world. (I explain why in my review on Amazon.)

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

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

A Jerusalem Post article by the chairs of the PEF and the Early Exploration of the Holy Land conference describes some of the Temple Mount explorations by Charles Warren.

After a major sandstorm last week, Israel is gearing up for a mega-snowstorm this week.

A major archaeological campaign to ancient sites in southern Israel has led to big questions: Why did the people abandon the sites? Why were these desert-dwellers eating large quantities of fish? And where are the Nabatean remains in these so-called Nabatean cities?

The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq, St. Elijah's Monastery, has been destroyed by ISIS.

A new exhibit, “Khirbet el-Maqatir: History of a Biblical Site,” is opening in February at Faulkner University’s Kearley Graduate School of Theology.

Newsweek takes a look at new technology being used to read ancient scrolls.

"An international team of researchers said Sunday they will soon begin analyzing cosmic particles collected inside Egypt's Bent Pyramid to search for clues as to how it was built and learn more about the 4,600-year-old structure."

A couple of items of note from the Caspari Center Media Review:
”This article protests the planning of a housing project on the southern slope of Karnei Hittin, as it is not only the location of famous battles such as the Crusader defeat by Saladin in 1187, but also one of the possible locations of the Mount of Beatitudes.”

“This article recounts a number of recently published tourism statistics for 2015. Of particular note is the fact that 52% of incoming tourists were Christian, with 22% declaring that they had come for pilgrimage. The average rate of satisfaction was 4.4 out of 5.”

Tree historian Yaacov Shkolnik identifies the four most interesting trees in the Tel Aviv area.

HT: Charles Savelle, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Have archaeologists identified some of the pilgrimage roads that led up to Jerusalem?

The Dead Sea is a fascinating place, as Wayne Stiles shows from his research and with some good visual aids.

@PalExFund shares a great photo from 1903 of the “PEF Observation Rock” along the shore of the Dead Sea.

Though the winter season at Khirbet el-Maqatir was cancelled, Scott Stripling led a small group to Israel and he shares his diary of the places they saw and the friends they met.

You can listen to part 2 of my discussion with Gordon Govier of 2016 excavations as well as other recent programs at The Book and the Spade.

Shmuel Browns shares some beautiful photos from Makhtesh Gadol. And he is co-leading the Great Makhtesh Photograph Adventure next month.

ABR is introducing a new archaeology curriculum for children.

Test your knowledge of Jericho with a new quiz at the ASOR Blog.

Eisenbrauns has a sale on Israel Exploration Society publications for 30 to 50% off.

Ken Dark concludes that satellite imagery is less useful for discovering new features around the Sea of Galilee than fieldwalking and surface surveys.

Leen Ritmeyer notes that Jerusalem the IMAX movie is currently available for free on Youtube.

Threshing floor in Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah, with Ambassador Hotel, mat23102

Threshing floor in Jerusalem near the Ambassador Hotel, 1953
Source: Library of Congress, LC-matpc-23102/

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Weekend Roundup

A Japanese team is excavating Tel Rekhesh, a city that may be biblical Anaharath.

Wayne Stiles explains what the apparently contradictory lessons of suffering and glory that Jesus revealed on the slopes of Mount Hermon mean for us today.

Muslims are conducting unauthorized excavations on the Temple Mount, again. The Temple Mount Sifting Project has more links.

Another view on ISIS and antiquities: “Actual examples of ISIS-looted antiquities on the market are slim to none.”

Popular Archaeology has a feature story on the new exhibition on King Midas at the Penn Museum.

The city of Knossos was larger in the early Iron Age than archaeologists previously believed.

Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira post a summary of their efforts to use crowd-funding to support the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

Carl Laney identifies his five favorite Bible atlases.

Bill Schlegel has posted a short flyover video of the Philistine city of Gath.

Who were the idols that the Thessalonian believers used to worship? Ferrell Jenkins shares photos from the museum in Thessaloniki.

HT: Charles Savelle, Joseph Lauer, Agade, BibleX

Our most liked photo this week on Facebook was this image of the Ecce Homo arch, standing in Jerusalem since the year 130.

Jerusalem Ecce Homo arch, pcm02696

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Saturday, January 09, 2016

Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient road in Tarsus, not far from the Cleopatra Gate.

A new study suggests that the Romans contributed to an increase in human parasites, despite their advances in sanitation technology.

Wayne Stiles draws spiritual application out of a gate in Jerusalem that is blocked to prevent the Messiah’s arrival.

Washington Post: How 3D printers can help undo the destruction of ISIS

Lawrence H. Schiffman shares insights about Jews and Judaism that he gained from reading the New Testament.

Last week I was on The Book and the Spade with Gordon Govier discussing the top ten stories in biblical archaeology. This week we’re discussing upcoming excavations in Israel in 2016.

Penn Museum explains how to make cuneiform tablet cookies.

Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv has opened a new exhibition on discoveries from Tel Rehov.

Israel’s underwater treasures need protecting, according to a recent post on the ASOR Blog.

Haaretz reports on the significance of the recently discovered seal impression of Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah.

Visits to the Temple Mount by non-Jewish and non-Muslim tourists has been going down every year since 2010.

A new video shows how a small excavation at Ein Lamur/Ein Limon is being used to strengthen the community.

Luke Chandler shares a video on volunteers excavating at Lachish.

The Review of Biblical Literature has been moved behind a paywall.

Helmut Koester died on New Year’s Day at the age of 89.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Joseph Lauer

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Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Canaanite Fortress Unearthed in Nahariya

Israeli archaeologists working in the northern coastal city of Nahariya have uncovered a Canaanite citadel dating to 1400 BC. From Haaretz:

The Bronze Age citadel apparently served as an administrative center serving Mediterranean mariners, stated the Israel Antiquities Authority. It had been destroyed at least four times by fire and was rebuilt each time, says the IAA.

Among the artifacts discovered in the ruined citadel's rooms are ceramic figurines with human and animal forms, bronze weapons, and pottery vessels that hadn't been made locally – they had been imported. That is further testimony to the extensive trading relations among the peoples around the Mediterranean Sea basin.

Among the burnt layers, the excavators found abundant remains of cereals, legumes and grape seeds, the IAA said. Whether the grape seeds prove that wine had been made in the area remains an open question, though analysis of clay vessels dating to 4,000 years ago, from the cellar of a Canaanite palace nearby, found remains of red wine, and a fine, aromatic vintage fit for a king at that.

The story is reported by Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, and others. High-res images and video are available here.

The press release and news articles do not make the connection, but the date of this fortress is close to the time of the Israelites’ invasion of Canaan under Joshua. According to the account in Judges, the Israelites were unsuccessful in dislodging the Canaanites who lived on the plains, including the area of what is today Nahariya.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Nahariya coastline, tb122000819

Nahariya on the northern coast of Israel

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Sunday, January 03, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Greek and Danish archaeologists are excavating Lechaion, the harbor town of ancient Corinth.

An “ancient arch of Palmyra which was destroyed by Isis will be recreated in Trafalgar Square and Times Square using the world’s largest 3D printer.”

Albawaba has a roundup of the nine sites destroyed by ISIS this year.

The Irish Times reports on the work of Syria’s director of antiquities in these difficult days.

New from IES: Debating Khirbet Qeiyafa: A Fortified City in Judah from the Time of King David, by Yosef Garfinkel, Igor Kreimerman and Peter Zilberg.

Shmuel Browns shares some beautiful photographs he took at the Dead Sea.

Owen Jarus looks ahead to what to expect in the archaeological world in 2016.

Luke Chandler notes a new book by Dale Manor, Digging Deeper into the Word:  The Relevance of Archaeology to Christian Apologetics.

The three surviving bronze heads of Hadrian are currently on display at the Israel Museum.

Wayne Stiles is offering a discount on autographed copies of his three books.

HT: Explorator, Agade, Joseph Lauer, Steven Anderson, Charles Savelle

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Archaeologists unearthed a Byzantine-era sculpture of a male lamb in Caesarea. High-res photos are available here.

The Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered a farmhouse from 700 BC and a Byzantine church near biblical Aphek. High-res photos and a video are available for download. The story is reported by The Times of Israel.

An ancient aqueduct has been discovered at Ein Hatzeva.

Israel’s Supreme Court has issued a ruling which will require antiquities dealers to maintain a detailed online inventory.

Scholars are using laser-scanning to create 3-D records of archaeological sites in Iraq that are vulnerable.

Israel’s National Parks Authority plans to turn Tel Ashdod into a national park.

A $287 million USAID project in Jordan conducted a thorough environmental impact report for the construction of a wind farm and yet failed to identify portions of the Via Nova Trajana that would be destroyed.

Was Herod a hero? Alexander Stewart evaluates some recent biographies that provide a more positive spin while at the same time denying Matthew’s account of the slaughter of the innocents.

Congratulations to Chris McKinny on the publication of My People As Your People: A Textual and Archaeological Analysis of the Reign of Jehoshaphat, published by Peter Lang.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top Biblical Archaeology Discoveries of 2015

Several lists have been compiled to review the year’s top discoveries in biblical archaeology. We’ll start with the annual compilation by Gordon Govier, published in Christianity Today. Though he initially described them as “top stories” of 2015 rather than “top discoveries,” the magazine has eliminated that distinction. Gordon and I will discuss his top ten list in next week’s edition of The Book and the Spade.

The Biblical Archaeology Society has selected their top ten discoveries of the year, choosing five similar to CT’s list and five others.

Haaretz’s coverage is less of a list and more of a skeptical story, including Ben Carson’s goof and Philistine opium.

If you’re interested in the broader world of archaeology around the globe, Heritage Daily offers its top 10. They include the “Akra” discovery and the gate of Gath in their list.

Erin Brodwin at Business Insider chooses “9 mind-blowing discoveries that had the archaeological community freaking out in 2015.” I wonder if headlines like that really work. She includes only Jesus’s boyhood home from the world of biblical archaeology, but I’m pretty sure the archaeological community in Israel wasn’t freaking out about it.

UPI has 15 photos for 15 discoveries, including the “Arca” (and that’s in quotation marks for more than one reason).

A list by Ancient Origins of the top ten includes a few from Egypt but nothing related to the Bible.
National Geographic identifies “seven major” discoveries of the year, topping the list with the “hidden chambers in Tut’s tomb.” If they actually discover those in the coming months, they can re-use that one again next year.

Nothing from the Middle East makes it onto Archaeology’s Top 10 list.

If I were writing a “top ten” list limited to discoveries made or first announced in 2015, I would include only these four:

Monday, December 21, 2015

Biblical Archaeology Lectures at the American Jewish University

The Whizin Center and the Simmons Family Charitable Foundation's 27th Annual Program in Biblical Archaeology is entitled “Bedouin, Archaeology, History and the Bible: Surprising New Answers for Old Questions.” This year’s lecturers are K. Lawson Younger and Clinton Bailey. The lecture titles are in the paper catalog, but not online.

  • “Why Do Some Scholars Claim the Exodus and Conquest of Canaan Never Happened?” (Younger)
  • “My Personal Discovery of Pre-Modern Bedouin Culture in the Negev and in the Sinai” (Bailey)
  • “Rethinking the Case for the Exodus and Conquest” (Younger)
  • “Were Abraham and His Descendants & the Moses Israelites Bedouin?” (Bailey)

A full list of events at the American Jewish University is here.

HT: G. M. Grena

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Weekend Roundup

A Hebrew inscription from the 5th century AD attests to a Jewish community at Kursi on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Despite what the archaeologist says, it tells us nothing about the swine miracle, as Richard Bauckham observes.

Plans are underway to restore the treasures of Cnidus (Knidos) to their original location.

One year after it was damaged, the mask of King Tut has been repaired. DW has much more background on the restoration process.

Haaretz: “The National Library of Israel and Wikimedia have posted 200 historical maps of Jerusalem, some of them rare, on the Internet. The maps are high resolution and free for use.” You can access the images directly here.

Aren Maeir has written a brief piece on “The Philistines and Their Cities” for the Bible Odyssey website.

How much gold covered Herod’s temple in Jerusalem? Leen Ritmeyer thinks there was a lot.

The Deal of the Weekend at Eisenbrauns is Kirk Grayson’s Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles ($90, reduced to $36).

Now online through The Bible and Interpretation, Yigal Levin’s article, “How Did Rabshakeh Know the Language of Judah?

Father Juan Solana just wanted the archaeologists to leave. Then they discovered remains of Magdala at his proposed Christian retreat center. Smithsonian Magazine runs a feature story on the discovery of Magdala.

In a story published in The Atlantic, Joel Baden and Candida Moss recount how in six years the Green family has amassed one of the world’s largest collection of Bible-related artifacts.

Avinoam Danin died this week. He was best known for his popular Flora of Israel Online.

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