Saturday, April 19, 2014

Weekend Roundup

Aren Maeir will be lecturing on the Philistines in Kansas City and Chicago later this month.

Carl Rasmussen ran into a pack of wild boar at Caesarea Philippi and some in his group managed to get photos. (I’ve managed the former but never the latter.)

Israeli police arrested five Jews attempting to sacrifice a goat at the Temple Mount for Passover.

A couple of tombs from the 26th Dynasty were discovered in Pr-Medjet. Luxor Times has photos.

The ruins of Palmyra have suffered from the Syrian civil war, and the New York Times provides an update.

The ASOR roundup has more stories from archaeology around the world.

Bibles-Online is a new site that allows you to view every page of rare and antique copies of the Scriptures, including the 1521 Erasmus Greek NT, the 1535 Coverdale Bible, the 1549 Matthew-Tyndale Bible, and others.

Wayne Stiles is offering a significant discount on his new audiobook this weekend before it is available at Audible.com. I’ve highly recommended the print version of Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus in the past and now the audiobook is available for less than $7.

HT: Jack Sasson, Charles Savelle

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Water System and Tunnel at Khirbet Balama (Ibleam)

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

The site of Khirbet Bal'ama (or Belameh) is identified with ancient Ibleam, mentioned in the account of Jehu's coup d'état (2 Kings 9:27) as well as in Thutmosis III's topographical list at Karnak. Khirbet Bal'ama is located on the southern outskirts of Jenin, in the West Bank. The ancient ruins occupy some 9 hectares (22 acres) on top of a 160-foot-high (50 m), natural limestone hill. A walled town existed in the Early Bronze, Middle Bronze, end of Late Bronze/early Iron I, and possibly Iron II Ages.

 Khirbet Bal'ama from east.

The main spring was located at the northeast foot of the hill. Here, early explorers visited the entrance to a water system, though because of bats and debris/wash only a small part of a tunnel could be accessed. About the first 100 feet (30 m) of the tunnel were described in great detail by Gottlieb Schumacher in 1910, and it was excavated in 1973 on a small-scale by Z. Yeivin. The main excavation of the tunnel took place in 1996 and 1997 under the direction of Hamdan Taha. (Excavations were also conducted on top of the hill, but publication is still forthcoming.) The location of the tunnel is marked in green on this site plan.

Site plan of Khirbet Bal'ama. (Taha and van der Kooij 2007: 15)

What raised my interest in this were reports the last two years of the water system outside Al-Walaja, near Bethlehem. In three seasons, the excavators at Khirbet Bal'ama cleared a total of 380 feet (115 m) of tunnel, but since they did not reach a shaft-entrance at the top of the hill, they suspect a long section of tunnel remains to be explored. Of the tunnel sections which were excavated, archaeologists discovered three entrances to the tunnel, the lowest of which provides access to the cistern/spring of Bir es-Sinjil (or Sinjib). The photo below shows the lowest entrance. The stairs with metal handrails on the right lead up to the second entrance.

Lowest tunnel entrance at the cistern/spring of Bir es-Sinjil.

The tunnel was apparently constructed in the Iron Age, though this is based largely on inference rather than clear, direct evidence. It was secondarily used in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The cistern/spring was in use all the way up to the modern period. Nearly all of the explored tunnel is rock-cut. The tunnel has a parabolic ceiling between 10 and 16 feet high (3-5 m), and there are 57 rock-cut steps and lamp niches in the walls. The plan below shows the three entrances, steps, and slope of the tunnel. The three excavated entrances are approximately equidistant from one another, with about 100 feet (30 m) of tunnel between them.

Khirbet Bal'ama tunnel plan and section. (Taha and van der Kooij 2007: 18)

I look forward to publication of the excavations conducted on top of hill, and hope for future work to be carried out on the tunnel and the site. The main publication of the tunnel was very difficult for me to locate in the U.S.:

Taha, Hamdan and Gerrit van der Kooij.
2007  The Water Tunnel System at Khirbet Bal'ama. Khirbet Bal'ama Archaeological Project Report of the 1996–2000 Excavations and Surveys, volume II. Ramallah: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage.

A perhaps more-accessible report can be found in:

Taha, Hamdan.
2000  “Excavation of the Water Tunnel at Khirbet Belameh, 1996-1997.” Pages 1587–1613 in Proceedings of the First International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Rome, May 18th-23rd 1998. Ed. P. Matthiae and E. Enea, Alessandra. Rome: Università degli studi di Roma "La Sapienza," Dipartimento di scienze storiche, archeologiche e antropologiche dell'antichità.



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Museum Photographs

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

A few weeks ago, it was announced that cuneiform texts in the Israel Museum have been added to CDLI, the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative. I would like to draw attention to two of these inscriptions that should be of interest to teachers and students of the Bible.

The first is the Iran Stele, a limestone stele of Tiglath-pileser III which is preserved in fragments that were found in western Iran. The stele depicts the king and symbols of deities, and the inscription records the king's annals, including a report that he imposed tribute upon (among others) king Menahem of Samaria (2 Kings 15:19).

Iran Stele of Tiglath-pileser III, Israel Museum

The second is the "Jerusalem Prism" of the Assyrian king Sennacherib. Sennacherib recounts his campaign to Sidon, Philistia, and Judah in 701 B.C. He reports how he defeated the Egyptians at Eltekeh and Tamna (2 Kings 19:9), reinstalled Padi as king of Ekron, and then conquered many of Judah's towns while confining Hezekiah to Jerusalem like a caged-up bird (2 Kings 18-20). Sennacherib recorded the account of this campaign on several other prisms and cylinders like this one, such as the Taylor and King Prisms and Rassam Cylinder (British Museum) and the Chicago Prism (Oriental Institute).

Jerusalem Prism of Sennacherib, Israel Museum


Readers may also be interested in the British Museum's free Image Service, which is not new. Once you search the museum's online collection for the item in which you have an interest, you will be able to see if there are photographs available. After clicking on the thumbnail, you can enlarge the photo or see if there are "More Views" available. Below the photograph, there should be a link "Image service: Use image." This link will take you to a page where you can register or sign-in to the Image Service and request the photograph. The website will ask you to select how you intend to use the photograph; options include "Classroom or teaching material" and "Private or professional study or research (without print publication)." Once you submit the request, the photograph will be emailed to you within a day or two. The stated limit is 100 images per month. I successfully requested about a dozen images in one sitting for use in a classroom PowerPoint.

Rosetta Stone, British Museum

Objects one might wish to use in teaching could include: Enuma Elish, Atrahasis, Epic of Gilgamesh, Lachish Reliefs, Rosetta Stone, Black Obelisk, Kurkh Monolith, Taylor Prism, Armana letters, and Lachish letters. One could search for the name of a king from Assyria or Egypt or Rome, or a particular type of object such as coins, lamps, papyri, and so forth.

Bronze wheeled stand with sphinx from Cyprus, British Museum

A helpful source to consult as to what kinds of things are to be found in the British Museum that might have relevance for Bible teaching is:

Fant, Clyde E., and Mitchell G. Reddish.
2008  Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.

HT: Jack Sasson

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bible-Related Works at Oxford University Press Free This Week

Oxford University Press: "To celebrate National Library Week (April 13th – 19th 2014) and all the hard work librarians do to support their patrons, OUP is freeing up our entire list of online products for one week only!"

UPDATE (4/16): OUP is *not* making available most of the titles listed here. Therefore we have deleted the previous contents of this post. We’re sorry. (See comments below for a reply from OUP.)

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Now online: the video of Eugene Merrill’s recent lecture on “Ai and Old Testament Chronology: Who Cares?

Places of the Passion Week in 360-Degrees – Wayne Stiles shares some new photos.

The ASOR Blog has a series of posts about Passover and Jesus:

Also on the ASOR Blog: 10 Tips for Packing for a Dig

The sale of a Nebuchadnezzar II cylinder set a world auction record.

Now available for Kindle: Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament with English translation ($6.99)

iPad users can purchase the HebrewBible app here ($9.99).

Happy 6th Blogiversary to BibleX!

HT: Ted Weis

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Leo Depuydt still believes that the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is “hilarious” and “patently fake.” His article in the Harvard Theological Review is online as is Karen King’s response. Some excerpts are given in The Washington Post. Christianity Today runs an interview with Nicholas Perrin of Wheaton College about what it all means.

A fascinating new exhibition will be opening next month at the British Museum on mummies and what we know about them from the latest technology. The changing graphic on the museum website provides a preview. This AP article has more details.

Luxor Times has photos of antiquities recently stolen from the Luxor Temple.

Barry Kemp has posted a report from the latest season of excavations of the Great Aten Temple in Amarna.

King Tut began his US tour in Kansas City this week. He will be in San Diego in time for the annual meetings.

Some excellent Zondervan e-resources on sale until tomorrow:

The full list is here. The first two are particular favorites of mine. All 5 volumes of ZEB for only $34 is very good, though this resource may be more difficult to use in electronic format than in print form ($121).

HT: G. M. Grena, Jack Sasson

Tell el-Amarna Small Temple of Aten from west, tb010905318

Small Temple of Aten, Tell el-Amarna
Photo from Pictorial Library of Bible Lands

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jesus’ Wife Papyrus Fragment Likely Ancient

From the New York Times:

A faded fragment of papyrus known as the "Gospel of Jesus's Wife," which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery.

Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...' " Too convenient for some, it also contained the words "she will be able to be my disciple," a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests.

The papyrus fragment has now been analyzed by professors of electrical engineering, chemistry and biology at Columbia University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who reported that it resembles other ancient papyri from the fourth to the eighth centuries. (Scientists at the University of Arizona, who dated the fragment to centuries before the birth of Jesus, concluded that their results were unreliable.)

The test results do not prove that Jesus had a wife or disciples who were women, only that the fragment is more likely a snippet from an ancient manuscript than a fake, the scholars agree. Karen L. King, the historian at Harvard Divinity School who gave the papyrus its name and fame, has said all along that it should not be regarded as evidence that Jesus married, only that early Christians were actively discussing celibacy, sex, marriage and discipleship.

The full NYT article is here. The Harvard Theological Review article is available for free download here.

An initial radiocarbon analysis dated the fragment to 404–209 BC; a second analysis gave a mean date of AD 741. King concludes with a date in the 7th or 8th centuries AD. As far as being a reliable witness to 1st century events, it is not. The author notes that the fragment should be studied in light of the Muslim view that prophets were usually married.

In King’s reading, “The main point of the GJW fragment is simply to affirm that women who are wives and mothers can be Jesus’s disciples.”

Previous posts about this subject:

Somebody Once Believed Jesus Had a Wife

Articles on Jesus’ Wife

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Katumuwa Exhibit and Symposium

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

On April 8, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago opened its new exhibit, "In Remembrance of Me: Feasting with the Dead in the Ancient Middle East." The centerpiece of the exhibit is (a cast of?) the Katumuwa Stele, a basalt monument with Aramaic inscription which was discovered at the site of Zincirli in 2008. The exhibit runs until next January.

Katumuwa Stele from Zincirli. (Oriental Institute)

More information about the exhibit is online here. The catalog for the exhibit can be downloaded free in pdf format.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Oriental Institute is holding a symposium on Sunday, May 4, at 1:00pm. The speakers include:
Virginia Herrmann
David Schloen
Theodore Lewis
Karel van der Toorn
K. Lawson Younger

The symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Information about the symposium is here and online registration is here.


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Canaanite Official’s Tomb Discovered in Jezreel Valley

During a salvage excavation just southwest of Nazareth in the Jezreel Valley, archaeologists uncovered a unique coffin from the Late Bronze Age that may have belonged to a Canaanite official serving in the Egyptian army. From the Israel Antiquities Authority press release:

Part of a burial site dating to the Late Bronze Age (thirteenth century BCE) was exposed in an excavation at the foot of Tel Shadud. According to the excavation directors, Dr. Edwin van den Brink, Dan Kirzner and Dr. Ron Be’eri of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “During the excavation we discovered a unique and rare find: a cylindrical clay coffin with an anthropoidal lid (a cover fashioned in the image of a person) surrounded by a variety of pottery consisting mainly of storage vessels for food, tableware, cultic vessels and animal bones. As was the custom, it seems these were used as offerings for the gods, and were also meant to provide the dead with sustenance in the afterlife.” The skeleton of an adult was found inside the clay coffin and next to it were buried pottery, a bronze dagger, bronze bowl and hammered pieces of bronze. “Since the vessels interred with the individual were produced locally”, the researchers say, “We assume the deceased was an official of Canaanite origin who was engaged in the service of the Egyptian government”. Another possibility is that the coffin belonged to a wealthy individual who imitated Egyptian funerary customs. The researchers add that so far only several anthropoidal coffins have been uncovered in the country. The last ones discovered were found at Deir el-Balah some fifty years ago. According to the archaeologists, “An ordinary person could not afford the purchase of such a coffin. It is obvious the deceased was a member of the local elite”.

[…]

A rare artifact that was found next to the skeleton is an Egyptian scarab seal, encased in gold and affixed to a ring. The scarab was used to seal documents and objects. The name of the crown of Pharaoh Seti I, who ruled ancient Egypt in the thirteenth century BCE, appears on the seal. Seti I was the father of Ramses II, identified by some scholars as the pharaoh mentioned in the biblical story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. Already in the first year of his reign (1294 BCE) a revolt broke out against Seti I in the Bet Sheʽan Valley. Seti conquered that region and established Egyptian rule in Canaan. Seti’s name on the seal symbolizes power and protection, or the strength of the god Ra – the Sun God – one of the most important deities in the Egyptian pantheon. The winged Uraeus (cobra), protector of the pharaoh’s name or of the sovereign himself, is clearly visible on the seal. The reference to the pharaoh Seti on the scarab found in the coffin aided the archaeologists in dating the time of the burial to the thirteenth century BCE – similar to the burials that were exposed at Deir el-Balah and Bet She‘an, which were Egyptian administrative centers.

[…]

Tel Shadud preserves the biblical name ‘Sarid’ and the mound is often referred to as Tel Sarid. The tell is situated in the northern part of the Jezreel Valley, close to Kibbutz Sarid. The city is mentioned in the Bible in the context of the settlement of the Tribes of Israel. Sarid was included in the territory of the tribe of Zebulun and became a border city, as written in the Book of Joshua: “The third lot came up for the tribe of Zebulun, according to its families. And the territory of its inheritance reached as far as Sarid…” (Joshua 19:10). Tel Shadud is strategically and economically significant because of its location alongside important roads from the biblical period.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is currently looking into the possibility of sampling the DNA from inside the coffin to see if the deceased was originally a Canaanite or an Egyptian person who was buried in Canaan.

The full press release is here. High-resolution images are here. The story is also reported by the Jerusalem Post and Arutz-7.

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The clay coffin at the time of its discovery in the field. Photograph: Dan Kirzner, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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Parts of the coffin’s lid after an initial cleaning. Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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A general view of the excavation area. Photograph: Skyview Company, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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Egyptian scarab encased in gold. Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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The bronze dagger and bowl. Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Tiberias Today

If you haven’t been on a tour of Tiberias in the last decade, you have a lot to catch up on with the work of various excavation projects. Shmuel Browns has a well-illustrated summary of some of the important discoveries, including:

  • The decorative gate of Herod Antipas
  • The main street of the city in use for 700 years
  • The Roman theater built by Herod Antipas
  • A Roman temple (Hadrianeum)
  • A Byzantine monastery and church

His post also includes a number of interesting historical details about the city.

For some interesting descriptions and illustrations of Tiberias in the 19th century, check out Life in the Holy Land.

Mount Hermon from Tiberias, mat08928

Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee, and Mount Hermon
Photo from Northern Palestine

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Saturday, April 05, 2014

Weekend Roundup

IAA Press Release: “An Impressive Byzantine Period Monastery with a Spectacular Mosaic Floor was Exposed at the Entrance to Hura in the Northern Negev.” The high-res photos are here.

Exploring Bible Lands draws attention to the unique site known by some as the “Cove of the Sower.”

If you want to read just one review on the Noah movie, I’d recommend this one by Brian Mattson.

Eric Cline is interviewed on The Book and the Spade about his new book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed. (Direct link to mp3 here.)

Logos is offering a 9-volume set on the Archaeology of Rome.

A new translation of the Tempest Stela suggests that the Thera eruption dates to the reign of pharaoh Ahmose.

Daily Mail: Archaeologists race to secure ancient burial site of three Egyptian kings that will make the treasure of Tutankhamun's tomb look like a 'display in Woolworths'

Haaretz: Ancient rock art is hidden all over the Negev.

The Associated Press suggests five free things to do in Tel Aviv.

On his recent trip to Israel, Wayne Stiles created 11 360-degree images of biblical sites.

He also has recommendations on great resources to get after your trip to Israel.

HT: Charles Savelle, Jack Sasson, Joseph Lauer

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Byzantine period monastery at Hura.
Photographs by Skyview Company, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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Friday, April 04, 2014

City of David Visitors’ Center Approved

More than a decade ago, work began for the construction of a new parking lot just south of the Dung Gate in Jerusalem. In the process, archaeological excavations revealed significant finds, including a building once claimed to be the palace of Helene of Adiabene. In recent years, plans were formed to establish a large visitors’ center in the former parking lot. This presumably would replace the current visitors’ center which hovers over ruins believed to be the palace of David. Last night a municipal committee approved plans for construction of the new center. From Haaretz:

The Jerusalem Regional Planning and Building Committee approved the construction of a controversial visitors’ center for the City of David just outside the Old City walls. The committee heard objections to the huge project for eight hours before approving it Thursday evening.

[…]

The proposal was submitted by the Elad association, the right-wing group that administers the City of David National Park, and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and has the support of the Jerusalem municipality.

The plan calls for the construction of a museum, visitors’ center and auditorium in the area known as the Givati parking lot, some 20 meters from the Old City wall and 100 meters from the Western Wall. It will also constitute a new gateway to the City of David National Park. The building is to be 7 meters tall and cover 16,600 square meters. Beneath a planned parking lot, finds discovered at the site in recent years are to be preserved and made accessible.

“The Jerusalem Regional [Planning] Committee heard the objections to the Kedem Center plan in Jerusalem and thought that the plan to build the visitors’ center will aid in exposing the important archeological finds to the broader public and serve as a focus for tourism that will help in developing the city of Jerusalem,” read the Interior Ministry’s announcement of the approval.

The full article describes some of the objections and the planning committee’s requirements. The story is also reported by Arutz-7. Several months ago the Jerusalem Post reported the objections of a group of archaeologists, though the basis for their views seems to be primarily political and not archaeological. In reviewing previous stories posted on this blog, I see that a nearly identical story was reported in February 2012; it is not clear what is different this time around. For more images, see the Hebrew version of the Haaretz article.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Silwan - Ministry of Interior - February 13, 2012

Proposed Kedem Center near City of David.
Image by Ministry of Interior

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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

City of David Excavations Concluded

The Jerusalem Post reports on the conclusion of excavations in the City of David around the Gihon Spring. Under the direction of Ronny Reich and Eli Shukrun, excavations were focused on the water systems of ancient Jerusalem for about 15 years. This brief article and accompanying video focuses on one aspect of the dig—the Canaanite fortress built over the spring.

"The Spring Citadel was built in order to save and protect the water of the city from enemies coming to conquer it, as well as to protect the people going down to the spring to get water and bring it back up to the city," said Director of Development in the City of David, Oriya Dasberg.

The citadel is believed to have protected the Gihon spring, described in the Book of Kings as the location of King Solomon's anointing.

The Spring Citadel is the largest Canaanite fortress yet discovered in Israel, and is believed to be the largest known fortress pre-dating the reign of King Herod, according to the IAA.

A two-minute video explains what they found and why it took so long. The best resource on the excavation is Ronny Reich’s Excavating the City of David.

New excavations have begun on the eastern slope of the City of David under Tel Aviv University.

Gihon Spring excavations and visitor center, tb031614817

Gihon Spring excavations within City of David Visitor Center

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

New Article on Authenticity of the James Ossuary

A new article in the Open Journal of Geology strengthens the case for the authenticity of the inscription on the James Ossuary. The article was written by Amnon Rosenfeld, Howard R. Feldman, Wolfgang E. Krumbein and is available for free download. The abstract gives a sense for the technical detail involved in the study.

An archaeometric analysis of the James Ossuary inscription “James Son of Joseph Brother of Jesus” strengthens the contention that the ossuary and its engravings are authentic. The beige patina can be observed on the surface of the ossuary, continuing gradationally into the engraved inscription. Fine long striations made by the friction of falling roof rocks continuously crosscut the letters. Many dissolution pits are superimposed on several of the letters of the inscription. In addition to calcite and quartz, the patina contains the following minerals: apatite, whewellite and weddelite (calcium oxalate). These minerals result from the biogenic activity of microorganisms that require a long period of time to form a bio-patina. Moreover, the heterogeneous existence of wind-blown microfossils (nannofossils and foraminifers) and quartz within the patina of the ossuary, including the lettering zone, reinforces the authenticity of the inscription.

http://lh6.ggpht.com/-U3Kt0_BUd3Q/T2CWwpYzcPI/AAAAAAAACuQ/SYV2ZBQRAZk/image_thumb2.png?imgmax=800

The James ossuary was on display at the Royal Ontario Museum from November 15, 2002 to January 5, 2003.

HT: G. M. Grena

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Magnificent Burial Cave Looted in Jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority captured a group of thieves attempting to sell eleven ossuaries looted from a tomb in Jerusalem. The IAA issued a press release about the arrest and plunder today.

A number of suspects were apprehended in the early hours of Friday (28.3) in a joint operation by inspectors of the IAA Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery and detectives and patrolmen of the Shefet police station in Jerusalem. They were caught while in possession of eleven decorated stone ossuaries – ancient coffins – that the Jewish population used for burial in the Second Temple period, two thousand years ago. Some of the ossuaries still contained the skeletal remains of the deceased.

[…]

Shallow engravings, etched in the past by means of a sharp stylus, were found on the walls of two of the seized ossuaries. They cite the names of the deceased whose bones were collected in the coffins. One of the engraved ossuaries that were found bore the name “Ralfin”, written in squared Hebrew script characteristic of the Second Temple period. This name is apparently a Hebraized form of an unusual Roman name. According to Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, who examined the ossuaries, “this is the first time this name appears on an ossuary from the Land of Israel”. On the other ossuary is a Greek inscription that could not be deciphered, and below it the name “Yo‘azar”, in squared Hebrew script. The name Yo‘azar is a common Jewish name in the Second Temple period, and occurs in contemporary written sources, such as Josephus’ writings. The name appears in this form and a slightly different form – “Yeho‘azar” – on numerous Jewish ossuaries from this period.

Some of the ossuaries were engraved with inscriptions in squared Hebrew script, characteristic of the Second Temple period and some bore Greek inscriptions, including the names of the deceased.

According to Dr. Eitan Klein, “these are singular finds. The inscriptions on the ossuaries provide us with additional characters and names from amongst the Jewish population in the Second Temple period, and the motifs adorning the ossuaries will supplement our knowledge with new information about the world of Jewish art in this period”. Dr. Klein stated, “There is no doubt that the ossuaries were recently looted from a magnificent burial cave in Jerusalem. Remnants of paint remained on top of the ossuaries and the containers themselves belong to the group of “magnificent Jerusalem” ossuaries that were manufactured in the city in antiquity”.

The full press release is here. High-resolution images are available from this link.

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Photographs by the IAA Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery.

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