Monday, November 18, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 3

There will be no roundup next weekend, but if you’re at ETS or SBL, stop by the BiblePlaces booth and say hello to me, A.D., Kris, Chris, and Christian. Kaelyn, Charity, Caden, and Mark will be around as well. I’ll be presenting a couple of papers at ETS, so you’re invited to attend if you’re interested in the archaeology of Esther or the chronology of David. The complete program is online here.

Meg Ramey describes her walk along the route from Troas to Assos, following in Paul’s footsteps.

Professor Aykut Çınaroğlu has been buried in the cemetery next to his excavation site of Alacahöyük, according to his request in his will.

Climbing the pyramids and other “thuggish acts toward Egyptian antiquities” are now illegal and will result in imprisonment or a fine.

  “Three shipwrecks from ancient and mediaeval times and large sections of their cargoes have been discovered off the small Aegean island of Kasos.”

Excavations on the Greek islet of Chryssi south of Crete have uncovered large quantities of murex shells.

Lucas Grimsley writes about his experience in excavating in Cyprus.

Brent Davis talks about the challenges of trying to crack Linear A.

“Entering Early Christianity via Pompeii” is a resource from The University of Manchester to provide a “virtual guide to the world of the New Testament.” It looks interesting.

St John Simpson of the British Museum explains how they work with law enforcement to fight antiquities looting.

The Jerusalem Post explains the significance of the Washington Pentateuch.

“The National Library of Israel (NLI) and Google have announced that 120,000 books from the library’s collection will be uploaded to Google Books for the first time as part of their collaboration.”

The Gustav Jeeninga Museum of Bible and Near Eastern Studies at Anderson University is being re-opened after being re-located.

The NY Times has a story on this week’s re-opening of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology.

New book: The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia, by Helene Sader ($50).

Eisenbrauns has a sale of 40-50% off selected festschriften.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Keith Keyser, Explorator

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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Leen Ritmeyer has written an informative and well-illustrated post on the significance of Shiloh and the recent excavations. Ritmeyer’s reconstruction drawings are available for purchase in his image library, including his new drawing of Shiloh.

A government committee in Jerusalem has authorized the construction of a cable car to the Dung Gate.

A $37 million visitors’ center has been opened at the Huleh Valley Nature Reserve.

Anthony Ferguson shares 5 surprising details about the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Weston Fields’ history.

“The only project agreed on by Israel and Jordan that could possibly, in the foreseeable future, help save the Dead Sea from further shrinkage is stuck in a byzantine web of politics, bilateral tensions and Israeli foot-dragging.” This is a well-researched article on a subject frequently in the news.

Excavations have resumed at Tell Ziraa in Jordan, with the recent discovery of an Iron Age house with several dozen loom weights.

Colin Cornell considers whether the Jews living in Elephantine worshipped a goddess in addition to Yahweh.

Egyptian authorities have announced the discovery of a cemetery in Ismailia that dates to the Roman, Greek, and pre-dynastic eras.

The October issue of the Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities is online.

History Magazine has the story of how Howard Carter almost missed King Tut’s tomb.

Two vast reproduction Assyrian statues were unveiled in Iraq on Thursday as part of a project designed to restore the cultural heritage of Mosul.”

Wayne Stiles explains the significance of the Arch of Titus and the relevance of an olive tree planted beside it.

“A team of international scholars versed in culinary history, food chemistry and cuneiform studies has been recreating dishes from the world’s oldest-known recipes.”

In a 10-minute video, David McClister explains who Flavius Josephus was.

On sale for Kindle:

Tim Bulkeley has died. He began his biblioblog in 2004 and was a regular encouragement to me over the years. He will be missed.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Keith Keyser

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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

We have collected 40 items so far from the last two weeks, and I’ll think we’ll break it up into three parts, going through Monday.

If you’ve prayed at all for those affected by the Saugus High shooting, thank you. My oldest sons graduated from the school, and my two daughters are students there now. They were not on campus at the time, but they have friends who were wounded and traumatized. Our church is a central gathering place for students as they process everything. You can pray that we will be faithful and wise. And now to the stories...

National Geographic is the latest to report on the Siloam Street excavations and the attendant controversy, along with various other recent Jerusalem excavations. They do so, as you would expect, with beautiful photos.

Israel’s Good Name describes a day of excavating in the Mount Zion Archaeological Dig.

I bet you don’t know how many inscriptions we have that may be related to Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul when Paul and Barnabas visited Cyprus. Bryan Windle provides photos and details in this well-researched archaeological biography.

Now online: The ACOR Newsletter for Summer 2019

A British scholar explains a little of the history of aerial photography in Jordan.

Bible Mapper has begun a new blog, with a number of helpful maps already posted.

New book: The Canaanites, by Mary Ellen Buck ($15)

An interview with Father Eugene provides some background on the new Terra Sancta Museum in Jerusalem.

A leopard was apparently spotted in Samaria. The video is in Hebrew, and the footage is in infrared(?), but it may be the first sighting in decades.

Jessica Halfin suggests “11 biblical experiences in Israel you’ll never forget.” It’s a good list.

My friend John Black and his wife Doro are leading a more affordable Israel tour in February and they have a few remaining spots.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Keith Keyser

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Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Israel: Take a Hike!

I believe that there is no better way to experience Israel than by hiking it. That doesn’t mean that your first trip to Israel should be a pure hiking tour. I would suggest instead that you first learn the land as a whole, and that requires being on a bus so you can cover the ground. But as you have opportunity on that or subsequent trips, you will find that nothing is as rewarding as walking through the land. The air you breathe, the dust you kick up, the surprises you see, the connections you make—all of these are vastly different than the view from the bus window.


It’s not necessarily easy going on a hike, especially if you’re not traveling with someone with experience. The best hiking maps are in Hebrew, and the logistics can be challenging as well. But if you’re not in a hurry and you make some preparation, you can have a successful trip with memories that last a lifetime.

Over the years, a few people have written books (in English) for hiking in Israel. (Here’s an older one I like.) But trails are altered and the books become dated and go out of print.

Israel by Foot is a new website dedicated to helping hikers in Israel. The creator, Erez Speiser, wrote me some weeks ago to ask about the possibility of writing a guest post for this blog. But I love what he is doing and I would rather tell you myself.

I predict that Erez’s website is going to change some of your lives. Because you will start reading of the possibilities, get motivated, and then realize that you really could do this.


There are a number of options on Israel by Foot, but readers of this blog might start with “Bible Walks,” where Erez (who created all of the content himself) gives detailed descriptions for about five hikes, including the distance, the climb, the best time of year, directions to the trail head, and Google Map points. That is all free; for $5 you can purchase a detailed hiking map and GPS files for any particular hike. (You know how much you’ll be willing to pay for a detailed map in English when you are lost? :-))

I love the “Inn to Inn Hikes” section. That’s because I don’t enjoy hiking so much with 40 pounds on my back. Multi-day hikes are just much more difficult logistically. (I led a 11-day hike for a couple dozen people once, but it worked so beautifully because we had a trail van carrying our sleeping bags and food. Heavy backpacks would have completely changed the calculus.)

Just reading the options for the “Inn to Inn” will motivate some of you to start planning for your 30th wedding anniversary trip or your 60th birthday present to yourself or something! How about: Judean Desert (Arad to En Gedi via Masada) in 4-6 days. Or Sea to Sea (across the Upper Galilee) in 5 days. Or the northern (and most beautiful!) section of the Israel National Trail – from Dan to Arbel!

Erez has another section of single-day self-guided hikes. These are easier to incorporate into another trip. There are several dozen options listed in various regions of Israel.

You might consider if a “hiking-based” trip could be a way to spend some quality time with some of your older kids. Or maybe a person you disciple or a small group you lead. Some married couples are ideally suited for trips like this. I know there are lots of other places to travel, and this is not on the cheaper end for those living outside of Israel, but I believe that amazing memories are made when (1) you are walking outdoors (2) in a place where you are surrounded by the Bible and (3) you are feeling a small measure of pain.

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Monday, November 04, 2019

What Archaeology Cannot See

In a recent roundup I criticized Haaretz for writing a dishonest headline, and I chose not to include a link to the story. The headline was “A Chance Discovery Changes Everything We Know About Biblical Israel.” Because time was short, and because Haaretz was making it difficult at the time to access the article, I did not read it.

I have read it now, and I believe that Haaretz did a grave disservice to Erez Ben-Yosef in their headline. Though my assumption was that this story was mere clickbait, what Ben-Yosef writes is quite important.

At the heart of Ben-Yosef’s argument is that archaeology is often used to answer questions that it cannot answer. The foundation of his argument comes from his work at Timna as well as analysis of the comparable mines at Faynan in Jordan. Here’s one quotation:

We know about the existence of a strong nomadic kingdom in the Arava solely because of its copper production; if the economy of the nomadic tribes of the Kingdom of Edom had been based only on commerce and agriculture, archaeologists would probably have reconstructed an “occupation gap” in the Arava region.

You have several options in what to read, should the issue of “archaeological invisibility” be of interest to you. (I’m particularly interested in it with regard to the Israelites in the time of Merneptah, but that is not addressed here.) There is the popular-level Haaretz article which Ben-Yosef wrote himself. That is based on his article in Vetus Testamentum, “The Architectural Bias in Current Biblical Archaeology,” which is available on Academia. A three-page version is published in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (also available on Academia).

As noted before, Israel Finkelstein wrote a response on  Facebook. And Ben-Yosef posted a response on Facebook and Academia, concluding thusly:

In other words, while assertions such as that Genesis 36 depicts a 6th century BCE reality or that David’s activities in Edom reflect an 8th century reality might be based on valid arguments, archaeology cannot be one of these arguments. It is often the case that when convenient, biblical archaeologists from the minimalist school resort to biblical criticism, and when less so, to archaeology (mostly to “absence of evidence”). However, one cannot have one’s cake and eat it too.

Those keeping score at home might be most surprised when they realize that this argument is being made by a professor at Tel Aviv University.

HT: Joseph Lauer

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Saturday, November 02, 2019

Weekend Roundup

The Tel Moza website gives details for joining the spring excavation as well as background about recent discoveries.

A family volunteering at an excavation in Lower Galilee discovered remains of an iron industry from the 6th century AD.

Some of the latest discoveries from Shiloh are described in a somewhat disjointed article in the Jerusalem Post.

The “Tomb of the Kings” in Jerusalem has been reopened to visitors (again) by France, which owns the site. Access is allowed only to the outer courtyard.

Naama Sukenik explains how new technology is being used to provide insights into counterfeiting dyes in the ancient textile industry.

Mark Barnes looks at the significance of the Mount of Olives in the Bible, including some interesting comparisons and contrasts between David’s and Jesus’s time there.

Who is Gallio and why is he so important to New Testament history? Bryan Windle explains in a well-illustrated article.

The “world’s oldest natural pearl” has been discovered in excavations on an island near Abu Dhabi.

“Ancient Assyrian stone tablets represent the oldest known reports of auroras, dating to more than 2,500 years ago.”

“Life at the Dead Sea” is a new exhibit about the cultural history of the lowest place on the planet that recently opened at the State Museum of Archaeology Chemnitz.

An exhibit of Egypt’s southern neighbor, “Ancient Nubia Now,” is on display until January 2020 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Sculptures from the Torlonia Collection will go on public display for the first time ever at the Capitoline Museums in Rome beginning in March.

The Washington Pentateuch is going on display at the Museum of the Bible.

The archaeological museum in Basra is adding English labels in hopes of welcoming more international visitors.

Jaafar Jotheri provides an overview of excavations in Iraq in the last year.

A conference will be held at the Louvre on November 25 on Tappeh Sialk: A Key Site for the Archaeology of Iran.

Farrell Monaco will be lecturing on “Dining with the Romans” at the Walters Art Museum on November 10.

4,500 tourists watched the sun illuminate the face of Ramses II in the temple of Abu Simbel.

Wayne Stiles is leading a tour of Israel (and pre-tour to Egypt) in October 2020.

There will be no roundup next weekend.

HT: Ted Weis, Mike Harney, Joseph Lauer, Keith Keyser

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: The Eastern Cardo

In the Old City of Jerusalem, opportunities are rare to excavate large areas. The best such opportunity followed the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967 when archaeologist Nahman Avigad opened areas that led to the discoveries of the Broad Wall, Israelite Tower, Nea Church, and the Byzantine Cardo. Most tourists to the Old City today see the remains of that Cardo, perhaps while grabbing a bite to eat or doing some shopping.

Jerusalem, as depicted on the Medeba Map (circa AD 580); the excavation area is marked with a black box

The Cardo is depicted on the Medeba Map, a Byzantine-era mosaic that once displayed all of the Holy Land, with Jerusalem at the center. The map shows two colonnaded north-south streets through Jerusalem. The western street is more prominent, and it connected the Church of the Holy Sepulcher with the northern gate (today the Damascus Gate) and the Nea Church.

Plans to construct a heritage center at the back side of the Western Wall prayer plaza provided Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah and Alexander Onn with the opportunity to see what lay beneath before the building went up. Their large-scale excavations from 2005 to 2010 revealed a Old Testament-era four room house (described here last week) and the Eastern Cardo. They uncovered a few other things as well, including a portion of the Low-Level Aqueduct, but these are the two main discoveries described in their report in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

If you can picture the Western Cardo (aka “the Cardo”) in the Jewish Quarter, you can picture the Eastern Cardo. Both consist of a large paved street with sidewalks on either side and with porticoes probably on both sides as well. The street continued in use for nearly 2,000 years, so a lot of the superstructure was missing, including nearly all of the columns. The Eastern Cardo is slightly wider than the Western Cardo, which is not what you would expect from the Medeba Map. The excavators suggest that the Western Cardo was more prominent on the map because this street connected the churches that the pilgrims visited.
Eastern Cardo excavations, with paving stones visible

The Eastern Cardo ran from the present-day Damascus Gate south to the area of the present-day Dung Gate, but unlike the Western Cardo, it was constructed in its full length in the Roman period. The archaeologists know that because they found the latest material they found in sealed contexts beneath the paving stones is early 2nd century AD. But while most have expected that the street was built during the Aelia Capitolina renovation circa AD 130, the excavators think it predates that by a few years. It cannot date before Hadrian’s reign (117-138), because of a coin found beneath the pavement, but it may date to Hadrian’s earliest years. The street continued in use through the Byzantine period.

The conclusion of the article describes the history of the street over the following 1,500 years. The short version is this: as years went by, the street’s elevation increased (ultimately 13 feet higher in the 20th century) and its width decreased (down from 77 feet to 9 feet). Presumably at least a portion of this street will be displayed to visitors in the lowest level of the heritage center now under construction.

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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Weekend Roundup

If you don’t pay attention, you would think they’re finding all kinds of first-century streets in Jerusalem. But it’s the same one, again and again. The story this week, based on a journal article in Tel Aviv, is that the Siloam Street/Stepped Street/Pilgrim’s Path was built by Pilate. The date is based on the most recent coin, from AD 30/31, found in the fill under the pavement. Leen Ritmeyer rejects the study, saying that the road was actually built by Herod Agrippa II. That last link has a nice map that shows the location of the Herodian/Pilatian/Agrippian Road.

A three-year salvage excavation near Beth Shemesh uncovered a Byzantine Church with an inscription mentioning a “glorious martyr.” The mosaics are quite well-preserved, and there is an intact underground burial chamber. Some of the artifacts are featured in a new exhibition at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

Excavators have found a second monumental gate at Hacilar.

These reports from Beirut are from last year, but I did not see them then:

Rachel Bernstein provides an update on the Temple Mount Sifting Project since its recent reboot and relocation.

Israel Finkelstein responds to the “discovery that changes everything we know about biblical Israel.”

Artificial intelligence is better at deciphering damaged ancient Greek inscriptions than humans are.

The ArcGIS Blog interviews Tom Levy and one of his students about their use of GIS and 3D modeling in their work in the copper mines of Faynan.

Officials in Thessaloniki are arguing about what to do with a “priceless” 6th century AD Byzantine site found during work on a subway tunnel.

Spanish experts have replicated for Iraq two Assyrian lamassu statues previously destroyed by ISIS.

Dirk Obbink denies the charges against him of selling items owned by the Egyptian Exploration Society.

Two scholarships are available for students interested in participating in February’s excavation of Timna’s copper mines.

An international conference entitled “Philistines! Rehabilitating a Biblical Foe” will be held on Nov 17 at Yeshiva University Museum. Registration is required.

‘Atiqot 96 (2019) is now online, with reports on excavations at Rosh Pinna, Mazor, and el-Qubeibe.

Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours has released the 16th video in their series, “It Happened Here.” This one features life lessons from Beth Shean.

Jim Hastings shows how he built a model of a gate of Ezekiel’s temple.

Ferrell Jenkins shares photos from his 1970 tour of Iraq.

Aron Tal reflects on the remarkable return of the ibex. There was a day, apparently, when there were no ibex to be found at En Gedi.

HT: Gordon Franz, Mark Hoffman, Agade, Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, A.D. Riddle, Steven Anderson

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Four-Room House near the Western Wall

For many years there was a big pit at the back of the Western Wall prayer plaza. If you climbed up the hill, you could see over the barrier walls and watch the hole get deeper. But it was difficult to know what they were finding. One natural guess, given the position of the pit, was that they would find the eastern branch of the Cardo. And they did. They continued digging and discovered a house from the Old Testament period. Their findings are given in a chapter of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed entitled “A First Temple Period Building and the Roman Eastern Cardo in the Western Wall Plaza.” The authors are the archaeologists Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah and Alexander Onn.

Western Wall plaza excavations, 2008

Below all of the human remains, the archaeologists found bedrock that had been quarried in the 7th century BC. On top of that, they found a portion of a “four-room house,” also dating to the 7th century. In the Bible, the two most significant kings ruling over Jerusalem in the 7th century were Manasseh and Josiah. So this house was likely built during the reign of one of them.

They uncovered a portion of the house that measures 27 x 27 feet (8.5 x 8.5m). The walls were preserved to a height of—get this—16 feet (5 m)! That is very unusual for something this old, with all of the later bulldozers to come through (I’m thinking here of Nebuchadnezzar, the Romans, the Persians, even Herod). The structure was well-built, with “uniform, homogeneous courses of slightly trimmed stones.” The layout of the house had three parallel rooms, characteristic of the “four-room house.” The fourth room, running along the back, was beyond the area of the excavation.

The destruction of the building is interesting. The archaeologists determined that the building was destroyed quickly, either by an earthquake or more likely by the Babylonians. Yet the building lacked complete vessels, indicating that the house was abandoned before the destruction. One theory the excavators suggest is that the inhabitants may have been deported to Babylon in the days of King Jehoiachin (2 Kgs 24:12-16).

Western Wall excavations, 2006

What do you think they found in the house? If you’re an archaeology fan, you might just pause here and think about what you would expect to find in a 7th-century house in Jerusalem. You should get some of your guesses right, because the findings are not surprising.

1) Pottery characteristic of the 7th and early 6th centuries.

2) Lots of figurines. About 450 fragments of females, male riders, and animals. This almost sounds like a toy store. A particularly interesting one is of a lion with a small animal in its mouth. This may be a lion having lunch or a lioness carrying its cub.

3) Personal seals with Hebrew names. One of these seals has a cool depiction of an archer. (I’d like a seal like that, please.) Inscribed names include: Hagav, Netanyahu, Yadayahu, and Nawa or Nera.
The archaeologists consider the seals of most value in determining who lived in this house. They believe that these seals “suggest that its inhabitants belonged to the upper class and perhaps served as part of the administrative apparatus in Jerusalem.”

I suppose that we can imagine that the people who lived here were well-connected in Jerusalem, and it’s quite reasonable to think that they may well have been acquainted with Jerusalem inhabitants we know from the Bible, such as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah, and Josiah.

The article continues with what they found from later periods—primarily the Eastern Cardo. I hope to to read and summarize that here next week.

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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Wayne Stiles just walked the last five miles of the Appian Way into Rome, and he shares his experiences along with a video. Only one section was a hair-raising experience!

A preliminary report from the Swedish excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke in Cyprus is now online.

Israeli security inspectors discovered 69 coins from the time of Alexander the Great being smuggled from Gaza into Israel. But one expert suggests the coins are fake.

The Summer Session program of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens is now accepting applications. Scholarships are available.

Why do newspapers write dishonest headlines like this? “A Chance Discovery Changes Everything We Know About Biblical Israel.” Shame on Haaretz.

The lectures are in Hebrew, but you may find the topic list to be of interest for this year’s “New Discoveries and Insights” conference at Tel Aviv University.

The schedule is now online for next week’s Annual Conference, “New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region.”

The final list of speakers and their topics for the 22nd Annual Bible and Archaeology Fest is now posted.

Yahoo Groups is shutting down. This will affect lists such as Explorator and ANE-2.

The En-Gedi Resource Center website has a new home, with new organization and a “Hebraic Studies” search bar to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

Carl Rasmussen shares a number of photos of Göbekli Tepe.

John DeLancey is blogging each day on his tour of Greece, Rome, and Pompeii, now wrapping it up on Day 13.

Ferrell Jenkins explains why a photo he took of the cedars of Lebanon in 2002 is one of his favorites.

Bryan Windle has put together another great archaeological biography, this one on King Nebuchadnezzar.

HT: Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Agade

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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Amanda Borschel-Dan of The Times of Israel provides a valuable summary of the Siloam Street/Stepped Street/Pilgrim’s Path that has been in the news for the last decade or so. One particular point of interest: the street will not be fully opened to the public for a few more years, because it is still being excavated 7am to 10pm every day.

“Archaeologists have uncovered a well-preserved fresco of two fighting gladiators in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.” Very nice.

“Scientists report that they may have found the earliest written record of a solar storm in ancient Assyrian tablets.”

Egypt announced the discovery of 20 well-preserved wooden coffins in Luxor.

“Archeologists working in Luxor’s “Valley of the Monkeys” have discovered an “ancient ‘industrial area’ once used to produce decorative items, furniture and pottery for royal tombs.”

The Egyptian Exploration Society has formally accused Oxford professor Dirk Obbink of stealing and selling papyri fragments from the Oxyrhynchus collection.

With Saudi Arabia opening up for tourism, tour agencies are quick to create tours to scam evangelicals.

The Arab World Institute in Paris is presenting an exhibition highlighting the pre-Islamic history of the Al 'Ula region in Northwest Saudi Arabia.

Tim Frank’s “Visualizing Food Storage in Ancient Houses” article includes a number of video visualizations from sites like Izbet Sartah, Tel Batash, and Beersheba. These could be quite useful.

A new record has been set in the “world’s oldest marathon,” a race from Aphek to Shiloh.

Wildlife inspectors spotted ten bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Israel and have posted footage.

Only 30-40 acacia gazelles survive in Israel, and rangers recently discovered a fawn had been born.

“Cruise passengers held their breath as a 22.5 meter wide cruise liner became the largest boat to pass through Greece's narrow Corinth Canal.” There are some nice pictures.

HT: Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Agade, David Padfield

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Mamilla Pool and Aqueduct

Excavations by David Amit in the area where the Museum of Tolerance is being built in West Jerusalem have revealed that the Mamilla Pool dates to the time of King Herod. While there are a number of pools in the Jerusalem area that date to the time of Herod, no one has ever been sure about the large one that’s rather tucked away down the street from the King David Hotel. Amit reports the results of his excavation in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

Amit comes to this conclusion from his excavations of an area slightly uphill from the pool where he uncovered a portion of the Upper Aqueduct system from the Second Temple period. By determining that that the pool is part of this aqueduct system, it is clear that the Mamilla Pool dates to the Second Temple period.

In addition, the excavations revealed an earlier water system from approximately the time of Hezekiah. A massive dam was constructed to divert run-off into Jerusalem, possibly into the Mishneh Quarter. This forerunner to the Upper Aqueduct system may have been constructed to provide water to the new inhabitants on Jerusalem’s Western Hill. Next to the dam, a contemporary Iron Age building may have served as an administrative building, possibly for supervising and maintaining the system. Amit notes the large number of royal seal impressions found in the area may support this theory.

It does seem that wherever one digs in Jerusalem, or in its vicinity, one finds something of interest. This rather modest dig adds significant contributions to our understanding of the water systems of Jerusalem in both the Old and New Testament eras.

Mamilla Pool, circa 1860. You don't realize how close it is to the Old City until you move the buildings out of the way.

Mamilla Pool, circa 1910, with some buildings in the way.

Mamilla Pool, filled with water, early 1900s.

Mamilla Pool, in more recent days.

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Amazon MatchBook Ending

Amazon is shutting down its Kindle MatchBook program at the end of the month. MatchBook is a little-known arrangement whereby purchase of the print book gives you the right to purchase the Kindle version at a great discount (usually not more than $2.99). If you have ever bought a print book from Amazon and you might have interest for a Kindle version, you can click here to find out what books qualify and their prices. I have about 100 books available in my list, and I plan to purchase a few before I’m no longer able to.

This has extra relevance for readers here because Psalm 23: A Photo Commentary, written by Steven Anderson and me, is in the MatchBook program, and the cost is free. That means that when you purchase the print book, you get the Kindle edition at no charge. The Kindle version looks beautiful on a tablet or computer (but not so much on a black-and-white Kindle since the book is filled with color photos).

The short point here is that if you want the free Kindle book ($9.99 separately), you lose that option in a couple of weeks.

One trick, if you’re a Kindle user, is to buy the print book to give as a gift and keep the Kindle version for yourself.

Screenshot from the Kindle book


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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Weekend Roundup

“The rare ancient tomb of a wealthy Minoan woman has been discovered at a monumental archaeological complex on the Greek island of Crete.”

“Archaeologists have revealed the face of an Egyptian princess who lived almost 4,000 years ago by painstakingly piecing together the wooden shards of her sarcophagus.”

A study of legal texts from Susa reveals how elderly parents ensured that their children took care of them.

“A replica Phoenician vessel made in Syria is sailing the Atlantic to prove the ancient civilisation did it 2,000 years before Columbus.”

The Biblical Archaeology Society has announced their 2019 Publication Awards Winners.

A review of a new work from Oxford: Peter Mitchell, The Donkey in Human History: An Archaeological Perspective.

“Persepolis, Then & Now” is the title of a conference at NYU on November 21.

The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review includes articles on the Assyrian relief at Sela, the search for portraits of Herod, and hiking in Paul’s footsteps.

Bible Land Passages has just released a new video, “Go Now to Shiloh.” Here’s what you’ll see: “This full-length documentary complete with on-site interviews, a behind the scenes look at the process of archaeology, analysis of the newest and most exciting discoveries to date, reenactments, computer generated graphics and illustrations, and numerous biblical connections and faith building lessons.”

Appian Media has launched its ‘inRoads’ podcast, and they have made it available via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, as well as video versions on Facebook and YouTube. If you sign up to be a supporter this month, you get a beautiful free coffee mug.

The Biblical Archaeology Society is having an inventory clearance sale on Carta and IES books, with the best prices on some items I’ve seen. Some examples, all of which I recommend:

  • Leen Ritmeyer, The Quest ($30)
  • Carta’s Illustrated Josephus ($30)
  • The Carta Bible Atlas ($25)
  • Jerusalem: Biblical Archaeology Map ($9)
  • New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, 4 vols. ($100)

There’s still time to catch the second of the two-day Oriental Institute Indiana Jones Film Festival.

Carl Rasmussen has begun a series on hippodromes/circuses, with part 1 and part 2 of what happened there, featuring some beautiful photos of a splendid ancient mosaic in France.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto this week is of the Siq and Treasury at Petra.

What do we know about Pontius Pilate from archaeology? Bryan Windle pulls it all together in the latest entry in his Archaeological Biography series.

HT: Agade, Keith Keyser

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