Saturday, June 22, 2019

Weekend Roundup


A tower from the time of King Hezekiah was discovered on a military training base in the Hebron hills.

The first week of the Tel Burna excavation has wrapped up, and Chris McKinny shares a summary and lots of photos.

Aren Maeir provides some of the objectives for each area as they prepare to begin the 2019 season at Gath.

The latest video of the Shiloh Network News is now online.

New finds at Tell Deir Alla in the Jordan Valley contradict previously published results that the north side of the site was used for cultic purposes.” I’m not sure how “new” these finds are, but the aerial view of the site is nice.

The May 2019 issue of the Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities features the latest news and discoveries.


Sappers finished clearing mines at the seventh and final monastery at Qasr al-Yahud. Six more months of mine clearing are required before the area will be safe.

Nazareth Illit (Upper Nazareth) has voted to change its name to Nof HaGalil, to end confusion with the city of Jesus’s childhood.

In a painstaking process, the Penn Museum moved its red granite 12.5 ton sphinx of Ramses II to its main museum hall.

The Getty Conservation Institute’s work at Herculaneum is focused on preserving the wall paintings.


Now available from Eisenbrauns: A Corpus of Ammonite Inscriptions, by Walter E. Aufrecht. This second edition includes 254 additional inscriptions, most of which have no provenance. (Use code NR18 to receive 30% off.)

Gordon Franz has posted an updated version of his article, “‘How Beautiful Are the Feet’ on the Via Egnatia.”

Carl Rasmussen shares a photo of “handcuffs” from the Roman period, along with a list of more than 20 mentions of “chains” in the New Testament.

Ferrell Jenkins posts photos of the wildflowers of the field as well as cedar and hyssop.


John DeLancey is Gordon Govier’s guest on The Book and the Spade this week, discussing “the destruction of Jericho.”

Eve Harow interviews Leen Ritmeyer on the Land of Israel Network.


Wayne Stiles is leading a tour to Israel and Egypt in October 2020.


Agade, Ted Weis, David Padfield, Alexander Schick, Explorator


There will be no roundup next weekend.

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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Weekend Roundup

This year’s Institute of Biblical Context conference was superb. If you can make it to next year’s conference (theme: the contextual world of the apostle Paul), I’d recommend it (June 8-10 in Zeeland, Michigan).

(Re-)Opening day for the Temple Mount Sifting Project was a great success.

Abigail VanderHart provides an interesting look into how the antiquities market is regulated in Israel.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is offering visitors a chance to volunteer in an archaeological excavation. There are other options with Volunteers for Israel.

Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours has produced a 6-minute devotional video with footage from Gamla.

With the summer excavations about to begin at Gath, Aren Maeir shares a preview of the 2019 shirt.

Israel’s Good Name recounts his travels in the southern Aravah, including Timna Park and several other off-the-beaten-track sites.

Walking the Text has just released the 2nd edition of “The #1 Mistake Most Everyone Makes Reading the Bible.” Select “More” at the top right.

The American Center of Oriental Research Newsletter for July-December 2018 is now online.

Egypt is asking the UK to stop Christie’s auction of a bust of King Tut.

In a well-illustrated article on the ASOR Blog, Vanessa Davies explains why the Egyptians and the Hittites made “peace”  16 years after their major battle.

Crowds of tourists are causing big problems at major tour destinations around the world.

All of Jerusalem will become a “clean air” zone under a new law passed by the City Council.

Ferrell Jenkins explains the history of the cedar of Lebanon trees at Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Ted Weis

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Saturday, June 08, 2019

Weekend Roundup

The Ketef Hinnom Archaeological Garden has now opened, no longer requiring passage through the Begin Center to visit the First Temple period tombs.

An agreement was signed to carry out renovations in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher by the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic churches. There is no word on whether the ladder will be moved.

Some are claiming that Muslims have turned the Golden Gate into a mosque.

The IDF carried out a simultaneous detonation of 900 landmines in the region of Qasr el-Yehud near the Jordan River.

A number of wildfires have been set this week in the region of Samaria.

The Times of Israel runs a story on the relaunch of the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

I can’t tell which part of this “10th-century gate discovered at ‘Bethsaida’” wasn’t reported last year, but the Jerusalem Post is running it as news.

A Turkish archaeologist discovered a stone with a Greek inscription embedded in a wall during roadwork near Cnidos.

Carl Rasmussen shares photos of Roman-period anchors piled up in a corner of the Malta Maritime Museum.

Glenn C. Altschuler reviews Jodi Magness’s new book, Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth. I would expect the book to be a worthwhile read for anyone interested in Masada.

Charles Savelle reviews David Dorsey’s classic, The Roads and Highways of Ancient Israel (now back in print).

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Keith Keyser

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Saturday, June 01, 2019

Weekend Roundup

A Seleucid fortress has been discovered off the shore of Dor (Haaretz premium).

Scott Stripling reports the progress in the Shiloh excavations in a series of recent videos (May 21, May 22, May 24, May 27, May 30).

A new visitor’s center has been opened at Caesarea in four reconstructed vaults underneath Herod’s temple. They are hoping to double tourism to the site in the next six years.

Sara Toth Stub writes about the oasis of En Gedi in a feature piece from the Archaeology magazine.

Archaeologists working in Cairo have discovered a temple from the time of Nectanebo I.

Archaeological researchers believe that they have discovered the baptistery in the Hagia Sophia that was used to baptize Byzantine emperors.

A large marble head of Dionysus has been discovered in excavations of the ancient forum in Rome.

Brent Seales is about to conduct his first scans of Herculaneum scrolls in nearly a decade.

Appian Media has announced their upcoming projects, along with a way to support them by becoming a member.

The Biblical Archaeology Society has a sale on The Sacred Bridge, marking the second edition down to $90.

The Book and the Spade pulls out of their archive a 1983 interview with Gabriel Barkay, shortly after he discovered the silver amulets at Ketef Hinnom.

Wayne Stiles has launched a new podcast, “Live the Bible.”

Omer Frenkel is a professional narrator who has made recordings of the Hebrew Bible over the last 14 years. Steven Anderson has created convenient playlists (in English).

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Keith Keyser

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Scientists have produced alcohol from ancient yeast excavated at four archaeological sites in Israel. Aren Maeir is compiling a list of press reports and shares some of the video clips. One reporter offers a review.

After a Second Temple period burial cave in Jericho’s impressive necropolis was damaged by tractor work, hundreds of the bones were re-buried elsewhere.

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the identities of archaeologists working in the West Bank must not be released by the government.

A new entrance to the Tel Zafit National Park (the Philistine city of Gath) was dedicated this week. Aren Maeir shares lots of photos.

With temperatures in Israel soaring above 100 degrees F (37 C), wildfires are causing the evacuation of many communities in central Israel, including the Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve.

Gordon Govier talks about Psalm 122 and the archaeology of Jerusalem on this week’s The Book and the Spade.

Peter Hessler tells the story of a how an Egyptian guard improvised in the early days of the Arab Spring to protect a site from looting.

Archaeologists working at Kirikkale in central Turkey have uncovered nine layers of Hittite ruins.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a favorite photo of the ancient Diolkos near Corinth.

Carl Rasmussen explains why early Christians very likely frequented places like the local thermopolium.

In a 20-minute video, David Moster shows what there is to see at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.

Ferrell Jenkins explains why he thinks that “the two current volumes on Daniel and Esther may be the best.”

HT: Agade

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Tour of France and Spain with Mark Wilson

A unique trip has come to my attention that I think might be of interest to some of you. Mark Wilson is leading it, which automatically makes it worthy of consideration, and it is a tour of the Roman sites in France and Spain. The trip is jointly sponsored by Tutku Tours and Biblical Archaeology Society, which tells me that the quality will be high. Here is a brief rundown of what they’re calling “To the End of the Earth: Paul’s Journey to Spain”:

  • 14 days, inclusive of all travel (Sept 15-29, 2019)
  • 3 flights: Paris-Lyon, Barcelona-Seville, Seville-Paris
  • Visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Orange, Arles, Tarraco, Merida, and Cordoba
  • Tours of museums in Lyon, Arles, Narbonne, Tarragona, and Paris
  • Biblical and early church connections include Paul’s potential visit to Spain, Irenaeus’s church in Pothinus, and the oldest Christian building in Gaul, the Basilica of St. Paul
  • Roman connections include two temples of Augustus, the birthplaces of Seneca, Claudius, Trajan, and Hadrian
  • In addition, you’ll see temples, theaters, amphitheaters, pyramids, triumphal arches, forums, mausoleums, nymphaeums, baths, necropolises, and synagogues.
  • Plus, you get a free day in Paris, which I would recommend be used for a return visit to the Louvre!

I can’t think of a better trip to France and Spain for those interested in the ancient Roman and New Testament worlds. So if you have this on your bucket list, this may be your best opportunity. All the details are here (pdf).

The Saint-Bénézet bridge and the Popes’ Palace in Avignon


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Archaeologists have discovered an underground chamber in Nero’s Domus Aurea palace.

“Ancient workers used molten iron to repair Pompeii’s streets before the historic and devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.”

Greek authorities have granted permission for the restoration of the interior of the Parthenon in Athens.

Turkish officials have discovered an ancient mosaic that was illegally excavated in Çanakkale.

“Ancient treasures pillaged from conflict zones in the Middle East are being offered for sale on Facebook, researchers say, including items that may have been looted by Islamic State militants.”

In light of ISIS’s plundering, researchers have attempted to quantity the market value of artifacts from a single site.

The Biblical History Center in LaGrange, Georgia, is seeking approval to build a replica of the Sea of Galilee.

The Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times has announced the list of speakers for its 2019 conference “Between Israel, Aram and Phoenicia: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives.”

BibleX has posted a mini-review of the Photo Companion to Daniel.

HT: Ted Weis, Agade, A.D. Riddle

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

In an article posted on his Academia website (abstract here), Joe Zias argues that the “Cave of John the Baptist” actually depicts the Crusader patron saint of leprosy suffers, the man Lazarus from Jesus’s parable in Luke 16.

A military fortress from the 26th Dynasty has been discovered in North Sinai.

The April Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities provides the latest in archaeological discoveries, exhibitions, inaugurations, and more. (As of this writing, the pdf has the pages in reverse order.)

The Harvard Gazette describes the background and value of the Digital Giza Project.

If you haven’t visited the Harvard Semitic Museum, you can now take a very nice virtual tour.

The topics on this week’s The Book and the Spade are the four-room house, slavery, and Selah.

Leon Mauldin writes about “the hearing ear” in the biblical and ancient world.

Israel’s Good Name took a birdwatching trip to Eilat.

Max Richardson has been photographing in Jerusalem since 1985 and he shares some of his photos in The Jerusalem Report.

Mark Hoffman reviews the new Daniel and Esther volumes in the Photo Companion to the Bible series.

HT: Charles Savelle, Ted Weis, Agade

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Weekend Roundup

A statue likely depicting an Ammonite king in the 9th or 8th centuries BC was discovered near the Roman theater in Amman.

“Egypt's antiquities ministry on Saturday unveiled a 4,500-year-old burial ground near the Giza pyramids containing colourful wooden coffins and limestone statues.”

Jerald Starr argues that a plaque discovered by Sir Leonard Woolley near Ur depicts a temple prostitute.

Gabriel Barkay provides a tour of important archaeological sites in east Jerusalem.

Roman buildings like the Colosseum may have withstood earthquakes because of “seismic cloaking,” though it’s questionable whether this design was intentional.

John DeLancey is summarizing each day of his current tour to Israel, with the latest post about their visit to the Judean desert, the hill country of Samaria, Shiloh, and Beth Shean.

The Tel Burna Excavation team has released their lecture and tour schedule.

Carl Rasmussen explains and shows how early churches may have met in a second-story room above a shop.

Justin Taylor interviews Weston Fields about the history and significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Clyde Billington and Gordon Govier discuss what the Bible has to say about horses and dogs on The Book and the Spade. is offering a three-month long summer course in Biblical Hebrew. No previous knowledge is necessary. Classes begin in June.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is beginning a crowdfunding campaign in order to move and resume their operations as well as publish their results.

Helga Weippert passed away in March.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Chris McKinny

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Saturday, May 04, 2019

Weekend Roundup

“Life Lessons from Israel: Gezer” is the latest in the devotional video series by Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours.

BYU Magazine features a story about the Huqoq synagogue mosaics, with several photos and videos.

Dina Shalem explains the Peqi‘in Cave—A Unique Chalcolithic Cemetery in the Southern Levant (with many photos).

The W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research is celebrating Albright’s 128th birthday on 5/24 by seeking 524 gifts of $128 each.

“The Book of Psalms” is the newest course at the Institute of Biblical Culture.

Wayne Stiles goes to Egypt’s Valley of the Kings to understand better the tension between God’s sovereignty and our choices.

In a new article published Thursday in the Tel Aviv journal, Israel Finkelstein, Nadav Na’aman and Thomas Römer argue that the Mesha Stele records the name of “Balak,” king of Moab (see Num 22) and not the “house of David,” as proposed by André Lemaire. Lawrence Mykytiuk considers the Balak reading dubious because it is anachronistic. Ronald Hendel says they are guessing and the word could be “Bilbo.” Michael Langlois is preparing a new study based on Reflectance Transformation Imaging in which he strongly argues for “house of David.”

Macherus III, the final report on the Herodian citadel, is now available. Gyozo Voros has done a remarkable job in publishing his results most expeditiously. A festival is planned in 2020 to celebrate the work, and a new fence line will parallel the 2-mile-long Roman siege wall.

Megan Sauter interviews Jonathan S. Greer, John W. Hilber, and John H. Walton about the new book they edited, Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament.

Bidding has opened at $10 in the Logos’s Community Pricing model for Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology (3 volumes).

Check out the new “trailer” for the Bar Ilan University Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology Department.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Alexander Schick

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

New Photo Collections: Esther and Daniel

I am excited to announce the release of the Photo Companion to Esther and the Photo Companion to Daniel. These books both lend themselves well to illustration, and yet acquiring relevant photographs is quite challenging for a number of reasons. Our team has been at work on these resources for more than a year, and we are very pleased with the results.

Highlights of Esther include:

  • The exact spots where Mordecai overheard the conspiracy, Ahasuerus sat on his throne, and Haman waited early in the morning

  • Contemporary Persian reliefs depicting Ahasuerus, his officials, and his soldiers

  • Plans and models of the city of Susa and its palace that bring the story to life

Highlights of Daniel include:

  • Inscriptions, reliefs, and artifacts that shed light on the ancient Babylonian and Persian empires which Daniel served

  • Ancient images of lions, beasts, and human statues that provide the context for Daniel's persecution and his visions

  • A march through Daniel 11, with images of nearly every king and queen prophesied by Daniel hundreds of years in advance

As always:

  • Satisfaction is guaranteed

  • Shipping in the US is free

  • Immediate download of everything you order

Here’s one early endorsement for Esther:

An amazing resource! The photographs and graphics included in this collection are not only beautiful, they’re also extremely helpful for visualizing the world of Esther and the events described in the book. The authors are to be commended for this remarkable volume.”

Anthony Tomasino, author of Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary: Esther and Evangelical Exegetical Commentary: Esther

You can download Daniel 3 and Esther 4 to see the detail and abundance of these collections.

Our introductory prices are the best, and today you can pick up Esther for $34, Daniel for $39, or the set for $59. We also offer a download-only version. We hope that these resources prove to be extremely valuable for studying and teaching these extraordinary books that testify to God’s sovereignty and care.

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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Weekend Roundup

A 3rd-century milestone found on the road leading from Sussita to Caesarea Philippi attests to the existence of Emperor Maximinus Thrax. (Haaretz premium)

Yosef Garfinkel is claiming that he discovered the fortifications that Rehoboam built at Lachish (Haaretz premium).

A few spaces remain for this summer’s excavations at Shiloh.

Aren Maeir posts some new aerial photos of Gath.

David Bivin has updated his article on the history and identification of Emmaus.

Carl Rasmussen visits Nabi Shu’ayb, the holiest Druze site in Israel.

The village of Aphrodito provides a glimpse at daily life in southern Egypt in the 6th century AD.

Zahi Hawass identifies three tunnels in the Sphinx.

A newly published inscription describes the Assyrian king “Sargon’s conquest, occupation, and reorganization of Karkemish, including his rebuilding the city with ritual ceremonies usually reserved for royal palaces in capital cities.”

An Italian team is planning to begin a partial restoration of Persepolis.

A team from Greece is photographing thousands of ancient manuscripts at St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai.

“More than 300 artifacts from Queen Nefertari’s tomb are part of the National Geographic Museum exhibit ‘Queens of Egypt,’ which is on view in Washington through September 15.”

Rock&Gem explains the Minerals and Metals of the Bible (Part 1, Part 2)

The May/June issue of Biblical Archaeology Review includes articles on the Huqoq Synagogue, dogs in the biblical world, and the Assyrians.

The Biblical Archaeology Society is having a DVD Blowout Sale, with prices marked down 60-75%.

George Giacumakis died earlier this month.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Chris McKinny, Steven Anderson

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Global Smyrna Meeting on the Seven Churches of Revelation

I just received notice of a conference to be held next summer in Turkey. The invitation is open to all, and it looks like an outstanding slate of speakers and an outstanding itinerary including on-site tours led by the archaeologists. Opportunities like this, especially geared toward non-scholars, are all too rare. I expect it will be an very beneficial conference.

Below I have copied the invitation from Levent Oral (President, Tutku) and Mark Wilson (President, Seven Churches Network). Few people know biblical Turkey as well as Mark Wilson, and probably no one runs better tours of Turkey than Levent Oral.


A unique Biblical event is coming to Turkey in June of 2020!  And we’d like you and your congregation to be a part of it. 

We invite you to the Global Smyrna Meeting on the Seven Churches of Revelation to be held in Izmir (ancient Smyrna) on June 21-27, 2020.

Not only will you visit each of the Seven Churches during the course of the Meeting, but you will also hear some of the world’s leading authorities discuss these churches from the perspective of history, religion, and archaeology. A time of worship will precede each of the inspiring evening sessions. So mark these dates on your calendar and make plans to experience the Seven Churches with us.


Dr. Mark Wilson Seven Churches Network & Asia Minor Research Center

Dr. Ben Witherington Asbury Theological Seminary

Dr. Mark Fairchild Huntington University.

Dr. Carl Rasmussen Bethel College

Dr. Jeff Weima Calvin Theological Seminary

Dr. Linford Stutzman  Eastern Mennonite University

Pastor Bernard Bell, Peninsula Bible College, Cupertino, CA

Bishop Daniel Balais,  Philippines

...and more

Churches invited from:

USA, Canada, England, France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Philippines, Russia, Ukraine, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and more.

To reserve a place, simply email Erin Dailey:

For further details, please visit:

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Review by Phillip J. Long of Photo Companion to Acts

Phillip J. Long, Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages at Grace Christian University, recently reviewed the Photo Companion to Acts on his blog, Reading Acts. His review is the lengthiest of this work to date and we are most grateful for drawing readers’ attention to the strengths and weaknesses of this resource.

He begins by commenting on his familiarity with our work:

I first became aware of Bolen’s Pictorial Library of Biblical Lands at an ETS [Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting] in 2003. I have used these photographs in virtually every class I teach in order to add some colorful graphics to an otherwise dull PowerPoint presentation.

Big smile here! We are thankful that our photos have been so useful.

My favorite part of the review follows next:

If you are teaching the Book of Acts, then the Photo Companion to the Bible is an essential collection of images to use to illustrate your lectures and sermons. If you are a student of the Bible, you can read the text of the Bible and page through the slides in order to place the text into a physical context.

He notes a number of strengths of the collection, including the aerial photographs, the explanatory notes, the references to journal articles, and the free updates. In particular, he highlights the copyright concerns in using photographs that are alleviated by this resource.

He also provides some critiques, including slides which do not seem on topic or which may be unnecessary. You can go to his full review for those and all of his other observations.

We are very grateful to Dr. Long for his careful and thoughtful review. We invite you to consider using the Photo Companion to Acts in your own study or teaching of this book.