Saturday, July 20, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists working at el-Araj (Bethsaida?) are claiming that a Byzantine church they are excavating is the “Church of the Apostles.” The story is reported in Haaretz (premium); the excavation website has lots of photos.

The excavation season at Gath is over. Among this week’s posts is this one with their end-of-season photo shoot.

“A rare, very early rural mosque was unearthed during recent archaeological excavations in the southern Israel Bedouin city of Rahat.”

Excavations on Mount Zion have revealed a moat from the Crusader siege of Jerusalem in 1099.

“An unprecedentedly vast Neolithic settlement — the largest ever discovered in Israel and the Levant, say archaeologists — is currently being excavated ahead of highway construction five kilometers from Jerusalem

The University of Basel announced its possession of the oldest autograph of a Christian letter.

Researchers are studying the harbor technologies of Portus, the maritime harbor of Rome in the first centuries AD.

For the first time in decades, Egypt has opened the Bent and Red Pyramids of Dahshur to tourists.

Wayne Stiles draws spiritual lessons about closed doors from Paul’s second missionary journey.

New from Eerdmans: Scribes and Scrolls at Qumran, by Sidnie White Crawford

Now at the top of my wish list (but more difficult to acquire outside of Israel): Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Archaeological Discoveries, 1998–2018, edited by Hillel Geva.

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

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Weekend Roundup (and the fake “Ziklag”)

The big story of the week was the “discovery of Ziklag,” a claim made by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel regarding his recent excavations of Khirbet a-Ra‘i. You can read about it in the The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, and Haaretz (premium). You can download high-res photos or watch a one-minute silent video showing excavations at the site. I think the whole thing is sad.

Now, to the week’s stories, of which there are not so many:

You might have trouble picking out your friends in this year’s group photo of the Gath excavation team. (Very clever!) You can poke around the blog for recent updates and lots of photos.

The Tel Burna excavation season is over. John DeLancey created a video of the site with his drone.

A journal article has been published on last year’s discovery of a ceramic pomegranate at Shiloh.

Scott Stripling is back on The Book and the Spade discussing this year’s excavations at Shiloh.

A newly constructed building on an archaeological site in the hills near Hebron has been bulldozed.

On the Logos blog, Karen Engle explains the value of biblical archaeology.

It’s always more enjoyable to think about a difficult passage when you feel more immersed in its setting, and that’s what Wayne Stiles does this week with Jesus’s question at Capernaum.

Israel’s Good Name enjoyed a fascinating outing to the Nizzana Dunes. Don’t skip this one if you love wildlife.

Carl Rasmussen has begun a very interesting series (part 1, part 2) on Paul’s shipwreck on the island of Malta.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a photo of Capernaum with a unique perspective.

OK, so I’ll elaborate briefly on my thoughts on “Ziklag.” First, the lead archaeologist who made the claim has a track record of making dubious sensational claims. Second, the archaeologist was very careful to conceal his idea from other scholars until he made his big announcement to the press. Now, that may be the way to do things in the competitive business world, but in academia, you’re supposed to share your ideas with colleagues for fruitful critique. Garfinkel’s approach, once again, is more designed to make headlines than to discover truth.

Third, other sites, such as Tel Sera, have appropriate occupation levels, from the Philistines followed by the Israelites, with destruction layers. From the biblical text, we know that there were dozens of sites in this area, and David no doubt removed the Philistines from more than one of them (1 Chr 18:1). Furthermore, the minimal amount of Philistine pottery gives reason to doubt that Kh. a-Ra‘i was actually a Philistine site at all.

Fourth, Khirbet a-Ra‘i (coordinates 31°35'26.83"N, 34°49'10.03"E), is near Lachish (2.5 miles northwest), but according to Joshua 15, Ziklag is located in a more southern district (grouped with sites like Beersheba and Hormah). That is why scholars have proposed for Ziklag the sites of Tel Sera (15 miles southwest of Lachish) and Tel Halif (13 miles south of Lachish). If Khirbet a-Ra‘i was Ziklag, it should be in verse 38 of Joshua 15, not in verse 31. Fifteen miles distant is a long way in the land of Israel!

As with Kh. Qeiyafa, Garfinkel simply ignores what the Bible says about the geographical situation of sites and chooses the most spectacular name to attach to his site. The press will let him get away with it, because sensational stories mean more money for them. By the time that journal articles are written or professors speak up, the headlines have already raced around the world, and the public’s attention is elsewhere. Khirbet a-Ra‘i is a fine archaeological site; it doesn’t need false claims in order to make it worthy of study or publicity.

Final note: Amanda Borschel-Dan has written a solid report for The Times of Israel in which she quotes at length two scholars dumbfounded by Garfinkel’s claim. Luke Chandler (a volunteer at the site this year) and Ferrell Jenkins also weigh in. My analysis here was written before I read these reports, but you’ll see there’s a good bit of overlap.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Keith Keyser, BibleX

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, July 08, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 3

The story around the “First Century Gospel of Mark” text has turned very strange. (Michael Holmes, Elijah Hixson, Brent Nongbri, Candida Moss, Jerry Pattengale)

An Egyptian statue resembling King Tut sold for $6 million in a controversial auction.

A luxury hotel built in Antakya (biblical Antioch on the Orontes) preserves the ancient ruins found below.

Boxes of material from Jerry Vardaman’s excavations at Macherus have been dug out of storage and will be studied and published.

Omri Lernau explains what kinds of fish were eaten in ancient Jerusalem.

Dozens of metal archaeological artifacts excavated at Caesarea were stolen from an Israel Antiquities Authority storage facility (Haaretz premium).

The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review is a double issue, featuring articles on the wise woman of Abel Beth Maacah, the Royal Stoa of the Temple Mount, Jewish purity practices, inscriptions from Mount Gerizim, and the Copper Scroll.

Here’s a tutorial on how to write in cuneiform.

The newest Bible Land Passages documentary has been released. This 18-minute video looks the candidates for the tomb of Jesus.

In a recent episode of Hebrew Voices, David Moster explains how toilets worked in ancient Israel. And David just produced part 2 of “How to Use the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: the Masorah Notes” (20-min video).

Recent interviews on The Book and the Spade:

Carl Rasmussen explains how a Lewis Bolt was used to lift heavy stones in the ancient world.

Leen Ritmeyer shares some photos from his underground work at the Temple Mount in the 1970s.

Ferrell Jenkins posts an idyllic photo of an olive tree and two olive presses.

A friend at my church is leading a 20-day tour of New Zealand this January and he has a few open spots. He’s a native New Zealander and a seminary graduate, and he will be giving biblical instruction along the way (for example, NZ has 30 million sheep!). I can’t imagine a better tour of New Zealand. Here’s a flyer with more info.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Agade, David Padfield, Mark Hoffman, Explorator

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Museums:

“Assyrians in the Shadow of Vesuvius” is a new exhibit at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

“Buried by Vesuvius: Treasures from the Villa dei Papiri” is now on display at the Getty Villa in southern California. The post discusses how the Getty Villa was designed after the Villa of Papyri.

“Last Supper in Pompeii” is a new exhibit opening later this month at the Ashmolean Museum.

A replica of the destroyed Lion of Mosul is going on display at London’s Imperial War Museum.

A major exhibition on Troy will open at the British Museum on November 21.

The Egyptian Museum, though losing much of its collection to the Grand Egyptian Museum, will undergo a three-year renovation with the hope of securing status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A new exhibition on Tall Zira'a opened this week at The Jordan Museum.

Lectures:

Shahrokh Razmjou will be lecturing on “The Rise and Fall of Persepolis: A Wonder of the Ancient World” in London on July 23.

Twenty scholars will be speaking at the 22nd Annual Bible and Archaeology Fest in San Diego, November 22-24.

Tourism:

Jerusalem’s “Tomb of the Kings” will reopen to visitors for the first time since 2010, but the tombs themselves will be off-limits.

With restorations complete, Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity has been removed from UNESCO’s list of endangered world heritage sites.

The Lahun Pyramid opened to the public for the first time last week.

Every year there’s a story that Carchemish will soon be opened to the public.

Babylon has been named a 2019 UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Adam Stewart Brown articulates well why you should visit the Holy Land.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Agade, Explorator, Bill Krewson

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

I go away for one week, and I come back to a large pile of stories in the biblical and archaeological world. This is going to take three long posts to catch up.

Discoveries:

Excavations at the synagogue of Huqoq have uncovered a mosaic depicting the Israelites’ encampment at Elim as well as two of the four beasts of Daniel 7.

Recent research has revealed that Tel Shikmona was not a trading settlement but a purple dye manufacturing center.

The Siloam Road, connecting the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount of Jerusalem, was officially opened this week.

Archaeologists discovered an ancient baptismal font hidden inside another baptismal font at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

An ancient Roman-era shipwreck has been discovered at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Cyprus.”

Excavations:

The Tel Burna crew has finished three weeks of their summer dig, with daily posts providing summaries of the finds along with photos. Here’s the latest. John DeLancey has posted his perspective as a volunteer.

The Gath expedition is halfway finished with their season, and they are unearthing a road, a window, architectural remains, and a monster wall.

This summer’s excavations at el-Araj (Bethsaida?) have produced more mosaics from the Byzantine church, a mold for making lead fishing weights, part of a roof roller, and Roman flagstones.

The Jerusalem Report has a feature piece on recent excavations at Tell Beth Shemesh.

Excavations are beginning in Laodicea on the road that leads to the ancient stadium.

Studies:

A new DNA study indicates that Philistines living in Ashkelon in the late 12th century BC originated from Greece, Crete, or Sardinia. These articles are based on a journal article published in Science Advances (pdf).

“New research explains why salt crystals are piling up on the deepest parts of the Dead Sea’s floor.”

Joe Zias argues that nearly all, if not all, of the human remains found at Masada are ethnically non-Jewish.

A new study shows that masons’ marks were used at Hippos only from the late first century to the late second century (Haaretz premium).

Sad News:

Doug Greenwold died on June 23. Doug was the Senior Teaching Fellow at Preserving Bible Times and a co-founder of The Institute of Biblical Context. He will be greatly missed.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Agade, Explorator, Lois Tverberg

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Dig:

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.

Tour:

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.

Read:

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.

Listen:

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.

Go:

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

Thanks:

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

Break:

There will be no roundup next weekend.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

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

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

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

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

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

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Labels:

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

Labels: , , , , , , ,

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

Labels: , , , , , , ,

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.

BiblicalCulture.org 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

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,