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


Labels:

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

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Hezekiah’s Wall and Herod’s Palace

There is an Israeli police station today just inside Jaffa Gate to the right. The Israelis took it over from the Jordanians who used it for the same purpose. The Jordanians inherited it from the British Mandate authorities. One of the buildings of this complex is known as the Kishle. The Kishle served as the prison during British Mandate times. Before the British, the building served the Ottoman police force. And before them, this was the location of the Roman legion charged with keeping the peace in the centuries following the Jewish Revolt. And below that archaeologists have discovered foundations of King Herod’s palace.

There’s clearly a pattern here, and it’s likely related to the geography. This area is the high ground on the Western Hill, and it provides a commanding position of the surrounding area. Unfortunately all of this construction has made uncovering earlier remains difficult. In fact, in the conclusion of the article being summarized here, the archaeologist soberly notes that all that left of Herod’s great palace are scattered remnants of its podium.
Kishle building from the north

Amit Re’em excavated the Kishle in 2000 and 2001, and his report in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed provides a summary of his discoveries. The article is succinct and well-illustrated, moving from the earlier periods to the later ones. My focus here will be the same as that named in the title of the article, “First and Second Temple Period Fortifications and Herod’s Palace in the Jerusalem Compound.”

Kishle interior

What gets me most excited about this excavation is not the foundations of Herod’s palace but a large section of wall constructed by Hezekiah. If you have studied Jerusalem’s history, you know of the “Broad Wall,” a 25-foot-wide fortification located today in the middle of the Jewish Quarter. What Re’em revealed is more of this same wall, but on the western side of the Western Hill. This is valuable because this is now only the second portion of this wall discovered to date. (This point is a useful illustration of how relatively little is either preserved or accessible in Jerusalem today.)

A length of about 50 feet was exposed, preserved to a height of 8 to 9 feet. That’s not as big as the “Broad Wall” portion, but it’s quite substantial. The construction was also impressive, as the wall was made of “large, well-trimmed stones (90x35 cm.) laid in header/stretcher fashion in the best tradition of First Temple period fortification construction.”
City wall from time of King Hezekiah

But then Re’em goes a step further, claiming that the common view that Jerusalem’s Western Hill was quickly populated with exiles from Samaria is wrong. I think it’s best to hear his claim in his own words:
The new finds from the Kishle contradict [previous] researchers’ conclusion that Jerusalem, limited to the area [of] the City of David and the Temple Mount, rapidly developed to occupy the Western Hill as a result of a mass influx of refugees to Judah and Jerusalem following the Assyrian destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel at the end of the 8th century BCE. The settlement process on the Western Hill appears to have been gradual, beginning during the first half of the 8th century BCE.
Unfortunately he moves straight on to the next subject without giving a scrap of evidence for his conclusion. I would say that there is evidence in the Bible, usually ignored, that indicates that Jerusalem’s Western Hill was not only settled earlier in the 8th century, but it was also fortified! I think I’ll follow Re’em’s example by throwing that out there and then just moving on.

The Kishle excavations also revealed some of the “First Wall,” built by the Hasmoneans in the 2nd century. Re’em uncovered remains of this wall that were 16 feet wide and exposed for a length of 75 feet. It may be noted that all of these excavations are constrained by the walls of the elongated structure of the Kishle.

From Herod’s palace we have some walls, and the article gives the dimensions, the most interesting of which is one that was preserved to a height of 22 feet. The discussion here is not much more than a page long, and the bottom line is that when you combine results from this dig with others in the area, it is clear that Herod’s palace was massive in size, covering the area of the Citadel, the Kishle, the Armenian Garden, and most of today’s Armenian Quarter.

Foundation wall of Herod's palace

The final section of this article surveys discoveries from later periods, including a Late Roman channel, medieval dyeing vats, a wall that is probably Ayyubid, and graffiti inscribed by prisoners held by the British Mandate authorities.


Labels: ,

Monday, October 07, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 3

Archaeologists have uncovered the largest Early Bronze city in Israel. The site of En Esur is 160 acres in size and is located 7 miles (11 km) east of Caesarea.

A lengthy inscription discovered at Pompeii in 2017 has been translated. It describes a “massive coming-of-age party for a wealthy young man.”

In the ruins of the ancient Hittite capital, there is a large, beautiful green rock that is a mystery to archaeologists and visitors.

Christopher Rollston is using multispectral imagery to study ostraca discovered at Macherus in 1968.

“The British Library, the largest national library in the world by number of items cataloged, has for the first time ever put some of its rarest and most ancient religious texts online for the general public to be able to access them from around the world.”

In a 2015 article for a special edition of the BBC History Magazine now published online, Aren Maeir identifies 10 key discoveries from the Holy Land. (It seems to me to be cheating for one of those to be “the discoveries of Jerusalem.”)

A portion of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums has reopened after years of renovations.

250,000 objects from the Louvre will be moved over the next four years to a non-public storage facility in northern France.

A student volunteer describes her experiences at Hazor in the last three years.

Wayne Stiles recently led a tour to Rome, and he shares some of his observations and reflections here.

JJ Routley argues that there is such a thing as Christian archaeology.

Bryan Windle has begun a new series of archaeological biographies, and the first subject is King Hezekiah.

The Getty Trust is devoting $100 million over the next 10 years to protect endangered historical sites around the world through dialogue and conservation.

If you would like to volunteer for a winter excavation in Israel, registration is now open for the February season at Timna.

A new survey is aiming to shed light on the Nabateans who lived in what is now Saudi Arabia.

The Wadi Shuʿaib Archaeological Survey Project (WSAS) is a new project in the area northwest of Amman, Jordan.

Bryan Windle has posted a resource review of the Photo Companion to the Gospels, with a focus on how he has used the Luke volume in his preaching.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Explorator

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Tourism:

National Geographic has a beautifully illustrated article on the history of Jerash (ancient Gerasa).

Saudi Arabia is now giving visas to foreign tourists.

A $6 million, 9-year project has made much of Jerusalem’s Old City accessible to wheelchairs. And now you can rent a golf cart at Jaffa Gate (for $100/hour).

The entry fee for Rome’s Colosseum is jumping to €16.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a number of photos from his visit to the Brook Besor.

The first photograph of the Acropolis of Athens was taken in 1842.

I enjoyed talking about my visit to Susa on The Book and the Spade. Part 2 is now posted.

Lectures:

Peter Machinist will be lecturing on “Assyria and the Hebrew Bible: A Reassessment” at NYU on Nov 14. Registration required.

Felix Höflmayer, Katharina Streit, & Lyndelle Webster will be lecturing at the Albright Institute on Oct 31 at 4:00. Their topic:  The Austrian-Israeli Expedition to Lachish After Three Years of Excavation.

Videos:

New series on YouTube: “The Holy Land: Connecting the Land with Its Stories is a nine-episode series hosted by Dr. John (Jack) Beck that takes you to regions throughout Israel to experience the land, the culture, and the customs that surround the sacred stories of the Bible.” The first two episodes have been released, and you can see a 2-minute special feature about Jerusalem here.

The latest video from Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours: “It Happened Here” - Life Lessons from Israel: Beth Shemesh (6 min).

Appian Media is posting regularly to their YouTube channel, including some behind-the-scenes videos.

We’ll have more in part 3 tomorrow.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Explorator

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Discoveries:

Tablets excavated at Gezer and the nearby Tel Hadid indicate that Israelites were not living in the area following the Assyrian invasions in the late 8th century BC (Haaretz premium).

A new study by Tel Aviv University has determined that the kingdom of Edom was flourishing in the 12th and 11th centuries BC, led in part by a high-tech copper network. The underlying journal article is available here.

Tin ingots from the 13th-12th centuries BC discovered near Haifa were apparently mined in Cornwall, England.

“Egyptian authorities have unintentionally discovered several historical monuments dating back to the Greco-Roman and Ptolemaic era in roughly 20 archaeological sites in the east and middle of Alexandria.”

A temple of Ptolemy IV was discovered in northern Sohag, Egypt, while drilling for a sewage drainage project.

An archaeologist in Aphrodisias, Turkey, discovered a Roman milestone that had long been used as a table base in a coffee shop.

Excavators continue to work to expose the forum area in ancient Alexandria Troas.

Nadav Shragai reports on the Adonijah seal impression and other discoveries that have come as a result of the excavations at the foundations of the western wall of the Temple Mount.

Museums and Exhibits:

The Bank of Israel in Jerusalem has opened an archaeological exhibit featuring “several spectacular ancient coin caches,” one of which includes more than 10,000 large coins.

Two Roman statues discovered last year near Beth Shean are joining the permanent collections of the Gan Hashlosha–Sahne Museum.

The largest-ever exhibition of treasure from King Tut’s tomb will be on display at the Saatchi Gallery from November 2, 2019 to May 3, 2020.

The Palestinian Museum in Bir Zeit recently won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The museum does not have a permanent collection.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum is returning a beautiful gold coffin of a high-ranking priest to Egypt after learning the item was stolen and its import papers forged.

Books:

Available at a pre-pub discount on Logos: Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology, by Randall Price and Wayne House.

Two new books from the Oriental Institute:

  • Discovering New Pasts: The OI at 100, edited by Theo van den Hout. Purchase ($134). Free download.
  • 100 Highlights of the Collections of the Oriental Institute Museum, edited by Jean M. Evans, Jack Green, and Emily Teeter. Purchase ($80). Free download.

The Times of Israel reviews Jodi Magness’s new book, Masada.

The German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land (GPIA) has produced a catalogue of the exhibition “Tall Zirā’a—Mirror of Jordan’s History.”

In tomorrow’s roundup, we’ll cover tourism, lectures, and videos.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Explorator, Jared Clark

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

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: The Western Wall Tunnel

I mentioned in my introduction to this book that Ancient Jerusalem Revealed really provides a “who’s who” in modern Jerusalem archaeology. Dan Bahat is another well-known name, having served as district archaeologist of Jerusalem for some years and having written the Illustrated Atlas of Jerusalem. Bahat is also known for his excavations of the Western Wall Tunnel, and this article provides information from more recent work.

The main point that Bahat wants to make in this article is that Amos Kloner is wrong about the dating of the arched bridge that begins with Wilson’s Arch and runs west. All agree it originally dates to the Herodian period and was destroyed by the Romans. Kloner challenged Bahat’s dating to the Umayyad period, proposing instead that was rebuilt in the Late Roman period (AD 70-330). Bahat is back to prove that he was right all along. This debate does not interest me much, so I’m going to move along.

Unlike the Triple Gate article from last week, this chapter has more illustrations. I especially like the one showing the two-story vault structure supporting the bridge, built over a couple of ritual baths with a four-sided mikveh used for the purification of vessels in the foreground. The reconstruction of the Temple Mount in the Crusader era is strange, however: I don’t think that the Dome of the Rock used to be on the northern end of the Temple Mount.

A few other discoveries round out the article:

  • A three-story Crusader building
  • A Roman-era latrine beneath the three-story Crusader building
  • A Hasmonean ritual bath beneath the latrine beneath the three-story Crusader building

Every article concludes with a selected bibliography. This one has six entries, including one by Bahat, two by R. W. Hamilton, and one by Charles Warren.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: The Southern Temple Mount Wall

From 1997 to 1999, Yuval Baruch and Ronny Reich excavated along the southern wall of the Temple Mount. More specifically, they unearthed material in front of the Triple Gate and along the wall to the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount. Their work is summarized in a chapter they wrote in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

The first interesting discovery they made was of a ritual bath (mikveh) underneath the wall of the Temple Mount. Since this predates the Herodian construction, it dates to the Hasmonean period. The mikveh has a double entrance divided by a quarried pilaster. Those are my favorite kind.

A second find is more briefly described: they discovered the fragment of a Herodian doorpost that matches the western doorpost of the Triple Gate. I am sad that there was not a photo.

They also found fragments they believe belonged to the Royal Stoa on the Temple Mount above. These were thrown down when the Romans destroyed the city. The authors don’t mention, but I will add, that it is absolutely amazing just how little is preserved of this structure that Josephus described as “more noteworthy than any other under the sun” (Ant. 15.412). BTW, if you’re looking for a handy description of the “magnificent stones and wonderful buildings” of the Temple Mount, I wrote an essay on this for the Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels.

Here’s another remarkable fact: the excavators revealed some 80 meters of the Temple Mount wall east of the Triple Gate, and they determined that a sloped street ran along the top of a series of 18 vaulted shops, yet they found no actual evidence for the street itself. It is amazing to me how much of antiquity has just vanished.

I love the photo of the arches burned into the Temple Mount wall. While it was a sad day for Jerusalem shopkeepers, it provides a poignant scene of the city’s destruction in AD 70. (I have a less dramatic photo here.)

Ronny Reich is the mikveh expert, so I was interested to read his suggestion that ritual baths near the Temple Mount can be dated based upon which direction they pointed. Those quarried along a southeast-northwest axis are pre-Herodian, while those oriented north-south are Herodian. The change in orientation is owing to the dominant feature in the area: the earlier ritual baths follow the natural topography of Mount Moriah, while the later ones are aligned according to Herod’s Temple Mount.

Baruch and Reich save the best for last. They propose that the sloped street that ran from the Triple Gate eastward was used for bringing sheep into the Temple Mount for slaughter. It also was periodically used for the removal of the red heifer. In support of this is the fact that the street is sloped, not stepped, and they contend that the third gate of the Triple Gate was used for animals, not people. This, they believe, makes better sense than a 200-foot high bridge spanning the Kidron Valley.

I enjoyed reading this article, but it would have been better with more illustrations.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: The Pool of Siloam

Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron excavated what I consider to be one of the most interesting discoveries of recent years related to the New Testament. Their work at the southern end of the City of David began when construction work on a sewer line accidentally revealed several beautiful stone steps. After several years of work, the entire northeastern side of the first-century Pool of Siloam was revealed. Our IBEX students worked with the excavators on this project a few days at a time over the course of several years, and so the published results are of particular interest to me.

As with other chapters in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, the archaeologists wrote the report. They begin by sketching out the history of excavation in the area, with the surprising note that five steps from the southern side of the pool were already revealed by Biss and Dickie in their excavations in 1898. But they didn’t realize what they had found.

The pool itself measures 50 meters on the exposed side, and an estimated 60 meters on the perpendicular sides. They uncovered the entire length on the northeastern side, including both corners. Why didn’t they go further? The article only hints at the reason: The pool “is the property of the Greek Orthodox Church.” A less professional report would have added, “and it is ironic that it is Christians who obstinately refused to allow excavation of an important site mentioned in the New Testament.”

The pool was built in two phases, and this is more important than you might think. The first phase was made of plastered stairs, but these could not withstand the large numbers of people who used the pool. But here’s the interesting part: the construction style of this phase indicates that the pool was built by workmen who specialized in constructing ritual baths.

It is, of course, tempting to dismiss the identification of the Pool of Siloam as one large ritual bath on the grounds that the lead excavator (Reich) did his doctoral dissertation on ritual baths, and we know how you end up seeing your own specialty everywhere you look. But Reich supports this theory with two additional points: (1) holes to support modesty partitions have been found in the stone steps; (2) the design of the staircase, with five steps between landings, is ideal for people trying to reach the water level at varying levels.

The date of the pool is not controversial. The first phase was built in the mid-first century BC and the pool went out of use in the First Jewish Revolt (AD 66-70).

On the northern end of the excavation area, the archaeologists uncovered a paved esplanade that was made of stones similar to those in the Herodian street below Robinson’s Arch. They identified the location of a row of columns and found a number of column drums in various places in their excavations. One of those drums had a mason’s mark with two Hebrew letters (het, tsadi) and three vertical lines. A street led from this esplanade to the north, underneath which they found a large drainage channel. This has been publicized in the past because it was apparently used as a hiding place for refugees in the Jewish Revolt.

This is a brief summary of the whole. The article is 11 pages long and includes 12 photos and 2 diagrams, many of them large and excellent.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Weekend Roundup

A resident of the northern Israeli village of Araba discovered a Bronze Age settlement on his way to work.

This week Bryan Windle looks at el-Araj, the other candidate for Bethsaida. He provides the evidence both for and against this identification.

The Kingdom of Copper: Copper Production and Social Complexity in Iron Age Faynan, Jordan, is a good story that has been very creatively produced. (The subdomain “storymaps” is suggestive.)

In the last few years, Zedekiah’s Cave (aka Solomon’s Quarries) has become “a major venue for concerts and cultural events.”

Jerusalem looks as it has for the thousands of years, but that’s all about to change, writes Michael Kimmelman in the NY Times, because they are building a cable car to the Western Wall. (I think a case is considerably weakened when it is grossly overstated. And the cable car does not go to the Western Wall.)

Tourism to the West Bank is growing.

A high-tech analysis of the Temple Scroll helps to explain why this very thin parchment was so bright and possibly why it was so well preserved.

The excavations at Gath made it on Jeopardy this week. And you can now register for the penultimate season there.

Leon Mauldin shares several photos from Shepherds’ Field in Bethlehem.

If you enjoy virtually touring Israel, you can join John DeLancey as it posts daily about his current trip.

Tomorrow Duke is celebrating the conclusion of its years of excavating at Sepphoris.

Ahmed Shams describes the Library of Congress’s collections of photos related to the Sinai Peninsula Research project.

Archaeology in Jordan (AIJ) is a new, biannual open access (OA) newsletter published online by ACOR aimed at raising scholarly awareness of archaeological and cultural resource management projects being carried out in Jordan and to make this information accessible to a wider audience.”

I am on The Book and the Spade this week, talking with Gordon Govier about my visit to Susa, the Persian capital where Esther lived.

There will be no roundups for several weeks.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: The Ophel

I am personally very interested in Jerusalem in the Old Testament period (aka First Temple period), so I’m going to indulge myself by writing yet again on a third article (of four total) from that era in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Archaeological Discoveries, 1998-2018. This article is also by Eilat Mazar, and it is entitled “The Royal Quarter Built by King Solomon in the Ophel of Jerusalem in Light of Recent Excavations (2009-2013).”

As before, I am handicapped by not being able to show you the diagrams and archaeological photos in the article. There really are some spectacular views, without overgrown weeds, faded placards, or some tourist who just won’t move out of your way! But my goal in these brief summaries is to give you a sense for what they’ve found, along with a pointer to where you can read more.

Let’s start with a definition: the Ophel, according to this article, is the area between the City of David (to the south) and the Temple Mount (to the north). I’m not so sure that this is how the Bible uses the term (cf. 2 Chr 27:3; 33:14; Neh 3:26-27; 11:21), but that’s how it is used here. If you want to see these discoveries in person, you need to go to the “Southern Temple Mount Excavations,” later renamed the “Jerusalem Archaeological Park” (as if there is only one), and marked by the Davidson Center near the entrance.

This article focuses on Mazar’s work on the southern end of the excavation area (just north of the modern road that takes buses to the Western Wall). Here she found some monumental architecture which she dates to the time of Solomon. In fact, four of the five buildings date to the time of Solomon, with the fifth from the time of David. She writes, “One gets the impression that the construction of buildings in the Ophel ended during the third quarter of the 10th century BCE.”

Building I she identifies as “the Far House,” proposing that it served King David and his allies when he fled from Absalom (2 Sam 15:17). The NASB translation reads, “The king went out and all the people with him, and they stopped at the last house.” Mazar writes, “The features of bayt ha-merhaq [the far house] as described in the Bible match in date and location those of the early structure in the Ophel and it is possible that they are the same building.” I think I would have more confidence in that conclusion if we had other buildings from this time period to compare it with (and thereby determine that this in fact was the “farthest” one), but we don’t.

Building II was a fortress-tower even further than the “far house,” but she dates it to a few decades later. She estimates its size at 50 by 40 feet, though much of the structure has not yet been uncovered. But she thinks it fits with a description in Nehemiah 3:27 of “the great projecting tower.”

Building III is the gatehouse and casemate wall. Other archaeologists aren’t so sure that this was a gatehouse (only a portion of the structure was preserved), but if it is, this is the only known gatehouse from Jerusalem prior to the “Middle Building” mentioned in the Babylonian conquest description of Jeremiah 39.

Building IV is the “Straight Wall” and it has a length of more than 100 feet, with a width of 8 feet. Nehemiah mentions a portion of the wall that is called “straight” (Neh 3:25), and Mazar believes that she has found it.

Building V is the casemate wall, also built during the time of Solomon, as one of the elements in “the wall of Jerusalem” (1 Kgs 3:1). So Mazar has found this as well.

This is all truly fascinating, especially given the almost complete lack of material elsewhere in Jerusalem from the time of David and Solomon. My advice, though, to someone who has identified so much is to stop digging before you run out of biblical names to associate with your discoveries.

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 09, 2019

Name of Adonijah, the Royal Steward, Discovered in Jerusalem

A seal impression was recently discovered in the City of David that reads “belonging to Adonijah, the royal steward.” The inscription dates to the 7th century, the period when Jerusalem was ruled by Manasseh and Josiah. The royal steward was the king’s “chief of staff,” and this position is mentioned in Isaiah 22:15 in reference to Shebna.

There is some question about whether this might be the same individual who was buried in the “tomb of the royal steward” in the Silwan necropolis opposite the City of David.

Also of interest is the fact that this man had the same name as David’s son who attempted to seize the throne before his father had died (1 Kgs 1). The Times of Israel reports:

The most famous Adoniyahu occurs some 300 years before this newly attested Adoniyahu, and is a son of King David and Haggit. He is called both Adoniya and Adoniyahu.

There are two other notable Adoniyahus recounted in the Bible. One, a Levite, appears during the reign of Jehoshaphat (circa 870–849 BCE), who is recounted in Chronicles. The other noteworthy Adoniyahu is found during the rule of Nehemiah, which occurs during the Persian era of the Second Temple period circa 465-424 BCE.

Perhaps next time the Times reporter can look up the English spelling of the name so that English readers will more readily understand. (Many other news reports perpetuate the same problem, making me think that these stories are simply regurgitated, without the necessary care.)

For the full story, including photos and a video, see The Times of Israel.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Labels: ,

New Resource: Encountering the Holy Land (with Carl Rasmussen)

What is the best way to prepare for a trip to the Holy Land? This is a question that I get frequently. There are a number of good answers, but the best answers will surely make sure that the preparation goes beyond passport applications and luggage allowances. The best preparation is that which will help you get the most out of what you are seeing.

I have long recommended Carl Rasmussen's Zondervan Atlas of the Bible as an excellent resource for learning the land. The combination of the geographical overviews and the historical survey is ideal. So I'm quite happy suggesting that people read all or portions of this atlas before their trip.

Now Dr. Rasmussen has a new resource available: Encountering the Holy Land: A Video Introduction to the History and Geography of the Bible. Thirteen sessions, each about 20 minutes, give a solid introduction to the biblical places and events.

I tend to be a book (over video) guy, but for this subject, video has tremendous advantages. The resource was filmed on location in Israel, and the high quality of production makes full use of drone footage, charts, diagrams, and maps. This makes the video format superior in many ways to a book for studying the land of Israel.

I really like how Zondervan is making this resource available through multiple channels, reducing the obstacles for people with different preferences. Old-fashioned guys like me can buy the course on DVD (only $35). It's also available on Amazon Prime Video. And Zondervan has a new MasterLectures program which gives you full access to all of their line-up for a modest monthly subscription of $20. By pairing excellent instruction with first-rate production and wise distribution, I predict this series will be very successful.

Here's how I would use it. Before taking a church or student trip to Israel, suggest or require the participants to watch the series. It's also a great review when you return. (OK, it's probably not truly a "review," because in all likelihood, Dr. Rasmussen explains many things that your tour guide won't.) This is a series designed to increase your knowledge and love for the Bible and the land where God revealed himself. Dr. Rasmussen has a high view of Scripture, and I have no reservations in recommending it to all. I'm very thankful to have such a great resource to recommend from now on.

You can watch the first session for free at the MasterLectures site or below (email subscribers will need to click through).

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Weekend Roundup

The latest sensational claim in biblical archaeology is that Kiriath Jearim is Emmaus.

“Archaeologists have discovered a new sanctuary preceding the ancient city of Troy in Turkey's western Çanakkale province.”

156 cuneiform tablets, brought illegally to the UK, are being returned to Iraq with the help of the British Museum.

One of the big controversies in biblical geography in recent years is the location of Bethsaida, with two candidates. Bryan Windle provides a good survey of the criteria for Bethsaida along with an evaluation of the first candidate, et-Tell.

Mark Barnes has some good observations in the similarities and differences between Elisha’s and Jesus’s raisings of boys on either side of the hill of Moreh.

Megan Sauter explains the value of inscriptions in understanding worship in the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim.

The two most popular national parks for Israelis this summer were Sachne and Nahal Senir.

Wayne Stiles has released a new book on Kindle: Top 10 Places in Jesus’ Life: Why They Matter in Yours.

Eisenbrauns has put thirteen of their most popular textbooks on sale.  

Joel Kramer is leading a study tour of Israel in March 2020.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #26 – Shepherds by Night

A tourist bought a shwarma in Jerusalem and when he returned home, he found that it cost him 10,100 shekels.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Palace of David

Eilat Mazar excavated the palace of David. That’s what she claims, and it’s an amazing possibility to consider.

Mazar summarizes her excavations of the summit of the City of David in a chapter in the new Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Archaeological Discoveries, 1998-2018. I told you last week that if you wanted fewer questions and more answers, you would prefer Mazar’s excavation report to Reich and Shukron’s.

The chapter proceeds through the excavation chronologically beginning with the earliest periods. But the discoveries were very limited from all of the pre-Iron periods, and so I am going to skip right over them in this summary. The lack of early evidence in this area may indicate that this area was outside of Jerusalem until the time of David.

As with all of the articles in this book, we are treated to some great photos. This article also has three fantastic plans that help you see what Mazar is explaining. The main feature is the “Large Stone Structure.” This is what Mazar (and others) believes is the palace of David. Or more precisely, she considers it to be “a new significant addition to the already existing Canaanite-Jebusite Palace-Fortress or Mezudat Zion; an addition built by King David during his initial rule in Jerusalem.” So I interpret that to mean that this is David’s pre-Hiram residence. (In another study I’m working on, I reject the notion that David built a pre-Hiram residence, but that’s another discussion.)

Just how “large” is this “Large Stone Structure”? Unfortunately the excavation area was limited and the building extends beyond the edges in several directions. But the outer eastern wall is 20 feet wide, and a portion of it stands on a rock cliff that was chiseled to a height of 22-25 feet. Kathleen Kenyon discovered a royal (proto-Aeolic) capital just below this, but Mazar did not find any more in her area.

A quarried channel discovered behind the Stepped Stone Structure (which is the large foundation of the Large Stone Structure, readily visible in “Area G)” dates to the early Iron Age IIA (= time of David), and Mazar identifies this with the tsinnor mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:8, by which David’s men conquered the city.

Did I mention how much I like the color diagrams?

The finds of later periods were not quite so impressive, and it’s surely disappointing that none of the royal treasures escaped the greedy hands of the many plunderers of Jerusalem. But we can note a few discoveries in brief:

  • A wall possibly constructed ahead of Shishak’s invasion
  • A Hebrew seal impression with the name of Jehucal son of Shelemiah son of Shevi (cf. Jer 38:1)
  • The wall built by Nehemiah
  • A seal inscribed slmt that may have belonged to Shlomit the daughter of Zerubbabel (1 Chr 3:19).

Much of this material has appeared before in news reports and BAR articles, but this article provides a single summary that pulls it all together in a convenient fashion, with great illustrations.

Labels: , ,