Monday, February 27, 2006

Some of my Favorite Photos

Some years ago I selected a few dozen of my favorite photos, especially related to the New Testament, for the rotating photo on the Jerusalem Perspective website. I am friends with the editor and we help each other on various projects from time to time. One of the things they did that I didn't expect was to put them all on one page, easy to view and download. I usually am loathe to give away so many so easily, especially of my favorite shots. The effect of the page, though, is impressive in my opinion: lots of colorful places of the Bible. You can enjoy it here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Photo of the Goliath Inscription

The Gath blog has been mentioned here before, but it's worth mentioning again because they are doing a great job of keeping it updated, and with things that you don't always see. Last summer the so-called "Goliath inscription" was in the news and they have a very nice high-resolution photo of it. The "bottom line" of the post shows the significance of the discovery:
1) the inscription demonstrates that ca. the 10th/9th cent. BCE, names very similar to Goliath were in use at Philistine Gath. This does provide some cultural background for the David/Goliath story; 2) that already early in Iron IIA, the Philistines adopted the Semitic writing systems.
The recent posts have a good variety of helpful, large photos of an archaeological excavation. Good for teaching, especially if you haven't been on a dig to take the photos yourself!


Monday, February 20, 2006

Tell Rehov Archaeological Excavation Website

Those who know Amihai Mazar won't be surprised that the website for his current excavation project, Tel Rehov, is one of the best. After working across the valley at Beth Shean, Mazar turned his attention to Tel Rehov and now believes he can end the 10th century debate based on his work there.

The website is first-rate, with numerous photographs, diagrams, and excavation summaries available. In addition, nearly 10 full-text articles are posted from major journals and books. Some of these may tend to be on the more technical side, like OxCal Bayesian computations for the Iron IB-IIA boundary and the Iron IIA destruction events. But it's free! :-) There are also some nice high-resolution photographs of last year's excavation, for those looking for some good pictures to teach about archaeology.

My first experience excavating was under Mazar at Beth Shean. It was a great week, and I ended up marrying the girl in the square next to mine! :-)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Micah's Hometown to be Protected

Yitzhak Sapir has a new blog and notes a story in Ynet on the planned restoration and protection of Moresheth Gath (Tell Goded). The hometown of the prophet Micah has been subject to four-wheelers who stray from the marked trails and the Jewish National Fund and Israel Antiquities Authority have decided to act. See Sapir's post for some photos and a short bibliography about the site.

The picture at right is of Moresheth Gath. I chose this particular shot to accomplish a second purpose at the same time: to illustrate some of the challenges of shooting from an airplane. I took this picture a month ago.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Satellite Map with Biblical Sites

The latest addition to Bible is a satellite map with the biblical sites marked. Now, what exists as of today is just a start. But with the amazing help of Jeremy Brown (famed creator of the Unbound Bible), the map is off to a good start.

I'm using Google's satellite map as the base, with all of the advantages that that brings (you can easily move around the map by clicking and dragging, zoom in and out, etc.). Then I have located about 80 biblical or ancient sites (so far) on the map.

If you look at the links at the bottom of the page, you'll get an idea of where I can go with this. I can create maps specific to certain field trips (for my students), maps specific to certain regions (for linking from site pages in or other websites), etc. There are many possibilities. My plan is to slowly add sites, descriptions, links, and other features.

The biggest disadvantage is the resolution of the maps. When you compare to sites in the U.S., for instance, you'll see that the imagery for Israel is not nearly as high. I can see the backyard of the house where I grew up in the U.S., but in Israel I can't pick out a single building in my community. That's one of the things you lose when the country has lots of enemies.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Encyclopedia Judaica, Revised Edition

I've heard that the text is close to going to the printer for the revised edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica. The original edition, published in 1972, has been an essential reference work on all subjects related to Jewish life and Israel. The new edition probably won't be for sale for a year, I'd guess. The 16 volume set will cost $1900!


Friday, February 10, 2006

Intact Tomb Discovered in the Valley of the Kings

No one is claiming that this tomb will be as amazing as that of its neighbor, King Tut, but the fact that another intact tomb has been discovered is newsworthy in itself. The tomb dates to the late 18th dynasty, approximately the same time as King Tut, but the identity of the tomb is not yet known and probably does not belong to a pharaoh. Perhaps it was the tomb of a queen, noble or other court official. Or maybe the gardener, one archaeologist joked. CNN has the story with two photos. Yahoo has about half a dozen.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ancient Cemetery near Kiriath Gath

An ancient cemetery was uncovered in the southern Shephelah recently. The tombs are "6,000 years old" which makes it from the Chalcolithic period (though the article doesn't specifically say). It does say that "The find yielded a treasure trove of ancient artifacts, including pottery, statues and jewelry all in mint-condition....He added that the find was the biggest of its kind and was invaluable for historians to deepen their understanding of the period." I call the Chalcolithic age one of "surprising sophistication," and this hoard could be good. The article is very brief but for the rest, see Haaretz. The photo is of an ossuary (burial box) from the Chalcolithic period, discovered elsewhere.

Note: despite the name similarity, Kiriath Gath is not near ancient Gath; the name was given to it early in the 20th century when the location of Gath was believed to be further south. Kiriath Gath is closer to biblical Lachish.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

New Blog for Gath of the Philistines

This might be the first blog dealing specifically with a single archaeological excavation in Israel. If they post regularly, it could prove to be interesting. Someone might want to work on the name. I'm not quite sure how it can be both The Official and Unofficial Weblog of the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project. If the excavation director is posting (and he is), it's official.

Ancient Synagogue Discovered in Ramallah Area

Reports are just now surfacing that last month police found pieces of a mosaic floor from an ancient synagogue in an Arab car. The mosaic includes a menorah, palm branch (lulav), and an inscription which says "Peace on Israel." The mosiac measures 2 x 3 feet and is believed to be from a 7th century A.D. synagogue in the area of Ramallah (vicinity of ancient Bethel). The thieves were arrested and so far have not divulged the location of the find. More information about the discovery is at Arutz-7, Jerusalem Newswire (but Ramallah is not ancient Ramah), and the AP. The graphic at right is from Arutz-7.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Snow on Mount Hermon

I may have missed it but I haven't seen a snow report for Mount Hermon recently. Yesterday I drove up from Jerusalem to take a look. The slopes are open, but the coverage is disappointing from a photographer or hydrologist's perspective. Watching the skiers on the slopes is rather amusing: at any given time, most of the ones in view are on the ground.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Rebuilding the Megiddo Stables

Since excavations began again at Megiddo in 1994, various improvements have been made to the site. These include a modest reconstruction of the northern palace and stables area as well as signs at the major structures around the tell. The latest work is the reconstruction of a single Israelite tri-partite building on the south side of the tell. This should make it easier to explain these buildings to visitors, as until now little could be clearly seen except for some mangers and tethering posts. This photo shows how the building looked in mid-January.

The American excavators identified these buildings as "Solomon's stables." Since that time, the stratigraphy has been clarified and most believe these are from the time of Ahab. Scholars do not agree on the function of these buildings, with some holding to the original identification and others insisting they were storehouses. It is one of the most controversial issues in "biblical archaeology" and it is especially surprising that archaeologists cannot agree because so many of these buildings have been found all over the country. Studying the issue out is quite interesting, but if you just want to know the answer, you came to the right place.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Ancient Date Palm Seed Growing

A date palm that sprouted from a seed found in excavations near Masada continues to grow and is now 14 inches tall. Most of the date trees in the Jordan Valley today come from California, and scientists have hope of learning more about the ancient date that flourished in Israel 2000 years ago.
Solowey, who raised the plant, has grown over 100 rare and almost extinct species of plants. Together with Hadassah Hospital’s Natural Medicine Center, she seeks to use the plants listed in ancient remedies to seek effective uses for modern medical conditions. The Judean date has been credited with helping fight cancer, malaria and toothaches. Solowey was skeptical about the chances of success at first, but gave it a try. “I treated it in warm water and used growth hormones and an enzymatic fertilizer extracted from seaweed in order to supplement the food normally present in a seed,” she said.
Arutz-7 has the full story.