Saturday, January 31, 2015

Weekend Roundup

The Big Picture has 13 great photos of the declining level of the Dead Sea.

Why visit the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem? Bible History Daily points out 10 great biblical artifacts.

That same museum is hosting a new exhibit “By the Rivers of Babylon” that is profiled in Haaretz.

The Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem is using iPads and phones to improve the visitor’s experience (NYTimes).

The Melbourne Museum has produced a recreation of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii.

Illegal excavations in Alexandria have revealed a Graeco-Roman necropolis.

An update on the Nineveh destruction from Agade: “Reliable reports from the Mosul that for good reason cannot be attributed are that the fortifications of Nineveh have not been damaged in any way. Unfortunately, Nabi Younis, however, is now completely destroyed.”

HT: Agade

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 29, 2015

ISIS Destroying Nineveh Remains


A Kurdish official revealed on Tuesday evening that the ISIS organization had bombed large parts and tracts of the ancient Nineveh wall, indicating that such an act violates the right of human culture and heritage.

The media official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Mosul, Saed Mimousine said in an interview for, “ISIS militants blew up today large parts and expanses of the archaeological wall of Nineveh in al-Tahrir neighborhood,” explaining that, “The terrorist group used explosives in the process of destroying the archaeological fence.”

Mimousine added, “The Wall of Nineveh is one of the most distinctive archaeological monuments in Iraq and the Middle East,” adding that, “The fence dates back to the Assyrian civilization.”

The full article includes a photo of the gate. A related article shows a photo of an explosion.

Nineveh is best known as one of the capitals of ancient Assyria. In the 8th century BC, Jonah visited the city and Sennacherib began construction on his “Palace Without a Rival.” Fortunately, many of the important artifacts were removed from the site in the 19th century and are now on display in the British Museum.

HT: Agade

Nineveh, north palace of Ashurbanipal, after capture of Babylon, tb112004733

Relief from Ashurbanipal’s palace in Nineveh
Now on display in the British Museum


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekend Roundup

They now think they know who was buried in the Amphipolis tomb. This article has more details and illustrations.

King Tut’s beard was knocked off and then re-attached with epoxy glue. Here’s a close-up of the botched repair.

Leen Ritmeyer suggests a location for the stairs of the Antonia Fortress where Paul went up and down.

Medical imaging technology has been put to use in reading burned papyri from Herculaneum.

Approval has been given to re-open the old Acropolis Museum.

You can subscribe to the weekly podcast of The Book and the Spade at This week Clyde Billington gives an update on Temple Mount archaeology. Last week I addressed the problem of sensational stories in biblical archaeology.

The latest issue of Ancient Near East Today is now available.

Ferrell Jenkins shares photos of Aphek/Antipatris and the “other Aphek.” I particularly like his aerial photo of the northern site.

Miriam Feinberg Vamosh describes the history of Jezreel and its recent excavations in an illustrated pdf article at The Bible and Interpretation.

Iraq is seeking to have the ruins of Babylon put on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

ICYMI: Accordance photo collections are on sale through Monday.

HT: Ted Weis, Agade

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Photo Resources for Accordance on Sale

Accordance Bible Software has some excellent photo resources on sale through Monday. Here are some of their offerings:

Bible Lands PhotoGuide 4, with 50 new articles and thousands of additional photographs ($69.90)

Bible Times PhotoMuseum, with 500 high-res images and extensive explanatory notes ($44.90)

100 Archaeological Sites and Biblical Landscapes in Israel, with 1,500 photos by Hanan Isachar ($79.90)

Churches and Monasteries in Israel, with hundreds of photos and descriptions by researcher and cultural journalist, David Rapp ($39.90)

American Colony Collection, with 4,000 images from the early 1900s, created by ($99.90)

Views That Have Vanished, with 700 photographs taken in the 1960s, created by ($26.90)

The Graphics Premier Bundle includes everything listed above, now reduced to $239.

These are some great resources at sale prices through January 26. Accordance has long been the most popular Bible software for Mac and it has been available on PC for more than a year now. You can learn more about this outstanding software here. Or check out the many endorsements here.


Screenshot from Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide 4


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Oldest Gospel Fragment Part of Mummy Mask

In 2012 Daniel Wallace mentioned in a debate the existence of an early fragment of the Gospel of Mark. LiveScience has an update with information from Craig Evans:

A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published.


This first-century gospel fragment was written on a sheet of papyrus that was later reused to create a mask that was worn by a mummy.


Evans says that the text was dated through a combination of carbon-14 dating, studying the handwriting on the fragment and studying the other documents found along with the gospel. These considerations led the researchers to conclude that the fragment was written before the year 90. With the nondisclosure agreement in place, Evans said that he can't say much more about the text's date until the papyrus is published.


Evans said that the research team will publish the first volume of texts obtained through the mummy masks and cartonnage later this year. It will include the gospel fragment that the researchers believe dates back to the first century.

The full story is here.

HT: Craig Dunning

UPDATE: There are some errors in this LiveScience article. See the post by Peter Williams (together with the comments) here. (HT: Ulrich Wendel)

Labels: ,

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review of Patterns of Evidence

Over at Biblical Remains, Larry Largent provides a good review of the movie “Patterns of Evidence,” showing tonight only. My hope is that those who trust the Bible will ignore the film completely, but if you’re tempted to go, read Larry’s review first.

Here’s a portion:

This is the problem with the documentary format. It is not the best format to put forth and test supposed “new” ideas and solutions no matter how much they are qualified by “perhaps’s” and “could’s.” Time constraints mean that creditable opposition is never addressed. In “Patterns,”  all scholarship becomes flattened in a “them” vs the revised chronology paradigm. The film lumps together traditional biblical maximilists and secular minimalists in a gang of “archaeological giants” that the revised chronology will take down with nothing but a sling and a prayer.

Apparently, arguing that secular scholars might be right in the date of the exodus but wrong in the details is simply not as provocative as claiming that scholars have everything under the sun about the exodus wrong. This is the problem with the medium Mahoney is using to argue for the historicity of the exodus. When it comes to the box office, the more provocative solution is always the best one, but when it comes to doing good historical, archaeological and biblical research,  a theory’s glitz bears little on its accuracy. Real historical research is pounded out in the dialogue of hundreds of articles and papers, and refined in the open response to accusations of error in hundreds of pages – a 2 hour time limit and audience fatigue is not a problem.

In six hundred theaters tonight, viewers will come away from the film with no idea that they have just picked up a broken arrow. They won’t know that the revised Egyptian chronology is not a new theory and has been shown to create as many problems for biblical chronology as it solves.

Yes and yes. There may be a better way to understand the Bible’s relationship to archaeology, but this movie is not it.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Palestine Exploration Fund. This post shares interesting items from the 100th anniversary exhibition. A calendar of coming lectures is also available.

After a flub over a mummy graveyard, a BYU researcher restores ties with the Egyptian authorities.

An upcoming CBS miniseries follows four female survivors of Masada. Trailer here.

Aren Maeir announces the 2015 Ackerman Family Annual Workshop in Biblical Archaeology. The topic is Southern Canaan in the Late Bronze Age.

Excavators working at Macherus have restored the site according to the principle of anastylosis, using only original architectural elements.

Matti Friedman: The Sistine Chapel of the Jews Is Restored to Life in Jerusalem.

Jack Sasson, curator of the Agade list which provides us with many stories each week, has retired from Vanderbilt.

Pre-pub at Logos: Charlesworth, Jesus and Temple: Textual and Archaeological Explorations, $20

Mari Had a Little Lamb is one of several Assyrian coloring pages.

We are now on twitter @BiblePlaces.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle

Macherus from southeast, tb061204081

Macherus from the southeast
Photo from the Jordan collection

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Archaeologists working at Bethsaida have discovered a possible escape tunnel from the time of the Israelite monarchy.

Leen Ritmeyer explains the recent construction work on the Temple Mount and its potential significance for archaeology.

“The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry recently announced the excavation of a 3,000-year-old fortress at the site of Tell el-Habua (also known as Tel Habuwa and Tell Huba) near the Suez Canal in Egypt.”

Egypt’s Prime Minister recently visited the Grand Egyptian Museum to check on its progress for a slated August 2015 opening.

The works of the famous glass maker Ennion are now on display at the Met.

The Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas is hosting a temporary exhibition of old maps of the Holy Land. Wayne Stiles shows a few photos from his visit and explains the value of using maps in your Bible study.

Monday lecture at the British Museum: Rupert Chapman, Ahab’s Ivory House: When Was It Destroyed?

Plans are underway to allow visitors inside the Erechtheion of the Acropolis.

The most visited museum in 2014 was the Louvre, with 9.3 million visitors.

HT: Explorator, Agade

Ennion's blue glass jug, 1st c AD, tb031114560

Blue glass jug made by Ennion, first century AD
From the Eretz Israel Museum

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Trinity Ashkenazi Torah Scroll

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

We are a little late getting to this, but it might be of interest to some. Back on September 18, 2014, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School held a dedication service for a Torah scroll that was gifted to the school. The scroll originated in Germany and dates to the late 1400s or early 1500s. The sign presently displayed with the Torah states:
The Trinity Ashkenazi Torah Scroll
An extraordinary, generous gift from the Ken and Barbara Larson Family
This spectacular Ashkenazi Torah from Germany dates between the late 15th and early 16th century A.D. (roughly around the time of Martin Luther). The scroll’s pagination and orthography clearly indicate this date, while its style, the preparation of its skins and its ink all clearly indicate a German provenance. Such a date makes it among the earliest 2% of surviving German Torah scrolls. It has been used continuously for nearly 500 years and survived the Nazi Holocaust, the most horrific chapter in Jewish history.
It is approximately 100 feet long and is written in columns of 59 lines throughout. It contains numerous fascinating orthographic features encountered in medieval scrolls that were repressed by the rabbis around 1600 A.D. The Torah is filled with elegant magna letters, small or raised letters, dotted letters and inverted nuns—all related to early Jewish scribal traditions.

The official announcement of the dedication contains a few more details about the scroll, and a report written afterwards includes even more description as well as photos of the event.

  • The scroll is valued at over $400,000.
  • The scroll has indented punch marks (tropes) above words and letters to aid in pronunciation and cantillation. This feature is more typical of Yemeni Jewish scrolls.
  • The scroll was constructed from over 60 calf skins.
  • It contains corrections, crossed-out words, and later repairs to the parchment.
  • The scroll was copied and used in Germany, survived the Nazi Holocaust, and was later transported to Israel.
  • There are plans to create a digital replica of the scroll. 
Here are two photos of the Trinity Ashkenazi Torah Scroll.

The scroll is open to Deuteronomy 5. The lines that are spaced differently near the top of the center column are the 10 Commandments.

Close-up of Deuteronomy 6:4 in the Trinity Ashkenazi Torah Scroll. Notice the extra large letters which mark the first and last words of the verse. The white patch is newer parchment used to repair the original.

Bethel University received a similar gift earlier in the year (herehere, and here).

UPDATE (December 20, 2015): As of early December 2015, Ken and Barbara Larson have donated Torah scrolls to 16 schools. The list below is as complete as I could make it, but it is missing two schools.

  1. Bethel University (March 31, 2014)
  2. Multnomah University (September 4, 2014)
  3. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (September 18, 2014)
  4. The Master’s Seminary (September 30, 2014)
  5. Veritas Evangelical Seminary (November 8, 2014)
  6. Wheaton College (November 18, 2014)
  7. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (December 3, 2014)
  8. Dallas Theological Seminary (December 5, 2014)
  9. Trinity Western University (February 2, 2015)
  10. Western Seminary, Portland (February 6, 2015)
  11. Denver Seminary (April 20, 2015)
  12. Liberty University School of Divinity (September 28, 2015)
  13. Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary – Arkansas (October 30, 2015; the announcement said BMATS was the 15th school to receive a Torah scroll)
  14. Moody Bible Institute (December 2, 2015; the announcement said 15 other schools had received Torah scrolls)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Now on Twitter

@BiblePlaces provides news updates and daily photos. If you’re on Twitter, follow us @BiblePlaces!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

The William G. Dever Archaeological Fellowship for Biblical Scholars is a travel-study award for “a qualified American untenured faculty member in the field of biblical studies who wants to acquire elementary, first-hand experience in field archaeology and research in Israel.”

Wayne Stiles explains how Kadesh Barnea helps us to know God’s will.

Jerusalem’s recent snowfall: SourceFlix shares some beautiful aerial footage.

Swedish archaeologists have found near Cairo a 2,500-year-old relief depicting two pharaonic deities. And Czech archaeologists find tomb of previously unknown pharaonic queen Khentakawess.

The original volumes of the Tell en-Nasbeh (biblical Mizpah) excavation reports are now available online for the first time. The Bade Museum website includes a couple of other downloads that may be of interest.

And now published by Gorgias Press: "As for me, I will dwell at Mizpah …": The Tell en-Nasbeh Excavations after 85 Years, edited by Jeffrey R. Zorn & Aaron J. Brody.

The Yale Babylonian Collection now has its own website.

The open access, electronic companion to Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period, volume 3/2 (Eisenbrauns, 2014) is now online.

The authenticity of two Baruch son of Neriah bullae is rejected in a new article by Yuval Goren and Eran Arie in BASOR vol. 372 (December 2014), pp. 147-158. (Abstract and article on JStor. And there’s free access to the entire issue via the BASOR website.)

“Patterns of Evidence: Exodus,” claims to solve the problem of lack of evidence, but it appears to do so by a major chronological revision. As far as I’m concerned, a movie showing on only one night (Jan 19, 7pm) in selected theaters doesn’t deserve much attention.

A full-scale sailing replica of the Ma‘agan Michael is now under construction. The original ship wrecked near Dor in 400 BC and was discovered in 1985.

Both portions of P46 have now been digitized and are available online.

Kevin Shillington has begun a series on Charles Warren on the Palestine Exploration Fund Blog.

Coming soon: Discovery House Bible Atlas, by John Beck.

HT: Ted Weis, Agade, BibleX

Mizpah outer wall, db6604081112

Tell en-Nasbeh, biblical Mizpah, in 1966
Photo by David Bivin

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Leen Ritmeyer explains why the Western Wall of the Temple Mount was not destroyed by an earthquake, and he follows up a reader’s question to prove it with photos.

Snow fell in Israel this week. Arutz-7 has photos.

The story going around this week on the location of Jesus’ trial being excavated is not new. We’ve been posting on it here under the less sensational title of the Kishle excavations. We agree that this is the area of Herod’s palace, and that this is where Jesus’ trial occurred. George Athas explains further.

I’m on the Book and the Spade this week, talking with Gordon Govier about the top 10 biblical archaeology discoveries of 2014.

Many eastern Christians visited the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism on January 6.

New book: Biblical Lachish: A Tale of Construction, Destruction, Excavation and Restoration, by David Ussishkin. I see a few mentions online with a 2014 date, but it’s not clear if the English edition is actually available. (I’ll have to remove Lachish from my pending post on “Whatever Happened to Popular Books on Archaeological Excavations?”) UPDATE: BAS has the book in stock.

The Bible and Interpretation features an excerpt from Eric H. Cline’s book, 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed, explaining the power vacuum that allowed Israelite and Philistine settlement.

Tourism to Israel dropped after the summer events.

Turkey has nominated Ephesus for the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Scott Stripling summarizes the recent winter excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir (biblical Ai?).

Wayne Stiles is hosting an informal gathering on What It's Like to Travel to Israel next weekend.

ASOR has listed its Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014.

Walking with Paul, a Lands of the Bible wall calendar, is now available for 50% off. Several of our photos are featured.

Ephesus Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates, tb041405300

Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates at Ephesus
Photo from
Pictorial Library of Bible Lands

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, January 09, 2015

Hoffmeier Lecture on Egypt’s Defense System

James Hoffmeier is lecturing in Chicago tomorrow on “The Design and Origin of the New Kingdom East Frontier Defense System.” The American Research Center in Egypt is sponsoring the lecture on Saturday, January 10, at 5:00 p.m. at the Oriental Institute (1155 E 58th St, Chicago, IL 60637), LaSalle Banks Room, Lower Level.

The center’s website includes information about the speaker along with this description of the lecture:

Archaeological and geological work in north Sinai over the past 15 years have resulted in providing sufficient data to reveal the design of and the rationale for Egypt’s east frontier defense system. Excavations at Tell Hebua I and II and nearby Tell el-Borg have provided valuable archaeological information. The former sites remain under investigation, while I direct the exploration of Tell el-Borg between 1999 and 2008. Paleo-environmental investigations of the area revealed new geographical features that when combined with the new archaeological data provide the basis for understanding the route of the Ways of Horus, the Egyptian military road to Canaan. This paper will include a report on the final season of excavations at Tell el-Borg, which yielded unexpected results, the remains of a third New Kingdom defense structure. With this new feature in hand, the picture of the design of the frontier defense system was fully realized. The lecture will seek to identify the origin for design of northeastern frontier.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Last Days for Roads of Arabia

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

The "Roads of Arabia" exhibition ends its U.S. tour on January 18, 2015, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The website does not indicate any further venues for the exhibition, so this might be the last chance to see it. Here are some of our posts about it on this blog (from most recent to earliest):

Roads of Arabia Volume in PDF (July 02, 2014) [The pdf is still available as far as we can tell]
Roads of Arabia Exhibition (June 24, 2014)
Roads of Arabia in Houston (January 08, 2014)
Roads of Arabia Exhibition: Update (April 23, 2013)
Museums and Cultural Heritage (April 05, 2011)
Archaeology of Saudi Arabia (February 27, 2011)

The official website of the "Roads of Arabia" exhibition is online here. I did not notice before that the site has a downloadable "Roads of Arabia Bibliography" at the bottom of this page (direct link). This looks like a helpful resource to have on hand. The first two items of the bibliography are exhibition catalogs. The first of these can be downloaded at the link given above. The second one looks very similar to the first catalog, but it is not exactly the same. Poking around online, I was able to locate a few of the individual chapters. These appear to have better quality images than the full-volume pdf.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art also has a downloadable bibliography related to the exhibition. 

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Lectures on Jewish Diaspora after 722 BC

The Lanier Theological Library is inviting scholars and patrons to a free seminar on Historical and Archaeological Evidence for the Jewish Diaspora after 722 BC. The seminar will be held on Friday, January 16, from 2:00 - 5:00 p.m., in our chapel, located at 14130 Hargrave Road, Houston, TX 77070.

This seminar precedes and ties in well with the library's lecture on the next day by Rabbi Benjamin Scolnic, "The Book of Daniel and the Nature of Biblical Truth." Registration for the Saturday evening lecture is separate from this seminar.

This 3-hour session on Friday will feature the six presenters and presentations below.

K. Lawson Younger (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) "Israelites and Judahites in Assyria and Babylon in Cuneiform Sources"

James K. Hoffmeier (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) "Judeans in Egypt after the Fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C."

Richard Hawes (Archaeology Forum, Tyndale House Cambridge) "Did Edom Annex Parts of Southern Judah Following the Fall of Jerusalem in 567/8 B.C."

Benjamin Scolnic (Southern Connecticut State University) "The Book of Daniel and Modern Theories about the Persecution that led to the Story of Hanukkah"

Gary A. Rendsburg (Rutgers University) "Septuagint, Synagogue, and Symbiosis: The Jews of Hellenistic Egypt"

Thomas W. Davis (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) "Jews in Cyprus in Hellenistic Times"

We invite you to attend this seminar as an opportunity to expand your knowledge, contribute to the discussion, connect with other attendees and explore this library. You are welcome to extend this invitation to pastors, graduate students, or other people you think would be interested. Seating is limited, so please register for this event by JANUARY 14, 2015.

To register for this free seminar, go here.

Registration for the Jan. 17 lecture at 7 p.m. is still open here.

HT: Agade


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Latest Issue of IEJ (64/2)

The Israel Exploration Journal is published twice annually. Several of the articles from the latest issue (64/2) may be of interest to readers here. Access to the full articles requires a subscription (print or electronic, via JStor).

OSHIMA: Jerusalem 2: A Fragment of a Cuneiform Tablet from the Ophel Excavations

Abstract: A tiny fragment of a cuneiform tablet was recovered in the Ophel excavations in Jerusalem in 2013. Even smaller than the fragment recovered in the 2009–2010 excavations (published in IEJ 60 in 2010), the fragment preserves only parts of five signs. Nevertheless, on the basis of the provenance study and an analysis of the physical tablet and sign forms, we are able to suggest a Ramesside date for the tablet and propose that this fragment, like the earlier tablet, comes from a royal letter.

MICHAEL D. PRESS: The Chronology of Philistine Figurines

ITZHAQ SHAI and JOE UZIEL: Addressing Survey Methodology in the Southern Levant: Applying Different Methods for the Survey of Tel Burna, Israel

Abstract: Surveying in the southern Levant has until recently been limited to basic methods of surface artefact collection. While recent regional studies have begun to integrate other methods, surveys conducted on individual sites—particularly multiperiod settlements (tels)—remain outdated. The following study presents the results of two different survey methods applied at the site of Tel Burna, Israel—surface artefact collection and test-pit surveying—and conducts a three-way comparison between the two survey methods and the excavation results, in an effort to promote survey methodology in the region and to determine the best way for surveying such sites. This will help to reduce the expense and damage caused by excavation, while providing further information on the sites, not obtainable through excavation.

ERIC MITCHELL, R. ADAM DODD and S. CAMERON COYLE: More ‘Boundary of Gezer’ Inscriptions: One New and Another Rediscovered

Abstract: The article discusses two Boundary of Gezer inscriptions found in 2012. One inscription, classified as no. 4, had previously been discovered by Clermont-Ganneau but was never fully published, and had not been seen in the field since his time. The other is a newly discovered thirteenth Gezer boundary inscription; the tenth one with both גזר תחמ and ΑΛΚΙΟΥ. In an appendix, the authors also attempt to sort out the disjointed nature of the discovery, publication and attribution of the Boundary of Gezer inscriptions over time.

MORDECHAI AVIAM and DINA SHALEM: A Decorated Fragment of a Tyrian Lead Coffin from a Cemetery at Akhziv

MOSHE FISCHER and ITAMAR TAXEL: Yavneh-Yam in the Byzantine—Early Islamic Transition: The Archaeological Remains and Their Socio-Political Implications

The full table of contents with abstracts is available on the website of the Israel Exploration Society. For previous issues, see here.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, January 05, 2015

New Theory: Temple Mount Destroyed by Earthquake

Archaeologist Shimon Gibson has proposed in a recent lecture that the visible destruction of the Temple Mount walls occurred not in AD 70 with the Roman conquest of Jerusalem but instead during a massive earthquake in AD 363. From Haaretz (premium):

“Now we know much more about the late Roman period,” Gibson says. “If there was a neighborhood like this there, how could it be that they leave debris from the year 70 C.E. in the middle of it all? It’s like going out of your house and leaving a pile of debris. You clear it. And why leave the city to bring stones to build new buildings if you have stones next to your house?”

Next to the heaps of destruction, Mazar’s granddaughter, Eilat Mazar, uncovered a Roman-era bakery. “Who would buy bread in a place with damaged walls above it and fallen stones?” Gibson adds. “You don’t build next to a four-story ruin.”

You might, especially if those ruins were particularly large and difficult to move. There may also have been some Roman motivation to leave the ruin as a monument to what happens to those who rebel against Rome.

First century street with fallen stones, tb090705042

First-century Jerusalem street with stone collapse

Furthermore, Gibson argues that the Temple Mount architecture was imitated by later religious structures.

Gibson, a British-born archaeologist living in Israel, also points to the similarity in artisanship – comparing supporting pillars or other pillars that adorned the Temple Mount with the artisanship of those at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Mamre (near Hebron).

The three sites contain religiously important structures, which were built hundreds of years after the destruction. According to Gibson, the builders of these structures, at the beginning of the fourth century C.E., saw the Temple Mount walls and tried to imitate them, as part of the effort of Christianity at that time to prove that it was the successor of Judaism.

If the walls were destroyed in 70 C.E., asserts Gibson, how could the builders of 325 C.E. succeed in copying them, considering the fact that they did not have access to archaeological drawings or photographs? He concludes that the walls still stood hundreds of years after the destruction, and served as inspiration for the Roman builders.

Typically the structures of Mamre and the Machpelah in Hebron are dated to the time of Herod, not later, thus accounting for the similarity in design.

Mamre north wall with pilasters, tb122906124

Architecture of Mamre similar to Temple Mount
Photos from the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands

Ronny Reich excavated the material that Gibson is now questioning. Not surprisingly, he does not agree.

“It doesn’t hold water,” he states. Reich’s strongest evidence against the theory is a layer of mud or dirt several centimeters thick, which was discovered underneath the fallen stones.

‘The rockslide doesn’t lie on the street. It lies on a layer of sediment 3-5 centimeters thick,” he says. “We cleaned this layer very exactingly, and we found 120-125 coins. It is sediment that collected on the street after it went out of use and before the collapse – I suppose in the first winters after the destruction. The last coin we found is from the fourth year of the rebellion, that is to say 69 C.E. If Gibson is right, could it be that for 290 years, no other coins were collected under the pile of stones? What happened between 70 and 363?”

Read the full article by Nir Hasson here.

I’d like to see more of the discussion between these archaeologists, but at this point, I don’t think the textbooks need to be rewritten.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem is hosting a special exhibition entitled By the Rivers of Babylon beginning next month. An international conference on Jerusalem in Babylonia will be held on February 2-3.

Now online: the Fall 2014 issue of DigSight, published by Southern Adventist University's Institute of Archaeology.

See the Holy Land has published new articles on Kathisma and the Church of St Alexander Nevsky (the Russian excavations), and an updated article on Magdala.

Free video lecture online: Doctors, Diseases and Deities: Epidemic Crises and Medicine in Ancient Rome, by Sarah Yeomans of the Biblical Archaeology Society.

Matthew Karsten hiked portions of the Israel National Trail and has some spectacular photos to show for it.

Aren Maeir will be giving a lecture on the latest work at Gath at the Albright Institute on January 15.

Registration for MEMRA’s ancient language courses ends soon.

G. M. Grena shares some personal thoughts and more from his time at the ASOR 2014 conference.

The British Museum explains why it was so pleased to be involved in the latest Night at the Museum movie.

The new Exodus movie is “an unimaginative, mind-numbing bore,” according to Michael Heiser.

Egypt has banned the movie “Exodus: Gods and Kings” for being historically inaccurate.

ISIS is threatening to blow up the walls of ancient Nineveh.

Vassilios Tzaferis has died in Athens. Among Tzaferis’s excavations was the tomb of the crucified man.

HT: Agade, Exploring Bible Lands

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Archaeologists believe that they may have discovered a Roman-period synagogue in the Golan Heights.

A massive underground city from 3000 BC has been discovered in Turkey’s Central Anatolian province of Nevsehir.

More about the Summeily bullae, including a response by Israel Finkelstein, is reported by the AP.

The IAA busted over 100 antiquities thieves in 2014, the latest with a metal detector at Khirbet Marmita near Beth Shemesh. Before that, two Israelis and two Palestinians were arrested for planning to loot gold from a cave in the West Bank.

Papyrus scrolls are hot items in the online antiquities market.

On Monday, 38 Tyrian shekels from the lifetime of Jesus will be sold by auction. They date consecutively from 5 BC to AD 33. The reserve amount is $125k.

Haaretz reviews the most intriguing archaeological stories of 2014.

Archaeology magazine picks their top 10 discoveries of the year.

Most of the top 10 posts of 2014 by Wayne Stiles are related to Bible geography.

Ferrell Jenkins shares some new NASA photos of Israel and the Middle East.

“Secrets of the Bible: The Fall of Jericho,” featuring Bryant Wood, airs on the American Heroes Channel on Sunday, January 4, at 8:00 and 11:00 pm.

HT: Ted Weis, Explorator, Joseph Lauer

Besichtigung des Ausstellungsstückes im Alten Museum - Jäger und Gejagte, Die exotische Tierwelt des römischen Mosaiks aus Lod (Israel).
© Uwe Steinert, Berlin.

Holiday greetings from the Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority; photo by Yuri Molodkovtsu

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, January 02, 2015

Kishle Excavations and the Citadel of David Museum

The new excavations at the Citadel of David are described by Seth J. Frantzman in an article at the Jerusalem Post. The excerpt below begins with a quotation from Amit Re’em, the Jerusalem District Archaeologist.

“He spoke of a lot of water; baths, ritual baths, pools. Herod loved water and this is proof,” says the archeologist pointing to the drainage system that goes under the Old City walls and ends at Sultan’s Pool. Re’em, energetic and constantly on the move during the tour, is fluent in all the historical geography, shifting from the story of the High Priest Annas to the tale of how Jesus was brought to the palace of Herod, according to the New Testament.

Re’em envisions tourists being greeted one day by holograms in which they will see virtually the different walls from the various periods. “In this beautiful place we can see all the archeological and historical sequence of the history of Jerusalem.”

Eilat Lieber, the general director and chief curator of the museum, has a vision for the Kishle that involves opening it to the public for tours as well as making it a center of culture.

“We want to put an exhibition about the finds with a floating glass floor [at the upper level]. What is important to us is to know about the history and create a new cultural space for activities like lectures, music and modern art, bring the past and future together.”

The full story gives more of the modern history and plans for the museum’s future.

Citadel of David with snow from west, tb012800201

Citadel of David in Jerusalem
Photo from the Jerusalem photo collection

Labels: , ,