Thursday, November 29, 2018

Name of Pilate Discovered on Ring Found at Herodium

A copper alloy ring bearing the inscription “of Pilatus” may have belonged to Pontius Pilate. The ring was discovered in excavations of the Herodium in 1968–69, and a new study of it was requested by the current excavation director Roi Porat. The results of the investigation were published in the Israel Exploration Journal, and popular articles have been written in Haaretz (premium) and The Times of Israel. The latter article concludes:

As to whose ring it actually was, the authors offer a few suggestions, including other Early Roman period men called “Pilatus.” Likewise, the name may have referred to those under the historical Pilate’s command, a member of his family “or some of his freed slaves,” they write.

“It is conceivable,” write the authors, “that this finger ring from a Jewish royal site might have belonged to a local individual, either a Jew, a Roman, or another pagan patron with the name Pilatus.”

It did not, they conclude, belong to the Roman prefect himself.

Porat offers another possibility, however. What if, maybe, Pilate had a gold ring for ceremonial duties and a simple copper ring for everyday wear?

“There is no way of proving either theory 100% and everyone can have his own opinion,” said Porat. Regardless, “it’s a nice story and interesting to wrap your head around.”

The Israel Exploration Journal article is not online (as far as I can tell), but its abstract reads:

A simple copper-alloy ring dated to the first century BCE–mid-first century CE was discovered in the hilltop palace at Herodium. It depicts a krater circled by a Greek inscription, reading: ‘of Pilatus’. The article deals with the typology of ancient representations of kraters in Second Temple Jewish art and with the possibility that this ring might have belonged to Pontius Pilatus, the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea or to a person in his administration, either a Jew or a pagan.

HT: Alexander Schick

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Free Maps from AWMC

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

In 2011, Routledge published Wall Maps for the Ancient World, a series of seven maps which were created by the Ancient World Mapping Center (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). According to the center’s blog, the maps have gone out of print and now the rights have reverted back to the Ancient World Mapping Center. Yesterday, they announced they are making digital versions of the maps available to download. Most of the maps will be of interest to Bible students and readers of this blog. The announcement noted additionally that the digital version of map 6 “World of the New Testament” incorporates some minor corrections.

You can read more about the maps and download them here.
[UPDATE: Yesterday, we experienced troubles trying to download the maps. We contacted AWMC and they are working to resolve the issues. In the meantime, AWMC has removed their blog post about release of the maps. You can continue to read the same information on this other page, but to download the maps, you might want to use this temporary link we have created.]
[UPDATE 2: AMWC has reposted their original announcement, but now it includes instructions to email awmc@unc.edu and they will send a link to download one or more files.]

The seven maps are:

1.  Egypt and the Near East, 3000 to 1200 BCE. Scale: 1:1,750,000.
2.  Egypt and the Near East, 1200 to 500 BCE. Scale: 1:1,750,000.
3.  Greece and the Aegean in the Fifth Century BCE. Scale: 1:750,000.
4.  Greece and Persia in the Time of Alexander the Great. Scale: 1:4,000,000.
5.  Italy in the Mid-First Century CE. Scale: 1:775,000.
6.  The World of the New Testament and the Journeys of Paul. Scale: 1:1,750,000. Inset “New Testament Palestine” (Scale 1:350,000).
7.  The Roman Empire around 200 CE. Scale: 1:3,000,000.



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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Appian Media has released a trailer for their new series, “Searching for a King.” They have some impressive footage. They also are asking for some quick help with a survey.

“At the annual meeting this week of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Denver, Colorado, scholars will discuss whether to rechristen the 118-year-old society on the grounds that its moniker is irrelevant and racist.” There’s more here.

Mary Shepperson recounts the “turbulent life” of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq. The article includes some interesting photos.

Iraqi technicians are restoring ancient Babylon under a U.S.-funded project, with the goal of making the site worthy of UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

New book: Archaeogaming: An Introduction to Archaeology in and of Video Games, by Andrew Reinhard.

Mosaics looted from Turkey and sold to Bowling Green State University are now being returned.

Lawrence Schiffman explains how Dead Sea Scroll forgeries were exposed by high-tech tests.

Yosef Garfinkel’s recent lecture at the Lanier Theological Library is now online, and Carl Rasmussen recommends it. The library has also made available many seminar videos from 2012 to present.

Artofthe.Bible is a new catalog of 5,800 works of art from wikimedia arranged in 116 Bible stories.

“A Biblical Spice Rack” was published in Bible Review in 1997 and is now available online through Bible History Daily.

Robert Alter has completed his translation of the entire Hebrew Bible. It will be released in time for Christmas. (An Amazon coupon code good through today will save $5 off purchase of $20 or more: NOVBOOK18.)

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Ted Weis, Mark Hoffman, Charles Savelle, Chris McKinny

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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

“An extremely rare, minuscule biblical stone weight inscribed in ancient Hebrew script with the word “beka” was discovered in rubble taken from excavations at the foundations of the Western Wall.”

“Archaeologists exploring Montfort Castle in the Galilee discovered a previously unknown, richly decorated Gothic hall where the secretive knights' order gathered for their assemblies.” (Haaretz premium)

A member of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project believes that civilization on the northern end of the Dead Sea were obliterated by “a massive airburst caused by a meteor” circa 1700 BC, leaving the region desolate for at least 600 years. The claim is explicitly linked with Sodom’s destruction in a 2015 conference paper available here.

A tomb at Megiddo now provides the earliest evidence for the use of vanilla.

The Times of Israel has more background on the release of photos of biblical scenes from the mosaics of the synagogue of Huqoq.

Alexander Wiegmann’s YouTube channel includes photogrammetric models, including one of the Mount Ebal altar.

A conference is being held next month in Jerusalem to refute the recent theory that the temple was not located on the Temple Mount.

You can see what a day of digging at Tel Burna is like with this new 10-minute video produced for this year’s ASOR conference.

I’ve been using and enjoying Readwise this past month. It’s a great way to review my Kindle highlights. Use this link to get a free month for you (and for me).

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Gordon Franz, Chris McKinny

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Mosaics from the synagogue of Huqoq have been published in full for the first time, including scenes of Jonah and the fish, the tower of Babel, Noah’s ark, the parting of the Red Sea. The scholarly publication is forthcoming in BASOR.

Mark Hoffman mentions a new project that maps Paul’s missionary journeys. It looks quite impressive, though if the pop-ups don’t work for you on one browser, you might try another. You can support further development of the project here.

Onomasticon.net is a new website that provides “a comprehensive collection of personal names and their various characteristics from the Iron II Southern Levant.”

The controversy over the plan to construct a cable car to Jerusalem’s Old City continues.

A conference commemorating the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Mesha Stele will be held on Nov. 29 in Jerusalem.

Israel’s Good Name describes his latest field trip to Megiddo and Hazor, guided by Aren Maeir.

Registration has opened for the free MOOC taught by Aren Maeir: “Biblical Archaeology: The Archaeology of Ancient Israel and Judah.”

The new courses for December at The Institute of Biblical Culture are “Assyria and the Bible” and “The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

In a clip from this summer’s Institute of Biblical Context conference, Doug Greenwold explains the significance of Psalm 23’s reference to “still waters.”  All of the conference DVDs are now available for a very good price.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

An early depiction of Jesus was recently discovered in a circa 6th century Byzantine church deep in Israel’s Negev Desert.”

The remains of an unborn child and its mother, who possibly died giving birth, have been excavated in Aswan, Egypt, and date to about 1600 BC.

Archaeologists excavating a tomb near Cairo have discovered dozens of mummified cats.

“A Polish-Kuwaiti team of archaeologists have unearthed a 7,000-year-old temple, the oldest in the Persian Gulf region.”

Marine archaeologists believe they may have found a missing piece of the Antikythera Mechanism (Haaretz premium).

The excavations of ancient Hattusha in Turkey are providing an income for many local residents who would otherwise be unemployed.

The October issue of the Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities reports the latest discoveries, artifact repatriations, famous visitors, and more.

Two new excavation reports from Eisenbrauns (latest catalog here) have been published:

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

The nymphaeum in downtown Amman has reopened to the public.

A Palestinian was caught trying to smuggle 70 ancient coins from Jordan into the West Bank. Another man was arrested for trying to smuggle two tetradrachm from the time of Alexander the Great out of Gaza.

The Guardian posts a review of the “I am Ashurbanipal” exhibit that opened this week at the British Museum.

The British Museum Shop offers a number of interesting items related to the Ashurbanipal exhibit.

The Vatican Museums are considering putting a daily cap on the number of visitors.

A new festschrift honors Aren Maier: Tell it in Gath: Studies in the History and Archaeology of Israel.

Ada Yardeni’s final book, The National Hebrew Script, is now available for pre-order at Carta.

New from Baylor University Press: Magdala of Galilee: A Jewish City in the Hellenistic and Roman Period, edited by Richard Bauckham.

The Land and the Book audio program visits the Oriental Institute Museum.

Scott Stripling, Scott Lanser, and Henry Smith discuss “Relating the Bible to Archaeology” in the latest episode of Digging for Truth.

Flash floods in Jordan killed 12 and forced the evacuation of 4,000 in Petra. Here’s another video and several more showing the deadly torrent.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Explorator, Charles Savelle, Ted Weis, Paleojudaica, Alexander Schick

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Archaeologists have discovered engravings of ships and animals on the walls of a Roman-era cistern in Beersheba.

Rami Arav provides a summary of the 2018 excavation of et-Tell (aka Bethsaida). He believes that in the 11th–10th centuries, the site was a “full-fledged urban center, most probably the site of the king of the Geshurites.”

A new era has begun at Gath (Tell es-Safi) with the covering over of excavation areas that will not be conserved for visitors.

The new excavation at Kiriath Jearim and the family providing the financial backing are profiled by the Jewish News of Northern California.

Wayne Stiles recently visited the Gezer boundary inscriptions and he wonders how long it will be before they are no longer legible.

Aviv and Shmuel Bar-Am describe several sites of interest east of Jerusalem, including the Good Samaritan Museum and Ein Fawwar.

Israel’s Good Name shares his experience in volunteering for the Tel Dor excavation.

Israel set a new record with nearly half a million tourists in October.

The Israelite Samaritans Project is a new research venture of Yeshiva University.

Have you seen Carta’s new map bank? Individual digital maps of the biblical world are available for purchase.

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

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Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament (New Book)

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

Available beginning today is an impressive-looking title published by Baker Academic, Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts, edited by Jonathan S. Greer, John W. Hilber, and John H. Walton.


The book contains 65 essays (in 640 pages) by many well-known scholars in archaeology, and biblical and Ancient Near East studies, but it also includes several younger scholars who are just beginning their careers in these various disciplines. Perusing the range of topics, it seems that little has been overlooked—iconography, geography, literature, archaeology. The opening chapters addressing historical geography and physical geography will have special appeal to readers of this blog. Essays even extend beyond the title's "Old Testament" to include Alexander the Great, the Hellenistic period, and the Hasmonean kingdom.
This authoritative volume brings together a team of world-class scholars to cover the full range of Old Testament backgrounds studies in a concise, up-to-date, and comprehensive manner. With expertise in various subdisciplines of Old Testament backgrounds, the authors illuminate the cultural, social, and historical contexts of the world behind the Old Testament. They introduce readers to a wide range of background materials, covering history, geography, archaeology, and ancient Near Eastern textual and iconographic studies.
Meant to be used alongside traditional literature-based canonical surveys, this one-stop introduction to Old Testament backgrounds fills a gap in typical introduction to the Bible courses. It contains over 100 illustrations, including photographs, line drawings, maps, charts, and tables, which will facilitate its use in the classroom.

Here is the full table of contents:

Introduction (Jonathan S. Greer, John W. Hilber, and John H. Walton)
Part One: Elements of the Drama
I. The Stage: Historical Geography
1. Introduction to Historical Geography (Paul H. Wright)
2. Regions and Routes in the Levant (Carl G. Rasmussen)
3. Climate and Environment of the Levant (Elizabeth Arnold)
4. Plants and Animals of the Land of Israel (Daniel Fuks and Nimrod Marom)
II. The Sets and Props: Archaeology
5. Introduction to Biblical Archaeology (Seymour Gitin)
6. Archaeology of the Late Bronze Age (Joe Uziel)
7. Archaeology of the Iron Age I (Aren M. Maeir)
8. Archaeology of the Iron Age II (Amihai Mazar)
9. Archaeology of the Neo-Babylonian and Persian Periods (Constance E. C. Gane)
10. Archaeology of the Hellenistic Period (Jordan Ryan)
III. The Scripts: Ancient Near Eastern Literature
11. Introduction to Ancient Near Eastern Literature (Adam E. Miglio)
12. Hebrew Inscriptions (Judith M. Hadley)
13. Mesopotamian Literature (Dave C. Deuel)
14. Egyptian Literature (Nili Shupak)
15. Hittite Literature (Alice Mouton)
16. Northwest Semitic Inscriptions (Margaret E. Cohen)
17. Ugaritic Literature (William D. Barker)
18. Early Jewish Literature (Ryan Stokes)
IV. The Frames: Ancient Near Eastern Iconography
19. Introduction to Ancient Near Eastern Iconography (Izak Cornelius)
20. Egyptian Iconography (Laura Wright)
21. Mesopotamian and Anatolian Iconography (Daniel Bodi)
22. Canaanite/Israelite Iconography (Brent A. Strawn)

Part Two: Acts and Scenes of the Drama
V. Acts: Integrated Approaches to Broad Historical Contexts
23. The Ancestral Period (Richard S. Hess)
24. The Egyptian Sojourn and the Exodus (David A. Falk)
25. The Settlement Period (Pekka Pitkänen)
26. The United Monarchy (Steven M. Ortiz)
27. The Divided Monarchy: Israel (Jens Bruun Kofoed)
28. The Divided Monarchy: Judah (Eric L. Welch)
29. The Exile and the Exilic Communities (Deirdre N. Fulton)
30. Persian Period Yehud (Kenneth A. Ristau)
31. The Maccabean Revolt and the Hasmonean Kingdom (Joel Willitts)
VI. Scenes: Integrated Approaches to Event-Based Historical Contexts
32. Akhenaten and the Amarna Period (Mark D. Janzen)
33. The Late Bronze Age Collapse and the Sea Peoples' Migrations (Gregory D. Mumford)
34. Sheshonq's Levantine Conquest and Biblical History (Yigal Levin)
35. The Battle of Qarqar and Assyrian Aspirations (Mark W. Chavalas)
36. The Mesha Inscription and Relations with Moab and Edom (Juan Manuel Tebes)
37. The Tell Dan Inscription, Jehu's Revolt, and Aramaean Campaigns in Israel and Judah (K. Lawson Younger Jr.)
38. Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah and Neo-Assyrian Expansion (Kyle H. Keimer)
39. Eighth-Century Levantine Earthquakes and Natural Disasters (Ryan N. Roberts)
40. The Battle of Carchemish and Seventh-Century Regional Politics (Sara L. Hoffman)
41. Alexander the Great and Levantine Hellenism (D. Brent Sandy)

Part Three: Themes of the Drama
VII. God: Integrated Approaches to Themes in Israelite Religion 
42. Monotheism in Ancient Israel (Matthew J. Lynch)
43. Biblical Texts Studied in Comparison with Other Ancient Near Eastern Documents (John H. Walton)
44. The Temple in Context (John H. Walton)
45. Priests in the Ancient Near East (Gerald Klingbeil)
46. Worship, Sacrifice, and Festivals in the Ancient Near East (Roy E. Gane)
47. Family Religion in Ancient Israel (Andrew R. Davis)
48. Prophecy, Divination, and Magic in the Ancient Near East (John W. Hilber)
49. Death and Burial in the Iron Age Levant (Christopher B. Hays)
VIII. Family: Integrated Approaches to Themes in Family Networks
50. Tribes and Nomads in the Iron Age Levant (Thomas D. Petter)
51. Women in Ancient Israel (Carol Meyers)
52. Family, Children, and Inheritance in the Biblical World (Victor H. Matthews)
IX. Sustenance: Integrated Approaches to Themes in Economic Contexts
53. Seasons, Crops, and Water in the Land of the Bible (Oded Borowski)
54. Trade in the Late Bronze and Iron Age Levant (Joshua T. Walton)
55. Slavery in the World of the Bible (Richard E. Averbeck)
56. The Local Economies of Ancient Israel (Peter Altmann)
57. Metallurgy in the World of the Bible (Brady Liss and Thomas E. Levy)
58. Ancient Technologies of Everyday Life (Gloria London)
59. Food Preparation in the Iron Age Levant (Cynthia Shafer-Elliott)
60. Feasting in the Biblical World (Janling Fu)
61. Music and Dance in the World of the Bible (Annie F. Caubet)
X. Governance: Integrated Approaches to Themes in Social Organization
62. Kingship and the State in Ancient Israel (Nili S. Fox)
63. Social Stratification in the Iron Age Levant (Avraham Faust)
64. Law and Legal Systems in Ancient Israel (David W. Baker)
65. Wisdom Traditions in Ancient Israel (Paul Overland)
66. Warfare in the World of the Bible (Mark Schwartz)


Sunday, November 04, 2018

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

An archaeological team working at Hatnub in Egypt has discovered the ancient system used to transfer stone blocks from the quarry.

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered parts of a booth with a seat from the time of Ramses II.

“Archeologists at the University of Toronto are in advanced negotiations with Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism to establish an archeological park at Tell Tayinat.”

Over 2 million tourists visit Pamukkale in Turkey annually, but many of them never see the impressive remains of Hierapolis next door. Ferrell Jenkins shares a beautiful photo of the Pamukkale springs.

“Lawrence of Oxford” is a new exhibition at the Magdalene Libraries and Archives that focuses on the early life of the man later known as Lawrence of Arabia.

The Harvard Semitic Museum Youtube channel offers various short videos as well as lectures.

A relief from Persepolis valued at $1.2 million was stolen a couple of times before researches at the Oriental Institute helped provide evidence that led to its seizure and repatriation.

A rare, 3,000-year-old Assyrian relief sold for $31 million, tripling the pre-sale estimate of $10 million.

New book: A. Lichtenberger & R. Raja, eds., The Archaeology and History of Jerash. 110 Years of Excavations.

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

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Saturday, November 03, 2018

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

After being closed for six years to protect artifacts during the civil war, Syria's National Museum of Damascus has reopened.

A Haaretz premium article suggests that the Israelites at Dan worshiped the Lord. “Suggestive finds include seal impressions with Yahwistic names, temple architecture, and artifacts typical of Yahwistic temple rituals.”

The latest in Brad Gray’s Psalm 23 series looks at the rod and staff (and sling) of the shepherd.

Israel’s Good Name has written a couple of posts about the Autumn Raptor Migration.

Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours has begun a new series of short devotional videos: “It Happened Here—Life Lessons from Israel.”

A snake crawled out of the stones of the Western Wall above the women’s prayer area, creating a bit of a scare.

Glenn Corbett and Jack Green explain the tremendous value of the ACOR Photo Archive.

A new 17-minute film entitled “Paul in Athens” reconstructs the famous events of Acts 17. This documentary was created by Yaron Eliav and the University of Michigan TLTC Team.

John McRay, longtime professor of New Testament and Archaeology died in August. The Book and the Spade shares an archived interview with him about Athens in the Time of Paul.

HT: Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Agade

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