Sunday, March 31, 2019

Seal Impression of Nathan-Melech Discovered in Jerusalem

A seal impression belonging to “Nathan-Melech, servant of the king” has been discovered in Jerusalem’s City of David. The inscription dates to about 600 BC, which is about the same time as a figure named “Nathan-Melech” served Josiah, king of Judah (2 Kgs 23:11). It’s not known if these two are the same person.

He removed from the entrance to the temple of the LORD the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melech. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.

The Times of Israel covers the story well and provides a number of illustrations. But you might want to begin with this well-made 3-minute video.

I will just add that Robert Deutsch published an identical seal impression in his book Messages from the Past in 1999; both impressions were made from the same seal. The new discovery has the significant advantage of being found in context instead of on the antiquities market.

HT: G. M. Grena, Joseph Lauer, Jared Clark

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Excavations in the Sharafat neighborhood in west Jerusalem revealed a Hasmonean-era agricultural village. Haaretz (premium) has a longer article with more photos.

A study of the garbage dumps of the Byzantine city of Elusa in Israel’s Negev reveals that the city’s decline was the result of climate change.

The Malham Cave, under Mount Sedom near the Dead Sea, has been identified as the longest salt cave in the world.

The third artifact in the TMSP’s 12 object series is a fiscal bulla inscribed “Gibeon / to the king.”

Amnon Ben Tor will be awarded the Israel Prize in the field of archaeology.

Gabriel Barkay, an Israeli archaeology, recalls his experience in excavating Susa in Iran

The Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society will be hosting lectures in the coming months by Amihai Mazar (on Tel Rehov), Jonathan Price (on Beth Shearim), and Jürgen Zangenberg (on Horvat Kur).

Andrea Berlin will be lecturing in Rockford, Illinois, on April 1, on “Phoenicians and Jews — A Tale of Two Peoples in Israel’s Upper Galilee.”

“Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt” is a new exhibit at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis. A review article explains why so may of the statues’ noses are broken.

The latest video by the Institute for Biblical Culture is on “Ancient Israelite Fashion.” New classes in April include “The Prophets of Ancient Israel” and “The Geography of Biblical Israel/Canaan II.”

The founder of Sirin Riders explains why Israel is a great place to ride horses.

James Papandrea is on The Book and the Spade discussing his new book, A Week in the Life of Rome.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The City of Susa in the Bible

One of the most exciting, but least visited, biblical sites is Susa. It’s exciting because the entire drama of the Book of Esther takes place there, and we know exactly where Ahasuerus sat on his throne, and Esther approached him, and Mordecai overheard the conspiracy, and Haman waited in the courtyard.

Biblical Archaeology Review asked me to write about Susa for their “Site-Seeing” column for the current issue. You can flip to page 18 to see it, or it’s currently available for reading online.

My goal in writing the column was help you to enjoy the site and its rich biblical connections, especially if you’re not ready yet to sign up for a tour of biblical Iran!


The throne room of Susa from the inner courtyard

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Weekend Roundup

A winepress from the Byzantine period was discovered at Chorazin by a team doing conservation work.

The recent discovery of a depiction of the Egyptian god Bes in the City of David Givati parking lot excavation is the first of its kind ever found in Jerusalem.

The Times of Israel features a well-illustrated story on the Beth Shemesh excavations including the controversy and the museum exhibit.

A new sound-and-light show, used advanced technologies, has been unveiled at Masada.

A shipwreck discovered in Heracleion matches the description of a Nile River boat described by Herodotus.

Excavation work at Macherus is complete after 11 years, but conservation work will continue.’

Over a million people are expected between March-September to attend the Louvre exhibition of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. The show features the largest number of Tut items ever displayed together. As construction nears completion for the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, the Egyptian Ministry for Antiquities states that after the six city world tour is completed, key pieces related to Tut will never again leave Egypt.

The Basrah Museum in southern Iraq has added three new galleries, totaling 2,000 pieces, focused on Sumer, Assyrian, and Babylonian objects.

Erin Darby will be lecturing on “The Archaeology of Women in Ancient Israel” in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on April 2.

The History Channel has a photo essay of ten biblical sites.

Wayne Stiles recently visited the Royal Mummies Hall in the Cairo Museum.

Bible History Daily features a profile on Julia Berenice, the companion of King Agrippa II in Acts 26.

New from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago: The Great Hypostyle Hall in the Temple of Amun at Karnak, by Peter J. Brand, Rosa Erika Feleg, and William J. Murnane. For purchase in hardback or a free download.

“The Setting of the Assassination of King Joash of Judah: Biblical and Archaeological Evidence for Identifying the House of Millo,” by Chris McKinny, Aharon Tavger, Nahshon Szanton, and Joe Uziel, is a paper read and illustrated by Chris McKinny.

The photo below, from DerStandard, shows the interior of the Golden Gate in recent times.

HT: Ted Weis, Agade, Charles Savelle, Alexander Schick, Paleojudaica

Interior of the Golden Gate
Photo from DerStandard

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

An attempt to smuggle into Britain an ancient Babylonian kudurru as a “carved stone for home decoration” with a value of “300” failed.

“Music was ubiquitous in Ancient Greece. Now we can hear how it actually sounded.”

Israel has become the first country to list all cemetery tombstones online.

The February 2019 issue of the Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities includes the latest discoveries, repatriations, and news.

A Greek archaeologist has been working in Alexandria for 15 years in an effort to find the tomb of Alexander the Great.

A 3-minute video shows an animation of what the hanging gardens of Babylon may have looked like.

The Museum of the Bible is hosting a two-session lecture series on “Jerusalem and Rome: Cultures in Context in the First Century CE,” featuring Eric Meyers, Mary Boatwright, Lawrence Schiffman, and Steven Notley.

Eric Meyers will be lecturing on March 28 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on “Holy Land Archaeology: Where the Past Meets the Present.”

Six speakers will address the subject of “Egypt and Ancient Israel: Merneptah’s Canaanite Campaign—History of Propaganda?” in a conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on March 26.

Chris McKinny’s recent lecture on “Tel Burna—After a Decade of Investigation” is now online. The video includes all of his visuals.

This is fascinating: Predators in the Thickets: A Film Interview with Two Botanists and a Zoologist in Israel. You’ll learn more about lions, bears, forests, thickets, the Zor, and the Ghor. The film is intended an introduction to the newly launched Dictionary of Nature Imagery of the Bible.

Amos Kloner died yesterday.

HT: Agade, Chris McKinny, Joseph Lauer

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

A Greek inscription found at the Nabatean city of Halutza confirms previous scholarly identification of the site as Elusa. The Times of Israel article provides more information about the results of the excavation.

Aren Maeir made a visit to Gath/Tell es-Safi this week, where everything is very green.

Tel Tzuba (Belmont) is the latest destination for Israel’s Good Name.

Cesares de Roma is a Spanish art project that has brought to life silicone images of Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, and Nero.

The Romans attempted to ban wild Purim parties in the year 408.

In light of the present controversy, Leen Ritmeyer explains the history of the Golden Gate of Jerusalem.

Egypt has opened a 105-mile hiking trail called the “Red Sea Mountain Trail” that west of Hurghada.

40,000 runners from 80 different countries ran 42 kilometers in the Jerusalem Marathon.

David Moster explains biblical geography in a 9-minute video entitled, “If an ancient Israelite had Google Earth.”

This isn’t new, but I haven’t seen it before: Flight of Faith: The Jesus Story is a 48-minute documentary with lots of aerial footage.

The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem has opened a new exhibit entitled “Highway through History.” As part of the launch, they have created a five-minute drone video of Beth Shemesh and the excavations in preparation for the road expansion.

The New York Times reviews “The World Between Empires” exhibit now at the Met.

The “Alexander son of Simon” ossuary is possibly related to the man who carried Jesus’s cross. It is on display now at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, and this week they recorded a short video about it. Apparently they were so inspired by an inquiry from your roundup writer.

HT: Agade, G. M. Grena, Chris McKinny, Ted Weis, Steven Anderson, Paul Kellogg, Charles Savelle

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Egypt has preserved a unique Greco-Roman catacomb in Alexandria through a groundwater-lowering project.

The Egyptian site of Heliopolis is “a black hole in our knowledge of ancient Egypt.”

A ram-headed sphinx carved from sandstone more than 3,000 years ago has been found in Egypt.”

The new exhibit “Ancient Egypt: From Discovery to Display” at the University of Pennsylvania Museum walks the visitor through the archaeological process.

John DeLancey shares photos he recently took inside the pharaohs’ tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

The top archaeological finds from Greece in 2018 include the oldest known excerpt from Homer’s Odyssey and the most intact ancient Greek vessel ever found.

Carl Rasmussen goes to Rome in search of an answer to the question, “Where did the Jerusalem Temple treasure go?” (Part 1, Part 2)

This year’s Friends of ABR Fundraising Banquet will honor Bryant Wood.

HT: Explorator, Ted Weis, Agade, Paleojudaica

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Saturday, March 09, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Emek Shaveh is requesting that the plans for renovation in the Jewish Quarter include opening the massive Nea Church from the Byzantine period.

The controversy continues over whether the Muslims can open the Golden Gate to worshippers.

The Karaite community is concerned that the proposed Jerusalem cable car will desecrate its ancient cemetery.

Mark Barnes explains why Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem.

Ferrell shares a favorite photo this week of the Dead Sea.

Israel’s Good Name shares nature photos from his hike along Nahal Alexander.

A clever vandal spray-painted on the ancient synagogue of Merom, “This holy place will not be desecrated.”

The water level of the Sea of Galilee has risen above the lower red line for the first time in two years.

A study of the mountain fortress of Sela confirms the importance of the site in the Iron II period.

Video: An archaeologist is using drone imagery to track tomb looting in Jordan.

The Department of Antiquities of Jordan has made some great resources available for free online, including the Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan.

HT: Explorator, Agade, Chris McKinny, Paleojudaica

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Sunday, March 03, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

New clues to the lost tomb of Alexander the Great are being unearthed in Egypt (National Geographic).

Sinai’s 500 plus photographic entries from mid 19th to mid 20th centuries . . . are now published online with detailed geography and history description . . . based on the 19-year field survey and maps of Sinai Peninsula Research (SPR).”

Erin Blakemore recounts the tale of how a modern attempt to play King Tut’s trumpets went awry.

Somehow John DeLancey is able to post summaries every day for his tours, including their recent days in Egypt.

Iraq is seeking World Heritage List status for the ancient city of Babylon.

Tourists are apparently returning to the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq.

Esagil, Treasure Hunt in Babylon, is a a board game with a real-scale map of ancient Babylon.

The opening of a spectacular ancient Jewish catacomb in Rome continues to be delayed.

What is “biblical archaeology”? Owen Jarus provides some definitions and an introduction to some of the controversy surrounding its use.

Smithsonian Magazine profiles Wendell Phillips, sometimes known as America’s “Lawrence of Arabia.”

The majority, or perhaps even all, of the 75 new “Dead Sea Scrolls” fragments that have appeared on the market since 2002 are modern forgeries, according to Årstein Justnes and Josephine Munch Rasmussen. UPDATE: I am told by someone I trust that this article has many errors, including in its basic assertions.

ASOR has begun its March Fellowship Madness 2019 to raise funds to help students and scholars.

Ferrell Jenkins explains why he is fond of an “unattractive” photo taken at the Corinth Museum.

Two new videos with Aaron Brody: Introduction to the Bade Museum and Repatriating Antiquities.

HT: Ted Weis, Agade, G. M. Grena

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Destroyed baptismal site on the Jordan River after recent flooding
(Photo by Alexander Schick)

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Saturday, March 02, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

A well-preserved Greek inscription from the 5th century recording a blessing for one ‘Master Adios’” was discovered in central Israel.

Plans to convert the Golden Gate of the Temple Mount into a Muslim place of prayer are being resisted by Israeli police.

Two crews of antiquities thieves working in eastern Samaria were arrested in recent weeks. One of them was looting Alexandrium-Sartaba.

A short trailer has been released promoting this season’s excavations at Tel Shimron.

There is still time to sign up for this summer’s season at Tel Burna. Shiloh has some openings as well.

Heavy rains this week caused flooding in the Jerusalem area.

The Times of Israel shares a photo essay of wildflowers of the Dead Sea.

Israel’s Good Name recounts his recent university trip to Wadi Dalia and Sartaba in eastern Samaria.

Leon Mauldin reflects on Proverbs’ view of sluggards and ants, and he shares a photo of ants at Neot Kedumim.

The BBC visits the recently opened Terra Sancta Museum in Jerusalem.

New book: Exploring the Holy Land: 150 Years of the Palestine Exploration Fund, edited by David Gurevich and Anat Kidron. (Amazon)

I am on the Diligent Pastors podcast this week with Scot Chadwick, talking about the land of the Bible, photo collections, and preparing for a trip to Israel. Pastors especially may want to check out other episodes in this new podcast.

HT: Ted Weis, Agade, G. M. Grena

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