Saturday, July 20, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists working at el-Araj (Bethsaida?) are claiming that a Byzantine church they are excavating is the “Church of the Apostles.” The story is reported in Haaretz (premium); the excavation website has lots of photos.

The excavation season at Gath is over. Among this week’s posts is this one with their end-of-season photo shoot.

“A rare, very early rural mosque was unearthed during recent archaeological excavations in the southern Israel Bedouin city of Rahat.”

Excavations on Mount Zion have revealed a moat from the Crusader siege of Jerusalem in 1099.

“An unprecedentedly vast Neolithic settlement — the largest ever discovered in Israel and the Levant, say archaeologists — is currently being excavated ahead of highway construction five kilometers from Jerusalem

The University of Basel announced its possession of the oldest autograph of a Christian letter.

Researchers are studying the harbor technologies of Portus, the maritime harbor of Rome in the first centuries AD.

For the first time in decades, Egypt has opened the Bent and Red Pyramids of Dahshur to tourists.

Wayne Stiles draws spiritual lessons about closed doors from Paul’s second missionary journey.

New from Eerdmans: Scribes and Scrolls at Qumran, by Sidnie White Crawford

Now at the top of my wish list (but more difficult to acquire outside of Israel): Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Archaeological Discoveries, 1998–2018, edited by Hillel Geva.

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

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Weekend Roundup (and the fake “Ziklag”)

The big story of the week was the “discovery of Ziklag,” a claim made by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel regarding his recent excavations of Khirbet a-Ra‘i. You can read about it in the The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, and Haaretz (premium). You can download high-res photos or watch a one-minute silent video showing excavations at the site. I think the whole thing is sad.

Now, to the week’s stories, of which there are not so many:

You might have trouble picking out your friends in this year’s group photo of the Gath excavation team. (Very clever!) You can poke around the blog for recent updates and lots of photos.

The Tel Burna excavation season is over. John DeLancey created a video of the site with his drone.

A journal article has been published on last year’s discovery of a ceramic pomegranate at Shiloh.

Scott Stripling is back on The Book and the Spade discussing this year’s excavations at Shiloh.

A newly constructed building on an archaeological site in the hills near Hebron has been bulldozed.

On the Logos blog, Karen Engle explains the value of biblical archaeology.

It’s always more enjoyable to think about a difficult passage when you feel more immersed in its setting, and that’s what Wayne Stiles does this week with Jesus’s question at Capernaum.

Israel’s Good Name enjoyed a fascinating outing to the Nizzana Dunes. Don’t skip this one if you love wildlife.

Carl Rasmussen has begun a very interesting series (part 1, part 2) on Paul’s shipwreck on the island of Malta.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a photo of Capernaum with a unique perspective.

OK, so I’ll elaborate briefly on my thoughts on “Ziklag.” First, the lead archaeologist who made the claim has a track record of making dubious sensational claims. Second, the archaeologist was very careful to conceal his idea from other scholars until he made his big announcement to the press. Now, that may be the way to do things in the competitive business world, but in academia, you’re supposed to share your ideas with colleagues for fruitful critique. Garfinkel’s approach, once again, is more designed to make headlines than to discover truth.

Third, other sites, such as Tel Sera, have appropriate occupation levels, from the Philistines followed by the Israelites, with destruction layers. From the biblical text, we know that there were dozens of sites in this area, and David no doubt removed the Philistines from more than one of them (1 Chr 18:1). Furthermore, the minimal amount of Philistine pottery gives reason to doubt that Kh. a-Ra‘i was actually a Philistine site at all.

Fourth, Khirbet a-Ra‘i (coordinates 31°35'26.83"N, 34°49'10.03"E), is near Lachish (2.5 miles northwest), but according to Joshua 15, Ziklag is located in a more southern district (grouped with sites like Beersheba and Hormah). That is why scholars have proposed for Ziklag the sites of Tel Sera (15 miles southwest of Lachish) and Tel Halif (13 miles south of Lachish). If Khirbet a-Ra‘i was Ziklag, it should be in verse 38 of Joshua 15, not in verse 31. Fifteen miles distant is a long way in the land of Israel!

As with Kh. Qeiyafa, Garfinkel simply ignores what the Bible says about the geographical situation of sites and chooses the most spectacular name to attach to his site. The press will let him get away with it, because sensational stories mean more money for them. By the time that journal articles are written or professors speak up, the headlines have already raced around the world, and the public’s attention is elsewhere. Khirbet a-Ra‘i is a fine archaeological site; it doesn’t need false claims in order to make it worthy of study or publicity.

Final note: Amanda Borschel-Dan has written a solid report for The Times of Israel in which she quotes at length two scholars dumbfounded by Garfinkel’s claim. Luke Chandler (a volunteer at the site this year) and Ferrell Jenkins also weigh in. My analysis here was written before I read these reports, but you’ll see there’s a good bit of overlap.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Keith Keyser, BibleX

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Monday, July 08, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 3

The story around the “First Century Gospel of Mark” text has turned very strange. (Michael Holmes, Elijah Hixson, Brent Nongbri, Candida Moss, Jerry Pattengale)

An Egyptian statue resembling King Tut sold for $6 million in a controversial auction.

A luxury hotel built in Antakya (biblical Antioch on the Orontes) preserves the ancient ruins found below.

Boxes of material from Jerry Vardaman’s excavations at Macherus have been dug out of storage and will be studied and published.

Omri Lernau explains what kinds of fish were eaten in ancient Jerusalem.

Dozens of metal archaeological artifacts excavated at Caesarea were stolen from an Israel Antiquities Authority storage facility (Haaretz premium).

The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review is a double issue, featuring articles on the wise woman of Abel Beth Maacah, the Royal Stoa of the Temple Mount, Jewish purity practices, inscriptions from Mount Gerizim, and the Copper Scroll.

Here’s a tutorial on how to write in cuneiform.

The newest Bible Land Passages documentary has been released. This 18-minute video looks the candidates for the tomb of Jesus.

In a recent episode of Hebrew Voices, David Moster explains how toilets worked in ancient Israel. And David just produced part 2 of “How to Use the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: the Masorah Notes” (20-min video).

Recent interviews on The Book and the Spade:

Carl Rasmussen explains how a Lewis Bolt was used to lift heavy stones in the ancient world.

Leen Ritmeyer shares some photos from his underground work at the Temple Mount in the 1970s.

Ferrell Jenkins posts an idyllic photo of an olive tree and two olive presses.

A friend at my church is leading a 20-day tour of New Zealand this January and he has a few open spots. He’s a native New Zealander and a seminary graduate, and he will be giving biblical instruction along the way (for example, NZ has 30 million sheep!). I can’t imagine a better tour of New Zealand. Here’s a flyer with more info.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Agade, David Padfield, Mark Hoffman, Explorator

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Sunday, July 07, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Museums:

“Assyrians in the Shadow of Vesuvius” is a new exhibit at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

“Buried by Vesuvius: Treasures from the Villa dei Papiri” is now on display at the Getty Villa in southern California. The post discusses how the Getty Villa was designed after the Villa of Papyri.

“Last Supper in Pompeii” is a new exhibit opening later this month at the Ashmolean Museum.

A replica of the destroyed Lion of Mosul is going on display at London’s Imperial War Museum.

A major exhibition on Troy will open at the British Museum on November 21.

The Egyptian Museum, though losing much of its collection to the Grand Egyptian Museum, will undergo a three-year renovation with the hope of securing status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A new exhibition on Tall Zira'a opened this week at The Jordan Museum.

Lectures:

Shahrokh Razmjou will be lecturing on “The Rise and Fall of Persepolis: A Wonder of the Ancient World” in London on July 23.

Twenty scholars will be speaking at the 22nd Annual Bible and Archaeology Fest in San Diego, November 22-24.

Tourism:

Jerusalem’s “Tomb of the Kings” will reopen to visitors for the first time since 2010, but the tombs themselves will be off-limits.

With restorations complete, Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity has been removed from UNESCO’s list of endangered world heritage sites.

The Lahun Pyramid opened to the public for the first time last week.

Every year there’s a story that Carchemish will soon be opened to the public.

Babylon has been named a 2019 UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Adam Stewart Brown articulates well why you should visit the Holy Land.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Agade, Explorator, Bill Krewson

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Saturday, July 06, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

I go away for one week, and I come back to a large pile of stories in the biblical and archaeological world. This is going to take three long posts to catch up.

Discoveries:

Excavations at the synagogue of Huqoq have uncovered a mosaic depicting the Israelites’ encampment at Elim as well as two of the four beasts of Daniel 7.

Recent research has revealed that Tel Shikmona was not a trading settlement but a purple dye manufacturing center.

The Siloam Road, connecting the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount of Jerusalem, was officially opened this week.

Archaeologists discovered an ancient baptismal font hidden inside another baptismal font at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

An ancient Roman-era shipwreck has been discovered at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Cyprus.”

Excavations:

The Tel Burna crew has finished three weeks of their summer dig, with daily posts providing summaries of the finds along with photos. Here’s the latest. John DeLancey has posted his perspective as a volunteer.

The Gath expedition is halfway finished with their season, and they are unearthing a road, a window, architectural remains, and a monster wall.

This summer’s excavations at el-Araj (Bethsaida?) have produced more mosaics from the Byzantine church, a mold for making lead fishing weights, part of a roof roller, and Roman flagstones.

The Jerusalem Report has a feature piece on recent excavations at Tell Beth Shemesh.

Excavations are beginning in Laodicea on the road that leads to the ancient stadium.

Studies:

A new DNA study indicates that Philistines living in Ashkelon in the late 12th century BC originated from Greece, Crete, or Sardinia. These articles are based on a journal article published in Science Advances (pdf).

“New research explains why salt crystals are piling up on the deepest parts of the Dead Sea’s floor.”

Joe Zias argues that nearly all, if not all, of the human remains found at Masada are ethnically non-Jewish.

A new study shows that masons’ marks were used at Hippos only from the late first century to the late second century (Haaretz premium).

Sad News:

Doug Greenwold died on June 23. Doug was the Senior Teaching Fellow at Preserving Bible Times and a co-founder of The Institute of Biblical Context. He will be greatly missed.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Agade, Explorator, Lois Tverberg

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