Monday, May 20, 2019

Tour of France and Spain with Mark Wilson

A unique trip has come to my attention that I think might be of interest to some of you. Mark Wilson is leading it, which automatically makes it worthy of consideration, and it is a tour of the Roman sites in France and Spain. The trip is jointly sponsored by Tutku Tours and Biblical Archaeology Society, which tells me that the quality will be high. Here is a brief rundown of what they’re calling “To the End of the Earth: Paul’s Journey to Spain”:

  • 14 days, inclusive of all travel (Sept 15-29, 2019)
  • 3 flights: Paris-Lyon, Barcelona-Seville, Seville-Paris
  • Visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Orange, Arles, Tarraco, Merida, and Cordoba
  • Tours of museums in Lyon, Arles, Narbonne, Tarragona, and Paris
  • Biblical and early church connections include Paul’s potential visit to Spain, Irenaeus’s church in Pothinus, and the oldest Christian building in Gaul, the Basilica of St. Paul
  • Roman connections include two temples of Augustus, the birthplaces of Seneca, Claudius, Trajan, and Hadrian
  • In addition, you’ll see temples, theaters, amphitheaters, pyramids, triumphal arches, forums, mausoleums, nymphaeums, baths, necropolises, and synagogues.
  • Plus, you get a free day in Paris, which I would recommend be used for a return visit to the Louvre!

I can’t think of a better trip to France and Spain for those interested in the ancient Roman and New Testament worlds. So if you have this on your bucket list, this may be your best opportunity. All the details are here (pdf).

The Saint-Bénézet bridge and the Popes’ Palace in Avignon


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Archaeologists have discovered an underground chamber in Nero’s Domus Aurea palace.

“Ancient workers used molten iron to repair Pompeii’s streets before the historic and devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.”

Greek authorities have granted permission for the restoration of the interior of the Parthenon in Athens.

Turkish officials have discovered an ancient mosaic that was illegally excavated in Çanakkale.

“Ancient treasures pillaged from conflict zones in the Middle East are being offered for sale on Facebook, researchers say, including items that may have been looted by Islamic State militants.”

In light of ISIS’s plundering, researchers have attempted to quantity the market value of artifacts from a single site.

The Biblical History Center in LaGrange, Georgia, is seeking approval to build a replica of the Sea of Galilee.

The Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times has announced the list of speakers for its 2019 conference “Between Israel, Aram and Phoenicia: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives.”

BibleX has posted a mini-review of the Photo Companion to Daniel.

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

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

In an article posted on his Academia website (abstract here), Joe Zias argues that the “Cave of John the Baptist” actually depicts the Crusader patron saint of leprosy suffers, the man Lazarus from Jesus’s parable in Luke 16.

A military fortress from the 26th Dynasty has been discovered in North Sinai.

The April Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities provides the latest in archaeological discoveries, exhibitions, inaugurations, and more. (As of this writing, the pdf has the pages in reverse order.)

The Harvard Gazette describes the background and value of the Digital Giza Project.

If you haven’t visited the Harvard Semitic Museum, you can now take a very nice virtual tour.

The topics on this week’s The Book and the Spade are the four-room house, slavery, and Selah.

Leon Mauldin writes about “the hearing ear” in the biblical and ancient world.

Israel’s Good Name took a birdwatching trip to Eilat.

Max Richardson has been photographing in Jerusalem since 1985 and he shares some of his photos in The Jerusalem Report.

Mark Hoffman reviews the new Daniel and Esther volumes in the Photo Companion to the Bible series.

HT: Charles Savelle, Ted Weis, Agade

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Weekend Roundup

A statue likely depicting an Ammonite king in the 9th or 8th centuries BC was discovered near the Roman theater in Amman.

“Egypt's antiquities ministry on Saturday unveiled a 4,500-year-old burial ground near the Giza pyramids containing colourful wooden coffins and limestone statues.”

Jerald Starr argues that a plaque discovered by Sir Leonard Woolley near Ur depicts a temple prostitute.

Gabriel Barkay provides a tour of important archaeological sites in east Jerusalem.

Roman buildings like the Colosseum may have withstood earthquakes because of “seismic cloaking,” though it’s questionable whether this design was intentional.

John DeLancey is summarizing each day of his current tour to Israel, with the latest post about their visit to the Judean desert, the hill country of Samaria, Shiloh, and Beth Shean.

The Tel Burna Excavation team has released their lecture and tour schedule.

Carl Rasmussen explains and shows how early churches may have met in a second-story room above a shop.

Justin Taylor interviews Weston Fields about the history and significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Clyde Billington and Gordon Govier discuss what the Bible has to say about horses and dogs on The Book and the Spade. is offering a three-month long summer course in Biblical Hebrew. No previous knowledge is necessary. Classes begin in June.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is beginning a crowdfunding campaign in order to move and resume their operations as well as publish their results.

Helga Weippert passed away in March.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Chris McKinny

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Saturday, May 04, 2019

Weekend Roundup

“Life Lessons from Israel: Gezer” is the latest in the devotional video series by Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours.

BYU Magazine features a story about the Huqoq synagogue mosaics, with several photos and videos.

Dina Shalem explains the Peqi‘in Cave—A Unique Chalcolithic Cemetery in the Southern Levant (with many photos).

The W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research is celebrating Albright’s 128th birthday on 5/24 by seeking 524 gifts of $128 each.

“The Book of Psalms” is the newest course at the Institute of Biblical Culture.

Wayne Stiles goes to Egypt’s Valley of the Kings to understand better the tension between God’s sovereignty and our choices.

In a new article published Thursday in the Tel Aviv journal, Israel Finkelstein, Nadav Na’aman and Thomas Römer argue that the Mesha Stele records the name of “Balak,” king of Moab (see Num 22) and not the “house of David,” as proposed by André Lemaire. Lawrence Mykytiuk considers the Balak reading dubious because it is anachronistic. Ronald Hendel says they are guessing and the word could be “Bilbo.” Michael Langlois is preparing a new study based on Reflectance Transformation Imaging in which he strongly argues for “house of David.”

Macherus III, the final report on the Herodian citadel, is now available. Gyozo Voros has done a remarkable job in publishing his results most expeditiously. A festival is planned in 2020 to celebrate the work, and a new fence line will parallel the 2-mile-long Roman siege wall.

Megan Sauter interviews Jonathan S. Greer, John W. Hilber, and John H. Walton about the new book they edited, Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament.

Bidding has opened at $10 in the Logos’s Community Pricing model for Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology (3 volumes).

Check out the new “trailer” for the Bar Ilan University Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology Department.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Alexander Schick

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

New Photo Collections: Esther and Daniel

I am excited to announce the release of the Photo Companion to Esther and the Photo Companion to Daniel. These books both lend themselves well to illustration, and yet acquiring relevant photographs is quite challenging for a number of reasons. Our team has been at work on these resources for more than a year, and we are very pleased with the results.

Highlights of Esther include:

  • The exact spots where Mordecai overheard the conspiracy, Ahasuerus sat on his throne, and Haman waited early in the morning

  • Contemporary Persian reliefs depicting Ahasuerus, his officials, and his soldiers

  • Plans and models of the city of Susa and its palace that bring the story to life

Highlights of Daniel include:

  • Inscriptions, reliefs, and artifacts that shed light on the ancient Babylonian and Persian empires which Daniel served

  • Ancient images of lions, beasts, and human statues that provide the context for Daniel's persecution and his visions

  • A march through Daniel 11, with images of nearly every king and queen prophesied by Daniel hundreds of years in advance

As always:

  • Satisfaction is guaranteed

  • Shipping in the US is free

  • Immediate download of everything you order

Here’s one early endorsement for Esther:

An amazing resource! The photographs and graphics included in this collection are not only beautiful, they’re also extremely helpful for visualizing the world of Esther and the events described in the book. The authors are to be commended for this remarkable volume.”

Anthony Tomasino, author of Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary: Esther and Evangelical Exegetical Commentary: Esther

You can download Daniel 3 and Esther 4 to see the detail and abundance of these collections.

Our introductory prices are the best, and today you can pick up Esther for $34, Daniel for $39, or the set for $59. We also offer a download-only version. We hope that these resources prove to be extremely valuable for studying and teaching these extraordinary books that testify to God’s sovereignty and care.

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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Weekend Roundup

A 3rd-century milestone found on the road leading from Sussita to Caesarea Philippi attests to the existence of Emperor Maximinus Thrax. (Haaretz premium)

Yosef Garfinkel is claiming that he discovered the fortifications that Rehoboam built at Lachish (Haaretz premium).

A few spaces remain for this summer’s excavations at Shiloh.

Aren Maeir posts some new aerial photos of Gath.

David Bivin has updated his article on the history and identification of Emmaus.

Carl Rasmussen visits Nabi Shu’ayb, the holiest Druze site in Israel.

The village of Aphrodito provides a glimpse at daily life in southern Egypt in the 6th century AD.

Zahi Hawass identifies three tunnels in the Sphinx.

A newly published inscription describes the Assyrian king “Sargon’s conquest, occupation, and reorganization of Karkemish, including his rebuilding the city with ritual ceremonies usually reserved for royal palaces in capital cities.”

An Italian team is planning to begin a partial restoration of Persepolis.

A team from Greece is photographing thousands of ancient manuscripts at St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai.

“More than 300 artifacts from Queen Nefertari’s tomb are part of the National Geographic Museum exhibit ‘Queens of Egypt,’ which is on view in Washington through September 15.”

Rock&Gem explains the Minerals and Metals of the Bible (Part 1, Part 2)

The May/June issue of Biblical Archaeology Review includes articles on the Huqoq Synagogue, dogs in the biblical world, and the Assyrians.

The Biblical Archaeology Society is having a DVD Blowout Sale, with prices marked down 60-75%.

George Giacumakis died earlier this month.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Chris McKinny, Steven Anderson

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Global Smyrna Meeting on the Seven Churches of Revelation

I just received notice of a conference to be held next summer in Turkey. The invitation is open to all, and it looks like an outstanding slate of speakers and an outstanding itinerary including on-site tours led by the archaeologists. Opportunities like this, especially geared toward non-scholars, are all too rare. I expect it will be an very beneficial conference.

Below I have copied the invitation from Levent Oral (President, Tutku) and Mark Wilson (President, Seven Churches Network). Few people know biblical Turkey as well as Mark Wilson, and probably no one runs better tours of Turkey than Levent Oral.


A unique Biblical event is coming to Turkey in June of 2020!  And we’d like you and your congregation to be a part of it. 

We invite you to the Global Smyrna Meeting on the Seven Churches of Revelation to be held in Izmir (ancient Smyrna) on June 21-27, 2020.

Not only will you visit each of the Seven Churches during the course of the Meeting, but you will also hear some of the world’s leading authorities discuss these churches from the perspective of history, religion, and archaeology. A time of worship will precede each of the inspiring evening sessions. So mark these dates on your calendar and make plans to experience the Seven Churches with us.


Dr. Mark Wilson Seven Churches Network & Asia Minor Research Center

Dr. Ben Witherington Asbury Theological Seminary

Dr. Mark Fairchild Huntington University.

Dr. Carl Rasmussen Bethel College

Dr. Jeff Weima Calvin Theological Seminary

Dr. Linford Stutzman  Eastern Mennonite University

Pastor Bernard Bell, Peninsula Bible College, Cupertino, CA

Bishop Daniel Balais,  Philippines

...and more

Churches invited from:

USA, Canada, England, France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Philippines, Russia, Ukraine, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and more.

To reserve a place, simply email Erin Dailey:

For further details, please visit:

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Review by Phillip J. Long of Photo Companion to Acts

Phillip J. Long, Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages at Grace Christian University, recently reviewed the Photo Companion to Acts on his blog, Reading Acts. His review is the lengthiest of this work to date and we are most grateful for drawing readers’ attention to the strengths and weaknesses of this resource.

He begins by commenting on his familiarity with our work:

I first became aware of Bolen’s Pictorial Library of Biblical Lands at an ETS [Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting] in 2003. I have used these photographs in virtually every class I teach in order to add some colorful graphics to an otherwise dull PowerPoint presentation.

Big smile here! We are thankful that our photos have been so useful.

My favorite part of the review follows next:

If you are teaching the Book of Acts, then the Photo Companion to the Bible is an essential collection of images to use to illustrate your lectures and sermons. If you are a student of the Bible, you can read the text of the Bible and page through the slides in order to place the text into a physical context.

He notes a number of strengths of the collection, including the aerial photographs, the explanatory notes, the references to journal articles, and the free updates. In particular, he highlights the copyright concerns in using photographs that are alleviated by this resource.

He also provides some critiques, including slides which do not seem on topic or which may be unnecessary. You can go to his full review for those and all of his other observations.

We are very grateful to Dr. Long for his careful and thoughtful review. We invite you to consider using the Photo Companion to Acts in your own study or teaching of this book.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Eggshells discovered in the City of David are the first evidence of chicken eggs used the diet of ancient Israelites.

A group of high schoolers discovered a rare gold coin from the time of Theodosius II (AD 420) on a class trip in Galilee.

A new archaeological visitor center has opened at Jokneam, at the base of Mount Carmel not far from Megiddo. The highlight is a 9th-century statue of the city’s ruler. There’s a slideshow on Facebook.

The partnership between Israel Finkelstein and Tel Aviv University physics professor Eli Piasetzky began when the latter was volunteering undercover at the Megiddo excavation.

The new Petra Museum has been inaugurated. It is located next to the main entrance to the site.

Flora Brooke Anthony provides examples of how Egyptians depicted in art their northern neighbors in the Levant.

Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities Newsletter for March 2019 is now online.

Adriano Orsingher explains the purpose of Phoenician and Punic masks.

Salvage excavations in Larnaca, Cyprus, revealed more than 110 tombs from the Early Bronze to the Late Roman periods.

Lightning recently struck the Acropolis in Greece, closing it temporarily.

Emory University is receiving the Senusret Collection, “one of the most extensive collections of ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern artwork to be donated to a US museum.”

“Life Lessons from Israel: Dan” is the latest video produced by Biblical Israel Ministries & Tours.
Israel’s Good Name recounts his visit to Herodium.

Now is the time to register for the 2019 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath.

“The arched stone-built hall in Jerusalem venerated by Christians as the site of Jesus' Last Supper has been digitally recreated by archaeologists using laser scanners and advanced photography.”

Carl Rasmussen’s posts this week focus on Jesus’s crucifixion, including (1) crucified man from Jerusalem; (2) bone box of Caiaphas; (3) Church of the Holy Sepulcher; and (4) the best rolling stone tomb in Israel.

Pilgrims in Jerusalem yesterday celebrated Good Friday and Passover.

Police arrested several people who were planning to smuggle two baby goats onto the Temple Mount for a sacrifice.

The Samaritans celebrated Passover on Thursday evening. See below for a few photos my son took at the event.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Steven Anderson, Chris McKinny

"He was led like a lamb to the slaughter..."

"And as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth..."

"He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken..."

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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Weekend Roundup

A large statue of Trajan has been discovered in Laodicea.

Archaeologists have excavated another thermopolium in Pompeii, bringing the number to about 80.

Steps believed to be from the palace of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem have been re-opened to visitors in Rome after 300 years.

The palace of Nero is now open to visitors and includes virtual reality features.

An ancient shipwreck off the Greek island of Alonissos is now being opened to recreational divers.

“Archaeologists have uncovered more than 100 ancient inscriptions [from the Middle Kingdom] carved into rock at Wadi el-Hudi, where the ancient Egyptians mined amethyst.”

The Temple Mount Sifting Project will re-start its sifting work on Jerusalem Day, June 2, but at a new location.

David Moster has released a new 5-minute video on butter churns from the ancient world.

Eisenbrauns has a 40-50% off sale through Sunday on some books related to ancient Israel.

New release: Excavations at Karkemish I. The Stratigraphic Sequence of Area G in the Inner Town, edited by F. Zaina. The print volume is available for purchase; the pdf is available for free (third item from the bottom).

Keith Taillon explains how Egyptian obelisks ended up in Paris, London, and New York City.

Luxor Times posts photos of the Grand Egyptian Museum, scheduled to open next year.

Brent Nongbri explains the archaeology of early Christian manuscripts.

The study of imagery from U2 spy planes is revealing numerous archaeological features.

Carl Rasmussen is giving a nicely illustrated tour of the Tomb of Annas, beginning with the exterior and continuing inside.

Ferrell’s favorite photo is one he took last week of a ewe and lamb grazing along the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis

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Saturday, April 06, 2019

Weekend Roundup

A 1st-century Jewish settlement is now being excavated near Beersheba, and one find is an early depiction of a nine-branched menorah.

Christopher Rollston offers some reflections on the Nathan-Melek seal impression, concluding that it is “most likely” that this is the same person mentioned in the Bible.

“Excavation work carried out in Ramses II’s temple in Abydos, Sohag, has uncovered a new temple palace belonging to the 19th Dynasty king.”

Hasmonean-era tombs near Jericho have been looted recently.

Conservation work was done on the Western Wall ahead of the Passover holiday.

“Ancient Color” is “a new exhibition at University of Michigan’s Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, dives deep into the material and application of pigment in ancient Rome, and in doing so highlights a colorful, international history.”

Opening today at the Peabody Museum: “Ancient Mesopotamia Speaks: Highlights from the Yale Babylonian Collection.”

With 40 inches of rainfall so far this year, the Sea of Galilee rose 6 inches last weekend.

Recent rains caused flash flooding near the tomb of Cyrus in Pasargadae.

David Moster explains “Telling Time in Ancient Israel” in a new 9-minute video.

Wayne Stiles has just announced a tour to sites in Turkey and Greece, including a 3-night cruise to the Greek isles.

Reported on April 1: the discovery of the world’s oldest break-up letter.

If you’ve been thinking about registering for the Institute of Biblical Context conference this June, note that the early bird discount ends on Wednesday.

This video shows footage of Jerusalem one month after the Six-Day War in 1967.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Alexander Schick

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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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