Weekend Roundup

Israel is moving forward on plans to extend the high-speed train line to a station near the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Restoration work has begun on the floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Two ritual baths south of Jerusalem are overflowing with water following the winter rains.

$1.3 million has been given to support marine archaeological research off Israel’s coast.

Volunteer applications are being accepted for excavations at Tell Keisan this coming September.

A BBC documentary describes the discovery of a hoard of silver decadrachm coins in Gaza, and what happened to them next.

Egypt has sentenced the brother of an ex-minister to 30 years in jail for smuggling antiquities.

Iran’s Basij Resistance Force is apparently threatening to destroy the historic tomb site of Esther and Mordecai, located in Hamedan.

Wayne Stiles was at Colossae last week and he reflects on the significance of the site and Paul’s letter to the church.

An archaeology park featuring a Roman theater is being developed in Ankara.

Debate continues over whether a skull unearthed 120 years ago near Pompeii belonged to Pliny the Elder.

Italian archaeologists have found underneath the Roman Forum an ancient shrine and sarcophagus that was likely dedicated to Romulus.

A conference on “Sheshonq (Shishak) in Palestine” will be held in Vienna on March 6-7.

Ferrell Jenkins answers questions about the six water jugs at the wedding of Cana.

Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee during Jesus’s ministry, is the subject of the latest archaeological biography by Bryan Windle.

To listen to the latest episodes on The Book and the Spade, see this page.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Explorator

Gezer Solomonic gate from northeast, mjb1902200736

This week on our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram streams we featured sites related to Israel’s kings, including this one of the gate at Gezer that was built by King Solomon’s administration.

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Canaanite Temple Discovered at Lachish

Archaeologists from Hebrew University excavating at Lachish have uncovered a temple from the Canaanite period. The full study is published in Levant, and the university has issued a press release, portions of which are excerpted here.

In a study published last month in Levant, [Yosef] Garfinkel and his co-authors revealed, for the first time ever, extensive ruins of a Canaanite temple dating to the 12th century BCE that they uncovered in National Park Tel Lachish, a large Bronze Age-era settlement near the present-day Israeli city of Kiryat Gat…

The layout of the temple is similar to other Canaanite temples in northern Israel, among them Nablus, Megiddo and Hazor.  The front of the compound is marked by two columns and two towers leading to a large hall.  The inner sanctum has four supporting columns and several unhewn “standing stones” that may have served as representations of temple gods.  The Lachish temple is more square in shape and has several side rooms, typical of later temples including Solomon’s Temple.

In addition to these archaeological ruins, the team unearthed a trove of artifacts including, bronze cauldrons, Hathor-inspired jewellery, daggers and axe-heads adorned with bird images, scarabs, and a gold-plated bottle inscribed with the name Ramses II, one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs.  Near the temple’s holy of holies, the team found two bronze figurines.  Unlike the winged cherubs in Solomon’s Temple, the Lachish figurines were armed “smiting gods”.

Of particular interest was a pottery sherd engraved with ancient Canaanite script.  There, the letter “samek” appears, marked by an elongated vertical line crossed by three perpendicular shorter lines.  This makes it the oldest known example of the letter and a unique specimen for the study of ancient alphabets.

The story is currently being reported by Jewish Press and Arutz-7, with more surely to follow.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Temple at Tel Lachish_Courtesy of the Fourth Expedition to LachishJPG

Temple at Tel Lachish, courtesy of the Fourth Expedition to Lachish

Plan of the North-East Temple_Credit J. Rosenberg.

Plan of the North-East Temple, by J. Rosenberg

Letter samek, 2nd row on right, inscribed on storage jar_Credit T. Rogovski

Letter samek, 2nd row on right, inscribed on storage jar; photo by T. Rogovski

Pottery uncovered in Temple_Credit C. Amit_IAA

Pottery uncovered in temple, photo by C. Amit, IAA

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Archaeology Conference in SoCal: The Time of Israel’s Kings

The Master’s University, where I teach, is hosting an archaeology conference on February 29, and you are invited. The schedule is as follows:

Afternoon Sessions
2:00 PM Dr. Chris McKinny | Archaeology of Ahab: The Strength of the Northern Kingdom
3:00 PM Dr. Seth Rodriquez | Archaeology of Hezekiah: Judah Struggles to Survive
4:00 PM Dr. Todd Bolen | Archaeology of Esther: God’s People in Exile
5:00 PM Hors d’oeuvres

General Sessions
6:30 PM Dr. Chris McKinny | Archaeology of David: Israel’s Rise to Prominence
7:30 PM Dr. Seth Rodriquez | Archaeology of Solomon: Israel’s Golden Era
8:30 PM Q&A
9-10 PM Cookies and Coffee in the University Exchange

The afternoon sessions require registration, and the modest fee of $25 includes an hors d’oeuvres dinner, a free gift from one of the speakers, and a chance to mingle with Drs. Rodriquez and McKinny. The evening sessions are free to all. (The non-chronological sequence of the lectures is intentional in order to present the most popular topics when the attendance is higher.)

Longtime readers of the blog are familiar with both Chris and Seth, as they have contributed here over the years. They live and teach in Texas and Colorado, respectively, and we are flying them in for the weekend. The other speaker is of little consequence, flown in from nowhere, and he has brazenly refused to follow the topic of Israel’s kings, even though he wrote his master’s thesis on the reign of Jeroboam II and his doctoral dissertation on the reign of Jehu. He supposed that people might find a study of the archaeology of Esther to be unique and fascinating.

As you can see from the banner below, this series is part of the university’s annual Creation Summit, though this year the organizers have opted to deviate from the origins theme in order to focus on biblical archaeology. So this is an exciting and unusual opportunity, and if you are able, I hope that you will join us.

Creation Summit banner

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Weekend Roundup

The stories this week are about as random as I can remember, making it challenging to figure out a logical sequence. We’ll start with Jerusalem, and we’ll end with a photo that was popular this week on our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram stream.

Journalists were given a tour of the newly reopened Roman square underneath the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem.

With the water level up nearly 6 feet in the last month, Israeli authorities may have to open the dam of the Sea of Galilee for the first time since 1992. (There’s a beautiful sunrise photo at the end of this article.)

Nof Ginnosar and the Sea of Galilee are the focus of the latest in the “Life Lessons from Israel” video series.

“Russian Archaeology in the Holy Land,” by Yana Tchekhanovets and Leonid Belyaev, is the lead article in the latest issue of ANE Today.

Biblical Byways is offering a low-budget study tour of Israel for Spanish speakers in September.

A replica of a 2,600-year-old Phoenician ship finished its five-month transatlantic voyage last week when it arrived in Miami.

Archaeologists have recovered 1,400 cuneiform tablets from the lost Sumerian city of Irisagrig, but they don’t know where that ancient city was located.

The traditional tomb of Ezekiel (in Iraq, not the one in Iran) is again becoming a place of pilgrimage.

Saudi Arabia plans to create the world’s largest living museum in Al Ula by 2035.

For more than a decade now, “Athens-based photographer and animator Dimitris Tsalkanis has cultivated a sort of unusual hobby: recreating ancient Athens via 3D modeling software.”

An archaeologist in Spain is on trial for forging a third-century depiction of Jesus’s crucifixion.

Salman Abu Sitta will be lecturing in London on February 28 on the subject of the “1871 Survey of Western Palestine Revisited: The Visible and The Hidden.”

New book: Roman-Period and Byzantine Nazareth and Its Hinterland, by Ken Dark

Cynthia Shafer-Elliott talks about her recent book Food in Ancient Judah on the OnScript podcast.

Ferrell Jenkins shares photos of the atad tree, the worthless bramble mentioned in Jotham’s parable in Judges 9.

The archaeological biography on King Ahaz features an altar, a seal, and a toilet.

The Global Smyrna Meeting on the Seven Churches of Revelation offers lectures and sites visits given a whole host of popular teachers, including Mark Wilson, Ben Witherington, Mark Fairchild, Carl Rasmussen, and Dana Harris.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

Wadi Lubban view northwest of Shiloh, db6604081205

This beautiful valley is located in the tribal inheritance of Ephraim, not far from Shiloh. Photo taken in 1966 by David Bivin.

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William Barrick’s Research Tour of Biblical Jordan

Dr. William Barrick, emeritus professor of The Master’s Seminary, recently participated in a research trip to Jordan, and he has written a series of posts describing their daily visits along with discussion of certain controversial issues. I thought my readers would enjoy this, and so I’ve written a roundup of sorts to provide easy access to the various posts and the sites they describe.

Dr. Barrick has an army of former students who are eager to read anything their esteemed professor writes. I am happy to be among that number. In a day in which scholarship has become highly specialized, Dr. Barrick follows the footsteps of William F. Albright or Cyrus Gordon in being a polymath. I commend his latest series to all interested in learning more about the biblical significance of the east side of the Jordan River.

Post 1 – the first stop of the trip is at Tall al-Hamman, a site best identified with Abel-Shittim, not Sodom. (“No one can believe consistently in biblical inerrancy and adopt the northern site as Sodom.”) The post also includes a photograph of Tell ‘Azeimeh, identified with biblical Beth-Jeshimoth.

Post 2 – few groups make the stop at Tell ed-Damiyeh, the site of biblical Adam. Dr. Barrick shares a dramatic photo of the site, with Alexandrium (Sartaba) looming in the background.

Post 3 – this post describes their visit to the Jabbok River and Tell edh-Dhahab, possibly biblical Peniel/Penuel. This area is particularly interesting because of Jacob’s nighttime wrestling match.

Post 4 – traveling to Jordan’s capital city of Amman, this post discusses biblical Rabbah Ammon. Dr. Barrick also highlights some significant inscriptions from the Acropolis Museum, including the Amman Citadel Inscription, the Tell Siran Bottle, and the Balaam Inscription.

Post 5 – on to Medeba, with its famous mosaic map. Then to Mount Nebo, where even after a rainfall, the view toward the Promised Land is still a bit hazy.

Post 6 – the next stop was at Peor, a summit where Balaam blessed Israel, to the horror of the Moabite king. Unfortunately the site has been heavily looted. He suggests four potential solutions to the location of Heshbon. His visit to Dibon prompts a discussion of the Mesha Stele and 2 Kings 3.

Post 7 – the trip continues to southern Jordan, with photos of many sites, including Aroer, the Arnon Gorge, the land of Edom, Sela, and Bozrah. The climb up Sela is given greater detail and more illustrations.

Post 8 – this post describes a full day at Petra and the Petra Museum, with biblical connections, recommended articles, and links to online videos.

Post 9 – this day’s focus was on the southern end of the Dead Sea, with particular interest in the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sites visited included Lot’s Cave (Deir Ain Abata) and Lot’s Cave Museum (aka the Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth).

Post 10 – more evidence is provided related to the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah, with the conclusion that these cities must be on the southern end of the Dead Sea. A visit to Numeira prompts the question of how the chronology of the site may fit the biblical date of the destruction of Gomorrah. Bab edh-Dhra has a massive cemetery and may be identified with Sodom.

Post 11 – the final post in this series features the Hill of Elijah, Bethany beyond the Jordan, Gerasa, and Ramoth-gilead (Tell er-Rumeith). The biblical significance of each site is explained, and photos abound.

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Weekend Roundup

Note: this blog moved to a new location a few days ago. The old address should forward to the new, but you can update your bookmark to https://www.bibleplaces.com/blog/. Email subscriptions should not be affected, but those using a feed reader will need to update to the new address.

Archaeologists have published a report that they have discovered a “massive Iron II temple complex” at Moza, in use from 900 to 600 BC.

An Egyptian anchor discovered off the coast near Haifa is now on display at the Israel Museum. The impressive artifact features hieroglyphics and images.

Excavations at Tel Tsaf in the Jordan Valley have uncovered homes and food silos made of mudbrick and preserved since the Neolithic period.

“Archaeologists on Thursday unveiled 16 ancient Egyptian tombs filled with sarcophagi and other artifacts from a vast burial ground” near Minya in central Egypt.

Israeli researchers have successfully grown six trees from seeds discovered at the sites of Masada, Qumran, and Wadi Makkuk. The seeds date to the 4th century BC to the 2nd century AD, and like their predecessor Methuselah, they have been given biblical names. Photos here.

Shlomit Bechar argues that the Hazor complexes with standing stones were part of a “ruin cult.”

A professor has found a technique to solve quadratic equations that the ancient Babylonians used.

Laerke Recht takes a look at human sacrifices in the ancient Near East.

War has devastated a museum in Maaret al-Numa, Syria known for its Roman and Byzantine-era mosaics.

A terrorist near St. Anne’s Church fired shots toward the Temple Mount, wounding a policeman.

USA Today is having a contest for the Best Religious Museum in the USA. Nominees include the Museum of the Bible, the Ark Encounter, and the Biblical History Center.

The latest video in the “Life Lessons from Israel” is a 6-minute devotional video on Megiddo.

Upcoming events at the Albright Institute include a lecture by Israel Finkelstein on the excavations at Kiriath Jearim.

After renovations to steps and railings, the Ramparts Walk from the Damascus Gate to the Lions Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem has re-opened.

Agrippa II is the subject of Bryan Windle’s latest archaeological biography.

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

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Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists believe that a well-preserved complex at Horvat Tevet, near Afula in the Jezreel Valley, served as a royal estate for Israel’s kings.

Archaeologists working at Tell Damiyah (biblical Adam) are uncovering a religious complex that dates to 700 BC.

Ann Killebrew shares about her experience and discoveries made in the last decade of excavating Tel Akko.

16 tombs from the 26th dynasty have been found at Al-Ghoreifa in Egypt.

New research of the mummified remains of Takabuti, held at the Ulster Museum, reveals the Egyptian had genetic roots to Europe and was likely stabbed to death.

Ueli Bellward explains the complex water collection system of Petra, including how its flash flood system enabled the city to survive.

Archaeologists are concerned about the increasing popularity of Gobekli Tepe.

A story in Discover magazine explains how archaeologists know where to dig.

Archaeologists believe that they have found a second example of crucifixion, discovered near Venice.

The AP has a number of photos of a massive locust invasion in eastern Africa.

Caesarea’s ancient theater stage is undergoing a major renovation.

John DeLancey has just wrapped up another tour of Israel, blogging about each day.

Holly Beers is on The Book and the Spade discussing her new book, A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman Woman.

Bryan Windle identifies the top three reports in biblical archaeology in the month of January.

BiblePlaces.com celebrated its 20th anniversary this week, and we are thankful for many encouraging words, including reflections from Mark Hoffman, Ferrell Jenkins, Leon Mauldin, and Charles Savelle.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Cam von Wahlde, Joseph Lauer

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Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists working in Kurdistan have exposed ten new rock inscriptions from the reign of Sargon II. There are some excellent photos here.

A 7th-grader walking near Caesarea after heavy rains discovered a Byzantine inscription.

Archaeologists are studying a cave in southern Sinai with colorful inscriptions from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods.

Scott Stripling believes that the archaeological material discovered in recent excavations at Shiloh supports the existence of the tabernacle at the site. This includes altar horns, bones of sacrificed animals, pomegranate figurines, storage rooms, and a permanent cultic platform.

Researchers used an algorithm to determine that 31 of the Samaria Ostraca were written by two people. These date from early in the reign of Jeroboam II. The journal article is available here.

A new study challenges the theory that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius vaporized the blood and brains of the inhabitants of Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Recent investigation indicates that olive horticulture in the southern Levant began in approximately 2500 BC.

A new study suggests that the rise and fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire correlates with heavy rainfall followed by a megadrought.

Aaron Koller explains various theories concerning the origin and earliest use of the alphabet.

Leon Mauldin looks at references to Hadad and Ben-Hadad in the Bible, and he shares a photo from the Jordan Museum.

Bryan Windle does another great job with his archaeological biography of Shishak.

The National Archaeology Museum in Athens is slated to undergo a major renovation.

A new exhibit at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem focuses on the kingdoms of South Arabia, including Sheba, Qataban, Hadhramaut, and Ma’in.”

The “Faces of Jesus” exhibit at Columbia Bible College will be closing soon.

A workshop will be held at the Albright on January 30, 4-6 pm: “Biblical Imagery in the Late Antique Synagogues of the Galilee.”

Christopher Siwicki writes about Nero’s Golden Palace, recently opened to the public.

An Italian diplomat has been convicted in absentia for smuggling Egyptian antiquities.

High-quality archaeological reproductions will now be sold in Egyptian airports.

An ancient Roman cookbook provides insights into the diet of those living in the first centuries after Christ.

New: Digging Up Jericho: Past, Present and Future, edited by Rachael Thyrza Sparks, Bill Finlayson, Bart Wagemakers, and Josef Mario Briffa.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Explorator, Chris McKinny, Alexander Schick

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Weekend Roundup

Israel has announced the creation of seven new nature reserves in the West Bank: Ariel Cave, Wadi Og, Wadi Malha, the Southern Jordan River, Bitronot Creek, Nahal Tirza, and Rotem-Maskiot.

The Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome is set to reopen this spring after being closed for 80 years.

The Grand Egyptian Museum, set to partially open in the coming months, expects more than 5 million visitors annually.

Passages, a Christian version of Birthright Israel, is on track to bring 10,000 students to Israel by the end of this year.

Carl Rasmussen shares his experience in using Global Entry for international travel.

A DNA analysis of the York Gospels was done using DNA extracted by using erasers.

Emily Master of The Friends of Israel Antiquities Authority is the featured guest on The Book and the Spade.

Available for pre-order: The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel: Exodus. There are early reviews here and here.

King David is the subject of Bryan Windle’s latest archaeological biography.

Shmuel Browns shares his favorite photos of the year and gives his readers a chance to vote on their favorite.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Mark Hoffman, Explorator

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Weekend Roundup

A stone measuring table and several dozen stone weights were discovered in a plaza along the first-century AD street from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount. Archaeologists believe that the area it was found served as the Jerusalem’s central market. The Times of Israel article includes a video and many photos.

It’s not quite a copy of the Tel Dan Inscription, but a pottery restorer discovered a faint ink inscription of a single Hebrew word on a storejar excavated at Abel Beth Maacah (Haaretz premium).

“Egypt’s recent decision to transport ancient Pharaonic artifacts to a traffic circle in the congested heart of Cairo has fueled fresh controversy over the government’s handling of its archaeological heritage.”

Rainfall this week led to flooding in the Judean wilderness. The video at the bottom of this page shows waterfalls in Nahal Qumran. Aren Maeir shares videos and photos of a river running through the Elah Valley.

The Biblical Archaeology Society is offering dig scholarships for excavations this coming year.

The most recent maps posted on the Bible Mapper Blog are of Southern Greece, the Judean Wilderness, and Philistia.

The photographs of Nancy Lapp, taken during excavations around the Middle East from the 1950s to the 1990s are the subject of an interesting photo essay by Rachael McGlensey. More than 2,000 images from Jordan have been digitized in the Paul and Nancy Lapp Collection at ACOR.

Bob Rognlien’s new book is out: Recovering the Way. The book trailer will introduce you to it. Here’s my endorsement:

Recovering the Way is an enjoyable and fascinating read, combining historical insights from the time of Jesus with practical encouragement for our lives today. All that Bob has learned and experienced in three decades of leading pilgrims through the land of Israel provide the reader with a rich treasure of biblical instruction, wise application, and captivating stories. All of this benefits from dozens of beautiful illustrations which help the reader to see the world where Jesus ministered.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis

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