This discovery announced by the University of Haifa today could be very interesting.  There’s not enough information here for me to be bold enough to offer my thoughts, but I look forward to learning more about it. 

The article is entitled “Exceptional Archaeological ‘Foot’ Discovery in Jordan Valley”, and a summary is given:

Researchers at the University of Haifa reveal an exceptional archaeological discovery in the Jordan valley: Enormous “foot-shaped” enclosures identified with the biblical “gilgal” stone structures. “The ‘foot’ structures that we found in the Jordan valley are the first sites that the People of Israel built upon entering Canaan and they testify to the biblical concept of ownership of the land with the foot.”

You can click on over to read the entire article and view the two photographs (large size: 1, 2). 

Among the things I would like to know more about are the locations of the five structures, including how many are in the Jordan Valley.  The skeptic in me wonders how much imagination is required to see a “foot” in each one.  Regardless of the shape, they could be quite helpful in our understanding of ancient Israel.

HT: Joe Lauer

UPDATE: A.D. Riddle sends along the coordinates for a couple of sites that may be among the five. 

You can download them in Google Earth format here.  Both are on the south side of the Wadi Farah (aka Faria), about 3 miles (5 km) north of Alexandrium/Sartaba.

UPDATE (4/9): Joe Lauer sends along notice of a couple of articles on the discovery: Haaretz and Science Daily.


Restoration work is beginning at the Western Wall, and the Israel Antiquities Authority has more information in a press release.  More information about the project is available in two Word documents (zip) and 34 high-res photos are available here (zip).  The photos are identified as follows:

1-8 Western Wall Compound and the Western Wall
9-29 Conserve the Stones in the Western Wall
31 Western Wall Tunnels – Hasmonean aqueduct
32 Western Wall Tunnels – The Model Hall
34 Western Wall Compound Excavations

Most of the photos show general views of the Wall or of the current restoration, but a few are unique angles that you won’t see anywhere else (such as from the top looking down).  A couple of them may make you want to keep your distance from the Wall until the restoration is complete.

From the press release:

The Inauguration of the National Project to Conserve the Stones in the Western Wall and the Establishment of the Israel Antiquities Authority Conservation Department (Minhal Shimur) (April 5, 2009) 
The Western Wall and the monuments around it are among the most important cultural heritage sites in the world. Every year millions of people come to Jerusalem to see them. In order to ensure a safe and comfortable experience, the site should be constantly maintained and new services developed for the benefit of the visitors.
A year ago the Western Wall Heritage Foundation conducted a survey of the state of the wall, which revealed that the physical condition of the stones was deteriorating. It was against this background that the Israel Antiquities Authority decided to take urgent action: the Israel Antiquities Authority Conservation Department conducted an extensive physical and engineering survey of the Western Wall’s condition which culminated in the submission of a work plan. Conservation measures are currently being carried out there.
The work is focusing on the conservation treatment of the stones in the Western Wall and their stability, in accordance with their degree of preservation and the level of risk they present to the visiting public.
The project to conserve the stones in the Western Wall in particular, and the conservation and development of the Western Wall compound in general, is one of the most complex projects of its kind ever undertaken in Israel. The Western Wall compound project is an example of the enormous task that confronts us in conserving and presenting Israel’s cultural heritage. Such a cultural heritage site that is important on both a local and international level which involves large number of visitors, the need for constant maintenance, and the conservation of the Western Wall’s original appearance for us and for posterity, is first and foremost a challenge. This undertaking requires knowledge and professionalism in a wide range of fields.

The article continues here.  For more information and photos about the Western Wall, see this BiblePlaces page, or take a look at how the wall looked in the 1800s and the 1960s.

HT: Joe Lauer


I mentioned this conference before, but now I have received a detailed schedule.  The conference is hosted by Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, and the cost is a very reasonable $50 for professionals (non-students), $25 for spouses of registered guests, and $25 for students, and that includes snacks and a banquet meal.  A DVD of the conference is available for $39.95 (with free shipping).  For more information, see the MABTS website.  The line-up represents many of the most important scholars on the Dead Sea Scrolls today.

Thursday April 23, 2009

2:00-2:10 p.m. – Prayer, Welcome, and Instructions

2:10-2:15 p.m. – A Review of the Speakers

2:15-2:45 p.m. Steven L. Cox, Ph.D. Professor of Greek and New Testament, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, Cordova, TN. 

“Qumran and its Inhabitants: 170 B.C. – A.D. 70”

2:50-3:30 p.m. Peter Flint, Canada Research Chair of the Dead Sea Scrolls; Director, Dead Sea Scrolls Institute; Professor of Religious Studies, Trinity Western University

“The Three Favorite Books at Qumran. The Accuracy of our Biblical Text and Readings from the Scrolls Adopted by Various English Bible Translations”

3:30-4:00 p.m. Refreshment Break

4:00-4:40 p.m. James VanderKam, Ph.D. John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN

“Eschatology in the Dead Sea Scrolls”

4:40-5:20 p.m. R. Kirk Kilpatrick, Ph.D. Dean of the Masters and Associates Programs, Professor, Department of Old Testament and Hebrew, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, Cordova, TN

“The Messiah and the Dead Sea Scrolls”

5:30-6:45 p.m. Banquet Dinner The Betty Howard Room

7:00-7:45 p.m. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Ph.D. Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University, New York

“Purity as Separation: Comparing Rabbinic Literature and the New Testament”

7:50-8:30 p.m. Emanuel Tov, Ph.D. Department of Bible, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

“The Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls”

8:35-8:55 p.m. A Panel Discussion with Speakers on Select Topics

Friday, April 24, 2009

8:30-9:10 a.m. Michael R. Spradlin, Ph.D. President, Chairman of the Faculty; Chairman and Professor, Department of Evangelism; Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Practical Theology, and Church History, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, Cordova, TN

“The Isaiah Scroll of Qumran: Current Analysis, Opinion, and Implications”

9:15-9:55 a.m. Steven M. Ortiz, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Archaeology and Biblical Backgrounds, Director of the Charles C. Tandy Archaeology Museum, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas

“Myth, Media Hype, and Multivocality: Storytelling and Qumran Archaeology”

10:00-10:40 a.m. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Ph.D. Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University, New York

“Israel, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Jewish History”

10:40-11:15 a.m. Refreshment Break

11:15-11:55 a.m. James VanderKam, Ph.D. John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN

“High Priests in the Dead Sea Scrolls”

12:00-12:40 p.m. Emanuel Tov, Department of Bible, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

“The Scribes of Qumran”