The slow pace of recent blogging here is going to be reduced further in the next few weeks.  This morning I finished a project I’ve been working on for years, and that puts me in a good position ahead of summer travels.  I’ll have more later on the project (whose intended audience is you if you read this blog), but for now I’ll suggest some excavation blogs that might be of interest this summer. 

If something exciting comes up, I may miss it but you won’t.

At the top of the list is the Tell es-Safi/Gath weblog.  Aren Maeir is not only running the show, but he posts very regularly on the latest discoveries and progress at the dig.  For instance, his entry today is entitled “Update for 16/7/09 – another temple????” and he writes:

Cynthia’s team is also on top of the 9th cent. destruction level, but more importantly, they appear to have began to uncover a large building that is situated just below the 9th cent. building in which we found the interesting collection of cultic items two years ago. This building has so far revealed to very large pillar bases and some very nice brick work. Although it is a bit early to say, this might very well be a large public building, and perhaps, who knows, a temple. Time will tell….

Elsewhere, you can read daily updates excavations along the coast of Israel (somebody got smart and figured that you’re going to recruit more volunteers if you’re near the beach!): in the south, the Ashkelon excavations and in the north, the Tel Kabri dig.

A couple of volunteers at the Gezer excavation discuss their travels more than the excavation, especially since they’ve been sworn to secrecy.  Apparently a four-room house was among the discoveries.

A personal account of excavation at Tall Dhiban is coming to a close.

Blogs that may be resurrected in the future include the Elah Fortress (Khirbet Qeiyafa/Shaaraim) blog and the Tel Dan blog.

If I missed an interesting one, let us know in the comments.


The Jerusalem Post has an article which summarizes the conclusions of a new work by Hebrew University Professor Moshe Sharon.  The article’s final section is the most interesting.

In the final section of his work Sharon builds on the research of Tuvia Sagiv, attempting to prove that the foundations and design of Al-Aksa replicated the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which the Roman Emperor Hadrian had built on the Temple Mount.
Noting that all Roman Temples of Jupiter had an almost identical design, Sharon compares the schematic of the ruins of a Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek to that of the Al-Aksa complex.
“Jupiter’s Temple in Baalbek had exactly the three features which we find in the Al-Aksa complex: the polygon building in the front where the worshipers assembled, the open space where the god’s statue stood and the rectangular main temple. The same symmetrical line which goes through the three components of Jupiter’s Temple also goes through the Al-Aksa complex, and both plans fit each other perfectly,” writes Sharon.
Sharon and Sagiv’s theory is potentially incendiary because it suggests the Al-Aksa complex was built on pre-existing foundations and was not designed according to Muhammad’s famous Night Journey to Jerusalem.
Sharon’s research, which questions the Islamic justification for the Dome’s existence and describes similar patterns in Jewish and Muslim worship, has inflamed some figures in Israel’s Islamic community.
“We Muslims believe that Jews have no right to a single inch in front of the Al-Aksa Mosque, the whole complex – everything within the walls of the holy site. Jews have no right to worship there – under the ground, above the ground or in between the skies,” said MK Sheik Ibrahim Sarsur, who heads the Islamic Movement in Israel.

The entire article is here.

HT: Joe Lauer