The ground-breaking work of the Palestine Exploration Fund in the 1800s continues to be a most useful source of information to scholars today.  I mentioned recently the online availability of many of the volumes of the Survey of Western Palestine, and a few years ago I created an electronic version of the Survey of Western Palestine Maps.  But the Palestine Exploration Fund archives contain much that has never been published, and yesterday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the offices in London.  From the Jerusalem Post:

Netanyahu, who mentioned the visit during his press conference with Brown, waxed poetic about it at a briefing with Israeli reporters, enthusing over the organization’s collection of maps, pictures and documents of Palestine dating back to the mid-19th century. "This is a treasure, it is something you all must see," he told reporters, as he kept returning to the subject and talking about the archival information there, and about the knowledge of the geography and topography of pre-state Israel housed in that building. The PEF was founded in 1865 and is the oldest organization in the world created specifically for the study of the Levant, the southern portion of which – as the organization’s literature makes clear – was conventionally known as "Palestine." The organization publishes an internationally respected journal, the Palestine Exploration Quarterly, and brings the latest archaeological findings and research to the public in a series of regular lectures. The PEF archives houses some 40,000 photographs of Palestine, Jordan and Syria dating as far back as 1850, and also includes archaeological artifacts, natural history specimens, maps, manuscripts and paintings.

The full article is here, and the website of the Palestine Exploration Fund is here.


From Arutz-7:

Excavations in Tel Dor have turned up a rare and unexpected work of Hellenistic art: a precious stone bearing the miniature carved likeness of Alexander the Great. Archaeologists are calling it an important find, indicating the great skill of the artist.
The Tel Dor dig, under the guidance and direction of Dr. Ayelet Gilboa of Haifa University and Dr. Ilan Sharon of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, has just ended its summer excavation season. For more than 30 years, scientists have been excavating in Tel Dor, identified as the site of the Biblical town of Dor. The town’s location, on Israel’s Mediterranean Sea coast some 30 kilometers south of Haifa, made it an important international port in ancient times.
“Despite the tiny proportions – the length of the gemstone (gemma) is less than a centimeter and its width less than half a centimeter – the artist was able to carve the image of Alexander of Macedon with all of his features,” Dr. Gilboa said. “The king appears as young and energetic, with a sharp chin and straight nose, and with long, curly hair held in a crown.”

The full article is here and includes a small photo.

UPDATE: Joe Lauer sends along direct links to two beautiful photos:

  • Tel Dor, aerial view at the end of the 2009 excavation season
  • The gem of Alexander the Great, photographed using binocolor