Construction in Nazareth required a salvage excavation, and the presence of graves required quick action in order to minimize protests of ultra-orthodox.  From the Jerusalem Post:

In one day of intense work, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) completed on Sunday the excavation of ancient burial caves, uncovered at a construction site on Paulus Road in the center of Nazareth.
Groups of haredim, who arrived at the site in the early morning hours, protested what they considered disrespect to  the dead. Police detained 49 of them for disturbing the peace and trespassing on the private property of the entrepreneur who is erecting a commercial center there.
A variety of bronze tools and bones, some of them human, were found in a series of caves from two periods in the Middle Bronze Age (2,200 BCE and 2,000 BCE), and in a series of caves from the Iron Age (1,000 BCE).

The story continues here.  For some reason, the photo posted is the same as that from yesterday’s story of the Tel Kasis excavation.  My guess is that the photo belongs here and not to the Kasis story.

I do not recall any previous evidence for Iron Age settlement in Nazareth.  The city is first mentioned in the New Testament, and even then ignored by all other contemporary sources.


The beehives discovered several years ago at Tel Rehov are the subject of a careful collaborative study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.   The LA Times has a popular report of the article:

Israel is referred to repeatedly in the Bible — 17 times, in fact — as the “land of milk and honey,” but until three years ago, archaeologists had discovered little firm evidence that beekeeping was ever practiced there. Many scholars, in fact, assumed “honey” referred to a nectar from dates or other fruits.
Then, three years ago, researchers found a 3,000-year-old apiary in the Iron Age city of Tel Rehov in the Jordan Valley, the oldest known commercial beekeeping facility in the world, suggesting that the word “honey” likely referred to the real thing. Now the same researchers have gotten an even bigger surprise: The bees that were kept in the hives were most likely from Turkey, hundreds of miles away.
“This is a very special discovery … because there is no evidence from before for bringing any kind of animals from such a distance, especially bees, which represent a quite complicated, sophisticated type of agriculture,” said archaeologist Amihai Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, lead author of a report published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “This throws new light on the economy of the biblical period.”
The findings “would imply an incredible amount of commodity trading of bees,” said bee expert Gene Kritsky of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, editor of American Entomologist. The importation of Italian bees to the United States in the 1860s “was thought to be a big deal then,” he said, “but the Israelis may have been doing this as far back as the first millennium BC.”

The article continues here.  The story is also reported in the New Scientist (3 photos) and Wired (4 photos). 

The original discovery was reported by Haaretz, Arutz-7, and the Jerusalem Post.

HT: Creation Safaris and Joe Lauer


From the Jerusalem Post:

A major 3,500 year old archaeological find was made at Tel Kasis dig near the Tishbi Junction in the North, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Monday.
The site was found to include over 100 undamaged religious utensils, including tableware such as cups and plates, vessels for storing oils and statuettes some of which were imported from Mykonos in Greece.

The brief story continues here.  A photo from the lab is posted here.  Tel Kasis is located 1.5 miles (2.4 km) due north of Tel Jokneam, astride the “Kishon Pass” between Mount Carmel and the Shephelah of Galilee.

Kishon Pass and Mount Carmel from Tell Jokneam, tbs104069900 View north from Jokneam towards Haifa

The Israel Antiquities Authority has issued a press release with more detail and half a dozen photographs showing some of the outstanding finds.

In the past the ancients would descend into the rock-hollow by way of two broad, hewn steps. Inside the cavity whole vessels were found piled one atop the other and other vessels were broken by those that had been placed upon them. Among the finds that were recovered: a cultic vessel that was used for burning incense, a sculpted face of a woman that was part of a cultic cup used in dedicating a libation to a god, goblets and bowls with high bases and tableware that was intended for eating and drinking. Other vessels that were found had been brought from Mycenae in Greece, including a storage vessel for precious oils – evidence of the ancient trade relations that existed with Greece.
According to archaeologists Uzi Ad and Dr. Edwin van den Brink, the excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, this is an extremely rare discovery. Until now no such pits as these have been found from 3,500 years ago. It is also extraordinary to find scores of vessels that are in such a good state of preservation. In most excavations fragments of pottery vessels are found, whereas here the vessels were removed from the rock-hollow intact. Each object was removed with the greatest of care, was drawn and documented and revealed beneath it a wealth of other finds. The vessels are numbered and their precise location in the heap is recorded for future research. According to the archaeologists, it is obvious that considerable time and thought were invested in the placement of the vessels in the rock-hollow, as evidence by the different kinds of vessels that were buried separately.

The complete press release and photos are here.  Anson Rainey identifies the site (also spelled Tell el-Qassis) with Helkath (Josh 19:25; 21:31), a Levitical city on the southern tip of the tribal territory of Asher (The Sacred Bridge, 183).

UPDATE (6/9): Discovery News has posted an audio slide show, featuring an explanation by one of the excavators and some outstanding photographs.  HT: Joe Lauer