Weekend Roundup

In the 1920s, archaeologists had the chance to study remains underneath Al Aqsa Mosque. The findings of a Jewish mikveh, Byzantine mosaic, and other pre-Islamic items were not made public until recently. Nadav Shragai describes their importance and connects them with the discoveries made in the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

Shragai mentions in that same article that rebar and other construction material is now laying on the Foundation Stone, the holy rock inside the Dome of the Rock. Leen Ritmeyer has photos.

“The Palestine Archaeological Databank and Information System is now accessible openly without registration.”

The Tel Burna team has aerial photos showing the great progress they have made.

“The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on Friday became the first World Heritage Site to be listed under the name of Palestine.” (JPost)

Four caves in Mount Carmel with early evidence of human occupation were also designated as a World Heritage site.

The ESV Concise Bible Atlas is now available. The 64-page paperback sells for $10, and both size and price may be attractive to the weak and the poor. (See here for my comments on its big brother.)

John Monson is interviewed this week on the Book and the Spade, with attention given to his upcoming participation in the Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation and the shrines discovered there.

The widening of Highway 1 will slow down traffic from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for many years.

Matti Friedman retells the story of the discovery of the Cave of the Treasure, a cache of more than 400 copper objects more than 5,000 years old.

“An ancient Phoenician port in Beirut dating back to at least
500 B.C. was destroyed Tuesday,” said archaeologists. There’s no port there, according to the
Archaeological Assessment Report.

The Day of Archaeology 2012 was yesterday, but posts will continue to be added for another week.

HT: Charles E. Jones, Jack Sasson

Fortifications, silos, and architecture from the 9th-8th centuries at Tel Burna

New Exhibit: Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible

On Monday, the “Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible” exhibit opens at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. I confess having a jaundiced view towards such American exhibits because they typically charge a high price for a glimpse at a handful of scraps of ancient writing. This display appears to be different, offering a wealth of materials as well as 22 manuscript fragments. This week’s article in the Baptist Press convinced me to plan to spend a day at the exhibit. Some excerpts:

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary hopes to … give more people than ever a chance to see manuscripts that reveal the faithful transmission of the biblical texts over thousands of years through its Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition, which will run from July 2012 to January 2013….
Weston Fields, guest curator for the Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition and executive director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, said that while the ancient scroll fragments do not “prove” the Bible is true, they prove, more or less, that the Bible Christians use today, including 66 books from Genesis to Revelation, is the Bible God intended Christians to have, even thousands of years after He first inspired its writing….
Owning more Dead Sea Scroll fragments than any institution of higher education in North America, Southwestern plans to showcase seven of its fragments together with others on loan from the Kando family of Bethlehem, Hebrew University, and the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, for a total of 22 manuscript fragments in the exhibit.
The exhibit also will contain archaeological artifacts, early copies of Scripture, and equipment used in excavations, including the Jeselsohn Dead Sea Stone, or “Gabriel’s Vision”; the first published Greek New Testament; a page of the Gutenberg Bible; the Luther Bible; New Testament papyri; and tools from the excavation of Qumran, as well as a nearly 16-foot-long display of a portion of the St. John’s Bible.
McCoy said the exhibition will offer a child-friendly component as well, where young visitors can experience the archaeological aspects of the Dead Sea Scrolls and learn about them alongside their parents, both through kiosks placed throughout the exhibit and through a simulated dig site located outside the exhibit hall.
At the dig site, visitors will have the chance to excavate and dig for ancient artifacts. A child may then take home a shard discovered in his digging.

And a bullet list, for those who prefer the short version:

In The Exhibit:
— Murals of Dead Sea region
— Artifacts such as coins, pottery and sandals
— Replica Wailing Wall
— Authentic Bedouin tent
— Tent from Qumran dig site
— Scroll stylus and ink well
— Replica of Cave 4
— Dead Sea Scroll fragments and other manuscripts
— Dead Sea Scrolls film
— iScroll kiosks
— Portion of St. John’s Bible
— Early Bibles and texts
— Gift shop
— Interactive dig site

The story includes two free high-resolution photos. The official website is here. A few weeks ago I noted the excellent lecture series. In 2010 Southwestern purchased some of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments that will be on display.

Qumran Cave 4 from 4b, tb051106117
Cave 4 at Qumran (from the other side)
-buy this photo and 1,547 others for $40-

Leeches Invade Sea of Galilee

From Haaretz:

Leeches have invaded Lake Kinneret’s [the Sea of Galilee’s] shores – for the second time in seven years.
Standing in the water for as little as two minutes will cause your legs to be covered in hundreds of leeches. These particular types are not blood-suckers, making them relatively easy to remove once one is out of the water.
They are found on the lakebed, at depths of 0.5 to one meter, at two spots over the last few days: near the Sapir visitors center and along the western coastline. They live off snails and other invertebrates.
The leeches first overran the shores of the lake seven years ago.
Four types of leeches are known to live in the Kinneret, but they are usually present only in small numbers. This year, however, huge quantities have been detected.

The rest of the story suggests some explanations, including human activity and the rapidly changing water level.

Clouds over Sea of Galilee, tb102904607

Wednesday Roundup

Subway construction has revealed two ancient roads from ancient Thessalonica.

Iraq will not cooperate with the US on archaeological exploration because Washington has not returned the Jewish archives.

A lecture by Tom Levy at TEDx on his excavations at Khirbet en-Nahas is now online.

Eleven sections of the Israel Trail are briefly described in this article at JPost.

The bronze statue of a she-wolf feeding the founders of Rome is actually 1500 years younger than previously thought.

HT: Al Sandalow

Capitoline she-wolf suckling Remus and Romulus, tb112102016
She-wolf suckling Remus and Romulus

Lecture Schedule for Azekah Expedition

The first season of excavations at Tel Azekah in more than 100 years begins in a few weeks and the directors have announced an impressive schedule of guest lectures:

The Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition and its Directors—Prof. Oded Lipschits, Prof. Manfred Oeming and Dr. Yuval Gadot—are proud to present the program of the guest academic lectures for the coming excavation season, starting July 15th. The lectures will be held at 6:00 p.m. in the academic hall of the Nes-Harim Guesthouse. Scholars and students are warmly invited.

Monday, July 16th, Prof. Aren Maeir (Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan) The Excavations of Philistine Gath

Wednesday, July 18th, Prof. Shlomo Bunomovitz (Tel Aviv University) The Excavations of Beth-Shemesh

Monday, July 23rd, Prof. Yosef Garfinkel (The Hebrew University, Jerusalem) The Excavations of Kh. Qeiyafa

Wednesday, July 25th, Mr. Ido Koch (Tel Aviv University) The Judean Lowland under Judahite Hegemony: The Great Eighth Century BCE

Monday, July 30th, Dr. Izhak Shai (Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan) The Excavations of Tel Burna

Wednesday, August 1st, Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef (Tel Aviv University) Iron Age Copper Production of the Southern Levant

Monday, August 6th, Dr. Yuval Shahar (Tel Aviv University) Late Hellenistic and Early Roman Period Hideout Systems in the Judean Lowland

Wednesday, August 8th, Ms. Shirley Ben-Dor Evian (Tel Aviv University) Egypt, Philistia and the Judean Lowland during the First Millennium BCE

Monday, August 13th, Dr. Ran Barkay (Tel Aviv University) The Pre-History of the Judean Lowland

Wednesday, August 15th, Prof. Bernard Levinson (University of Minnesota, USA) The Neo-Assyrian Influence upon Deuteronomy

Monday, August 20th, Prof. Manfred Oeming (Heidelberg University, Germany) David against Goliath (1 Sam 17) – an Old Fight in Modern Research

Wednesday, August 22nd, Prof. Konrad Schmitt (Zurich University) [TBA]

See the Azekah website for more information.

HT: Jack Sasson

Shephelah view southwest from Jarmuth panorama, tb030407652
Shephelah of Judah from Jarmuth (Yarmut)
Azekah is visible on horizon on right side
(photo source)

Construction Begins on Israel National Archaeology Library

Construction began yesterday on a new headquarters for the Israel Antiquities Authority. From the Jerusalem Post:

After decades in the cramped but historic Rockefeller Museum in east Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority on Sunday started construction on the National Archeology Quarter next to the Israel Museum in the capital’s west.
The new 35,000-square meter building will hold the headquarters of the IAA as well as the Israel National Archeology Library, which will be one of the largest archeology libraries in the Middle East.
The building was designed by Moshe Safdie and will also include an archeological garden, classrooms, a coffee shop and laboratory and exhibition space for the Dead Sea Scroll fragments. The IAA owns some 15,000 fragments in addition to the well-known full scrolls owned by the Israel Museum.
Additionally, the museum will feature exhibitions about how archeologists conduct research and digs, and items from some of the 20,000 archeological sites around the country.
Digging the foundation for the new building took almost a year. After publicizing the tender for a contractor a few months ago, work began on the building itself on Sunday.

The story continues here. For more about the project, see the official website.


Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel

Weekend Roundup

We begin with reports from the field. Tel Burna has posted photos of their finds from Week 2. The Jezreel Expedition has completed its first season. Omrit wrapped up its season with the possible discovery of a bath complex. Work and discoveries continue at Ashkelon. Reports and photos from the first couple weeks at Bethsaida are posted. The team at Bethsaida is hoping to reveal a 10th-century gate this season and they have posted reports from Week 1 and Week 2. Excavations are scheduled to begin tomorrow at Tiberias, Khirbet Qeiyafa, Tel Hazor, Kfar HaHoresh, Tel ‘Eton, and Tel Bet Yerah.

The New York Times has a travel piece on the four-day hike through Galilee on the Jesus Trail.

The pilot study for the Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project has concluded and results have been announced.

Aren Maeir has posted three short videos on: (1) food in Philistine and Israelite society; (2) Philistine religion; (3) work in the archaeological lab.

National Geographic has photos of gold treasures recently found in Israel.

Claude Mariottini notes the publication of The Iron Age I Structure on Mt. Ebal, by Ralph K.
Hawkins. Had another publisher released this work, it would have been certainly included “Joshua’s altar” in the title.

A study by Norwegian archaeologists has revealed how the great city of Palmyra could exist in the middle of the Syrian desert.

Wayne Stiles describes each of the 8 gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, providing a photo with each one as well as video footage of General Allenby entering Jaffa Gate.

Google is sponsoring a project to read some unrollable Dead Sea Scrolls. A video shows how the technology works.

The Times of Israel has more information on the tomb robbers caught in the act of plundering an antiquities site near Modiin.

HT: David Coppedge, Joseph Lauer


Two Winners of Israel Collection

Congratulations to Mark M. and Jason A., winners of the Israel Collection of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. Thanks to all who entered.

We plan to have giveaways of other resources in the weeks to come and you’re invited to enter those drawings. If you’re brave enough to enter the Punchtab drawing (and there’s no downside to it as far as I can tell), your odds of winning are greatly increased because of the smaller number of entrants and opportunities to earn more entries.


To Shoot or Not to Shoot

Recently Tim Challies reflected on the tension between capturing a moment and enjoying a moment.

I think there’s some relevance to our favorite subject.

For as long as we have had easy access to cameras and then to video cameras we have been torn between enjoying a moment and recording a moment. It’s difficult to do both in equal measure. Many a father has returned home from a visit to the mountains having experienced the whole vacation with one eye closed and the other eye peering through a tiny little rectangle. Today the sheer ubiquity of cameras has escalated this problem. Almost every one of us now has a pocket-sized camera and video camera in our pocket or purse at all times. Comedian Jim Gaffigan pokes fun at himself saying, “I have more pictures of my kids than my father ever looked at me.”

I’ve seen too many people exchange the full-sensory, 360-degree experience of standing on the Mount of Olives or walking down a street in the Old City of Jerusalem in the hope of sharing a 2-D image on a screen with family in the future.
Challies concludes:

I wonder how many beautiful moments we miss because we are afraid we will miss them. Instead of living fully in the moment, enjoying the music or the sunrise or the games with our children, we fall into this strange habit of recording it all. We experience the sunrise through the lens of an iPhone instead of just basking in it, we tinker with focus and angles recording quality instead of just enjoying the music. When all is said and done, we’ve recorded an experience that we missed out on, and the replay is just never as good.
We need to stop believing that everything worth experiencing is worth recording. There’s nothing wrong with taking pictures and shooting video—of course there’s not!—but in all our clicking and in all our capturing, let’s make sure that we’re not missing out on life’s best experiences. Let’s learn to enjoy the moment. Give me one beautiful moment fully lived and fully enjoyed and I will trade it for a hundred moments where my phone stood between me and the source of that beauty.

His full post is here. A wonderful collection of photos of biblical lands that will free you up to relish your next visit is here. 🙂

Thirty Years at Gerasa

From The Jordan Times:

Regional politics, Jordanian hospitality and a stroke of luck kindled a three-decade-old love affair between a team of French archaeologists and one of the Kingdom’s most important archaeological sites.
Last week marked the 30th anniversary of an excavation by the team that led to the reconstruction of the ancient city of Jerash and the shattering of many assumptions about daily life 2,000 years ago.
According to the archaeologists, their lifelong bond with the Greco-Roman city sprouted from a chance encounter.

Besides the temple of Zeus and the ancient oracles, the article notes the discovery of a “seating chart” for the northern theater.

Perhaps one of the team’s more groundbreaking discoveries was a seating chart of the city’s northern theatre.
The inscription demarcating various tribes’ seats on the tribal council — a local democratic assembly found throughout the empire — leaves approximately one-fourth of the seats empty.
The team believes that the unmarked seats were reserved for a second chamber, making Jerash one of the first and perhaps only cities in antiquity with bicameral legislatures.

The article concludes with the team’s plans for the future.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Gerasa north theater, tb060603182

North theater of Gerasa