Weekend Roundup

Maritime archaeologists have discovered a Phoenician shipwreck dating to 700 BC off the coast of Malta.

A new study of the Timna copper mines shows that the workers in the 10th century BC were not slaves but highly skilled craftsmen.

Corinthian Matters has a review of a field trip app that accompanies the ASCSA’s new Ancient Corinth: A Guide to the Site and Museum.

Ferrell Jenkins describes his recent visit to the Louvre in Paris.

Tiberias—There’s More to See than Just Hotels. Yes, indeed.

Leon Mauldin visits the other Bethlehem. This lesser-known biblical site is in Galilee.

Clyde Billington is on the Book and the Spade this week discussing the “stone rejected by the builders” along with the use of tokens for counting.

Accordance has a sale now on a five-resource bundle from Rose Publishing, including their guides to the tabernacle and temple.

Paul L. Maier’s Pontius Pilate is marked down to $2.99 for the Kindle. I recommend it.

HT: Charles Savelle

Timna Chalcolithic copper mine, tb030807061
Copper mine in Timna Valley
Photo from Negev and the Wilderness
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Notable Quotes from Cline, From Eden to Exile

I recently came across some quotations I had marked from a past reading of Eric H. Cline, From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible, and thought some of them worth sharing. I’ve commented briefly on each quote following the citation. The book’s table of contents indicates the topics covered:

Chapter 1: The Garden of Eden

Chapter 2: Noah’s Ark

Chapter 3: Sodom and Gomorrah

Chapter 4: Moses and the Exodus

Chapter 5: Joshua and the Battle of Jericho

Chapter 6: The Ark of the Covenant

Chapter 7: The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel

“The biblical stories become real when people adopt them as their own, regardless of their historical accuracy” (Cline 2007: xiii). So what is not real becomes real when we make it real. In our day and age, it really is all about us.

“The truth of the matter is that any such searches for Noah’s ark are unlikely ever to be successful.

Even if the ark did exist, it would be tremendously old by now and its wooden parts would have been long ago reduced to dust, leaving few traces behind. The most we could hope for would be discovering something like the Sutton Hoo ship in England from the seventh century A.D.; the disintegrated wood and corroded nails from this vessel left a perfect imprint on the damp soil. Only if the ark had come to rest in the sands of Egypt, which contain perfectly preserved pharaonic boats by the Pyramids, or at the bottom of an ocean or a sea where there is little oxygen and organic material is perfectly preserved—such as in the Black Sea, where Bob Ballard’s expeditions have found ships sunk up to their gunwales and perfectly preserved in anoxygenic mud—would we even be able to hope that Noah’s ark, or portions of it, have been preserved” (Cline 2007: 36). But as long as there is fame to be had and money to be made, there will be searches for Noah’s Ark.

“Modern archaeological techniques are quite capable of tracing even the very meager remains of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world” (Cline 2007: 85). Perhaps, but entire centuries are missing from the archaeological record in some places.
“Of the various alternatives, following the biblical chronology and placing the Exodus in the 15th century B.C. seems the most unlikely, but some will want to do that anyway, based upon faith rather than reason” (Cline 2007: 90). Those I’ve read who advocate a 15th-century exodus always appeal to evidence and arguments, never to faith.

“Finkelstein said, ‘I am a great believer in a total separation between tradition and research. I myself have a warm spot in my heart for the Bible and its splendid stories. During our Pesach seder, my two girls, who are 11 and 7, didn’t hear a word about the fact that there was no Exodus from Egypt.

When they are 25, we will tell them a different story. Belief, tradition and research are three parallel lines that can exist simultaneously. I don’t see that as a gross contradiction’” (Cline 2007: 91). For thousands of years before our post-modern advances, we would call this lying.

“The team also cited both its own studies and those of other researchers who believe the story of the damming of the Jordan River can be traced back to a 1931 book published by John Garstang. The book is, as the article stated, ‘the only source reporting about the Jordan’s damming at Damiya.’ The team of earthquake experts strongly suggests that Garstang’s testimony is unreliable, especially since he was not even in the country at the time and since no other sources, including official police reports or press releases, mention a damming of the Jordan River. They speculate that Garstang’s desire to prove that Damiya is the biblical ‘city of Adam’ and his desire to show that the Jordan could have stopped flowing as a result of an earthquake affected his reporting” (Cline 2007: 105). Unless you know of other evidence, you should not cite the dubious testimony of Garstang.

“In a candid article, Younker said that the ‘Andrews Way’ of doing archaeology, as he phrased it, is as follows: 1. Be forthright with findings. Do not minimize problems or stretch interpretations of data to explain things away. 2. Do not make claims beyond what the data can support. 3. Be quick and complete in publishing results. 4. Engage and work within mainstream scholarship. 5. Include a diversity of people and specialists. 6. Take the history of the Bible seriously, but do not place upon archaeology the burden of ‘proving’ the Bible” (Cline 2007: 187). This helpful approach is given in Randall W. Younker, ‘Integrating Faith, the Bible, and Archaeology: A Review of the ‘Andrews University Way’ of Doing Archaeology,’ in The Future of Biblical Archaeology: Reassessing Methodologies and Assumptions, eds. James K. Hoffmeier and Alan Millard (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 43-52.

Cline’s newest book, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, came out earlier this year.

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Artifact of the Month: Esarhaddon Stela

(Posted by Michael J. Caba)

Esarhaddon was an Assyrian king noted in Biblical passages such as 2 Kings 19:37. He erected the monument shown in the picture to commemorate a military victory in Egypt. The dolerite monument is over ten feet high and was made in the 7th century BC. It was found in 1881 in the modern city of Zinjirli, Turkey, and the text is written in the Akkadian language using the cuneiform script. Esarhaddon himself is depicted in the carving, which is now located in the Museum of the Ancient Near East, Pergamum Museum, Berlin. 

Esarhaddon was a powerful Assyrian king during the 7th century BC, and King Manasseh of Judah was a vassal ruler under his sovereignty. In the royal inscriptions of Esarhaddon (not shown here) reference is made to “Manasseh, King of Judah,” who was required to help provide building material to Esarhaddon for the construction of the Assyrian ruler’s palace.

For information on similar artifacts related to the Bible, see Bible and Archaeology – Online Museum.

(Photo: BiblePlaces.com. Significant resource for further study: Lost Treasures of the Bible, by Fant and Reddish, pages 177-81.)
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Trinity Biblical and ANE Archaeology Lecture Series

(Post by A.D. Riddle)


On Tuesday, September 16, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL will present the fall lecture in its “Trinity Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology Lecture Series.” William M. Schniedewind (UCLA) will speak on the topic “Early Hebrew Scribes — When Israel Began to Write.” The lecture begins at 7:00 p.m. and will take place in Hinkson Hall, Rodine Building. The event is free and open to the public.
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Weekend Roundup

SourceFlix has produced a short video illustrating Psalm 23.

Wayne Stiles has everything you want to know about Timna Park, including photos, a time-lapse video, Google Street View, and a map.

“Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered the deepest cave in Israel, reaching a depth of 187 meters below ground.”

The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names is now online for free.

If you’re thinking about visiting the Pergamum Museum in Berlin anytime soon, read Ferrell Jenkins’ recent post.

A copper awl discovered not far from Beth Shean is now believed to be the oldest metal object known from the Middle East. The University of Haifa press release is online here.

“The Iraqi National Museum inaugurated two renovated halls adorned with life-size stone statues on Thursday.”

The new editors of BASOR have penned an inaugural letter describing their plans and offering an invitation.

Jordan’s Tourism Board has launched a new online chat service.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Jack Sasson, Charles Savelle, A.D. Riddle

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Christian Inscription on Grand Mosque of Damascus

I came across this notable observation yesterday when looking over some photos in Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee.

The Grand Mosque of Damascus is one of the most interesting buildings in the East.  It is quadrangular in form, one hundred and sixty-three yards wide, by one hundred and eight yards long.  A lofty wall of fine masonry surrounds it.  A few years ago the building was almost destroyed by fire. 
One of the most wonderful things about this mosque is an inscription which is pointed out to the tourist.  It runs over an arch in the second story.  You can see even in this picture the Greek letters which form the following sentence: “Thy kingdom, O Christ, is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.”  This is the Septuagint rendering of Psalms, cxlv [145]: 13, with the simple addition of the name of Christ.  What a curious inscription to find on a Moslem mosque!  And yet, how true it is that the kingdom of Christ is an everlasting kingdom.  To-day the power of Mohammedanism is waning. 

279 Inscription, Grand Mosque, ef0279
Grand Mosque Lintel with Inscription
Photo from
Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee

A 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal gives the history: Muslims reused stones of the church they razed. The builder of the mosque, al-Walid, was also responsible for the construction of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Unfortunately the last observation in the quotation above has proven false. But that is in accord with Scripture which speaks of the numerous enemies present on earth when Jesus returns (Ps 2; Zech 14; Rev 19).

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Conference: Aram and Israel in the 12th to 8th Centuries BC

Heidelberg Colloquium on the Subject of Aram and Israel: Cultural Interaction, Political Borders and Construction of Identity during the Early Iron Age (12th–8th Centuries BCE)

IWH Symposium, September 1-4, 2014

IWH Hauptstrasse 242, Heidelberg

Organisation: Prof. Manfred Oeming, Dr. Omer Sergi, Dr. Izaak de Hulster


Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

14:00-14:30: Introduction

14:00-14:10: Peter Comba, Manfred Oeming, Greetings

14:10-14:30: Omer Sergi and Izaak de Hulster, Historical Outline for Aram and Israel


First Session: Jordan Valley between Aram and Israel: Archaeological Perspectives
Chair: Izaak de Hulster

14:30-15:15: Amihai Mazar, Looking for Aramaean Impact in the Beth-Shean Valley in Light of the Excavations at Tel Beth Shean and Tel Rehov

15:15-16:00: Stefan Münger, Who, When, and Why–Investigating Cultural Footprints at Early Iron Age Tel Kinrot

16:30-17:15: Nava Panitz-Cohen, Aram-Maacah? Aramaeans and Israelites on the Border: Excavations at Tel Abil al-Qameh (Abel Beth Maacah) in Northern Israel

17:15-18:00: Yifat Thareani, Enemy at the Gates? The Archaeological Visibility of the Aramaeans at Dan

18:00-18:30: Discussion

Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

Second Session: Aspects of Material Culture between Aram and Israel
Chair: Omer Sergi

9:00-9:45: Izaak de Hulster, The Aram–Israel Border Zone: Two Comparative Iconographic Case Studies

9:45-10:30: Benjamin Sass, Aram and Israel during the Early Iron Age (12th-8th Centuries BCE): The Alphabet

11:00-11:45: Assaf Kleiman, Dating the Aramaean Campaigns to the Southern Levant: A Gradual Process of Destructions?

11:45-12:30: Aren Maeir, The Aramaean Involvement in the Southern Levant: Case Studies for Identifying the Archaeological Evidence

12:30-13:00: Discussion


Third Session: Aramaean Identity in Changing Cultural Contexts
Chair: Jan Christian Gertz

14:30-15:15: Christoph Uehlinger, What are We Looking for when dealing with ‘Identity’ and the ‘Construction of Identity’ in Levantine Societies of the Iron Age? (with an Excursus on the Bethsaida Stela)

15:15-16:00: Guy Bunnens, Tradition, Innovation and Cultural Borders in Aramaean Syria

16:30-17:15: Stefania Mazzoni, Identity and Multiculturality in the Northern Levant of the 9th-7th century B.C. with a Case Study on Tell Afis

17:15-18:00: Herbert Niehr, The Power of Language:, Language Situation and Language Politics in Sam’ al

18:00-18:30: Discussion

Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014

Fourth Session: The Border Zone between Aram and Israel: Historical Reflections
Chair: Juha Pakkala

9:00-9:45: Israel Finkelstein, Aram and Israel: Some Cultural and Historical Reflections

9:45-10:30: Erhard Blum, The ‘Borders’ between Israel and Aram-Damascus in the 9th-8th Centuries BCE according to Biblical and Epigraphical Sources

11:00-11:45: Omer Sergi, Gilead between Aram and Israel: Some Historical and Historiographical Considerations

11:45-12:30: Jutta Häser, Tell Zira’a in the Iron Age

12:30-13:00: Discussion


Fifth Session: Historical Memory of Aram in Israel’s Bible
Chair: Dorothea Erbele-Küster

14:30-15:15: Manfred Oeming, “And the King of Aram was at War with Israel”– The Construction of the Aramaean as an Enemy in the Elisha Cycle 2 King 2-13.

15:15-16:00: Matthias Köckert, Jacob Cycle and the Aramaean Identity of Israel

16:30-17:15: Angelika Berlejung, Family Ties: Constructed Memories about Aram and the Aramaeans in the Old Testament – “God’s People Network”

17:15-18:00: Nili Wazana, “My Father was a Wandering Aramaean”: The Implications for Israelite Identity

18:00-18:30: Discussion

Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014

Concluding Session: Israel among the Aramaeans
Chair: Manfred Oeming

9:00-10:30: Concluding discussion

The Colloquium is supported by: Heidelberg University, Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

The program is available in pdf format here.

Another topic that seems relevant to this conference: Textual Witnesses to the Aramean Oppression of Israel in the Late Ninth Century. And another: Archaeological Evidence for the Aramean Route to Philistine Gath. I’ve written on both in my dissertation.

HT: Jack Sasson

Tel Chinnereth from north, tb102702025
Tell Chinnereth (Tel Kinrot) and the Sea of Galilee
Photo from volume 1
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Weekend Roundup

Anna Moseley Gissing writes about three lessons she learned from archaeology about the spiritual life.


Haaretz reports that the appointment of Israel’s new antiquities chief is embroiled in politics.

Should the Vatican return the menorah from the Jerusalem Temple? Steven Fine assigned his class the task of refuting the notion that the Vatican has it.

Greek archaeologists excavating a fourth-century BC tomb at Amphipolis have made an “extremely important find.”


Camels Mummification existed in Egypt 1,500 years earlier than scientists have long believed.

The Egyptian government has asked the Ashmolean museum to lend it the personal collection of Howard Carter.

Brian Daniels discusses Preserving Culture in War on this week’s broadcast of The Book and the Spade.

What is the relationship between the archaeology of Jerusalem and the Book of Mormon? SourceFlix has produced a new video that answers this question.

Wayne Stiles describes two oases along the shore of the Dead Sea. (Can you guess which ones they are? Neither one ends with “Gedi.”) He includes photos, a video, and a map.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Jack Sasson

Arch of Titus Temple treasures scene left, tb112105077
Triumphal procession depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome
Photo from Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, volume 15
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Archaeologists Use Drones To Solve Riddles

From the New York Times:

Archaeologists around the world, who have long relied on the classic tools of their profession, like the trowel and the plumb bob, are now turning to the modern technology of drones to defend and explore endangered sites. And perhaps nowhere is the shift happening as swiftly as in Peru, where Dr. Castillo has created a drone air force to map, monitor and safeguard his country’s ancient treasures. Drones mark “a before and after in archaeology,” said Dr. Castillo, who is also a prominent archaeologist and one of a dozen experts who will outline the use of drones at a conference in San Francisco next year. […] In the Middle East, researchers have employed them to guard against looting. “Aerial survey at the site is allowing for the identification of new looting pits and determinations of whether any of the looters’ holes had been revisited,” said Morag Kersel, an archaeologist from DePaul University in Chicago who is part of a team using drones in Jordan and Israel. […] Though his work is focused on the deep past, Dr. Castillo is fascinated by gadgets and new technology. He began experimenting with drones about two years ago, buying a $100 one from the Sharper Image. Now he has a squadron of eight, all miniature helicopters that cost about $1,500 to $20,000. He hopes to soon add 20 more. The drones, he said, “solve the first riddle of archaeology.” “Finally you can fly whenever you want to, wherever you want to, in any angle, for anything you want and get the great picture you always thought you should take,” he said.

The full story focuses mostly on the use of drones in Peru. Aren Maeir recently posted a video showing a drone in use in his excavations of the Philistine city of Gath.

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