Weekend Roundup, Part 2

A Roman game board from the first or second century AD has been discovered in southern Turkey.

Some extremely well-preserved mosaics have been discovered near the Syria-Turkey border.

France is returning 300 artifacts stolen from Egypt.

Why did the Egyptians use scarabs? Michael Wall’s recent lecture on the role of insects in religion explains.

“What can we learn about the time of Abraham from simple stone beads?” Geoffrey Ludvik explains on this week’s interview on The Book and the Spade.

The Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Resource (PBMR) is “working to map the landscape of publications about Pompeii onto the space of the ancient city itself, creating a unified, bi-directional interface to both resources.”

A “small underwater Pompeii” has been discovered off the shore of the Greek island of Delos.

Climate change apparently did not cause the end of the Bronze Age.

James Cuno, the President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, makes the case against repatriating museum artifacts in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs.

The Biblical Archaeology Society is running a Thanksgiving sale through Thursday.

Sharon Zuckerman, co-director of the Tel Hazor Excavations and senior lecturer at the Institute of
Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, died on Friday. She was 49.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Chris McKinny


Weekend Roundup, Part 1

A reporter visited the Kishle in Jerusalem on its recent opening. The article includes a nice photo and an audio version.

Portions of Jerusalem’s Decumanus have been uncovered near Jaffa Gate.

Leen Ritmeyer notes new building violations on the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is seeking volunteers who can assist them in raising money through crowd-funding.

Why should Jews and Christians be denied from praying on the Temple Mount while Muslims are

“There is a little corner of Jerusalem that is forever India. At least, it has been for more than 800 years…”

The latest SourceFlix video short: Biblical Cities – From the Air.

A Palestinian archaeologist is claiming to have discovered the church where the martyr Stephen’s bones were buried. The site is near Ramallah (10 miles north of Jerusalem), and the claim is based on an inscription not shown in the article. Perhaps some Byzantines were trying to capitalize on the tourist trade, just as they plan to do to the site in the future.

A fortified site from the time of Persia’s conquest by Alexander the Great has been excavated near
Israel’s border with Gaza.

The laborers at the copper mines in the Timna Valley ate well, according to an analysis of bones from Slaves’ Hill.

Luke Chandler has a report on Yosi Garfinkel’s recent lecture on Khirbet Qeiyafa, including word on two more inscriptions.

Tourism in Israel was down 33% in October from the previous year.

If you can use financial help to excavate next summer at Tel Burna, check out this scholarship opportunity.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a beautiful photo of Mount Arbel and the Sea of Galilee.

HT: Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Joseph Lauer, Keith Keyser


Artifacts of the Month: Nebuchadnezzar II

(Posted by Michael J. Caba)

The ceramic brick to the left is inscribed in cuneiform with the name of Nebuchadnezzar II. Ancient kings often used inscribed bricks in their building projects. This one was originally made in c. 604-562 BC and was found in the ruins of ancient Babylon during excavations in 1927. It reads, “Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, Guardian of the temples of Esagila and Ezida, Firstborn son of Nabopolasser, king of Babylon.” It is shown here in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York while on loan from Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin.

The cylinder to the 

right reads, in part, “Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, the restorer of the temples: Esogil and Ezida, the first-born of Nabopolasser, King of Babylon, am I.”  It was inscribed using cuneiform lettering in 604 BC and was discovered in a temple wall in Babylonia at the location of its original burial. It is made of terracotta and is currently located in the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, San Jose, CA.

The photo to the left shows the Ishtar gate as it now sits in the Museum of the Ancient Near East, Pergamum Museum, Berlin. Originally constructed in ancient Babylon during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, it is covered with colorful glazed titles that depict bulls and dragons. It was uncovered by German archaeologists, along with other spectacular finds, during a 14-year period beginning in 1899. The reconstructed gate is approximately 48 feet in height and 51 feet in width. 

For those interested in Biblical Studies, Nebuchadnezzar II is mentioned some 90 times in the Bible in a variety of different contexts (e.g., Ezra 1:7).

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

(Photos: Michael J. Caba and BiblePlaces.com. Significant resources for further study: The Context of Scripture, volume 2, page 308-10; Lost Treasures of the Bible, by Fant and Reddish, pages 199-205.)


New App: Dig Quest Israel

The Israel Antiquities Authority has released a free iPad app for kids ages 7-11 called Dig Quest: Israel. From the IAA:

The App transforms a kid’s iPhone or iPad into an archaeological tool and lets them play games to hone their skills, discover secret meanings, solve puzzles, and piece the past together like true archaeologists. Along the way they unlock ancient artifacts and create their own personal collection. Dig Quest Israel App Icon The games were developed in collaboration with the IAA’s team of pre-eminent archaeologists and researchers. As they play, kids get a feel for what archaeologists do as they experience the excitement of discovery and the creativity and skills involved in solving mysteries from the distant past. Players select between two dig sites – each has a unique game that puts the player in the driver’s seat and requires using different archaeological skills. At Lod, you clear the dirt to uncover an ancient Roman period mosaic and then play a fast-paced quiz-style game using your smarts and powers of observation to identify and classify the animals and objects on the mosaic. In the Qumran caves, you discover fragments of the 2,000 year-old Dead Sea Scrolls that you piece together in a puzzle game. Then you scan the scrolls to reveal their text more clearly, mirroring the advanced spectral imaging process performed by the IAA team in the laboratories. Each site features Discoveries for you to uncover that tell you more about the story of the excavation and the artifacts you find. You can collect the artifacts and discoveries in your own Collection box. Dig Quest Israel Logo Screen iPad The game features:

  • 30+ levels in two unique games based on two world famous archaeological discoveries
  • 50+ images of stunning historical treasures
  • Amazing historical and archaeological facts and artifacts
  • Translated and spoken excerpts from the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • A Collection box where players store artifacts and discoveries
  • An archaeologist character host, Gabe, inspired by real IAA archaeologists

The app is now available from the iTunes store. A 1-minute YouTube video provides a preview of the fun to be had. An Android version is planned for the future. Dig Quest Israel Lod Mosaic iPad


Wednesday Roundup

I’m traveling this month, and this will be the last roundup before Thanksgiving. If you’re at SBL, come find us in the exhibition hall (booth #411).

Corinth’s Lechaion port has been discovered and it is impressively large.

The British Museum plans to allow you to print 3D artifacts at home.

Elad is appealing a ruling that prevents it from running the Jerusalem Archaeological Park along the southern end of the Temple Mount.

Brian M. Howell reviews Walking Where Jesus Walked: American Christians and Holy Land Pilgrimage for Christianity Today.

With the resident of the Amphipolis Tomb now being studied, the excavation has been concluded.

Robert Cargill critiques Simcha Jacobovici’s claim that he discovered the nails of Jesus’ crucifixion.

He concludes that it is “nothing but religious profiteering.” Another reviewer calls it a “sensationalist money-making scheme.”

Volume 2 of the Khirbet Qeiyafa Excavation Report is now available.

Leen Ritmeyer continues his series showing the Temple Mount through the ages, including during the times of Hezekiah and the Hasmoneans.

Ferrell Jenkins links to a video showing flash flooding in the Qumran area. He also notes some restoration work in the Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion.

Mari is being looted while under ISIS control.

The Wall Street Journal has a video about plans to open Carchemish to tourists in the spring. The site
is only 60 feet away from the control of ISIS. (See here for the transcript.)

HT: Explorator, Ted Weis, Agade, Charles Savelle


Citadel Moat and Kishle Opens Tonight

The Tower of David Museum is hosting an opening event this evening of the Citadel moat and the Kishle. The Kishle has served as a police station for the Israelis, Jordanians, British, Ottomans, and Romans. Some remains have been uncovered from the palace of King Herod. From the official website:

After many years that the Citadel moat was closed to the public, the southern part of Jerusalem’s historic moat has been revived.  The ancient builders of the Citadel surrounded the fortress with a dry moat, the first line of defense against enemies.  As years passed, the moat served other purposes. It was a market place, a passage way and even a makeshift garbage dump. Excavations in the moat have exposed archaeological remains including an ancient quarry, a ritual bath from the Second Temple, a hewn water channel, secret passageways and a giant stone staircase and pools from the Hasmonean and Herodian eras.
The renewed moat also includes passage to a building that was closed for many years – The Kishla, the Ottoman Prison which was excavated over the last decade and contains remains detailing the history of Jerusalem, from the First Temple period to the establishment of the State.  The site is now being opened for group visits.  The domed building served as a prison for members of the pre-State underground and evidence of the period remains in a scratched inscription on the walls. Tours and cultural events will take place in the moat and the Kishle.
The public is invited to the opening of the Moat and the Kishle, enjoy music and refreshments. Entrance is free.

This posting indicates that the excavation director, Amit Reem, will be at the event. Guided tours in Hebrew will be available on upcoming Fridays in November for a reasonable charge. An article about the site was published in the Hebrew edition of Israel Hayom last week (page 29).

HT: Joseph Lauer

New City from Citadel of David, tb051908300
Citadel of David
Photo from Jerusalem

2014 Batchelder Conference for Biblical Archaeology

The annual conference at the University of Nebraska Omaha has a number of interesting speakers and subjects. The conference runs from Thursday to Saturday and has a fee of only $10. Lectures include:

Jon Seligman, Villages and Monasteries in Jerusalem’s Hinterland during the Byzantine Period

Richard Freund, What Was Magdala in the Roman Period? An Archaeological Evaluation of the Evidence

James Tabor, From Qumran to Waco: The Dynamics of Messianism Ancient and Modern

J. Harold Ellens, Mari and the Bible

Mark Appold, Bethsaida Messianic Jews and Jerusalem Hellenists: Origins of the Earliest Christian Kerygma

David Jacobson, Hasmonean Coinage: Some Issues and Fresh Insights

Jerome Hall, Who Built the Kinneret Boat?

Harry Jol and others, Preliminary Ground-penetrating Radar Results from Explorations near the Ancient Anchorage of Kursi, Sea of Galilee, Israel

Phil Reeder, Using Maps as Research and Teaching Tools: Examples from Projects in Israel, Spain, and Poland

Rami Arav, The Origin of the Israelites and the Liminality Model

The full schedule is given here and the conference flyer is online here.


Weekend Roundup

A recent excavation at the Tower of David and Kishleh police station revealed a mikveh from Herod’s palace and an earlier wall from the time of Hezekiah. The site is to open to the public next week. (I don’t have any more information at this time.)

An Italian archaeologist wants to restore the Colosseum’s floor.

Wayne Stiles explains why hymn writers use the Jordan River as a metaphor for transitions in the spiritual life.

Part 3 of Mary Magdalene and Magdala is up at the Book and the Spade, with an interview of Father Eamon Kelly, assistant director of the Magdala Center.

Exploring Bible Lands reports on their recent visit to Magdala, a site now extensively open to tourists.

The spoils of Jerusalem on the Arch of Titus are the subject of a Khan Academy video narrated by Steven Fine and Beth Harris.

The first volume of the Gath excavation report is now on sale for an amazingly low price. This is the same work that won the 2013 BAS Award for Best Scholarly Book in Archaeology.

Ferrell Jenkins has great photos of the Cove of the Sower, from land, sea, and air.

William Hallo writes about the fragment of the Cyrus Cylinder that was found in Yale’s Babylonian Collection.

Abram K-J has just posted an extensive review of The Sacred Bridge, arguing that it is the best Bible atlas ever. (I would add that it may be the best ever, but not the best for you, your class, or your church. But you’ll figure out whether it’s for you very quickly from his excellent review of both the print and Accordance versions.)

HT: Paleojudaica


Questions To Ask of Sensational Stories in Biblical Archaeology

Every now and again a sensational story related to biblical archaeology hits the headlines. (This week it was this one.) It’s not long before I receive emails asking about the authenticity of the alleged discovery. To help my readers better discern whether they are dealing with a potentially legitimate discovery or not, I suggest that the following questions be asked as you read the report.

  • Does this discovery sound too good to be true? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • It is reported by a news source you’ve never heard of? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • Does it cite archaeologists that you’ve never heard of before and don’t appear on a Google search? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • Does the report avoid getting input from known experts in the field? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • Does the alleged discovery require a radical reinterpretation of the Bible? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • Does the article use language such as, “This definitively proves…” or, “This is irrefutable evidence that shows…”? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • Does it relate to newly discovered physical remains related to the crucifixion of Jesus? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • Does the article mention Ron Wyatt, Robert Cornuke, or Indiana Jones? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • Is it first announced in a TV special about the time of Easter/Passover? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • Does the discovery relate to Noah’s Ark or the Ark of the Covenant? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • Is it reported on a website with links to stories about Bigfoot, UFOs, and conspiracy theories? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • Does the website name begin with www.world….? If so, it’s probably bogus.
  • Did I ignore it on this blog? If so, it’s probably bogus.

Did I miss some important questions? Feel free to suggest additional ones in the comments below.


Live-Streamed Lecture: Eric Cline on 1177 BC

When we post notices of lectures on this blog, we know that most of our readers live outside of the geographical area and won’t be able to attend. Tonight’s lecture by Eric Cline is different in that way because it will be live-streamed for free.

The topic of the 7:00 pm (Eastern) lecture is 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, the same as his recent book. The lecture is being hosted by the Explorers Club in New York City. The website has more information, and you can go here at the appointed hour to watch the live-stream.

HT: Joseph Lauer