Weekend Roundup

The Big Picture has 13 great photos of the declining level of the Dead Sea.

Why visit the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem? Bible History Daily points out 10 great biblical artifacts.

That same museum is hosting a new exhibit “By the Rivers of Babylon” that is profiled in Haaretz.

The Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem is using iPads and phones to improve the visitor’s experience (NYTimes).

The Melbourne Museum has produced a recreation of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii.

Illegal excavations in Alexandria have revealed a Graeco-Roman necropolis.

An update on the Nineveh destruction from Agade: “Reliable reports from the Mosul that for good reason cannot be attributed are that the fortifications of Nineveh have not been damaged in any way.

Unfortunately, Nabi Younis, however, is now completely destroyed.”

HT: Agade


ISIS Destroying Nineveh Remains

From IraqiNews.com:

A Kurdish official revealed on Tuesday evening that the ISIS organization had bombed large parts and tracts of the ancient Nineveh wall, indicating that such an act violates the right of human culture and heritage.
The media official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Mosul, Saed Mimousine said in an interview for IraqiNews.com, “ISIS militants blew up today large parts and expanses of the archaeological wall of Nineveh in al-Tahrir neighborhood,” explaining that, “The terrorist group used explosives in the process of destroying the archaeological fence.”
Mimousine added, “The Wall of Nineveh is one of the most distinctive archaeological monuments in Iraq and the Middle East,” adding that, “The fence dates back to the Assyrian civilization.”

The full article includes a photo of the gate. A related article shows a photo of an explosion.

Nineveh is best known as one of the capitals of ancient Assyria. In the 8th century BC, Jonah visited the city and Sennacherib began construction on his “Palace Without a Rival.” Fortunately, many of the important artifacts were removed from the site in the 19th century and are now on display in the British Museum.

HT: Agade

Nineveh, north palace of Ashurbanipal, after capture of Babylon, tb112004733
Relief from Ashurbanipal’s palace in Nineveh
Now on display in the British Museum

Weekend Roundup

They now think they know who was buried in the Amphipolis tomb. This article has more details and illustrations.

King Tut’s beard was knocked off and then re-attached with epoxy glue. Here’s a close-up of the botched repair.

Leen Ritmeyer suggests a location for the stairs of the Antonia Fortress where Paul went up and down.

Medical imaging technology has been put to use in reading burned papyri from Herculaneum.

Approval has been given to re-open the old Acropolis Museum.

You can subscribe to the weekly podcast of The Book and the Spade at christianaudio.com. This week Clyde Billington gives an update on Temple Mount archaeology. Last week I addressed the problem of sensational stories in biblical archaeology.

The latest issue of Ancient Near East Today is now available.

Ferrell Jenkins shares photos of Aphek/Antipatris and the “other Aphek.” I particularly like his aerial photo of the northern site.

Miriam Feinberg Vamosh describes the history of Jezreel and its recent excavations in an illustrated pdf article at The Bible and Interpretation.

Iraq is seeking to have the ruins of Babylon put on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

ICYMI: Accordance photo collections are on sale through Monday.

HT: Ted Weis, Agade


Photo Resources for Accordance on Sale

Accordance Bible Software has some excellent photo resources on sale through Monday. Here are some of their offerings:

Bible Lands PhotoGuide 4, with 50 new articles and thousands of additional photographs ($69.90)

Bible Times PhotoMuseum, with 500 high-res images and extensive explanatory notes ($44.90)

100 Archaeological Sites and Biblical Landscapes in Israel, with 1,500 photos by Hanan Isachar ($79.90)

Churches and Monasteries in Israel, with hundreds of photos and descriptions by researcher and cultural journalist, David Rapp ($39.90)

American Colony Collection, with 4,000 images from the early 1900s, created by BiblePlaces.com ($99.90)

Views That Have Vanished, with 700 photographs taken in the 1960s, created by BiblePlaces.com ($26.90)

The Graphics Premier Bundle includes everything listed above, now reduced to $239.

These are some great resources at sale prices through January 26. Accordance has long been the most popular Bible software for Mac and it has been available on PC for more than a year now. You can
learn more about this outstanding software here. Or check out the many endorsements here.

Screenshot from Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide 4

Oldest Gospel Fragment Part of Mummy Mask

In 2012 Daniel Wallace mentioned in a debate the existence of an early fragment of the Gospel of Mark. LiveScience has an update with information from Craig Evans:

A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published.
This first-century gospel fragment was written on a sheet of papyrus that was later reused to create a mask that was worn by a mummy.
Evans says that the text was dated through a combination of carbon-14 dating, studying the handwriting on the fragment and studying the other documents found along with the gospel. These considerations led the researchers to conclude that the fragment was written before the year 90. With the nondisclosure agreement in place, Evans said that he can’t say much more about the text’s date until the papyrus is published.
Evans said that the research team will publish the first volume of texts obtained through the mummy masks and cartonnage later this year. It will include the gospel fragment that the researchers believe dates back to the first century.

The full story is here.

HT: Craig Dunning

UPDATE: There are some errors in this LiveScience article. See the post by Peter Williams (together with the comments) here. (HT: Ulrich Wendel)


Review of Patterns of Evidence

Over at Biblical Remains, Larry Largent provides a good review of the movie “Patterns of Evidence,” showing tonight only. My hope is that those who trust the Bible will ignore the film completely, but if you’re tempted to go, read Larry’s review first.

Here’s a portion:

This is the problem with the documentary format. It is not the best format to put forth and test supposed “new” ideas and solutions no matter how much they are qualified by “perhaps’s” and “could’s.” Time constraints mean that creditable opposition is never addressed. In “Patterns,”  all scholarship becomes flattened in a “them” vs the revised chronology paradigm. The film lumps together traditional biblical maximilists and secular minimalists in a gang of “archaeological giants” that the revised chronology will take down with nothing but a sling and a prayer.
Apparently, arguing that secular scholars might be right in the date of the exodus but wrong in the details is simply not as provocative as claiming that scholars have everything under the sun about the exodus wrong. This is the problem with the medium Mahoney is using to argue for the historicity of the exodus. When it comes to the box office, the more provocative solution is always the best one, but when it comes to doing good historical, archaeological and biblical research,  a theory’s glitz bears little on its accuracy. Real historical research is pounded out in the dialogue of hundreds of articles and papers, and refined in the open response to accusations of error in hundreds of pages – a 2 hour time limit and audience fatigue is not a problem.
In six hundred theaters tonight, viewers will come away from the film with no idea that they have just picked up a broken arrow. They won’t know that the revised Egyptian chronology is not a new theory and has been shown to create as many problems for biblical chronology as it solves.

Yes and yes. There may be a better way to understand the Bible’s relationship to archaeology, but this movie is not it.


Weekend Roundup, Part 2

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Palestine Exploration Fund. This post shares interesting items from the 100th anniversary exhibition. A calendar of coming lectures is also available.

After a flub over a mummy graveyard, a BYU researcher restores ties with the Egyptian authorities.

An upcoming CBS miniseries follows four female survivors of Masada. Trailer here.

Aren Maeir announces the 2015 Ackerman Family Annual Workshop in Biblical Archaeology. The topic is Southern Canaan in the Late Bronze Age.

Excavators working at Macherus have restored the site according to the principle of anastylosis, using only original architectural elements.

Matti Friedman: The Sistine Chapel of the Jews Is Restored to Life in Jerusalem.

Jack Sasson, curator of the Agade list which provides us with many stories each week, has retired from Vanderbilt.

Pre-pub at Logos: Charlesworth, Jesus and Temple: Textual and Archaeological Explorations, $20

Mari Had a Little Lamb is one of several Assyrian coloring pages.

We are now on twitter @BiblePlaces.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle

Macherus from southeast, tb061204081
Macherus from the southeast
Photo from the Jordan collection

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Archaeologists working at Bethsaida have discovered a possible escape tunnel from the time of the Israelite monarchy.

Leen Ritmeyer explains the recent construction work on the Temple Mount and its potential significance for archaeology.

“The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry recently announced the excavation of a 3,000-year-old fortress at the site of Tell el-Habua (also known as Tel Habuwa and Tell Huba) near the Suez Canal in Egypt.”

Egypt’s Prime Minister recently visited the Grand Egyptian Museum to check on its progress for a slated August 2015 opening.

The works of the famous glass maker Ennion are now on display at the Met.

The Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas is hosting a temporary exhibition of old maps of the Holy Land. Wayne Stiles shows a few photos from his visit and explains the value of using maps in your
Bible study.

Monday lecture at the British Museum: Rupert Chapman, Ahab’s Ivory House: When Was It Destroyed?

Plans are underway to allow visitors inside the Erechtheion of the Acropolis.

The most visited museum in 2014 was the Louvre, with 9.3 million visitors.

HT: Explorator, Agade

Ennion's blue glass jug, 1st c AD, tb031114560
Blue glass jug made by Ennion, first century AD
From the Eretz Israel Museum

Trinity Ashkenazi Torah Scroll

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

We are a little late getting to this, but it might be of interest to some. Back on September 18, 2014, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School held a dedication service for a Torah scroll that was gifted to the school. The scroll originated in Germany and dates to the late 1400s or early 1500s. The sign presently displayed with the Torah states:

The Trinity Ashkenazi Torah Scroll
An extraordinary, generous gift from the Ken and Barbara Larson Family

This spectacular Ashkenazi Torah from Germany dates between the late 15th and early 16th century A.D. (roughly around the time of Martin Luther). The scroll’s pagination and orthography clearly indicate this date, while its style, the preparation of its skins and its ink all clearly indicate a German provenance. Such a date makes it among the earliest 2% of surviving German Torah scrolls. It has been used continuously for nearly 500 years and survived the Nazi Holocaust, the most horrific chapter in Jewish history.
It is approximately 100 feet long and is written in columns of 59 lines throughout. It contains numerous fascinating orthographic features encountered in medieval scrolls that were repressed by the rabbis around 1600 A.D. The Torah is filled with elegant magna letters, small or raised letters, dotted letters and inverted nuns—all related to early Jewish scribal traditions.

The official announcement of the dedication contains a few more details about the scroll, and a report written afterwards includes even more description as well as photos of the event.

  • The scroll is valued at over $400,000.
  • The scroll has indented punch marks (tropes) above words and letters to aid in pronunciation and cantillation. This feature is more typical of Yemeni Jewish scrolls.
  • The scroll was constructed from over 60 calf skins.
  • It contains corrections, crossed-out words, and later repairs to the parchment.
  • The scroll was copied and used in Germany, survived the Nazi Holocaust, and was later transported to Israel.
  • There are plans to create a digital replica of the scroll. 

Here are two photos of the Trinity Ashkenazi Torah Scroll.

The scroll is open to Deuteronomy 5. The lines that are spaced differently near the top of the center column are the 10 Commandments.

Close-up of Deuteronomy 6:4 in the Trinity Ashkenazi Torah Scroll. Notice the extra large letters which mark the first and last words of the verse. The white patch is newer parchment used to repair the original.

Bethel University received a similar gift earlier in the year (herehere, and here).

UPDATE (December 20, 2015): As of early December 2015, Ken and Barbara Larson have donated Torah scrolls to 16 schools. The list below is as complete as I could make it, but it is missing two schools.

  1. Bethel University (March 31, 2014)
  2. Multnomah University (September 4, 2014)
  3. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (September 18, 2014)
  4. The Master’s Seminary (September 30, 2014)
  5. Veritas Evangelical Seminary (November 8, 2014)
  6. Wheaton College (November 18, 2014)
  7. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (December 3, 2014)
  8. Dallas Theological Seminary (December 5, 2014)
  9. Trinity Western University (February 2, 2015)
  10. Western Seminary, Portland (February 6, 2015)
  11. Denver Seminary (April 20, 2015)
  12. Liberty University School of Divinity (September 28, 2015)
  13. Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary – Arkansas (October 30, 2015; the announcement said BMATS was the 15th school to receive a Torah scroll)
  14. Moody Bible Institute (December 2, 2015; the announcement said 15 other schools had received Torah scrolls)