Archaeologists working in central Israel unearthed the Middle Bronze predecessor of Rodin’s “The Thinker.” High-res photos and a video are available here.

Archaeologists are speaking out against the construction of a mixed prayer area in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park south of the Western Wall prayer area.

A necropolis and residential settlement were uncovered Tuesday in Abydos in Sohag, almost 400 kilometres south of the temple of the New Kingdom pharaoh Seti I.”

Divers have discovered the world’s oldest harbor in the Red Sea along the coast of Egypt.

The Kom Al-Shoqafa catacombs in Alexandria were not flooded, as some reports claimed.

A writer for The New Yorker visits the full-size replica of King Tut’s tomb in Egypt.

The Egyptological museum search is a PHP tool aimed to facilitate locating the descriptions and images of ancient Egyptian objects in online catalogues of major museums.”

Objects Come to Life is a physical and digital exhibition of the Eton Myers Collection of Egyptian Art, on loan to the University of Birmingham, which explores the importance and intrigue of private collections of ancient artefacts.”

An Israeli court has ruled that the names of Israeli archaeologists working in the West Bank can stay secret.

Luke Chandler has opened registration for next summer’s tour of Israel. He also reports on some sessions he attended at the recent ASOR conference.

Accordance is running a Black Friday sale through Monday. One new e-resource is the Satellite Bible Atlas. This version features all of the hyperlink and search enhancements you would expect from Accordance.

Wayne Stiles is running a Black Friday audio blowout through Sunday night.

Carta is offering a 25% discount on the forthcoming The World’s Oldest Alphabet: Hebrew as the Language of the Proto-Consonantal Script, by Douglas Petrovich, with code 25-off.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Ferrell Jenkins

Alexander Schick sends along a photo of a newly discovered mikveh (ritual) bath at Herod’s palace at Macherus.

Machaerus Mikweh Schick P 4973
Mikveh at Macherus

British and Egyptian archaeologists working in Aswan have discovered a long causeway leading to the tomb of a Middle Kingdom nomarch.

The Kom Aushim Museum in Egypt’s Fayoum has re-opened after 10 years of renovation.

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo is celebrating its 114th anniversary by staying open every Thursday and Sunday evening.

Juliette Desplat describes the founding of the Iraq Museum.

Satellite imagery reveals the destruction of the ziggurat of Nimrud and remains at Dur-Sharrukin that is related to ISIS and the ongoing battles near Mosul.

The IBTimes shows what’s left of Nimrud after its destruction by ISIS.

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a special display of 200 artifacts.

The renovation and expansion of Berlin’s Pergamon Museum is $288 million over budget and will be finished four years later than anticipated (in 2023).

Visitors to Rome’s Circus Maximus can now see the ancient latrines and a portion of a triumphal arch of Titus.

A 4th-century AD Samaritan tablet inscribed with the Ten Commandments has sold at auction for $850,000.

The PEF has issued a call for papers for next year’s conference in Jerusalem on “The Anglo-German 
Exploration of the Holy Land, 1865-1915.”

Mark Wilson will be leading a tour for BAS next September and October of Malta, Sicily, and Italy.

Eisenbrauns has extended its ASOR/AAR/SBL exhibit sale to a virtual booth where all can benefit.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle, Agade, Ted Weis


A rare cache of gold and silver items dated to 3,600 years ago has been found at Tel Gezer, including figurines of the Canaanite counterparts of the Akkadian deities Ishtar, goddess of fertility, sex, love and war; and Sin, god of the moon.”

An arsonist apparently set the fire that damaged Absalom’s Pillar and the Cave of Jehoshaphat in Jerusalem’s Kidron Valley. Ynetnews has a brief video.

Nir Hasson reports on the recent study that dates the Gihon Spring fortifications to the 9th century instead of the Middle Bronze Age.

A group of swimmers swam across the Dead Sea to draw attention to the lake’s declining condition.

A unique Chalcolithic wall painting with an 8-pointed star is on display in Jerusalem for the first time since it was discovered at Teleilat Ghassul in the 1930s.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is launching a three-year expedition to discover more Dead Sea Scrolls.

A Jerusalem shopkeeper is clashing with the IAA over 12th-century antiquities discovered in his store’s expansion.

A Byzantine arch has been discovered near the Cardo of Jerusalem.

Authorities working in Jerusalem’s Cardo plan to recreate 9 Byzantine-era shops and display a number of mosaics reflecting life in that time.

Ferrell Jenkins takes his readers on a tour of the Kishle excavations.

Michael Langlois provides a convenient summary of the Jerusalem Papyrus and why it’s controversial.

Wayne Stiles’s post will convince you that En Gedi is worth a (prolonged) visit.

After ten years away, Guy Stiebel is returning to excavate Masada.

Peter Flint, a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, has died.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle, Agade, Ted Weis

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

Ralph Hawkins has announced a new excavation to be undertaken at the site of Khirbet el-Mastarah in the Jordan River Valley. The inaugural season will be June 3-30, 2017, and they are looking for volunteers. The dig is part of the newly launched Jordan Valley Excavation Project, co-directed by Ralph Hawkins and David Ben-Shlomo. The project’s website provides further information along with this description.

The Jordan Valley Excavation Project (JVEP) was launched in 2016 to investigate the ancient history and archaeology of the region of the southern Jordan Valley, with a particular focus on the Iron Age. This period is traditionally connected with a period of tribal settlement in the region, followed by the rise of ethnic states. A thorough survey of the region, conducted by Adam Zertal, revealed a dramatic population shift in this region during the transition from the Late Bronze Age to the beginning of the Iron Age (around 1200 B.C.E.). Whereas there were only seven sites in the region in the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 B.C.E.), fifty-four new sites were founded at the beginning of the Iron Age. Zertal proposed that the eastern sites are slightly earlier than the western ones, a phenomenon he attributed to the movements of peoples, whom he identified with the Tribe of Manasseh, from the Transjordan westwards. JVEP’s goals are to test the date and character of some of the sites in the region, as well as Zertal’s interpretations, through archaeological excavation and research. JVEP will conduct excavations at two sample sites, beginning with Khirbet el-Mastarah, in the eastern part of the region, where at least three years of excavation will be conducted. After that, an additional site will be chosen in the western part of the region, which will likewise be excavated for several seasons. The evidence from these (possibly) single-period sites may shed a great deal of light on the settlement of the tribal peoples living in the region during the Iron Age.

Khirbet el-Mastarah is the low mound illuminated by sunlight behind the tree.
Photo from jvep.org.

Map showing location of Khirbet el-Mastarah relative to Jericho and Shechem.

As mentioned in the project description, this region was surveyed by Adam Zertal. Four out of five planned volumes of the survey were published in Hebrew before his death just over one year ago, and three of these have been translated into English:

Zertal, Adam.
  2004  The Manasseh Hill Country Survey, Volume 1: The Shechem Syncline. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 21.1. Leiden: Brill.
  2007 The Manasseh Hill Country Survey, Volume 2: The Eastern Valleys and the Fringes of the Desert. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 21.2. Leiden: Brill.

Zertal, Adam, and Nivi Mirkam.
  2016  The Manasseh Hill Country Survey, Volume 3: From Nahal ʿIron to Nahal Shechem. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 21.3. Leiden: Brill.

Some preliminary reports on two Iron Age sites were published by Zertal in the below articles.
Zertal, Adam, and Dror Ben-Yosef.
2009     “Bedhat esh-Shaʿab: An Iron Age I Enclosure in the Jordan Valley.” Pp. 517-529 in Exploring the Longue Durée: Essays in Honor of Lawrence E. Stager. Ed. J. D. Schloen. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns.

Zertal, Adam; Dror Ben-Yosef; Oren Cohen; and Ron Beʾeri.
2009 “Kh. ʿAujah el-Foqa (North) — An Iron Age Fortified City in the Jordan Valley.” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 141/2: 104–123.

UPDATE: The Jordan Valley Excavation Project also has a Facebook page.


Teenagers working in an excavation in Galilee discovered a rare gold coin from the 8th century.

The New York Times has a story on the recent exposure of the burial bed inside Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Carl Rasmussen found some unique photos of the excavations here.

With the release of the editio princeps, Christopher Rollston has posted some more thoughts on the (possibly forged) Jerusalem Papyrus. The IAA is defending the inscription’s authenticity. Shmuel Ahituv is interviewed on Rejuvenation podcast.

Israel HaYom looks at early Muslim sources that acknowledge the Jewish history of the Temple Mount.

Shem Tov Sasson shares his experience of the first day of a new excavation at Tel Kedesh.

Ynet runs a story on the Qeiyafa exhibition at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. Haaretz has a similar story.

King University in Tennessee is hosting a conference on Nov 13-14 entitled, “What’s Going on with Biblical Archaeology?

Timothy P. Harrison shares an appreciation of the life and work of John S. Holladay Jr.

TouristIsrael recommends five unique places to stay in Israel.

Wayne Stiles provides an interesting overview of Nazareth past and present.

Excavations on Mount Zion this summer uncovered a destruction layer from a Crusader battle in Jerusalem in AD 1153.

Accordance 12 was released this week, along with a new free version called Accordance Lite.

Upgrades are also very affordable.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Charles Savelle, Mark Hoffman


National Geographic has posted a new article on the continuing excavation of the traditional tomb of Jesus. The team was allowed 60 hours of study before they had to reseal the area.

When the marble cladding was first removed on the night of October 26, an initial inspection by the conservation team from the National Technical University of Athens showed only a layer of fill material underneath. However, as researchers continued their nonstop work over the course of 60 hours, another marble slab with a cross carved into its surface was exposed. By the night of October 28, just hours before the tomb was to be resealed, the original limestone burial bed was revealed intact.
During the past few days, the burial bed has been resealed in its original marble cladding and may not be exposed again for centuries or even millennia. “The architectural conservation which we are implementing is intended to last forever,” says Moropoulou. Before it was resealed, however, extensive documentation was performed on the surface of the rock.
“The surfaces of the rock must be looked at with the greatest care, I mean minutely, for traces of graffiti,” Biddle says, citing other tombs in the area that must have been of considerable importance because they are covered with crosses and inscriptions painted and scratched onto the rock surfaces.
“The issue of the graffiti is absolutely crucial,” Biddle says. “We know that there are at least half a dozen other rock-cut tombs below various parts of the church. So why did Bishop Eusebius identify this tomb as the tomb of Christ? He doesn’t say, and we don’t know. I don’t myself think Eusebius got it wrong—he was a very good scholar—so there probably is evidence if only it is looked for.”

The full article includes several photos.

HT: Ted Weis