Canaanite Temple Discovered at Lachish

Archaeologists from Hebrew University excavating at Lachish have uncovered a temple from the Canaanite period. The full study is published in Levant, and the university has issued a press release, portions of which are excerpted here.

In a study published last month in Levant, [Yosef] Garfinkel and his co-authors revealed, for the first time ever, extensive ruins of a Canaanite temple dating to the 12th century BCE that they uncovered in National Park Tel Lachish, a large Bronze Age-era settlement near the present-day Israeli city of Kiryat Gat…

The layout of the temple is similar to other Canaanite temples in northern Israel, among them Nablus, Megiddo and Hazor.  The front of the compound is marked by two columns and two towers leading to a large hall.  The inner sanctum has four supporting columns and several unhewn “standing stones” that may have served as representations of temple gods.  The Lachish temple is more square in shape and has several side rooms, typical of later temples including Solomon’s Temple.

In addition to these archaeological ruins, the team unearthed a trove of artifacts including, bronze cauldrons, Hathor-inspired jewellery, daggers and axe-heads adorned with bird images, scarabs, and a gold-plated bottle inscribed with the name Ramses II, one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs.  Near the temple’s holy of holies, the team found two bronze figurines.  Unlike the winged cherubs in Solomon’s Temple, the Lachish figurines were armed “smiting gods”.

Of particular interest was a pottery sherd engraved with ancient Canaanite script.  There, the letter “samek” appears, marked by an elongated vertical line crossed by three perpendicular shorter lines.  This makes it the oldest known example of the letter and a unique specimen for the study of ancient alphabets.

The story is currently being reported by Jewish Press and Arutz-7, with more surely to follow.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Temple at Tel Lachish_Courtesy of the Fourth Expedition to LachishJPG

Temple at Tel Lachish, courtesy of the Fourth Expedition to Lachish

Plan of the North-East Temple_Credit J. Rosenberg.

Plan of the North-East Temple, by J. Rosenberg

Letter samek, 2nd row on right, inscribed on storage jar_Credit T. Rogovski

Letter samek, 2nd row on right, inscribed on storage jar; photo by T. Rogovski

Pottery uncovered in Temple_Credit C. Amit_IAA

Pottery uncovered in temple, photo by C. Amit, IAA

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Archaeology Conference in SoCal: The Time of Israel’s Kings

The Master’s University, where I teach, is hosting an archaeology conference on February 29, and you are invited. The schedule is as follows:

Afternoon Sessions
2:00 PM Dr. Chris McKinny | Archaeology of Ahab: The Strength of the Northern Kingdom
3:00 PM Dr. Seth Rodriquez | Archaeology of Hezekiah: Judah Struggles to Survive
4:00 PM Dr. Todd Bolen | Archaeology of Esther: God’s People in Exile
5:00 PM Hors d’oeuvres

General Sessions
6:30 PM Dr. Chris McKinny | Archaeology of David: Israel’s Rise to Prominence
7:30 PM Dr. Seth Rodriquez | Archaeology of Solomon: Israel’s Golden Era
8:30 PM Q&A
9-10 PM Cookies and Coffee in the University Exchange

The afternoon sessions require registration, and the modest fee of $25 includes an hors d’oeuvres dinner, a free gift from one of the speakers, and a chance to mingle with Drs. Rodriquez and McKinny. The evening sessions are free to all. (The non-chronological sequence of the lectures is intentional in order to present the most popular topics when the attendance is higher.)

Longtime readers of the blog are familiar with both Chris and Seth, as they have contributed here over the years. They live and teach in Texas and Colorado, respectively, and we are flying them in for the weekend. The other speaker is of little consequence, flown in from nowhere, and he has brazenly refused to follow the topic of Israel’s kings, even though he wrote his master’s thesis on the reign of Jeroboam II and his doctoral dissertation on the reign of Jehu. He supposed that people might find a study of the archaeology of Esther to be unique and fascinating.

As you can see from the banner below, this series is part of the university’s annual Creation Summit, though this year the organizers have opted to deviate from the origins theme in order to focus on biblical archaeology. So this is an exciting and unusual opportunity, and if you are able, I hope that you will join us.

Creation Summit banner

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Weekend Roundup

The stories this week are about as random as I can remember, making it challenging to figure out a logical sequence. We’ll start with Jerusalem, and we’ll end with a photo that was popular this week on our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram stream.

Journalists were given a tour of the newly reopened Roman square underneath the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem.

With the water level up nearly 6 feet in the last month, Israeli authorities may have to open the dam of the Sea of Galilee for the first time since 1992. (There’s a beautiful sunrise photo at the end of this article.)

Nof Ginnosar and the Sea of Galilee are the focus of the latest in the “Life Lessons from Israel” video series.

“Russian Archaeology in the Holy Land,” by Yana Tchekhanovets and Leonid Belyaev, is the lead article in the latest issue of ANE Today.

Biblical Byways is offering a low-budget study tour of Israel for Spanish speakers in September.

A replica of a 2,600-year-old Phoenician ship finished its five-month transatlantic voyage last week when it arrived in Miami.

Archaeologists have recovered 1,400 cuneiform tablets from the lost Sumerian city of Irisagrig, but they don’t know where that ancient city was located.

The traditional tomb of Ezekiel (in Iraq, not the one in Iran) is again becoming a place of pilgrimage.

Saudi Arabia plans to create the world’s largest living museum in Al Ula by 2035.

For more than a decade now, “Athens-based photographer and animator Dimitris Tsalkanis has cultivated a sort of unusual hobby: recreating ancient Athens via 3D modeling software.”

An archaeologist in Spain is on trial for forging a third-century depiction of Jesus’s crucifixion.

Salman Abu Sitta will be lecturing in London on February 28 on the subject of the “1871 Survey of Western Palestine Revisited: The Visible and The Hidden.”

New book: Roman-Period and Byzantine Nazareth and Its Hinterland, by Ken Dark

Cynthia Shafer-Elliott talks about her recent book Food in Ancient Judah on the OnScript podcast.

Ferrell Jenkins shares photos of the atad tree, the worthless bramble mentioned in Jotham’s parable in Judges 9.

The archaeological biography on King Ahaz features an altar, a seal, and a toilet.

The Global Smyrna Meeting on the Seven Churches of Revelation offers lectures and sites visits given a whole host of popular teachers, including Mark Wilson, Ben Witherington, Mark Fairchild, Carl Rasmussen, and Dana Harris.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

Wadi Lubban view northwest of Shiloh, db6604081205

This beautiful valley is located in the tribal inheritance of Ephraim, not far from Shiloh. Photo taken in 1966 by David Bivin.

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William Barrick’s Research Tour of Biblical Jordan

Dr. William Barrick, emeritus professor of The Master’s Seminary, recently participated in a research trip to Jordan, and he has written a series of posts describing their daily visits along with discussion of certain controversial issues. I thought my readers would enjoy this, and so I’ve written a roundup of sorts to provide easy access to the various posts and the sites they describe.

Dr. Barrick has an army of former students who are eager to read anything their esteemed professor writes. I am happy to be among that number. In a day in which scholarship has become highly specialized, Dr. Barrick follows the footsteps of William F. Albright or Cyrus Gordon in being a polymath. I commend his latest series to all interested in learning more about the biblical significance of the east side of the Jordan River.

Post 1 – the first stop of the trip is at Tall al-Hamman, a site best identified with Abel-Shittim, not Sodom. (“No one can believe consistently in biblical inerrancy and adopt the northern site as Sodom.”) The post also includes a photograph of Tell ‘Azeimeh, identified with biblical Beth-Jeshimoth.

Post 2 – few groups make the stop at Tell ed-Damiyeh, the site of biblical Adam. Dr. Barrick shares a dramatic photo of the site, with Alexandrium (Sartaba) looming in the background.

Post 3 – this post describes their visit to the Jabbok River and Tell edh-Dhahab, possibly biblical Peniel/Penuel. This area is particularly interesting because of Jacob’s nighttime wrestling match.

Post 4 – traveling to Jordan’s capital city of Amman, this post discusses biblical Rabbah Ammon. Dr. Barrick also highlights some significant inscriptions from the Acropolis Museum, including the Amman Citadel Inscription, the Tell Siran Bottle, and the Balaam Inscription.

Post 5 – on to Medeba, with its famous mosaic map. Then to Mount Nebo, where even after a rainfall, the view toward the Promised Land is still a bit hazy.

Post 6 – the next stop was at Peor, a summit where Balaam blessed Israel, to the horror of the Moabite king. Unfortunately the site has been heavily looted. He suggests four potential solutions to the location of Heshbon. His visit to Dibon prompts a discussion of the Mesha Stele and 2 Kings 3.

Post 7 – the trip continues to southern Jordan, with photos of many sites, including Aroer, the Arnon Gorge, the land of Edom, Sela, and Bozrah. The climb up Sela is given greater detail and more illustrations.

Post 8 – this post describes a full day at Petra and the Petra Museum, with biblical connections, recommended articles, and links to online videos.

Post 9 – this day’s focus was on the southern end of the Dead Sea, with particular interest in the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sites visited included Lot’s Cave (Deir Ain Abata) and Lot’s Cave Museum (aka the Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth).

Post 10 – more evidence is provided related to the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah, with the conclusion that these cities must be on the southern end of the Dead Sea. A visit to Numeira prompts the question of how the chronology of the site may fit the biblical date of the destruction of Gomorrah. Bab edh-Dhra has a massive cemetery and may be identified with Sodom.

Post 11 – the final post in this series features the Hill of Elijah, Bethany beyond the Jordan, Gerasa, and Ramoth-gilead (Tell er-Rumeith). The biblical significance of each site is explained, and photos abound.

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Weekend Roundup

Note: this blog moved to a new location a few days ago. The old address should forward to the new, but you can update your bookmark to https://www.bibleplaces.com/blog/. Email subscriptions should not be affected, but those using a feed reader will need to update to the new address.

Archaeologists have published a report that they have discovered a “massive Iron II temple complex” at Moza, in use from 900 to 600 BC.

An Egyptian anchor discovered off the coast near Haifa is now on display at the Israel Museum. The impressive artifact features hieroglyphics and images.

Excavations at Tel Tsaf in the Jordan Valley have uncovered homes and food silos made of mudbrick and preserved since the Neolithic period.

“Archaeologists on Thursday unveiled 16 ancient Egyptian tombs filled with sarcophagi and other artifacts from a vast burial ground” near Minya in central Egypt.

Israeli researchers have successfully grown six trees from seeds discovered at the sites of Masada, Qumran, and Wadi Makkuk. The seeds date to the 4th century BC to the 2nd century AD, and like their predecessor Methuselah, they have been given biblical names. Photos here.

Shlomit Bechar argues that the Hazor complexes with standing stones were part of a “ruin cult.”

A professor has found a technique to solve quadratic equations that the ancient Babylonians used.

Laerke Recht takes a look at human sacrifices in the ancient Near East.

War has devastated a museum in Maaret al-Numa, Syria known for its Roman and Byzantine-era mosaics.

A terrorist near St. Anne’s Church fired shots toward the Temple Mount, wounding a policeman.

USA Today is having a contest for the Best Religious Museum in the USA. Nominees include the Museum of the Bible, the Ark Encounter, and the Biblical History Center.

The latest video in the “Life Lessons from Israel” is a 6-minute devotional video on Megiddo.

Upcoming events at the Albright Institute include a lecture by Israel Finkelstein on the excavations at Kiriath Jearim.

After renovations to steps and railings, the Ramparts Walk from the Damascus Gate to the Lions Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem has re-opened.

Agrippa II is the subject of Bryan Windle’s latest archaeological biography.

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

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Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists believe that a well-preserved complex at Horvat Tevet, near Afula in the Jezreel Valley, served as a royal estate for Israel’s kings.

Archaeologists working at Tell Damiyah (biblical Adam) are uncovering a religious complex that dates to 700 BC.

Ann Killebrew shares about her experience and discoveries made in the last decade of excavating Tel Akko.

16 tombs from the 26th dynasty have been found at Al-Ghoreifa in Egypt.

New research of the mummified remains of Takabuti, held at the Ulster Museum, reveals the Egyptian had genetic roots to Europe and was likely stabbed to death.

Ueli Bellward explains the complex water collection system of Petra, including how its flash flood system enabled the city to survive.

Archaeologists are concerned about the increasing popularity of Gobekli Tepe.

A story in Discover magazine explains how archaeologists know where to dig.

Archaeologists believe that they have found a second example of crucifixion, discovered near Venice.

The AP has a number of photos of a massive locust invasion in eastern Africa.

Caesarea’s ancient theater stage is undergoing a major renovation.

John DeLancey has just wrapped up another tour of Israel, blogging about each day.

Holly Beers is on The Book and the Spade discussing her new book, A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman Woman.

Bryan Windle identifies the top three reports in biblical archaeology in the month of January.

BiblePlaces.com celebrated its 20th anniversary this week, and we are thankful for many encouraging words, including reflections from Mark Hoffman, Ferrell Jenkins, Leon Mauldin, and Charles Savelle.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Cam von Wahlde, Joseph Lauer

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