Weekend Roundup, Part 1

A seal impression of an official of King Jeroboam II has been discovered. It is a smaller version of the famous seal found at Megiddo in 1904 (and later lost). UPDATE (Aug 2021): This item is actually a common tourist replica.

An archaeologist has brought to light a menorah engraved in a Second Temple period tomb on the outskirts of Mukhmas (biblical Michmash), home of Jonathan the Hasmonean. The press release is here, and a journal article is available here.

Authorities are opening several new areas to visitors to Herodium, including the arched stairway, foyer, and private theater.

The underground excavations in Jerusalem took top prize for “Oddities of the Underground” at the International Tunneling and Underground Space Association Awards.

Israel21c photographs 10 eye-catching sculptures around Tel Aviv.

Wayne Stiles looks at traditional sites associated with Jesus’s flight to Egypt.

Bridges to the Bible has created their first series of videos, focusing on the communal culture of the biblical world.

Jerusalem University College will be hosting its first-ever online seminar on January 10 and 11. The event is free and open to the public.

Now available from ACOR (free pdfs): Archaeology in Jordan 2: 2018 and 2019 Seasons, edited by Pearce Paul Creasman, John D.M. Green, and China P. Shelton. This publication features over 50 reports on archaeological fieldwork, conservation initiatives, and publication projects in Jordan.

New: My Nine Lives: Sixty Years in Israeli and Biblical Archaeology, by William G. Dever

Favorably reviewed in the NY Times: A World Beneath the Sands: The Golden Age of Egyptology, by Toby Wilkinson.

Ferrell Jenkins has a lengthy, informative post about the problem of emperor worship faced by the seven churches in Revelation.

Leen Ritmeyer’s post on the synagogue of Capernaum includes a number of beautiful reconstruction drawings.

Wrapping up her long-distance internship with the PEF, Jade Dang explains how the maps of the Survey of Western Palestine provide a fascinating snapshot of history.

December is the perfect month for an archaeological biography on Herod the Great.

“Who Were the Maccabees, Really? Hannukah, the Hasmoneans and Jewish Memory,” A Conversation with Prof. Joseph Angel and Prof. Steven Fine, Dec 15, 11 am EST.

In asking why Jews today do not read a scroll for Hanukkah, David Golinkin recalls that historically the Scroll of Antiochus was read, but he proposes beginning a new custom by reading 1 Maccabees 1-4.

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


3 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup, Part 1

  1. Dear Dr. Bolen, Hi!!! I just read your article. Thank you for everything that you do! I wrote this ten years ago on Dr. Aren Maeir’s blog. Back then you could get bullae approved for export by the IAA, but today I do not think it is possible. With Much Gratitude and Admiration, Michael

    Michael Welch
    Dear Drs. Maeir and Goren, Hi!!! Thermoluminescence is the only clear scientific method to use on burnt bullae to determine their authenticity. So, Dr. Maeir is correct. It is nice to see that Dr. Goren continues to state that he has authenticated bullae belonging to King Hezekiah which were purchased on the Israel antiquities market. Thus, confirming the authenticity of some of the bullae published by Dr. Robert Deutsch in his “Lasting Impressions” article in Biblical Archaeology Review. I am also very happy that he thinks that this bulla should be checked out. I too think that it and all of the thousand plus bullae published by Dr. Deutsch should be examined as well. What really makes no sense in Dr. Goren’s analysis of the clay of the bulla of Berekhyahu son of Neriyahu the scribe is the initial cost of this bulla number 9 which is found in the book- Hebrew Bullae From The Time Of Jeremiah by Dr. Nahman Avigad. The price of this bulla on the antiquities market in 1975 when they began to appear would have been less than ten dollars. So Dr. Goren would have the public believe that some antiquities dealer used microscopic engraving techniques and stamped bullae number 199 of King Hezekiah so poorly that Professor Avigad put it towards the end of his book and restored the NYHU letters that were remaining to Adoniyahu. Yet these antiquities dealers decided to make a microscopic seal of Berekhyahu the scribe and stamp it crystal clear. It just makes no financial sense whatsoever. If these dealers were really in it for the money, the bullae would have been made and sold with this in mind. Instead they were sold to Mr. Yoav Sasson and Dr. Reuben Hecht very cheaply, because no one back in 1975 had the experience of knowing how valuable and important these bullae were/are. Today bullae like these are still for sale on the Israel Antiquities market. If you type in bullae on the search line on eBay today, six apparently ancient and authentic bullae/bullae fragments come up for sale at a site that is licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority. I believe that five of these bullae are for sale for about $160( one bulla fragment has the letters MSLM or Meshullam) and one apparently three lined bullae fragment is for sale for about $230. Just think what these bullae sold for in 1975, when they were mainly considered just little pieces of interesting clay. With Much Gratitude and Admiration, Michael
    July 11, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    1. Dear Dr. Bolen, Hi!!! Off and on this week, I have tried to find an article that I read years ago where Dr. Ada Yardeni had said she would quit if the James Ossuary inscription was fake. It turned out it was in your article:

      James Ossuary Inscription: Experts Support Authenticity

      By Todd Bolen
      Posted on April 14, 2011

      Recent commentary on fraudulent discoveries sometimes includes sideswipes at the ossuary inscription of James, brother of Jesus. If forgeries are still being manufactured, then obviously the James Ossuary inscription is a forgery is as well, apparently goes the logic. Recently, Gideon Avni, employee of the Israel Antiquities Authority, published an article in which he argued not that the inscription is a forgery, but that such is old news and we can now look back on the debate as a historical footnote.

      Oded Golan, one of those accused of forging the inscription, has written a lengthy defense of the antiquity of the James Ossuary inscription and the Jehoash Tablet. If he speaks accurately of the testimony at the trial (and I believe that he does), then the situation is entirely different than Avni has portrayed. He lists nine world-class scholars who testified in court that they believe the inscription is authentic or possibly authentic.

      André Lemaire – testified that he has no doubt the entire inscription is ancient.

      Ada Yardeni – “If this is a forgery, I quit.”

      Haggai Misgav – found no indication of forgery in the inscription.

      Shmuel Ahituv – sees no support for the allegation that the inscription is a forgery.

      Yosef Naveh – found no indication that the inscription is a forgery.

      Y. L. Rahmani – sees no indication that any part of the inscription was forged.

      Esther Eshel – testified that her doubts are not based on scientific grounds and cannot rule out the possibility that entire inscription is ancient.

      Ronny Reich – “Each of the features of the inscription on its own and together, without exception, indicate that this is an authentic inscription from the late Second Temple Period.”

      Gabriel Barkay – knows of no scientific evidence to doubt the authenticity of the entire ossuary inscription.

      In short, one can maintain that (part of) the inscription is a forgery, but it is inaccurate to claim that all or even most scholars in the field hold this position. Golan observes that Yuval Goren, one of the earliest and most vocal advocates of forgery, re-visited his study and identified ancient patina in the one letter of the word “Jesus.” He concluded in his court testimony, “Therefore, ultimately, if you are asking me here to draw some conclusion, the conclusion is that I am undecided. I am deliberating.”

      According to Golan, at the conclusion of the closing arguments, the prosecutor observed that the State would probably dismiss the forgery charges concerning the James Ossuary if the indictment did not also include other charges.

      Whether or not the inscription refers to two figures mentioned in the New Testament is a separate issue, but it seems clear that there is no consensus that the James Ossuary inscription is forged.

      Indeed, the best scholars in the field are on record testifying to its authenticity. Accepting that the entire inscription may be ancient does not require one to believe that Golan is an honest individual, that antiquities trade should continue, or that forgeries are not prolific and profitable.

      Tagged Forgery

      Since this current bulla of Shema the servant of Yeroboam II is to be published in an upcoming Eretz Yisrael volume dedicated to Dr. Ada Yardeni, I had thought about what she had said. As it turned out Dr. Yuval Goren admitted during the forgery trial that the brother of Jesus or the last half of the James Ossuary inscription contained ancient patina. Thus, the inscription is authentic. Do you agree that most all of the items thought to be forgeries in the 2004 forgery trial, which was mainly against Dr. Robert Deutsch and Mr. Oded Golan, are authentic and not forgeries. Thank you for everything that you do! With Much Gratitude and Admiration, Michael

      1. Hi Michael, thank you for your comment. I am not an expert in this field. My conclusions are based upon listening to other experts. Based on that, I still believe that the artifacts in the Oded Golan trial are authentic, including the James Ossuary (complete) inscription and the Jehoash Inscription.

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