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Bryan Windle identifies the top three reports in biblical archaeology in December.

Funding has been allocated to install a new, retractable floor in the Colosseum of Rome. The restored version will include replicas of trapdoors, lifts and other mechanical elements.

Michael Arnold explains how Phoenicia’s banking and commerce allowed them to thrive in the Mediterranean world for a millennium.

A new project is examining the impact of dams on archaeology and heritage in the Middle East and North Africa.

New: Jerusalem and Other Holy Places as Foci of Multireligious and Ideological Confrontation, edited by Pieter B. Hartog, Shulamit Laderman, Vered Tohar, and Archibald L.H.M. van Wieringen

New: M. Campeggi, Karkemish. Report on the Investigations in the Area of the Halaf Kilns at Yunus, by M. Campeggi (fascicle for purchase; download free)

New: Zoara, the Southern Ghor of Jordan: A Guide to the Landscape and Heritage of the Lowest Place on Earth, by Konstantinos D. Politis (open access)

Francesco M. Benedettucci has created a very extensive listing of internet resources on the archaeology of Jordan. The latest updates are provided on his Academia page.

Mark Wilson has published an article in Adalya: “The Discovery of a Menorah in Attalia (Kaleici, Antalya) and its Significance for Jewish Communities in Pamphylia” (pdf).

Online lecture on Jan 5: Ido Koch will be speaking on “One Hundred Years of Assyrian Colonialism,” from the campaigns of Tiglath-pileser III to Ashurbanipal. To receive the Zoom link, write to write to [email protected].

Online lecture on Jan 14: Why are the Dead Sea Scrolls so Sensational?, by James Charlesworth

“Alex Joffe, JP Dessel, and Rachel Hallote announce a new podcast, This Week in the Ancient Near East. Recent episodes feature discussions of the role of a comet in ushering in plant and animal domestication, the discovery of cannabis and frankincense in a Judean temple, an Iron Age figurine suggested to depict the face of God, and other new and interesting finds.” Listen or subscribe on Podbean, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

The latest on Thin End of the Wedge podcast: Daniel Nicky: Teaching Mesopotamia through music.

In a flashy new video, Aren Maeir invites you to join his team in excavating the Philistine city of Gath this coming summer.

Mike Beall and Mike Markowitz provide a tour of coins of the Bible in a 33-minute video conversation.

Carl Rasmussen gives some suggestions for enjoying what he considers to be the most beautiful museum in Athens: The New Acropolis Museum.

HT: Agade, Explorator, Ted Weis, Arne Halbakken, Paleojudaica, Ferrell Jenkins

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Happy new year to everyone! May we walk wisely in the days ahead.

A new agreement between Israel’s Finance Ministry and the Israel Antiquities Authority will speed up rescue excavations by allowing private companies to bid on carrying out the excavations.

Following the discovery of a Roman bathhouse in Amman, authorities have to decide whether to preserve the antiquities or construct the planned drainage channel.

Egypt has completed the restoration of a temple of Isis in Aswan.

A limestone relief from the Late Period was illegally excavated, stolen, smuggled out of Egypt, tracked through the internet, recovered in New York, and repatriated.

Examination of elephant tusk DNA found on a shipwreck reveals the impact of ivory trade on elephant herds in Africa.

An Achaemenid pedestal and base was discovered in a garden near Persepolis.

“Underwater excavation, borehole drilling, and modelling suggests a massive paleo-tsunami struck near the ancient settlement of Tel Dor between 9,910 to 9,290 years ago.”

Ariel David looks at how the Israelites went from being a people who worshipped idols to a people who did not (Haaretz premium).

Haaretz runs a story on a recent documentary that presents Israel Finkelstein’s views of Kiriath Jearim and how it rewrites biblical history.

Amanda Borschel-Dan provides a review of her 2020 articles “broken down into studies of provenance; who wrote the Bible and on what; how “pure science” is aiding archaeologists confirm historical events; and a number of “firsts” from deep in pre-history.”

Ken Dark clarifies his views about the house in the church crypt in Nazareth, noting that while the Byzantines believed they had found the childhood home of Jesus, there is no way to prove that.

‘Atiqot 101 (2020) is now online, including articles on an ancient pool next to the Pool of Siloam in the City of David.

The Met’s Imaging Department has created a short video showing the interior of a 19th-century model of Solomon’s temple.

HT: Agade, Explorator, Ted Weis, Arne Halbakken, Paleojudaica

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For a year in which most excavations were cancelled, it was remarkably fruitful for archaeology in general. Some of that is owing to the continuation of certain excavations such as rescue projects sponsored by the government. In other cases, discoveries made in previous years were only announced in 2020.

The following list prioritizes archaeological discoveries closer in time and place to the biblical record. It was prepared from a survey of the year’s roundups, without consulting other lists (see below for links to those).

In addition to the top ten, I have included a good number of additional discoveries, primarily as a reminder of just how many interesting finds were made in a year that might otherwise be considered a loss.

1. Three royal (Proto-Aeolic) capitals were discovered south of ancient Jerusalem, providing beautiful evidence of a building that once served Manasseh or Josiah.

2. A large administrative complex dating to the time of Kings Hezekiah and Manasseh was discovered two miles south of the Old City. Finds included more than 120 LMLK jar handles.

3. A stone measuring table and several dozen stone weights were discovered in a plaza along the first-century AD street from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount. Archaeologists believe that the area it was found served as the Jerusalem’s central market.

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

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

6. 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).

7. A Canaanite temple was discovered during excavations of Lachish.

8. More than 100 sarcophagi from the Ptolemaic period have been discovered at Saqqara in Egypt.

9. Archaeologists working in Kurdistan have exposed ten new rock inscriptions from the reign of Sargon II.

10. A subterranean complex was chiseled out of the bedrock near the Western Wall before Jerusalem was conquered in AD 70.

Noteworthy stories:

Discoveries by young people:

Small finds in Jerusalem:

More discoveries in Jerusalem:

More discoveries in Israel:

Top Stories Related to Tourism:

For shopkeepers and tour operators in the Old City of Jerusalem, COVID-19 has been worse than all the wars. The situation was no better at Petra.

The last land mine was removed from the Jordan River baptismal area near Qaser al-Yahud.

Israel is moving forward on plans to extend the high-speed train line to a station near the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Opposition continues against Jerusalem’s plan for a cable car to the Old City. One study claims that buses and shuttles are a better solution.

Israel has announced the creation of seven new nature reserves in the West Bank: Ariel Cave, Wadi Og, Wadi Malha, the Southern Jordan River, Bitronot Creek, Nahal Tirza, and Rotem-Maskiot.

A new outdoor archaeological exhibit was created in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, featuring 180 items previously scattered around the area.

$40 million will be spent to upgrade the Tower of David Museum, with a plan to double the size of the current museum, including the addition of seven new galleries, a new sunken entrance visitor center outside the Old City walls, and a multi-sensory experience in the Kishle excavations.

The Acropolis in Athens is undergoing a number of renovations to improve safety and enhance the experience for visitors.

Notable Resources of 2020:

Eric H. Cline, Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon

J. Daniel Hays, A Christian’s Guide to Evidence for the Bible: 101 Proofs from History and Archaeology

Titus Kennedy, Unearthing the Bible: 101 Archaeological Discoveries That Bring the Bible to Life

Joel P. Kramer, Where God Came Down: The Archaeological Evidence

Bob Rognlien, Recovering the Way

Appian Media, “Lessons from the Land: The Gospels,” a 13-part video series aimed at elementary-aged students

Bible Land Passages, “Caesarea by the Sea: Rome’s Capital in Israel,” a 20-minute documentary featuring 3D digital models

Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours, Biblical Israel by Air, with 69 minutes of drone footage of beautiful sites

The Complete ibiblestock Video Library includes more than 4.5 hours of footage.

The Photo Companion to the Bible:

The Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, volume 20: Western Mediterranean (1,400 photos)

Losses This Year:

Francis I. Andersen

Magen Broshi

Shlomo Bunimovitz

Gideon Foerster

Norman Golb

Thomas O. Lambdin

Patrick D. Miller

Shalom Paul

James Sanders

William H. Shea

David Stronach

Other Compilations:

Gordon Govier identified Biblical Archaeology’s Top 10 Discoveries of 2020 in a report for Christianity Today.

Bryan Windle provides his list of the top ten discoveries in 2020.

Lawrence Schiffman wrote about discoveries made in 2020 for Ami Magazine.

Ruth Schuster summarizes the top biblical archaeology stories for Haaretz (premium).

Israel365News posts their top 10 archaeological finds in 2020 that are confirmed in the Bible.

Gizmodo has created a slideshow of about a dozen intriguing archaeological discoveries in 2020.

The Greek Reporter reviews the top ten most spectacular Greek archaeological discoveries of 2020.

The archaeology website Arkeofili suggests the top 10 archaeological finds in Turkey and North Cyprus in 2020.

Gulf News lists 38 archaeological highlights, organized by continent and date announced.

HeritageDaily identifies the 10 most prominent archaeological discoveries of 2020.

Archaeology magazine’s top 10 discoveries of the decade includes finds from Greece and Egypt, but nothing from Israel, Jordan, or Turkey.

Previous Years:

You can revisit the top stories of previous years with these links:

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Archaeologists excavating a commercial market in Baalbek found a mosaic from the Roman period.

Though archaeologists have found some 80 thermopolia in Pompeii, they have only now (apparently) completely excavated an entire one. This article has lots of photos.

The Dead Cities, also called the ‘Forgotten Cities,’ are a series of ancient towns, monuments, and settlements located in North-Western Syria on the Aleppo plateau.”

A study has determined that Egyptian mummied baboons came from the area of modern Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Yemen, suggesting that this was the area of ancient Punt.

In photos: The forgotten Nubian pyramids of Sudan

“Hidden beneath the sands of the Arabian Peninsula lie secrets dating back thousands of years that tell the story of the people of Arabia.”

Epic Iran is an exhibit opening in London in February that will showcase 5,000 years of Iranian culture.

The latest British Museum ancient city travel guide features the amazing Persepolis in the year 500 BC.

CNN looks at the history of the mausoleum of Augustus as preparations are made to open it as a tourist site in March.

New: The Royal Inscriptions of Sargon II, King of Assyria (721–705 BC), by Grant Frame. Use NR20 for 30% off.

New: The Restoration of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, edited By Claudio Alessandri.

Aren Maeir’s recent lecture on Philistine Gath is online.

Daniel Master will be lecturing on Jan 7 by Zoom on the Philistines in an event hosted by The Museum of the Bible.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Explorator, Ted Weis

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Archaeologists have found a ritual bath from the first century at the traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane.

Palestinian farmers have discovered a Hasmonean fortress that can be explored but not excavated.

Archaeologists have recreated a realistic ancient floor from the courts of the Jerusalem temple in Herod’s day.

“A unique Byzantine-era blessing token featuring baby Jesus was recently unveiled by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.”

A new study in dental calculus reveals that “that ancient Mediterranean civilizations were importing everything from chickens to black pepper and vanilla from as far away as India and Indonesia.”

“An olive press in ancient Yodfat, in northern Israel, sheds light on the role of olive oil in Jews’ lives 2,000 years ago” (Haaretz premium).

“Long Live King David” is a new 1-hour documentary featuring Israel Finkelstein, Yossi Garfinkel, and Eilat Mazar.

Rami Arav recently discussed a pair of spooning skeletons he excavated at et-Tell, a Geshurite city near biblical Bethsaida.

Aren Maeir shares photos from his recent visit to the Museum of the Philistine Culture in Ashdod.

Gideon Avni will be lecturing on Jan 6 at 5pm GMT by Zoom on “Jerusalem between Late Antiquity and Early Islam—The Creation of a Multicultural City.” An announcement is not yet posted online, but you can register at the email address on this page.

The Carta Jerusalem Bible Reference Collection (13 vols) for Logos Bible Software ships soon.

Recordings of 2020 lectures for the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society are available on their website.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Explorator

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Archaeologists are excavating a large defensive moat at an 9th-8th century BC Phoenicia colony in Spain.

“Curator St John Simpson reveals what happened after he saw a rare plaque from ancient Iraq on an online auction site.”

“Researchers have found evidence of the oldest gynaecological treatment on record, performed on a woman who lived in Ancient Egypt some 4,000 years ago.”

The first-ever archaeological replicas factory in Egypt is under construction.

Preparations are underway for transporting 22 royal mummies to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.

A neurologist in Iraq has spent more than 15 years photographing his country and sharing those pictures with the world.

Don McNeeley reports on the annual meeting of the Near East Archaeological Society held last month.

Michaeline Wilkins divided the Hebrew of the Song of Songs into male and female parts and then she and her husband read the text.

Zoom webinar on Dec 22: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament, by Lawrence H. Schiffman. Registration required.

Zoom lecture on Dec 23: Writing on the Wall: Graffiti and the Forgotten Jews of Antiquity, by Karen Stern

Thin End of the Wedge podcast: Nicolò Marchetti: Nineveh 2020. How and why archaeology?

A Roman warship is the latest Legos Ideas project to reach 10,000 supporters.

Susan Masten identifies the 10 most important ancient coins ever minted.

Ferrell Jenkins looks at three strata of paganism at Pergamum, the city “where Satan dwells.”

Tutku Tours has a few spots left for familiarization trips for professors this spring to Turkey and Jordan. Two great reasons to consider joining: (1) Mark Wilson is leading; (2) $1,990 includes air. (It costs almost that much just for the entrance ticket to Petra!)

HT: Ted Weis, Agade, Joseph Lauer, Mark Hoffman, Explorator

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