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A sceptre about 3,200 years old made of copper and coated in silver leaf found in the biblical city of Lachish could be the first evidence of life-sized ‘divine statues’ in the Levant.”

Excavations of the underground Siloam Street have been (or were) halted after engineering instruments detected that the ground was moving.

Contrary to previous belief, chalkstone vessels continued to be used in the Galilee for several centuries after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.

“Israeli archaeologists have published a 360-degree analysis of a rural, affluent Christian town in the Galilee that was most likely destroyed by Persian invaders in 613.”

Analysis of bird remains excavated in Jerusalem confirmed that specific species of birds – pigeons, doves – were indeed sacrificed in the Temple as the biblical text suggests. The story is based on an article in the latest issue of BASOR.

Roman and Byzantine mosaic floors provide insights into how humans restrained animals by the use of cages, ropes, knots, other tethering devices.

“A large number of archaeological sites in the West Bank, including many that are part of Jewish history and tradition, will be placed or remain under Palestinian control according to US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.”

An Explainer piece by Rossella Tercatin in the Jerusalem Post reveals who is in control of the archaeological sites in the West Bank.

Why is the Israel Museum still closed?

Ferrell Jenkins shares some photos and insights about the Judean wilderness.

Daniel Santacruz shares a dozen photos of wildflowers he took near his home in Maale Adumim.

This week we released volume #20 in the Pictorial Library of the Bible Lands. The Western Mediterranean collection focuses on Roman sites in Gaul (France) and Hispania (Spain) and includes more than 1,400 photos and 25 PowerPoints. The sale price ($25) ends on Tuesday.

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

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(Post by A.D. Riddle)

Ancient Rome was a large and magnificent city, and while there are lots of impressive structures to be seen today, there are many ruins scattered around and under the modern city. The Atlas of Ancient Rome, quite an extraordinary work in its own right, takes up the task of illustrating the ancient city with plans, reconstructions, and other drawings. This two-volume set is a translation of an original Italian work edited by Andrea Carandini.

The first volume contains “Text and Images” and clocks in at 640 pages. The opening chapters include topics such as “The Natural Landscape” and “The Historical Landscape” and “Building Techniques.” These are followed by 14 chapters corresponding to the 14 Regiones of the ancient city. Each chapter covers the diachronic development of the city for that particular zone, so that, for example, you can without great difficulty focus your study specifically on Rome in the Age of Augustus or specifically on Flavian Rome. In volume one, you will also find a couple dozen beautiful and illuminating reconstruction drawings. I try to show off some of these reconstructions in the following video, and you can also view samples at the atlas’s dedicated webpage.

The atlas is not cheap. The publisher’s price is $200, and Amazon lists it for $169. Is it worth it? Volume one is quite impressive, but $169 is a stretch. My initial instinct was to set aside the second volume for later because it contains “Tables and Indexes.” I assumed “Tables and Indexes” would amount to lots of boring text giving statistics and other data. But when I cracked the cover on volume two, I realized that boy, had I got it wrong. Of the 464 pages, only about 45 page are black-and-white text. It turns out volume two is page after page after page of remarkable full-color plans, diagrams, and maps. Below is a short video in which I flip through some pages to give an idea of the content. You really have to hold it in your hands. After this, the price tag started to make more sense.

I am not a scholar of Rome, but I highly suspect that if your interest in the city goes deeper than the surface, then this two-volume set is a must-have. If you do not fit that description, then you will still probably want to encourage your library to get a copy.

Carandini, Andrea, ed.
2017 The Atlas of Ancient Rome. 2 vols. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Related sites:

YouTube video highlighting Atlas’s features, by Princeton University Press
Princeton University Press’s description of Atlas
Atlas’s dedicated webpage

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The completely buried Roman city of Falerii Novi has been mapped with radar technology.

An Egyptian archaeologist is using technology, including Google tools, to assist in the work of preserving and documenting her nation’s heritage.

A research study is using AI to analyze ancient feces and learning in the process of the relationship between humans and dogs.

Phillip J. Long provides a helpful review of a valuable up-to-date summary of the DSS and their relation to Qumran: Scribes and Scrolls at Qumran, by Sidnie White Crawford.

The final publication of Tall Zira’a, Volume 6, Hellenistic to Umayyad Period (Strata 8–3) is now available online as a free download.

‘Atiqot 99 (2020) is now online.

“Tutankhamun In Colour,” a BBC program featuring colorized photos from Howard Carter’s Egyptian explorations, will air on June 18.

Context Matters is a weekly podcast begun earlier this year and hosted by Cyndi Parker.

In a BBC audio presentation, Bridget Kendall explores ancient Babylon with four experts.

More than 1,000 color sides taken by Kenneth Russell have been added to the ACOR Photo Archive.

Carl Rasmussen shares a photo of an ancient papyrus attesting that a man had offered sacrifices to the gods—a way of proving that one was not a Christian.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is now offering “remote sifting.”

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

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The Jerusalem Post runs a story on the 2013 discovery of a winery at Jezreel. A scholarly article was published this year on the excavation in the Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies.

Analysis of pottery workshops in the Jerusalem area reveals changes brought about by the Roman destruction of the city in AD 70. The underlying journal article was recently published in BASOR.

In his latest “Discussions with the Diggers,” Bryan Windle interviews Robert Mullins, focusing on his current excavations of Abel Beth Maacah. (I read yesterday that Yadin in the 1950s would have preferred to excavate Abel instead of Hazor, but he was unable to because of the military situation.)

Virtual conference on June 15-16: On the Origin of the Pieces: The Provenance of the Dead Sea Scrolls

W. Raymond Johnson of the Oriental Institute gave a lecture this week on “Medinet Habu and Tell el-Amarna: Tales of Blocks and Towers.”

SBL Press has “unpublished” Burton MacDonald’s A History of Ancient Moab from the Ninth to First Centuries BCE after determining that it “does not adequately adhere to the expected standard of marking all direct quotations from other sources.” (If you want a copy, better grab one now. Or if you already purchased, you can send it back for a refund.)

New release: A Week in the Life of Ephesus, by David A. deSilva. I enjoy the way this series makes learning historican context enjoyable. (Also available in Logos.)

Kris Udd gave a one-day Seminar on Bible Chronology at his church a few months ago, and he has made the videos and print materials available for free download. I have benefitted from Dr. Udd’s excellent chronology materials for many years, and I am happy to see them made widely available.

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

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(Post by A.D. Riddle)

On my last trip to the Middle East, I was able to spend some time in London at the British Museum. At the bookshop inside the museum, I discovered a guidebook to the museum. It is not new, but it was new to me. The book is entitled Through the British Museum with the Bible, and if you are planning to spend time in the British Museum anytime soon, I highly recommend this guide. The British Museum is awesomely vast, and you could get lost in it for days. This guide (and others like it) will help you get more out of your time there, and make sure you do not miss the important stuff.

Through the British Museum with the Bible is authored by Brian Edwards and Clive Anderson and is already in its 5th edition.

What do I like about this guidebook? First, unlike other Bible guides for the British Museum, this one is actually the correct size for a guidebook. That is to say, it easily fits in a pocket so that you can have it with you while remaining hands-free. It is also written as a guidebook, providing such information as (1) the gallery and display case where an object is located, (2) brief but sufficient descriptions to understand the object and how it connects to the Bible, and (3) a photo of the object which helps in locating it quickly.

Second, Through the British Museum with the Bible covers a larger number of objects than the other two guides by Mitchell and Masters, listed below. This means it should be useful for more than a single day at the museum.

The other two guides mentioned above are:

(1)  T. C. Mitchell’s The Bible in the British Museum: Interpreting the Evidence (2004). This book covers 72 objects in the British Museum. It is slightly heavier with text, and might be better read before and after your visit to the museum. In my opinion, it is too much reading to do while you are actually in the museum.

(2)  Peter Masters’ Heritage of Evidence in the British Museum, 2nd edition (2016). [I am told the 2nd edition reflects changes in gallery and case numbers as the museum has rotated objects, but is essentially the same content as the 1st edition (2004).] This is a very good guidebook as well.

As I was preparing this blog post, I discovered there is a long history of writing books that relate objects in the British Museum to the text of the Bible. Some of these earlier books can be found online for free.

Kitchin, James George.
     1890     The Bible Student in the British Museum: A Descriptive Guide to the                      Principal Antiquities Which Illustrate and Confirm the Sacred                              History. London: Cassell & Co.

Kinns, Samuel.
     1891     Graven in the Rock, or, The Historical Accuracy of the Bible                                  Confirmed by Reference to the Assyrian and Egyptian Monuments                      in the British Museum and Elsewhere. London: Cassell & Co.

Habershon, Ada R.
     1909     The Bible and the British Museum. London: Morgan and Scott.

Jannaway, Frank G.
     1922     The British Museum With Bible In Hand. London: Sampson, Low,                      Marston & Co.

As a final note, Through the British Museum with the Bible is published by DayOne Publications. As I peruse their website, I see a number of other books that might appeal to readers of this blog. Some examples include: Evidence for the Bible, by the same authors Clive Anderson and Brian Edwards; travel guides for Israel, Jordan, Rome, and Egypt; and books on church history. You might find their website worth a visit.

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A scholarly study uses radiocarbon dating to determine that “Wilson’s Arch was initiated by Herod the Great and enlarged during the Roman Procurators, such as Pontius Pilatus, in a range of 70 years, rather than 700 years, as previously discussed by scholars. The theater-like structure is dated to the days of Emperor Hadrian and left unfinished before 132–136 AD.”

A 1,800-year-old fountainhead in the shape of a face was uncovered by chance by a visitor at the Tzipori [Sepphoris] National Park in the Galilee.”

Rami Arav discusses his excavations at et-Tell and a newly discovered moon god stele (Haaretz premium).

Excavations will not be possible at el-Araj (Bethsaida?) this summer because of the high water level. The article includes many photos.

NPR has a story on the Israeli and Jordanian sides of the tourist site for Jesus’s baptism, including a discussion of creating a new “soft crossing” to allow tourists to enter Jordan from the Israeli side.

A new study of the DNA of 35 fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls is providing insight into the diverse origins of the parchments.

Mark Vitalis Hoffman has published an interesting article on “Jesus and Jerusalem and the ‘Things That Make for Peace.” He has also created a video to supplement the article.

Gabriel Barkay is on The Book and the Spade this week talking about the archaeology of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Israel’s Good Name had a productive trip scouting out the birds and fish at the Beit Zayit Reservoir west of Jerusalem.

A Jerusalem Post piece looks at the resumption of tourism in Israel and the safety measures being put in place.

From boom to bust: with tourism in Israel all but gone, tour guides are considering their options.

The Winter 2019 issue of the ACOR Newsletter is now available (high-res; low-res).

The Bible and Interpretation provides a selection about ancient Moab and the Mesha Stele from the new book by Burton MacDonald.

Gulf News has a write-up on artifacts from Saudi Arabia that are featured in the traveling “Roads of Arabia” exhibit.

Smithsonian magazine has a long, well-illustrated piece on archaeological work in and around Aigai, Philip II’s capital of Macedon. A massive new museum is scheduled to open in January.

The latest historical city travel guide by the British Museum is of Athens in the 5th century BC.

Some stories on re-opening: excavations in Turkey, Vatican Museums, Rome’s Colosseum, Pompeii, Al Ula, Israel’s museums, the Temple Mount.

Two Asian lion cubs were recently born at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Chris McKinny, Agade, Keith Keyser, Steven Anderson, Charles Savelle, Explorator

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About the BiblePlaces Blog

The BiblePlaces Blog provides updates and analysis of the latest in biblical archaeology, history, and geography. Unless otherwise noted, the posts are written by Todd Bolen, PhD, Professor of Biblical Studies at The Master’s University.

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