A friend wrote and asked what my top 3, 5 or 10 discoveries in the British Museum would be. The first thing is to realize that any reduction to such a number is going to eliminate a lot of major finds. 

But there’s also the realization that a person has only so much time and so many brain cells. So here’s my top 15. I can’t reduce it any further than this. The list is in roughly chronological order. Some are more closely related to the Bible than others.

1. Epic of Gilgamesh

2. Amarna Letters

3. Kurkh Stela of Shalmaneser III

4. Black Obelisk

5. Samaria Ivories

6. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib)

7. Lachish Siege Reliefs

8. Shebna Inscription

9. Babylonian Chronicle for 605-594

10. Lachish Letters

11. Cyrus Cylinder

12. Temple of Artemis column

13. Elgin Marbles

14. Rosetta Stone

15. Politarch Inscription

Lachish Siege Reliefs Room

If you want to suggest an addition, please also suggest one of the above to remove.

In any case, if you’re planning a visit, the book that you must get is by Peter Masters, entitled Heritage of Evidence in the British Museum. It used to be hard to find, though I now see it listed for sale at Amazon and here and here.

Does anyone offer a B.A. in the British Museum? That’s not overreaching, in my opinion. Especially given what other college programs exist these days.


If you’re in town at the beginning of August, this looks like fun. Not cheap, but fun…

Rediscover Ancient Jerusalem

The City of David Institute for Jerusalem Studies
Everything you wanted to know about Ancient Jerusalem in one thrilling and up-to date course.

Learn about the most recent discoveries from the experts:
Have we found King David’s Palace?
What did Canaanite Jerusalem really look like?
How did the ancients achieve the engineering wonder of Hezekiah’s tunnel?

The Siloam Pool of the Second Temple Era.
The Hasmonean aqueduct in Armon Hantziv.
Mount of Olives archeological experience- Sift Temple Mount remains with your own hands!

And much more…

Participating Scholars:
Prof. Roni Reich, University of Haifa – Dr. Gabi Barkai, Bar Ilan University – Prof. Joshua Schwartz, Bar Ilan Univarsity – Dr. Eyal Meiron, Hebrew University – Dr. Dan Bahat, Bar Ilan University – Aryeh Rottenberg – Ahron Horowitz – and others.

Where and When:
The course runs from Sunday July 30th 2006 – Wednesday August 2nd 2006. Every day begins with a lecture at the Menachem Begin Center (9.00) followed by light refreshments and a daily tour. Includes a box lunch (dairy), all transportation, and return to the Begin Center at the end of the day (approximately 16.00). The lectures and tours will be conducted in English. Price: 1200 nis, 2000 for couples.

For information and enrollment please contact Ruchama at 054-805-7315, www.cityofdavid.org.il or via email: [email protected]

I can save you some money if you’re just looking for the answers for the three questions above.

1) We don’t know;

2) We don’t know;

3) We don’t know.

 Of course it’s more fun to talk about it for an hour, even if the answer is the same.


The LA Times reports on the deterioration of the ruins of ancient Rome (HT: Explorator). Among the recent problems:

  • A 35-foot wall on the Palatine Hill, where Roman emperors built their lavish villas, collapsed. Fortunately, it fell in the middle of the night and not during the day, when it probably would have crushed tourists.
  • Parts of the Colosseum, ancient Rome’s enormous amphitheater, periodically close because of flooding caused by rain. Signs warn visitors to take cover if high winds kick up.
  • The breathtaking Golden Palace of Nero, opened to the public with great fanfare a few years ago, was shut down when authorities decided they could no longer guarantee visitors’ safety.

The problem is that Rome is a living city and the appropriate investment in maintaining the monuments is not being made.


Readers of this blog know that we’ve followed the transfer of the Jerusalem model from the Holyland Hotel to the Israel Museum (for example, see here and here). The model is now essentially complete and scheduled to be open in two weeks. We, however, got a sneak peak.

There are various alterations to the model (e.g., valleys added, hippodrome removed), but the biggest change that will affect tourists is the two pathways around the model. One is low and close to the model; the other is more distant and elevated. This should work better for crowd control and photography.


This amazing find near Ramle was announced by Hebrew University researchers this week.

Israeli scientists said on Wednesday they had discovered a prehistoric ecosystem dating back millions of years containing eight previously unknown species of crustaceans and invertebrates similar to scorpions.

In a press conference held Wednesday morning at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the researchers said the discovery came about when a small opening was found, leading to a cave extending to a depth of 100 meters beneath the surface of a quarry in the vicinity of Ramle. The quarry is operated by cement manufacturer Nesher Industries.

“Until now eight species of animals were found in the cave, all of them unknown to science,” said Dr. Hanan Dimantman, a biologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Haaretz has the full story and a photo.