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I am personally very interested in Jerusalem in the Old Testament period (aka First Temple period), so I’m going to indulge myself by writing yet again on a third article (of four total) from that era in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Archaeological Discoveries, 1998-2018. This article is also by Eilat Mazar, and it is entitled “The Royal Quarter Built by King Solomon in the Ophel of Jerusalem in Light of Recent Excavations (2009-2013).”

As before, I am handicapped by not being able to show you the diagrams and archaeological photos in the article. There really are some spectacular views, without overgrown weeds, faded placards, or some tourist who just won’t move out of your way! But my goal in these brief summaries is to give you a sense for what they’ve found, along with a pointer to where you can read more.

Let’s start with a definition: the Ophel, according to this article, is the area between the City of David (to the south) and the Temple Mount (to the north). I’m not so sure that this is how the Bible uses the term (cf. 2 Chr 27:3; 33:14; Neh 3:26-27; 11:21), but that’s how it is used here. If you want to see these discoveries in person, you need to go to the “Southern Temple Mount Excavations,” later renamed the “Jerusalem Archaeological Park” (as if there is only one), and marked by the Davidson Center near the entrance.

This article focuses on Mazar’s work on the southern end of the excavation area (just north of the modern road that takes buses to the Western Wall). Here she found some monumental architecture which she dates to the time of Solomon. In fact, four of the five buildings date to the time of Solomon, with the fifth from the time of David. She writes, “One gets the impression that the construction of buildings in the Ophel ended during the third quarter of the 10th century BCE.”

Building I she identifies as “the Far House,” proposing that it served King David and his allies when he fled from Absalom (2 Sam 15:17). The NASB translation reads, “The king went out and all the people with him, and they stopped at the last house.” Mazar writes, “The features of bayt ha-merhaq [the far house] as described in the Bible match in date and location those of the early structure in the Ophel and it is possible that they are the same building.” I think I would have more confidence in that conclusion if we had other buildings from this time period to compare it with (and thereby determine that this in fact was the “farthest” one), but we don’t.

Building II was a fortress-tower even further than the “far house,” but she dates it to a few decades later. She estimates its size at 50 by 40 feet, though much of the structure has not yet been uncovered.

But she thinks it fits with a description in Nehemiah 3:27 of “the great projecting tower.”

Building III is the gatehouse and casemate wall. Other archaeologists aren’t so sure that this was a gatehouse (only a portion of the structure was preserved), but if it is, this is the only known gatehouse from Jerusalem prior to the “Middle Building” mentioned in the Babylonian conquest description of Jeremiah 39.

Building IV is the “Straight Wall” and it has a length of more than 100 feet, with a width of 8 feet.

Nehemiah mentions a portion of the wall that is called “straight” (Neh 3:25), and Mazar believes that she has found it.

Building V is the casemate wall, also built during the time of Solomon, as one of the elements in “the wall of Jerusalem” (1 Kgs 3:1). So Mazar has found this as well.

This is all truly fascinating, especially given the almost complete lack of material elsewhere in Jerusalem from the time of David and Solomon. My advice, though, to someone who has identified so much is to stop digging before you run out of biblical names to associate with your discoveries.

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Peter Feinman summarizes some papers on the subject of the 10th century BC given at the recent ASOR conference.

Andrea Nicolotti looks for archaeological evidence for the scourging of Jesus.

“Italy’s highest court ruled that a 2000-year-old bronze statue, known as ‘Victorious Youth,’ should be returned to that country by the Getty Villa.”

A well-illustrated BBC feature explains how ISIS’s destruction of a mosque revealed an Assyrian palace.

I am very happy that Wipf and Stock has re-published David Dorsey’s The Roads and Highways of Ancient Israel. For too long, you could only find used copies of this excellent resource for $200 and up.

Lois Tverberg’s excellent Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus is on sale with bigger discounts if you order 2-4 copies.

Everything at Eisenbrauns is 30% off with coupon EEOY18.

Bible Land Passages has now released 10 episodes that connect the biblical stories to the biblical world, using historical, geographical, and archaeological data. The episodes are available for free online as well as for purchase on DVD. The latest episode is entitled “Khirbet Qeiyafa: Witness to David’s Kingdom.” Episode 11, “The Power of Jesus in Galilee,” will be released next month.

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

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In Caesarea, a remarkable Crusader-era cache of 24 gold coins and an earring was found in a small bronze pot, hidden between two stones in the side of a well.

The NY Times has a summary of the Pilate ring discovery. Robert Cargill prefers the theory that the ring belonged to one of Pilate’s papyrus-pushing administrators. Ferrell Jenkins shares a number of related photos.

Archaeologists working at Timna Park opened their excavation to volunteers from the public for three days during Hanukkah.

The second in a series of 12 objects from the Temple Mount Sifting Project is an arrowhead from the 10th century BC.

Jim Davila tries to unravel the latest with the Qumran caves with potential Dead Sea Scroll material (with a follow-up here).

Matthew Adams gives an update on the Jezreel Valley Regional Project on The Book and the Spade.

Israel is on pace to hit a new annual record of 4 million tourists this year.

Episode 1 in Wayne Stiles’s excellent “The Promised That Changed the World” is now available. You can sign up to get free access to all three episodes.

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

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Appian Media has released a trailer for their new series, “Searching for a King.” They have some impressive footage. They also are asking for some quick help with a survey.

“At the annual meeting this week of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Denver, Colorado, scholars will discuss whether to rechristen the 118-year-old society on the grounds that its moniker is irrelevant and racist.” There’s more here.

Mary Shepperson recounts the “turbulent life” of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq. The article includes some interesting photos.

Iraqi technicians are restoring ancient Babylon under a U.S.-funded project, with the goal of making the site worthy of UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

New book: Archaeogaming: An Introduction to Archaeology in and of Video Games, by Andrew Reinhard.

Mosaics looted from Turkey and sold to Bowling Green State University are now being returned.

Lawrence Schiffman explains how Dead Sea Scroll forgeries were exposed by high-tech tests.

Yosef Garfinkel’s recent lecture at the Lanier Theological Library is now online, and Carl Rasmussen recommends it. The library has also made available many seminar videos from 2012 to present.

Artofthe.Bible is a new catalog of 5,800 works of art from wikimedia arranged in 116 Bible stories.

“A Biblical Spice Rack” was published in Bible Review in 1997 and is now available online through Bible History Daily.

Robert Alter has completed his translation of the entire Hebrew Bible. It will be released in time for
Christmas. (An Amazon coupon code good through today will save $5 off purchase of $20 or more: NOVBOOK18.)

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Ted Weis, Mark Hoffman, Charles Savelle, Chris McKinny

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Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a mass slaying carried out during the reign of Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus. The article briefly mentions other updates provided at a conference this week in Jerusalem. (The conference schedule is online here.)

Breaking Israel News has created a 3-minute video about the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in Israel, located on the Mount of Olives.

The inauguration ceremony for Tel Hebron is scheduled for Tuesday.

“The Story of Ancient Glass in Israel” is a 12-minute video created by the Friends of the Israel
Antiquities Authority.

There is controversy over a new bill in Israel that would allow guides without licenses to serve pilgrims and some foreign groups.

Walking the Text has just announced a Turkey Study Trip for next August.

James McGrath visited the Museum of the Bible and shares a photo essay.

Timothy P. Harrison will be lecturing at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School on Monday, Oct 29 at 7 pm in Hinckson Hall. His topic is “A Kingdom of Idols: Tayinat (ancient Kunulua) and the Land of Palastin.”

Now online: Yosef Garfinkel’s recent lecture on “Searching for the Historical King David: Excavating Kh. Qeyiafa and Kh. al-Ra’i.”

HT: Joseph Lauer, A.D. Riddle, Jared Clark

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Archaeologists working at et-Tell (aka Bethsaida) have been uncovering an 11th-10th century BC wall with towers this season.

The excavation season has concluded at el-Araj (aka Bethsaida) and daily updates have been posted here. An excerpt from the last day: “This year we demonstrated that the settlement was widespread, and not limited to a small area. This was no mean city. What began around 30 CE as Herod Philip’s transformation of a Jewish fishing village into a polis, evolved over the centuries into a wealthy community.”

Excavations this summer at Huqoq revealed mosaics in the synagogue’s north aisle, including a scene of the Israelite spies, a youth leading an animal, and a fragmentary Hebrew inscription reading
“Amen selah.”

Archaeologists are drawing conclusions on Christian-Muslim relations in the 7th century on the basis of a brass weight discovered at Hippos (Sussita).

The work at Tel Burna is still humming along.

From Aren Maeir’s posts, the excavators at Gath keep having one great day after another.

The wheeled cart depicted at the Capernaum synagogue is not the ark of the covenant.

Sixteen images of Qumran taken by Philip R. Davies in 1970–71 are posted online.

A new exhibit focused on life in New Testament times has opened in the Terra Sancta Museum in Jerusalem.

A rare coin from the fourth year of the Jewish Revolt has been discovered in debris from the City of David.

A complex rescue operation salvaged pottery from the Second Temple period in western Galilee.
Israel’s Good Name visited the Carmel region, with stops at Ramat HaNadiv, the Carmel Caves, Dor HaBonim, Tel Dor, and more.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is running out of funds, and they now have a quadruple match grant.

New: A Walk to Caesarea, by Joseph Patrich. (Available only in Israel, apparently.)

Ephraim Stern’s life is remembered by Hillel Geva in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Ada Yardeni died recently.

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

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