Leen Ritmeyer writes:

I felt like a kid in a candy store when I viewed the “American Colony and Eric Matson Collection” of more than 4,000 photographs of sites and scenes from Palestine (as Israel was called then), Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. My attention was immediately drawn to Volume 2: The Temple Mount and it was exciting to see pictures of views that cannot be seen anymore or of places that are now inaccessible. I have been in most of the underground places on the Temple Mount, such as the Golden Gate, the Double and Triple Gate passages and Solomon’s Stables, but was never able to enter the interior of Barclay’s Gate. It was therefore fascinating to see pictures taken in the 1940′s of the interior and see the views which I only knew from the survey drawings of Charles Warren. Each photograph is described by Tom Powers and his comments are very helpful.

You can read the rest here.  You can purchase the entire collection of 4,000 high-resolution images for only $99 here.  You can download for free the Temple Mount photos that Ritmeyer mentions here.


I’ve started a list of active blogs, and would be grateful to learn of any others that you know of.

Gath – this is the best excavation blog I know of, thanks to the tireless work of the archaeologist, Aren Maeir.  This year they are excavating July 4-30, but that’s less important because Maeir updates the blog year-round.

Ashkelon – this is a primarily an educational blog written by one of the supervisors.  Note that this is a new location (as of 7/13).  The season began June 6 and wraps up on July 16.

Bethsaida – the 24th season ran from May 23 to June 26, and brief summaries and photos are posted.

Tel Burna – they had a very successful first season (June 20 – July 1) and I have hopes there will be periodic updates as they do analysis and prepare for next year’s dig.

Tall el-Hammam – the website provides season summaries, but there appears to be no blog updating readers during the winter excavation seasons (upcoming: December 10, 2010 to January 20, 2011).

Hazor – excavations are on-going now (June 20 – July 30), and the current diggers have a Facebook page where they can upload photos and videos.  The official Tel Hazor Facebook page is rather limited, and I am unaware of any blogging about the excavations.

Hippos (Susita) – the website indicates that the 2010 season will run July 4-31.  Mark Schuler has a blog for the Concordia University excavations of the Northeast Church.  Other members of the team have blogs listed at virtualdig.org.

Tall Jalul – this year’s excavation has concluded, but Owen Chesnut will be adding updates periodically throughout the year.  Though less well known, this site is one of the largest in Jordan.

Magdala – this relatively new dig plans to be in the field for an extended period over the next several years (ahead of construction).  The blog seems to be on break, but you can follow along by Twitter @magdalaisrael.

Khirbet el-Maqatir – the two-week season ended June 6.  The dig doesn’t have its own blog, but the organization sponsoring the dig does.

Dig Megiddo 2010 –  this blog is frequently updated with reports from volunteers about their experiences as well as photos posted on Facebook by Eric Cline.  The season this year runs from June 12 to July 29.

Khirbet Qeiyafa – the Elah Fortress website, with all of its photos and summaries, appears to have been deleted.  The Hebrew U website is infrequently updated.  The excavation season this year is June 20 to July 30.  Blogger Luke Chandler is volunteering and may have some reports in the weeks to come. 

Ramat Rahel – the website provides general details only.  Excavations are slated for August 15-26.

Tel Rehov – this is another Israeli dig with (apparently) nothing more than a website.  The season began on June 15 and ends on July 16.

Temple Mount Sifting Project – this blog provides periodic updates on related issues, but daily
finds are not reported. 
In addition to the blogs and new sources (for major discoveries), a couple of radio programs are available online to keep you up to date with interviews with the archaeologists.  These include the

The Book and the Spade (Gordon Govier) and LandMinds (Barnea Levi Selavan and Dovid Willner).

What should be added to this list?  If you know of something that is regularly updated (blog, Facebook, or twitter), please post a comment or send me an email (address on sidebar).  Thanks!

Beth Shemesh excavations, mat09121

Excavations at Beth Shemesh, 1920s
This photo is from the Southern Palestine volume of The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection (Library of Congress, LC-matpc-09121).

An Ottoman weapon was found by conservationists restoring the Old City wall of Jerusalem.  Police sappers were called on to destroy the 100-year-old object.  From Haaretz:

A 100-year-old Turkish hand grenade was recently discovered during conservation work being conducted near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.
A conservation team from the authority, under the direction of conservator Fuad Abu Taa, on Monday was dismantling fragments of crushed stone that needed to be replaced in the city wall, when they found a fist-size chunk of metal in the wall’s core.

The story continues here (with photo).

Turkish soldiers marching past American Colony, mat06378

Turkish soldiers marching past American Colony towards Damascus Gate, circa 1900

This photo is from the Early 20th-Century History volume of The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection (Library of Congress, LC-matpc-06378).

In May, we posted a then and now photo of Damascus Gate.


Mount Hermon and Sea of Galilee, mat12545

George Adam Smith, 1909:

In that torrid basin, approached through such sterile surroundings, the lake feeds every sense of the body with life. Sweet water, full of fish, a surface of sparkling blue, tempting down breezes from above, bringing forth breezes of her own, the Lake of Galilee is at once food, drink and air, a rest to the eye, coolness in the heat, an escape from the crowd, and a facility of travel very welcome in so exhausting a climate. (Source)

Mount Hermon rises above the lake.  The trees of Tabgha are visible on the left shoreline.

Damascus Gate and Old City, mat06658 Damascus Gate, early 1900s

This photo, taken by the American Colony photographers in approximately 1910, shows Damascus Gate on the northern side of the Old City of Jerusalem.  At the time, the Ottoman authorities were building new shops lining the street outside the gate.  These structures were removed in later years.

Notice also on the skyline of the Old City that the domes of the Hurvah and Tiferet Israel synagogues are visible.  These were both destroyed in the 1948 war.  The most prominent tower belongs to the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, dedicated in 1898.  The domes on the right side belong to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The recent photo below shows the area in the early morning before traffic picked up.

Damascus Gate, tb010310679

Damascus Gate, January 2010

One of the most important pieces of land in biblical history is the Central Benjamin Plateau, with the cities of Gibeah, Ramah, Gibeon, and Mizpah.

Excavations at Mizpah, mouth of old cistern, mat05515

Both of these photos were taken at Mizpah (Tell en-Nasbeh) with a view to the south.  The photo above was taken in 1926, before the area was densely settled. A tower is visible on the Mount of Olives in the distance.

Mizpah view to south with Jerusalem airport, tbs98319800
This photo was taken from the summit of Mizpah and the tell occupies most of the foreground.  The Jerusalem airport runway dominates the right side of the picture.  A tower on the Mount of Olives is visible on the horizon (center).

The top photo is from the Northern Palestine volume of The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection (Library of Congress, LC-matpc-05515). The bottom photo is from the Samaria volume of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.