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Archaeologists working in a cave in Nahal Hever near the Dead Sea have discovered two dozen scroll fragments. Most are Greek translations of portions of Zechariah and Nahum. Also announced was the discovery of “the world’s oldest woven basket” and the mummified skeleton of a child.

The announcement this morning reported the results of an operation begun in 2017, and the archaeologists are seeking more governmental support to continue the hunt for ancient artifacts in the Judean desert. The Times of Israel reports:

The latest identified finds, two dozen 2,000-year-old biblical scroll fragments from the books of Zechariah and Nahum, were discovered in clumps and rolled up in the Cave of Horror. The conservation and study of the fragments was conducted by the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls Unit under Tanya Bitler, Dr. Oren Ableman and Beatriz Riestra.

The team has so far reconstructed 11 lines of Greek text that was translated from Zechariah 8:16–17, as well as verses from Nahum 1:5–6. They join nine, much more extant fragments that were discovered by Yochanan Aharoni, who first surveyed the Cave of Horrors in 1953.

On the new fragments, as well as in the Greek translation scroll discovered by Aharoni, only the name of God appears in Hebrew. It is written in the Paleo-Hebrew script used during the First Temple period, as well as by some adherents of the Bar Kochba revolt (132–136 CE), including on coinage, and in the Qumran community.

For the full story, photos, and a video, see The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, The New York Times, and other major news outlets.

Fragments of the newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls. Photo by Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority

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An 11-year-old on a family hike in the Negev discovered a rare fertility figurine dating to about 500 BC.

Haaretz (premium) has a story about the debate over whether the Lachish gate shrine was a shrine, and if so, if it was desecrated by a toilet.

A new book by Idan Dershowitz argues that the scrolls of Moses Shapira, long believed to be forgeries, are actually the earliest Dead Sea Scrolls and were a “pre-canonical antecedent” of Deuteronomy. The book is available on Academia. Christopher Rollston argues that the scrolls are forgeries. Drew Longacre concurs.

A notice from the Hazor Excavations team indicates that foreigners will be permitted to volunteer in Israel this summer with proof of vaccination. The Gath registration webpage confirms this.

My new reflection on the Garden of Gethsemane is now available to members of Jerusalem Perspective.

The New York Times runs an obituary for Hershel Shanks.

Jerusalem University College has announced its newest program: The Christian Movement in the Mediterranean, with a two-week voyage tracing Paul’s voyages in the Mediterranean.

New: Ancient Israel’s Neighbors, by Brian R. Doak (Book 1 in Oxford’s Essentials of Biblical Studies series).

The early-bird discount for the Infusion Bible Conference ends on April 9. The topic is “Paul and His Roman World,” and the new location is Nashville.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Arne Halbakken, Keith Keyser, Explorator

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The enclosure wall around the Mount Ebal altar has been restored. And Israel’s defense minister is not allowing a visit by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Two stone sarcophagi from the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD were discovered at the Ramat Gan Safari Park.

I share a bit about my work with photo collections, both past and future, in the latest Scholar’s Chair interview at Bible Archaeology Report.

Chris McKinny talks about learning historical geography and archaeology in Israel on a new video produced by John DeLancey.

Erez Ben Yosef is interviewed by the Jerusalem Post about his years of excavating at Timna.

Zoom lecture tomorrow: “Archaeology and the Hidden Religious Culture of Israelite Women,” by Carol Meyers.

The NY Times has posted an obituary for Norman Golb, the unorthodox Dead Sea Scrolls scholar who died last month.

Assyrians used the policy of deportation in the Levant not to bolster its labor supply but in order to intimidate the population and put down revolts.

The Hazor team is accepting applications for its 31st season of excavations at this important Canaanite and Israelite site.

The Times of Israel reports on the 2018 re-discovery in Cairo of a Hebrew Bible written in the year 1028.

Snow fell in Jerusalem this week for the first time in six years, and some photos are posted by The Jerusalem Post, Al Jazeera, Haaretz, and The Times of Israel. Shmuel Browns took some beautiful photos of the snow in the Judean hills. Daily Sabah has photos from around the Middle East.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Arne Halbakken, Keith Keyser, Explorator

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AhramOnline explains why 2020 was a good year for Egyptian archaeology.

“Ramses and the Gold of the Pharaohs” is a new exhibition that has been approved by the Egyptian government to tour Houston, San Francisco, Boston, London, and Paris from 2021 to 2025.

Not all scholars are convinced that Salome’s dance floor in Herod’s palace at Macherus has been discovered.

A woman’s garden ‘stepping stone’ turns out to be an ancient Roman artifact.

Ancient Romans liked their fish very fresh, but salted fish and fermented fish sauces were especially popular with those less well-off.

CAMNES has announced its livestream lecture schedule for 2021.

Groningen-Leuven-Oxford Network Workshop on Hebrew Bible and Jewish Antiquity will be held on Mar 8 and 9. It is free and open to the public.

Kipp Davis is featured on The Book and the Spade as the “Dead Sea Scrolls Detective.”

Carl Rasmussen writes about a very unusual Roman building on the outskirts of ancient Tarsus.

Ferrell Jenkin’s latest post about the seven churches of Revelation includes a unique rooftop view of Thyatira as well as a new picture of the recently reconstructed stoa.

HT: Agade, Wayne Stiles

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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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An Egyptian mummy with a woman’s portrait turned out to be a 5-year-old girl, based upon a study using high-resolution scans and X-ray microbeams.

SURA is a new project that will make available to the public 7,000 historic glass plate negatives from the Egyptological library of the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels.

“New analysis of a First Book of Breathing papyrus sheds light on its derivation from the Book of the Dead and postmortem deification in ancient Egypt.”

Wayne Stiles shares photos and looks at lessons to be learned from the pyramids of Giza.

Archaeologists are using artificial intelligence to analyze satellite images to identify ancient structures.

The Greek Reporter has created a short video showing the conservation and transportation of the mosaic of the Villa of Dionysus at Dion.

Carl Rasmussen shares photographs of Sinope, a likely recipient of Peter’s first epistle.

Gordon Govier asks, “Where are the other fake fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls?”

I just learned about thebiblesleuth.com, a weekly blog that links the Pentateuch with archaeological findings, following the Jewish annual reading cycle of the Torah. The blog is written in serial format, with the focus this year on the Iron Age IIA period (early Israelite monarchy).

In a three-minute video, John Currid answers the question, “Why is archaeology useful to Christians?”

Louise Pryke: “Nebuchadnezzar Explained: Warrior King, Rebuilder of Cities, and Musical Muse”

“Owning the Past: From Mesopotamia to Iraq” is a new exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.

Accordance’s Black Friday sale includes big savings on collections, including a number of graphics collections.

James Sanders died last month.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Keith Keyser, Ted Weis, Ferrell Jenkins, Alexander Schick, Arne Halbakken

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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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