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“The world’s longest marlstone cave, with an overall length of a mile, was recently found in the Dead Sea area.”

Erez Speiser has posted another walking tour, this one of the Old City of Jerusalem. He has created a good route that focuses on major sites in the Christian and Jewish Quarters.

Andy Cook of Experience Israel Now has begun podcasting and videocasting. The first three episodes are of the Valley of Elah, and at the conclusion of each he offers video footage for free download so that any teacher can use them in ministry.

“The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, is in discussions with the Iraqi government to reach a settlement regarding thousands of antiquities in its collection with suspicious or incomplete provenance.”

John DeLancey has created a new video that tours Masada.

Tyler Rossi explains how ancient and medieval coins were used as royal propaganda.

Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones lectures on “Locating the Women of Achaemenid Persia,” identifying rare representations of women in Persian iconography.

Save 92%: The Future of Biblical Archaeology, edited by James K. Hoffmeier and Alan Millard (Eerdmans, 2004). $2.99 at Christianbook.com.

New books:

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Paleojudaica

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An outdoor archaeological exhibit has been created near the beachfront of Ashkelon. There is a brief video showing the displayed artifacts here.

Ken Dark reviews the evidence for the inhabitation of Nazareth in the first century.

A company in the Golan Heights is raising locusts to help meet the world’s need for animal protein.

King Uzziah: An Archaeological Biography looks at matters of historicity, his expansion, and the earthquake in his reign.

Ferrell Jenkins asks how Bet Guvrin would look during a pandemic.

A creative agency has teamed with architects to digitally reconstruct 5 endangered World Heritage sites, including Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and Palmyra.

CoinWeek has a feature on the coins of Herod the Great.

John DeLancey has released a new video entitled “Visiting Ein Gedi.”

Some statues and reliefs were discovered in a salvage excavation near Mit-Rahina in Egypt.

This piece has a bit about Egypt’s relationship with gold as well as Zahi Hawass’s relationship with Tutankhamun.

A 2nd-century AD sarcophagus with a gold diadem was discovered in Izmir (biblical Smyrna) in a rescue dig.

The British Museum is looking for help in identifying various artifacts.

Westminster Books has a sale on books from Lexham Press, including Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels and Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation ($24 ea.), both with contributions from the BiblePlaces team members.

Featured in ANE Today (but noted last year on this blog): “In Discovering New Pasts: The OI [Oriental Institute] at 100, 62 people, almost all faculty, staff, and volunteers, tell the story of the OI, past and present, and of their involvement with the Institute.” The book is available for purchase or free download here.

Recently reprinted:
Pioneer to the Past:
The Story of James Henry Breasted
, Archaeologist. $30 in print or free download.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Explorator

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Leen Ritmeyer has written an informative and well-illustrated post on the significance of Shiloh and the recent excavations. Ritmeyer’s reconstruction drawings are available for purchase in his image library, including his new drawing of Shiloh.

A government committee in Jerusalem has authorized the construction of a cable car to the Dung Gate.

A $37 million visitors’ center has been opened at the Huleh Valley Nature Reserve.

Anthony Ferguson shares 5 surprising details about the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Weston Fields’ history.

“The only project agreed on by Israel and Jordan that could possibly, in the foreseeable future, help save the Dead Sea from further shrinkage is stuck in a byzantine web of politics, bilateral tensions and Israeli foot-dragging.” This is a well-researched article on a subject frequently in the news.

Excavations have resumed at Tell Ziraa in Jordan, with the recent discovery of an Iron Age house with several dozen loom weights.

Colin Cornell considers whether the Jews living in Elephantine worshipped a goddess in addition to Yahweh.

Egyptian authorities have announced the discovery of a cemetery in Ismailia that dates to the Roman, Greek, and pre-dynastic eras.

The October issue of the Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities is online.

History Magazine has the story of how Howard Carter almost missed King Tut’s tomb.

Two vast reproduction Assyrian statues were unveiled in Iraq on Thursday as part of a project designed to restore the cultural heritage of Mosul.”

Wayne Stiles explains the significance of the Arch of Titus and the relevance of an olive tree planted beside it.

“A team of international scholars versed in culinary history, food chemistry and cuneiform studies has been recreating dishes from the world’s oldest-known recipes.”

In a 10-minute video, David McClister explains who Flavius Josephus was.

On sale for Kindle:

Tim Bulkeley has died. He began his biblioblog in 2004 and was a regular encouragement to me over the years. He will be missed.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Keith Keyser

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If you needed a quick summary of information about En-Gedi, where would you go? I’m doing research for an essay in a future volume of the Lexham Geographic Commentary series and this morning I was studying En Gedi in relation to David’s flight from Saul. I went through a dozen commentaries and pulled out various tidbits about David’s time in the area. Then I went to my standard Bible dictionaries. I usually consider Anchor Bible Dictionary to be the best, and so I started there. The article was decent. Then I went to others to see what else they had (ISBE, NIDB, EBD).

I recently pulled into my line-up the Lexham Bible Dictionary. I’ve been a bit skeptical of its value because it’s not a printed work and they used a wide variety of writers (including many students). But when I pulled up the LBD entry on En-Gedi I was immediately impressed. It was much longer and more thorough than the others. In fact, I think its length is probably twice that of the other four combined. That means there are separate sections on En-Gedi in Ancient Accounts (subdivided into biblical and extrabiblical), Geography and Geology (no one else has much on this), and Archaeological Investigations (which is subdivided into many sections). Then it closes with a bibliography, which is easily better than any I’ve seen elsewhere.

A final delight was to discover the author: Christian Locatell. I know this guy! He’s one of our ace creators of the Photo Companion of the Bible! (Many years before that, he was my student and he gave me various nicknames, but we won’t get into that…) He made a big contribution to our Acts volume, and his work on Romans has been spectacular! (That volume should be available in November.) So I figured I would write a little blogpost with three purposes: (1) to share some interesting tidbits about En-Gedi that you may not know; (2) to suggest you include the Lexham Bible Dictionary as part of your Bible study tools; and (3) to let you know that the author of this terrific article is creating more amazing resources for BiblePlaces followers. 🙂

Here are five ten interesting observations about En-Gedi from Dr. Locatell’s article:

1. Edward Robinson was the first modern explorer to identify En Gedi, and he did so on the basis of its Arabic name: Ain Jiddi.

2. David hid from Saul in the “strongholds” of En-Gedi (1 Sam 23:29), but when he wrote a psalm praising God for saving him from Saul, he called God his “stronghold” (2 Sam 22:2; Ps 18:2).

3. En-Gedi is believed to be the home of the Essenes (and not Qumran) by some scholars.

4. 700 inhabitants of En-Gedi were slaughtered by the Sicarii in the First Jewish Revolt.

5. Many ancient accounts rave about En-Gedi’s lush fertility.

[In one paragraph, Locatell quotes Karmon, Baly, and Efrat and Orni! I don’t think I’ve ever seen such geographical richness in one place. It’s a great paragraph, but too long to copy here. I am certainly proud to be this guy’s first geography teacher.]

6. Clouds over En-Gedi are rare, and the flash floods in the area are the result of the top rock layers being unable to absorb much of rainfall.

7. Most of the springs along the western shore of the Dead Sea have a high saline content, making En-Gedi such a precious resource of sweet water.

8. Between 1949 and 1972, there were seven archaeological expeditions to En-Gedi. [I had no idea there were that many.]

9. An Aramaic mosaic from the 5th-century AD synagogue refers to the “secrets of the town.”

10. Excavations on the northern slope of the tell revealed workshops and equipment probably used for producing the perfumes for which En-Gedi was famous.

There you have it. This is the best article on En-Gedi I know of. Thanks to Lexham and to Locatell for serving us so well.

BTW, we have some great photos of En-Gedi in our Judah and the Dead Sea volume.

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I go away for one week, and I come back to a large pile of stories in the biblical and archaeological world. This is going to take three long posts to catch up.


Discoveries:

Excavations at the synagogue of Huqoq have uncovered a mosaic depicting the Israelites’ encampment at Elim as well as two of the four beasts of Daniel 7.

Recent research has revealed that Tel Shikmona was not a trading settlement but a purple dye manufacturing center.

The Siloam Road, connecting the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount of Jerusalem, was officially opened this week.

Archaeologists discovered an ancient baptismal font hidden inside another baptismal font at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

An ancient Roman-era shipwreck has been discovered at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Cyprus.”


Excavations:

The Tel Burna crew has finished three weeks of their summer dig, with daily posts providing summaries of the finds along with photos. Here’s the latest. John DeLancey has posted his perspective as a volunteer.

The Gath expedition is halfway finished with their season, and they are unearthing a road, a window, architectural remains, and a monster wall.

This summer’s excavations at el-Araj (Bethsaida?) have produced more mosaics from the Byzantine church, a mold for making lead fishing weights, part of a roof roller, and Roman flagstones.


The Jerusalem Report has a feature piece on recent excavations at Tell Beth Shemesh.

Excavations are beginning in Laodicea on the road that leads to the ancient stadium.


Studies:

A new DNA study indicates that Philistines living in Ashkelon in the late 12th century BC originated from Greece, Crete, or Sardinia. These articles are based on a journal article published in Science Advances (pdf).

“New research explains why salt crystals are piling up on the deepest parts of the Dead Sea’s floor.”

Joe Zias argues that nearly all, if not all, of the human remains found at Masada are ethnically non-Jewish.

A new study shows that masons’ marks were used at Hippos only from the late first century to the late second century (Haaretz premium).


Sad News:

Doug Greenwold died on June 23. Doug was the Senior Teaching Fellow at Preserving Bible Times and a co-founder of The Institute of Biblical Context. He will be greatly missed.

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

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A statue likely depicting an Ammonite king in the 9th or 8th centuries BC was discovered near the Roman theater in Amman.

“Egypt’s antiquities ministry on Saturday unveiled a 4,500-year-old burial ground near the Giza pyramids containing colourful wooden coffins and limestone statues.”

Jerald Starr argues that a plaque discovered by Sir Leonard Woolley near Ur depicts a temple prostitute.

Gabriel Barkay provides a tour of important archaeological sites in east Jerusalem.

Roman buildings like the Colosseum may have withstood earthquakes because of “seismic cloaking,” though it’s questionable whether this design was intentional.

John DeLancey is summarizing each day of his current tour to Israel, with the latest post about their visit to the Judean desert, the hill country of Samaria, Shiloh, and Beth Shean.

The Tel Burna Excavation team has released their lecture and tour schedule.

Carl Rasmussen explains and shows how early churches may have met in a second-story room above a shop.

Justin Taylor interviews Weston Fields about the history and significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Clyde Billington and Gordon Govier discuss what the Bible has to say about horses and dogs on The Book and the Spade.

BiblicalCulture.org is offering a three-month long summer course in Biblical Hebrew. No previous knowledge is necessary. Classes begin in June.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is beginning a crowdfunding campaign in order to move and resume their operations as well as publish their results.

Helga Weippert passed away in March.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Chris McKinny

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