Weekend Roundup

Israel is moving forward on plans to extend the high-speed train line to a station near the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Restoration work has begun on the floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Two ritual baths south of Jerusalem are overflowing with water following the winter rains.

$1.3 million has been given to support marine archaeological research off Israel’s coast.

Volunteer applications are being accepted for excavations at Tell Keisan this coming September.

A BBC documentary describes the discovery of a hoard of silver decadrachm coins in Gaza, and what happened to them next.

Egypt has sentenced the brother of an ex-minister to 30 years in jail for smuggling antiquities.

Iran’s Basij Resistance Force is apparently threatening to destroy the historic tomb site of Esther and Mordecai, located in Hamedan.

Wayne Stiles was at Colossae last week and he reflects on the significance of the site and Paul’s letter to the church.

An archaeology park featuring a Roman theater is being developed in Ankara.

Debate continues over whether a skull unearthed 120 years ago near Pompeii belonged to Pliny the Elder.

Italian archaeologists have found underneath the Roman Forum an ancient shrine and sarcophagus that was likely dedicated to Romulus.

A conference on “Sheshonq (Shishak) in Palestine” will be held in Vienna on March 6-7.

Ferrell Jenkins answers questions about the six water jugs at the wedding of Cana.

Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee during Jesus’s ministry, is the subject of the latest archaeological biography by Bryan Windle.

To listen to the latest episodes on The Book and the Spade, see this page.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Explorator

Gezer Solomonic gate from northeast, mjb1902200736

This week on our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram streams we featured sites related to Israel’s kings, including this one of the gate at Gezer that was built by King Solomon’s administration.

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Weekend Roundup

Note: this blog moved to a new location a few days ago. The old address should forward to the new, but you can update your bookmark to https://www.bibleplaces.com/blog/. Email subscriptions should not be affected, but those using a feed reader will need to update to the new address.

Archaeologists have published a report that they have discovered a “massive Iron II temple complex” at Moza, in use from 900 to 600 BC.

An Egyptian anchor discovered off the coast near Haifa is now on display at the Israel Museum. The impressive artifact features hieroglyphics and images.

Excavations at Tel Tsaf in the Jordan Valley have uncovered homes and food silos made of mudbrick and preserved since the Neolithic period.

“Archaeologists on Thursday unveiled 16 ancient Egyptian tombs filled with sarcophagi and other artifacts from a vast burial ground” near Minya in central Egypt.

Israeli researchers have successfully grown six trees from seeds discovered at the sites of Masada, Qumran, and Wadi Makkuk. The seeds date to the 4th century BC to the 2nd century AD, and like their predecessor Methuselah, they have been given biblical names. Photos here.

Shlomit Bechar argues that the Hazor complexes with standing stones were part of a “ruin cult.”

A professor has found a technique to solve quadratic equations that the ancient Babylonians used.

Laerke Recht takes a look at human sacrifices in the ancient Near East.

War has devastated a museum in Maaret al-Numa, Syria known for its Roman and Byzantine-era mosaics.

A terrorist near St. Anne’s Church fired shots toward the Temple Mount, wounding a policeman.

USA Today is having a contest for the Best Religious Museum in the USA. Nominees include the Museum of the Bible, the Ark Encounter, and the Biblical History Center.

The latest video in the “Life Lessons from Israel” is a 6-minute devotional video on Megiddo.

Upcoming events at the Albright Institute include a lecture by Israel Finkelstein on the excavations at Kiriath Jearim.

After renovations to steps and railings, the Ramparts Walk from the Damascus Gate to the Lions Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem has re-opened.

Agrippa II is the subject of Bryan Windle’s latest archaeological biography.

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

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Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists believe that a well-preserved complex at Horvat Tevet, near Afula in the Jezreel Valley, served as a royal estate for Israel’s kings.

Archaeologists working at Tell Damiyah (biblical Adam) are uncovering a religious complex that dates to 700 BC.

Ann Killebrew shares about her experience and discoveries made in the last decade of excavating Tel Akko.

16 tombs from the 26th dynasty have been found at Al-Ghoreifa in Egypt.

New research of the mummified remains of Takabuti, held at the Ulster Museum, reveals the Egyptian had genetic roots to Europe and was likely stabbed to death.

Ueli Bellward explains the complex water collection system of Petra, including how its flash flood system enabled the city to survive.

Archaeologists are concerned about the increasing popularity of Gobekli Tepe.

A story in Discover magazine explains how archaeologists know where to dig.

Archaeologists believe that they have found a second example of crucifixion, discovered near Venice.

The AP has a number of photos of a massive locust invasion in eastern Africa.

Caesarea’s ancient theater stage is undergoing a major renovation.

John DeLancey has just wrapped up another tour of Israel, blogging about each day.

Holly Beers is on The Book and the Spade discussing her new book, A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman Woman.

Bryan Windle identifies the top three reports in biblical archaeology in the month of January.

BiblePlaces.com celebrated its 20th anniversary this week, and we are thankful for many encouraging words, including reflections from Mark Hoffman, Ferrell Jenkins, Leon Mauldin, and Charles Savelle.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Cam von Wahlde, Joseph Lauer

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Weekend Roundup

Few people will get excited about a “large stone found at Beth Shemesh,” but if you claim that the ark of the covenant sat there, that’s another matter. The archaeologist helpfully notes that the stone is located in the wrong place, and I’ll add that the temple dates to the wrong century and the stone looks to be much too small to qualify as a “large stone” in Israel.

An ancient seawall near Haifa allegedly was built to prevent flooding caused by climate change in the Neolithic period. The journal article on which these stories are based is here.

“A small 1st century factory that produced fermented fish sauce — arguably the most desirable foodstuff of the Roman era — was recently uncovered during excavations near the southern coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon.”

A Bronze Age painting of an Asian monkey on a Greek island suggests that trade and cultural contacts were more far-reaching than previously known.

“Two large tombs have been discovered and excavated at the site of the ancient city of Pylos in southern Greece, suggesting that Pylos played a surprisingly prominent role in early Mycenaean civilization.”

Archaeologists have found physical evidence of the mysterious pointy “head cones” found in Egyptian art.

“Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities witnessed a fortuitous weekend, discovering rare red granite Ramses II statue and seizing 135 relics in a Kidney dialysis centre.”

The homes of ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and “Israelis” are presented in this collection of 40 photographs.

Shawn Zelig Aster has written a short but interesting article explaining how Assyria treated ambassadors from Israel, Judah, and other nations in order to turn them into emissaries for Assyrian ideology.

Bryan Windle pulls together all of the evidence, and a number of photographed inscriptions, in his archaeological biography of Quirinius.

Carl Rasmussen shares a few photos from his visit to the new museum at Caesarea Maritima.

The final Stars Wars movie is the latest Hollywood production to be filmed in Jordan’s Wadi Rum.

Phillip J. Long is quite positive in his review of the new Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation.

Don McNeeley provides a summary of the presentations given at the 2019 meeting of the Near East Archaeological Society.

Pac McCarthy (seetheholyland.net) has written a hymn with a Holy Land theme. A video recording is now on YouTube.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Joseph Lauer, Mark Hoffman

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Weekend Roundup, Part 2

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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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

We have collected 40 items so far from the last two weeks, and I’ll think we’ll break it up into three parts, going through Monday.

If you’ve prayed at all for those affected by the Saugus High shooting, thank you. My oldest sons graduated from the school, and my two daughters are students there now. They were not on campus at the time, but they have friends who were wounded and traumatized. Our church is a central gathering place for students as they process everything. You can pray that we will be faithful and wise. And now to the stories…

National Geographic is the latest to report on the Siloam Street excavations and the attendant controversy, along with various other recent Jerusalem excavations. They do so, as you would expect, with beautiful photos.

Israel’s Good Name describes a day of excavating in the Mount Zion Archaeological Dig.

I bet you don’t know how many inscriptions we have that may be related to Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul when Paul and Barnabas visited Cyprus. Bryan Windle provides photos and details in this well-researched archaeological biography.

Now online: The ACOR Newsletter for Summer 2019

A British scholar explains a little of the history of aerial photography in Jordan.

Bible Mapper has begun a new blog, with a number of helpful maps already posted.

New book: The Canaanites, by Mary Ellen Buck ($15)

An interview with Father Eugene provides some background on the new Terra Sancta Museum in Jerusalem.

A leopard was apparently spotted in Samaria. The video is in Hebrew, and the footage is in infrared(?), but it may be the first sighting in decades.

Jessica Halfin suggests “11 biblical experiences in Israel you’ll never forget.” It’s a good list.

My friend John Black and his wife Doro are leading a more affordable Israel tour in February and they have a few remaining spots.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Keith Keyser

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Weekend Roundup

The Tel Moza website gives details for joining the spring excavation as well as background about recent discoveries.

A family volunteering at an excavation in Lower Galilee discovered remains of an iron industry from the 6th century AD.
Some of the latest discoveries from Shiloh are described in a somewhat disjointed article in the Jerusalem Post.
The “Tomb of the Kings” in Jerusalem has been reopened to visitors (again) by France, which owns the site. Access is allowed only to the outer courtyard.

Naama Sukenik explains how new technology is being used to provide insights into counterfeiting dyes in the ancient textile industry.
Mark Barnes looks at the significance of the Mount of Olives in the Bible, including some interesting comparisons and contrasts between David’s and Jesus’s time there.
Who is Gallio and why is he so important to New Testament history? Bryan Windle explains in a well-illustrated article.

The “world’s oldest natural pearl” has been discovered in excavations on an island near Abu Dhabi.

“Ancient Assyrian stone tablets represent the oldest known reports of auroras, dating to more than 2,500 years ago.”

“Life at the Dead Sea” is a new exhibit about the cultural history of the lowest place on the planet that recently opened at the State Museum of Archaeology Chemnitz.

An exhibit of Egypt’s southern neighbor, “Ancient Nubia Now,” is on display until January 2020 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Sculptures from the Torlonia Collection will go on public display for the first time ever at the Capitoline Museums in Rome beginning in March.
The Washington Pentateuch is going on display at the Museum of the Bible.
The archaeological museum in Basra is adding English labels in hopes of welcoming more international visitors.
Jaafar Jotheri provides an overview of excavations in Iraq in the last year.
A conference will be held at the Louvre on November 25 on Tappeh Sialk: A Key Site for the Archaeology of Iran.
Farrell Monaco will be lecturing on “Dining with the Romans” at the Walters Art Museum on November 10.
4,500 tourists watched the sun illuminate the face of Ramses II in the temple of Abu Simbel.
Wayne Stiles is leading a tour of Israel (and pre-tour to Egypt) in October 2020.
There will be no roundup next weekend.
HT: Ted Weis, Mike Harney, Joseph Lauer, Keith Keyser
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Weekend Roundup

If you don’t pay attention, you would think they’re finding all kinds of first-century streets in Jerusalem. But it’s the same one, again and again. The story this week, based on a journal article in Tel Aviv, is that the Siloam Street/Stepped Street/Pilgrim’s Path was built by Pilate. The date is based on the most recent coin, from AD 30/31, found in the fill under the pavement. Leen Ritmeyer rejects the study, saying that the road was actually built by Herod Agrippa II. That last link has a nice map that shows the location of the Herodian/Pilatian/Agrippian Road.

A three-year salvage excavation near Beth Shemesh uncovered a Byzantine Church with an inscription mentioning a “glorious martyr.” The mosaics are quite well-preserved, and there is an intact underground burial chamber. Some of the artifacts are featured in a new exhibition at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

Excavators have found a second monumental gate at Hacilar.

These reports from Beirut are from last year, but I did not see them then:

Rachel Bernstein provides an update on the Temple Mount Sifting Project since its recent reboot and relocation.

Israel Finkelstein responds to the “discovery that changes everything we know about biblical Israel.”

Artificial intelligence is better at deciphering damaged ancient Greek inscriptions than humans are.

The ArcGIS Blog interviews Tom Levy and one of his students about their use of GIS and 3D modeling in their work in the copper mines of Faynan.

Officials in Thessaloniki are arguing about what to do with a “priceless” 6th century AD Byzantine site found during work on a subway tunnel.

Spanish experts have replicated for Iraq two Assyrian lamassu statues previously destroyed by ISIS.

Dirk Obbink denies the charges against him of selling items owned by the Egyptian Exploration Society.

Two scholarships are available for students interested in participating in February’s excavation of Timna’s copper mines.

An international conference entitled “Philistines! Rehabilitating a Biblical Foe” will be held on Nov 17 at Yeshiva University Museum. Registration is required.

‘Atiqot 96 (2019) is now online, with reports on excavations at Rosh Pinna, Mazor, and el-Qubeibe.

Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours has released the 16th video in their series, “It Happened Here.” This one features life lessons from Beth Shean.

Jim Hastings shows how he built a model of a gate of Ezekiel’s temple.

Ferrell Jenkins shares photos from his 1970 tour of Iraq.

Aron Tal reflects on the remarkable return of the ibex. There was a day, apparently, when there were no ibex to be found at En Gedi.

HT: Gordon Franz, Mark Hoffman, Agade, Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, A.D. Riddle, Steven Anderson

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Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: The Pool of Siloam

Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron excavated what I consider to be one of the most interesting discoveries of recent years related to the New Testament. Their work at the southern end of the City of David began when construction work on a sewer line accidentally revealed several beautiful stone steps.

After several years of work, the entire northeastern side of the first-century Pool of Siloam was revealed. Our IBEX students worked with the excavators on this project a few days at a time over the course of several years, and so the published results are of particular interest to me.

As with other chapters in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, the archaeologists wrote the report. They begin by sketching out the history of excavation in the area, with the surprising note that five steps from the southern side of the pool were already revealed by Biss and Dickie in their excavations in 1898. But they didn’t realize what they had found.

The pool itself measures 50 meters on the exposed side, and an estimated 60 meters on the perpendicular sides. They uncovered the entire length on the northeastern side, including both corners. Why didn’t they go further? The article only hints at the reason: The pool “is the property of the Greek Orthodox Church.” A less professional report would have added, “and it is ironic that it is Christians who obstinately refused to allow excavation of an important site mentioned in the New Testament.”

The pool was built in two phases, and this is more important than you might think. The first phase was made of plastered stairs, but these could not withstand the large numbers of people who used the pool. But here’s the interesting part: the construction style of this phase indicates that the pool was built by workmen who specialized in constructing ritual baths.

It is, of course, tempting to dismiss the identification of the Pool of Siloam as one large ritual bath on the grounds that the lead excavator (Reich) did his doctoral dissertation on ritual baths, and we know how you end up seeing your own specialty everywhere you look. But Reich supports this theory with two additional points: (1) holes to support modesty partitions have been found in the stone steps; (2) the design of the staircase, with five steps between landings, is ideal for people trying to reach the water level at varying levels.

The date of the pool is not controversial. The first phase was built in the mid-first century BC and the pool went out of use in the First Jewish Revolt (AD 66-70).

On the northern end of the excavation area, the archaeologists uncovered a paved esplanade that was made of stones similar to those in the Herodian street below Robinson’s Arch. They identified the location of a row of columns and found a number of column drums in various places in their excavations. One of those drums had a mason’s mark with two Hebrew letters (het, tsadi) and three vertical lines. A street led from this esplanade to the north, underneath which they found a large drainage channel. This has been publicized in the past because it was apparently used as a hiding place for refugees in the Jewish Revolt.

This is a brief summary of the whole. The article is 11 pages long and includes 12 photos and 2 diagrams, many of them large and excellent.

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Weekend Roundup

The latest sensational claim in biblical archaeology is that Kiriath Jearim is Emmaus.

“Archaeologists have discovered a new sanctuary preceding the ancient city of Troy in Turkey’s western Çanakkale province.”

156 cuneiform tablets, brought illegally to the UK, are being returned to Iraq with the help of the British Museum.

One of the big controversies in biblical geography in recent years is the location of Bethsaida, with two candidates. Bryan Windle provides a good survey of the criteria for Bethsaida along with an evaluation of the first candidate, et-Tell.

Mark Barnes has some good observations in the similarities and differences between Elisha’s and Jesus’s raisings of boys on either side of the hill of Moreh.

Megan Sauter explains the value of inscriptions in understanding worship in the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim.

The two most popular national parks for Israelis this summer were Sachne and Nahal Senir.

Wayne Stiles has released a new book on Kindle: Top 10 Places in Jesus’ Life: Why They Matter in Yours.

Eisenbrauns has put thirteen of their most popular textbooks on sale.  

Joel Kramer is leading a study tour of Israel in March 2020.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #26 – Shepherds by Night

A tourist bought a shwarma in Jerusalem and when he returned home, he found that it cost him 10,100 shekels.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis

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