Weekend Roundup

The stories this week are about as random as I can remember, making it challenging to figure out a logical sequence. We’ll start with Jerusalem, and we’ll end with a photo that was popular this week on our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram stream.

Journalists were given a tour of the newly reopened Roman square underneath the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem.

With the water level up nearly 6 feet in the last month, Israeli authorities may have to open the dam of the Sea of Galilee for the first time since 1992. (There’s a beautiful sunrise photo at the end of this article.)

Nof Ginnosar and the Sea of Galilee are the focus of the latest in the “Life Lessons from Israel” video series.

“Russian Archaeology in the Holy Land,” by Yana Tchekhanovets and Leonid Belyaev, is the lead article in the latest issue of ANE Today.

Biblical Byways is offering a low-budget study tour of Israel for Spanish speakers in September.

A replica of a 2,600-year-old Phoenician ship finished its five-month transatlantic voyage last week when it arrived in Miami.

Archaeologists have recovered 1,400 cuneiform tablets from the lost Sumerian city of Irisagrig, but they don’t know where that ancient city was located.

The traditional tomb of Ezekiel (in Iraq, not the one in Iran) is again becoming a place of pilgrimage.

Saudi Arabia plans to create the world’s largest living museum in Al Ula by 2035.

For more than a decade now, “Athens-based photographer and animator Dimitris Tsalkanis has cultivated a sort of unusual hobby: recreating ancient Athens via 3D modeling software.”

An archaeologist in Spain is on trial for forging a third-century depiction of Jesus’s crucifixion.

Salman Abu Sitta will be lecturing in London on February 28 on the subject of the “1871 Survey of Western Palestine Revisited: The Visible and The Hidden.”

New book: Roman-Period and Byzantine Nazareth and Its Hinterland, by Ken Dark

Cynthia Shafer-Elliott talks about her recent book Food in Ancient Judah on the OnScript podcast.

Ferrell Jenkins shares photos of the atad tree, the worthless bramble mentioned in Jotham’s parable in Judges 9.

The archaeological biography on King Ahaz features an altar, a seal, and a toilet.

The Global Smyrna Meeting on the Seven Churches of Revelation offers lectures and sites visits given a whole host of popular teachers, including Mark Wilson, Ben Witherington, Mark Fairchild, Carl Rasmussen, and Dana Harris.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

Wadi Lubban view northwest of Shiloh, db6604081205

This beautiful valley is located in the tribal inheritance of Ephraim, not far from Shiloh. Photo taken in 1966 by David Bivin.

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Weekend Roundup

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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

A stone measuring table and several dozen stone weights were discovered in a plaza along the first-century AD street from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount. Archaeologists believe that the area it was found served as the Jerusalem’s central market. The Times of Israel article includes a video and many photos.

It’s not quite a copy of the Tel Dan Inscription, but a pottery restorer discovered a faint ink inscription of a single Hebrew word on a storejar excavated at Abel Beth Maacah (Haaretz premium).

“Egypt’s recent decision to transport ancient Pharaonic artifacts to a traffic circle in the congested heart of Cairo has fueled fresh controversy over the government’s handling of its archaeological heritage.”

Rainfall this week led to flooding in the Judean wilderness. The video at the bottom of this page shows waterfalls in Nahal Qumran. Aren Maeir shares videos and photos of a river running through the Elah Valley.

The Biblical Archaeology Society is offering dig scholarships for excavations this coming year.

The most recent maps posted on the Bible Mapper Blog are of Southern Greece, the Judean Wilderness, and Philistia.

The photographs of Nancy Lapp, taken during excavations around the Middle East from the 1950s to the 1990s are the subject of an interesting photo essay by Rachael McGlensey. More than 2,000 images from Jordan have been digitized in the Paul and Nancy Lapp Collection at ACOR.

Bob Rognlien’s new book is out: Recovering the Way. The book trailer will introduce you to it. Here’s my endorsement:

Recovering the Way is an enjoyable and fascinating read, combining historical insights from the time of Jesus with practical encouragement for our lives today. All that Bob has learned and experienced in three decades of leading pilgrims through the land of Israel provide the reader with a rich treasure of biblical instruction, wise application, and captivating stories. All of this benefits from dozens of beautiful illustrations which help the reader to see the world where Jesus ministered.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis

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Weekend Roundup

An 8th-century BC tomb with a child and its parents has been discovered in Achziv on Israel’s northern coast.

Joan Taylor looks at the historical evidence to determine what Jesus may have looked like and what clothes he wore.

Nir Hasson reports on Rona Avissar Lewis’s Hebrew-language book in which the author “examines the traces of the presence of children at biblical-era archaeological sites around Israel. Her conclusions about their births, their lives and their deaths may be somewhat different from the accepted conception of the role and situation of children at the time.”

And for another article on children: “Children in the ancient Middle East were valued and vulnerable—not unlike children today.”

The Temple Mount Sifting Project’s history in 12 objects series continues with #4, focusing on artifacts from the Persian period.

Three mosaics from the 2nd century BC have been discovered in Zeugma, Turkey.

A Polish professor believes that he has discovered eight sundials in ancient mosaics, including one in the Medeba Map (the column on the northern end of the city).

A record amount of rainfall fell in Galilee this week, including 5 inches in Safed and 7.8 inches on Mount Hermon, both in under 24 hours. The link includes a video of Saar Falls in the Golan Heights. For a photo of a snowman on Mount Hermon, see Luke Chandler’s post.

Magdala is the latest in John DeLancey’s video series of Life Lessons from Israel.

A trailer has dropped for “The Museum,” a documentary about the evacuation of the Aleppo Museum during the Syrian Civil War.

Statistics for Christian tourists to Israel in 2019: “55% of the 4.5 million tourists arriving in Israel in 2019 were Christians. Of those, 43% were Catholics, 31% Protestants, and 24% Eastern Orthodox. Of the Protestant visitors, 83% were Evangelicals (comprising 28% of all Christian tourists, and 13% of tourists in general). 15% of Protestant tourists hailed from African American churches. Of the Orthodox, 74% were Russian Orthodox, 26% were Greek Orthodox. 84% of all Christian tourists visited Jerusalem, and 65% visited Tel Aviv-Jaffa. The most visited sites by Christians were the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Via Dolorosa, and the Mount of Olives.”

The newest issue of Electrum includes a number of articles related to ancient Jerusalem including:

  • New Evidence for the Dates of the Walls of Jerusalem in the Second Half of the Second Century BC, by Donald T. Ariel
  • Herod’s Western Palace in Jerusalem: Some New Insights, by Orit Peleg-Barkat
  • Coins of the First Century Roman Governors of Judaea and their Motifs, by David M. Jacobson
  • The Purpose of the Ritual Baths in the Tombs of the Kings: A New Proposal, by Omri Abadi and Boaz Zissu
  • The Training Ground (Campus) of the legio X Fretensis in Jerusalem/Aelia Capitolina—a Possible Identification North of the Damascus Gate, by Avner Ecker
  • Eusebius and Hadrian’s Founding of Aelia Capitolina in Jerusalem, by Miriam Ben Zeev Hofman
  • Jerusalem and the Bar Kokhba Revolt Again: A Note, by Eran Almagor

Some lists highlighting the top discoveries of 2019 have started to appear. I hope to present my own list here next week at which time I’ll link to others I have found.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

“Colorful remains of mosaics from a 3rd century synagogue in the ancient town of Majdulia are the earliest evidence of synagogue decoration in the Golan.”

“A group of archaeologists, architects and researchers petitioned the High Court of Justice . . . to stop a controversial plan to build a cable car to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.”

The latest in the Life Lessons from Israel video series focuses on the Talmudic Village of Katzrin.

Aviva and Shmuel Bar-Am write about a number of small archaeological sites in Pisgat Zeev, a northern suburb of Jerusalem.

Israel21c: Fabulous photos of 5 picturesque places to visit in Israel. The sites include Banias, En Gedi, Masada, Beth Shean, and Caesarea.

Archaeologists are hoping to continue excavations at el-Ahwat, possibly the biblical Harosheth HaGoyim, before modern construction destroys remains.

Israel’s Good Name visited the Horns of Hattin during a reenactment of the famous battle between the Crusaders and Saladin.

Carl Rasmussen reports on his visit to the “real” Bethsaida.

Luke Chandler, Ferrell Jenkins, Chris McKinny, and BibleX note the release of three new volumes in the Photo Companion to the Bible series.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

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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 3

Archaeologists have uncovered the largest Early Bronze city in Israel. The site of En Esur is 160 acres in size and is located 7 miles (11 km) east of Caesarea.

A lengthy inscription discovered at Pompeii in 2017 has been translated. It describes a “massive coming-of-age party for a wealthy young man.”

In the ruins of the ancient Hittite capital, there is a large, beautiful green rock that is a mystery to archaeologists and visitors.

Christopher Rollston is using multispectral imagery to study ostraca discovered at Macherus in 1968.

“The British Library, the largest national library in the world by number of items cataloged, has for the first time ever put some of its rarest and most ancient religious texts online for the general public to be able to access them from around the world.”

In a 2015 article for a special edition of the BBC History Magazine now published online, Aren Maeir identifies 10 key discoveries from the Holy Land. (It seems to me to be cheating for one of those to be “the discoveries of Jerusalem.”)

A portion of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums has reopened after years of renovations.

250,000 objects from the Louvre will be moved over the next four years to a non-public storage facility in northern France.

A student volunteer describes her experiences at Hazor in the last three years.

Wayne Stiles recently led a tour to Rome, and he shares some of his observations and reflections here.

JJ Routley argues that there is such a thing as Christian archaeology.

Bryan Windle has begun a new series of archaeological biographies, and the first subject is King Hezekiah.

The Getty Trust is devoting $100 million over the next 10 years to protect endangered historical sites around the world through dialogue and conservation.

If you would like to volunteer for a winter excavation in Israel, registration is now open for the February season at Timna.

A new survey is aiming to shed light on the Nabateans who lived in what is now Saudi Arabia.

The Wadi Shuʿaib Archaeological Survey Project (WSAS) is a new project in the area northwest of Amman, Jordan.

Bryan Windle has posted a resource review of the Photo Companion to the Gospels, with a focus on how he has used the Luke volume in his preaching.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Explorator

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Weekend Roundup

A resident of the northern Israeli village of Araba discovered a Bronze Age settlement on his way to work.

This week Bryan Windle looks at el-Araj, the other candidate for Bethsaida. He provides the evidence both for and against this identification.

The Kingdom of Copper: Copper Production and Social Complexity in Iron Age Faynan, Jordan, is a good story that has been very creatively produced. (The subdomain “storymaps” is suggestive.)

In the last few years, Zedekiah’s Cave (aka Solomon’s Quarries) has become “a major venue for concerts and cultural events.”

Jerusalem looks as it has for the thousands of years, but that’s all about to change, writes Michael Kimmelman in the NY Times, because they are building a cable car to the Western Wall. (I think a case is considerably weakened when it is grossly overstated. And the cable car does not go to the Western Wall.)

Tourism to the West Bank is growing.

A high-tech analysis of the Temple Scroll helps to explain why this very thin parchment was so bright and possibly why it was so well preserved.

The excavations at Gath made it on Jeopardy this week. And you can now register for the penultimate season there.

Leon Mauldin shares several photos from Shepherds’ Field in Bethlehem.

If you enjoy virtually touring Israel, you can join John DeLancey as it posts daily about his current trip.

Tomorrow Duke is celebrating the conclusion of its years of excavating at Sepphoris.

Ahmed Shams describes the Library of Congress’s collections of photos related to the Sinai Peninsula Research project.

Archaeology in Jordan (AIJ) is a new, biannual open access (OA) newsletter published online by ACOR aimed at raising scholarly awareness of archaeological and cultural resource management projects being carried out in Jordan and to make this information accessible to a wider audience.”

I am on The Book and the Spade this week, talking with Gordon Govier about my visit to Susa, the Persian capital where Esther lived.

There will be no roundups for several weeks.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle

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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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Weekend Roundup

A Times of Israel article discusses the newly deciphered Moabite inscription found an an altar from Ataroth.

With international tourism to Lebanon on the rise, there is a new interest in preserving the country’s cultural heritage.

Claudine Dauphin has been trying to figure out how Umm ar-Rasas, in the semi-arid steppe of central Jordan, was able to survive, including in the Byzantine period when it included 16 Byzantine churches.

The July issue of the Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities is now available.

Bryan Windle selects the top three reports in biblical archaeology for the month of August.

The Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society has posted an archaeological report for August 2019. Future lectures are also listed.

Jimmy Hardin is interviewed on The Book and the Spade on the controversial topic of state formation in the 10th century.

On the 250th anniversary of Napoleon’s birth, the Jerusalem Post looks at the French general’s visit to the Holy Land.

Alex Joffe wonders what the ancient Near East would look like without the year 1919.

Appian Media is close to meeting two fundraising goals for developing new video resources, but the deadline is today.

Two of John Beck’s geography books have just been released as audiobooks: Land without Borders and Along the Road.

John DeLancey is offering a free online course called “Biblical Israel – Learning the ‘Playing Board’ of the Bible.” You can watch the preview here or see a replay of the first session here.

Carl Rasmussen shares photos of Domus Galilaeae, a Catholic retreat center near the Sea of Galilee that is normally not open to visitors.

Ferrell Jenkins posts a nice color photo of winnowing grain at Shechem.

New: Atlas of the Biblical World, by Mark Vitalis Hoffman and Robert A. Mullins. Mark shares the details on his excellent blog.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

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