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Wayne Stiles recommends 3 Sites To See Along the Mediterranean and 3 High Points to Visit in the Golan. As always, he has lots of photos.

Lois Tverberg has a new e-book out: 5 Hebrew Words That Every Christian Should Know. Only $3.99 and a free sample is available.

After Israel, the next country Bible students should visit is Turkey. Why? Ferrell Jenkins explains.

Tom Powers provides the history of “the bridge that never was.” His post includes illustrations of Robinson’s arch and inaccurate reconstructions.

The Bible and Interpretation features a well-illustrated summary of crucifixion in the ancient Mediterranean world based on a recent monograph by John Granger Cook.

This article explains why museums hate ancient coins.

The “endless archaeological park” also known as Greece is now on Google Street View after overcoming five years of government resistance.

Bible History Daily has a new post on Map Quests: Geography, Digital Humanities and the Ancient World.

Satellite imagery is helping officials monitor looting of sites in Egypt. The New York Times reports on other actions the Egyptian government is taking against antiquities theft.

Work continues in the effort to establish an archaeology park at Carchemish.

For more, see the ASOR Archaeology Weekly Roundup.

HT: Explorator, Joseph Lauer, Jack Sasson

Termessos Hadrian propylon and Artemis temple, tb062506813

Temple of Artemis in Termessos, Turkey
Photo from Western Turkey
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Information on the second Qeiyafa inscription coming later this year (Luke Chandler)
The Tel Burna Arch
aeological Project (ASOR Blog)

Israel approves drilling for oil in Golan Heights (Jerusalem Post)

John the Baptist: The First Christian Martyr (Bryant Wood)

Review of The Unsolved Mystery of Noah’s Ark (Gordon Franz and Bill Crouse)


NIV Study Bible for Kindle marked down to $6.64 (Amazon)

Ferrell Jenkins has begun a series on famous people buried in the Protestant Cemetery on Mount
Zion, including Horatio G. Spafford and James Leslie Starkey.

Online Battle Over Sacred Scrolls, Real-World Consequences (New York Times) Includes an interview with Raphael Golb.

Oak forest on Golan Heights, tb020506169
Oak forest on Golan Heights
Photo from Galilee and the North
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A dog fell into a hole in Jerusalem and now it will become an open biblical tourist park.

Work continues in Georgia in constructing a museum for artifacts from Israel.

The next time you travel to the Golan Heights, you can remember your day this way: Bastions, Burials, Battles, and Borders.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a photo of a beautiful sunrise over the Sea of Galilee.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher may close its doors for a day to protest its bank account being frozen for not paying its water bill.

Al Jazeera posts 15 photos on the Western Wall prayer plaza and excavated tunnels.

The Zondervan Atlas of the Bible is marked down to $14.99 for the Fabulous Friday sale at christianbook.com. (Amazon: $26.39). It might make a great gift for someone who wants to understand the Bible better.

The latest SourceFlix video short is about the olive harvest. (If you appreciate their work, you might consider making a donation some time.)

A special exhibition opens next week at the Lynn H. Wood Archaeological Museum on “The Battle over King David: Excavating the Fortress of Elah.”

I bet that this is the first (future) motion picture reference to Shaaraim in connection with the David and Goliath story. (If they ever read 1 Samuel 17, they’ll get rid of it. Shaaraim is not Qeiyafa and it’s not the Philistine base either.)

HT: Charles Savelle, Joseph Lauer

Woman harvesting olives near Bethlehem, tb111106855
Woman harvesting olives near Bethlehem
Photo from Cultural Images of the Holy Land
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The north of Israel received a surprise August rainfall this week. Haaretz has more about the rabbi who was accused of stealing bones from an archaeological site near Beth Shemesh. Israel will return two sarcophagi lids stolen from Egypt. The BBC describes Lidar archaeology and some debate about its value. Joe Yudin recommends the view from an inactive volcano in the Golan Heights. I think that Wayne Stiles somehow managed to get all of my favorite Masada photos in this article. The ABR bookstore is now offering free shipping on all orders over $35. They offer a number of books under $10. HT: Jack Sasson, Paleojudaica Syrian city northeast of Quneitra from Mount Bental, tb121802203 View towards Damascus from Mount Bental (photo source)

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In February 2010, Israel’s prime minister announced a $135 million plan to restore 150 historic sites throughout Israel. Now, two years later, Haaretz reports on the progress (or lack thereof) in implementing the measure.

The article is largely the result of an interview with the head of the national heritage department in the Prime Minister’s office. Reuven Pinsky says that much planning has been done and by the end of the six-year timetable, two-thirds of the projects will be completed, including 70 large or medium-sized sites and 100 small ones. A full list of sites is not given, but some projects are mentioned.

Other sites included on the list include the Tel Lachish archaeology site in the Negev (where a visitors’ center is to be built); Metzudat Koah (a fortress, also known as the Nebi Yusha police station); Herodion near Gush Etzion, where King Herod’s tomb is located; Gamla and the ancient synagogue in Umm el-Kanatir in the Golan Heights; Tel Arad; the old train station at Tzemah; Hatzer Kinneret and so on.

Lachish, a site not in the Negev but in the Shephelah of Judah, could certainly benefit from a visitor’s center as well as some restoration work on the ruins. When encountering a group of tour guides in training at the tell last month, I mused that this would probably be the last time they ever visited the
site.

The article discusses some political angles and notes that many of the sites proposed for renovation have not yet been approved.

As to which sites are closest to his heart, he refuses at first to say, but later mentions three: Tel Aviv’s Independence Hall, the Umm al Kanatir Synagogue in the Golan, and the archaeological project underway in the heart of Modi’in Ilit. He says dealing with the latter site is like “reinventing the wheel,” because it involves a combination of archaeological excavations and dealing with a Haredi population.

The full article is here.

Lachish aerial from northwest, tb010703290

Lachish from northwest
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An AP news story summarizes an article by Rami Arav in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

A newly proposed solution to an ancient enigma is reviving debate about the nature of a mysterious prehistoric site that some call the Holy Land’s answer to Stonehenge.
Some scholars believe the structure of concentric stone circles known as Rujm al-Hiri was an astrological temple or observatory, others a burial complex. The new theory proposed by archaeologist Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska links the structure to an ancient method of disposing of the dead.
[…]
Most scholars have identified Rujm al-Hiri as some kind of ritual center, with some believing it connected to astronomical calculations. Archaeologist Yonathan Mizrahi, one of the first to excavate there, found that to someone standing in the very center of the circles on the morning of the summer solstice in 3000 B.C., “the first gleam of sunrise would appear at the center of the northeast entryway in the outer wall.”
Just like England’s Stonehenge — thought to date to around 3000 B.C. at the earliest — Rujm al-Hiri has also provided fodder for ideas of a less scientific sort. One posits the site is the tomb of the Biblical giant known as Og, king of the Bashan. There is indeed a tomb in the center of the site, but scholars tend to agree it was added a millennia or two after the circles were erected.

Arav theorizes that the site was used for excarnation or sky burial. A corpse was exposed so that vultures could pick the bones clean before secondary burial in an ossuary.

If Arav’s theory is correct, the biblical narrative written millennia later might offer hints that sky burial remained in the memory of the local population. No longer practiced, it was instead considered an appalling fate wished on one’s worst enemies.
In one example, from the Book of Samuel [1 Sam 17:46], the shepherd David tells the Philistine warrior Goliath that he would soon cut off his head. Then David says: “I will give the carcasses of the Philistine camp to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth.”

This is an interesting article, but I’m not so sure it’s necessary to have excarnation in the background in order to understand David’s threat.

Access to the original BAR article is available with a subscription.

UPDATE: Shmuel Browns has posted some of his thoughts on the proposal in BAR.

Rogem Hiri from south, tb111700218

Rogem Hiri from the south
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