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.

Share:

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

Share:

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

Share:

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

Share:

Weekend Roundup

“The Amman Theatre Statue is the ninth standing male figure discovered in Amman.” Joel S. Burnett and Romel Gharib try to explain why there are so many.

A pink granite statue of Ramses II, almost 3.5 feet tall, has been discovered near Giza.

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known church in Ethiopia, one that indicates Christianity had spread there not later than the 4th century.

“Decorative pavements in the floor of a recently unearthed Roman house in Pompeii offer a glimpse into the life and work of an ancient land surveyor.”

Leon Mauldin looks to the Isthmian Games for background to Paul’s athletic imagery.

The “find of the month” at the Temple Mount Sifting Project is the fragment of an ancient key.

The Jerusalem Post has published four articles on Masada, including one by Jodi Magness and another by Lawrence H. Schiffman.

The destruction of Caesarea’s harbor is the subject of National Geographic’s Overheard podcast.

Jewish worshipers are again praying on the Temple Mount.

There are no archaeologists who believe that the temple was in the City of David, not even Eli Shukron.

David Moster explains why the letter heh is the “swiss army knife” of biblical Hebrew.

All 5 (available and future) volumes of the Lexham Geographic Commentaries are for sale now in Logos format.

The approach of Christmas is a good time for an illustrated archaeological biography on Caesar Augustus.

Robert Cargill introduces the “New BAR,” including a re-designed cover, an expanded table of contents, a new section called “Epistles,” a change of typeset, and the elimination of “jumps” from all articles.

Philip J. King, longtime professor at Boston College and president of ASOR and SBL, has died. Three of his most helpful books are:

BAS is having a warehouse closeout sale, with all books priced at either $5 or $9. There are some good deals, including recent books on Caesarea, Hazor, and Megiddo.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Ted Weis

Share:

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

Share:

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

Share:

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

Share:

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
Share:

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: The Eastern Cardo

In the Old City of Jerusalem, opportunities are rare to excavate large areas. The best such opportunity followed the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967 when archaeologist Nahman Avigad opened areas that led to the discoveries of the Broad Wall, Israelite Tower, Nea Church, and the Byzantine Cardo. Most tourists to the Old City today see the remains of that Cardo, perhaps while grabbing a bite to eat or doing some shopping.

Jerusalem, as depicted on the Medeba Map (circa AD 580); the excavation area is marked with a black box

The Cardo is depicted on the Medeba Map, a Byzantine-era mosaic that once displayed all of the Holy Land, with Jerusalem at the center. The map shows two colonnaded north-south streets through Jerusalem. The western street is more prominent, and it connected the Church of the Holy Sepulcher with the northern gate (today the Damascus Gate) and the Nea Church.

Plans to construct a heritage center at the back side of the Western Wall prayer plaza provided Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah and Alexander Onn with the opportunity to see what lay beneath before the building went up. Their large-scale excavations from 2005 to 2010 revealed a Old Testament-era four room house (described here last week) and the Eastern Cardo. They uncovered a few other things as well, including a portion of the Low-Level Aqueduct, but these are the two main discoveries described in their report in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

If you can picture the Western Cardo (aka “the Cardo”) in the Jewish Quarter, you can picture the Eastern Cardo. Both consist of a large paved street with sidewalks on either side and with porticoes probably on both sides as well. The street continued in use for nearly 2,000 years, so a lot of the superstructure was missing, including nearly all of the columns. The Eastern Cardo is slightly wider than the Western Cardo, which is not what you would expect from the Medeba Map. The excavators suggest that the Western Cardo was more prominent on the map because this street connected the churches that the pilgrims visited.

Eastern Cardo excavations, with paving stones visible

The Eastern Cardo ran from the present-day Damascus Gate south to the area of the present-day Dung Gate, but unlike the Western Cardo, it was constructed in its full length in the Roman period. The archaeologists know that because they found the latest material they found in sealed contexts beneath the paving stones is early 2nd century AD. But while most have expected that the street was built during the Aelia Capitolina renovation circa AD 130, the excavators think it predates that by a few years. It cannot date before Hadrian’s reign (117-138), because of a coin found beneath the pavement, but it may date to Hadrian’s earliest years. The street continued in use through the Byzantine period.

The conclusion of the article describes the history of the street over the following 1,500 years. The short version is this: as years went by, the street’s elevation increased (ultimately 13 feet higher in the 20th century) and its width decreased (down from 77 feet to 9 feet). Presumably at least a portion of this street will be displayed to visitors in the lowest level of the heritage center now under construction.

Share: