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The discovery of hundreds of olive pits in the Beth Shean Valley dated to 5000 BC are prompting a reevaluation of ancient irrigation practices.

Some antiquities have been discovered in the garden of the American Consulate in Alexandria.

The majority of smuggled artifacts seized in Syria and Lebanon are fakes.

Nir Hasson provides a fascinating review of the legal and cultural challenges of excavating bones, skeletons, and cemeteries in Israel (Haaretz premium).

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem is opening a new exhibit next week entitled “In the Valley of 
David and Goliath.” The Haaretz (premium) article has more details.

Carl Rasmussen shares an interesting photo from Pompeii that sheds light on the Acts 19 riot in
Ephesus.

The W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research is accepting applications for a number of funded fellowships.

The Bornblum Eretz Israel Synagogues Website continues to be updated with descriptions, plans, photos, and bibliographic references.

Gordon Govier and Clyde Billington report on some of the latest discoveries in biblical archaeology on The Book and the Spade.

Aren Maeir notes a forthcoming volume on Iron Age archaeology in the Shephelah.

Ferrell Jenkins shares photos this week of the Pamphylian coast and the lilies of the field.

Logos and Accordance both have a 60%-off sale on Carl Rasmussen’s Zondervan Atlas of the Bible (revised edition), now for $12.99. (That’s a great deal on a great resource!)

HT: Charles Savelle, Joseph Lauer, Agade

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I had the opportunity to read a pre-publication draft of an article that David Z. Moster has written on crossing the Jordan River in antiquity. I found it a fascinating study, and I asked him if I could share some of his excellent research with you, and he kindly agreed.

1. The annual flow of the Jordan River today is 2% of what it was 60 years ago, before a number of major dams were constructed.

2. In the biblical period, the Jordan River was shallow and easy to cross in the north, and deep and difficult to cross in the south.

Abel Meholah and Jordan River aerial from northwest, ws052916285
The Jordan River near Abel Meholah, just south of the Beth Shean area. Photo by Bill Schlegel.

3. When William F. Lynch sailed down the Jordan in 1847, the depth at the Sea of Galilee was 2.5
feet deep and 7 feet deep at the Jabbok River.

4. In 1854 an expert swimmer was unable to make it across the river near Jericho because the river was too wide and the current too strong.

5. The PEF identified 41 fords between the Sea of Galilee and the Jabbok River but only 5 fords between the Jabbok and the Dead Sea.

  • The greatest density of fords in the north was in the vicinity of Beth Shean where 15 were found in one 3-mile (5 km) stretch.
  • All five fords in the south were near Jericho.
Jordan River with Sheikh Hussein bridge near Beth Shean, mat15248
The Jordan River with the Sheikh Hussein bridge near Beth Shean. Photo from the American Colony and Eric Matson Collection.

6. Before the Roman period, the only way to cross the Jordan was by fording. In later periods, bridges and ferries were built.

7. The only tribe to span the Jordan River was Manasseh, and that was in the northern section, a fact which corresponds with the topography noted above.

The article will be published as “Crossing the Jordan River during the Biblical Period: North vs. South” in the upcoming ARAM Periodical 29 (2017) entitled “The Jordan River.” David Moster’s research is available on Academia and he blogs at The 929 Chapters. Thanks to David to sharing his work with us!

Jordan River, Allenby Bridge guard house in flood, mat04344
Allenby Bridge guard house during flood of Jordan River. Photo from the American Colony and Eric Matson Collection.
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Archaeologists working at Jerash (biblical Gerasa) have discovered part of a life-size statue of Aphrodite.

“American and Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a rare structure called a nilometer in the ruins of the ancient city of Thmuis in Egypt’s Delta region.” It was built in the 3rd century BC and used for 1,000 years.

British archaeologists have identified the remains of a 16- to 18-week-old mummified fetus that was found in Giza nearly 100 years ago.

The Antiquities Ministry of Egypt has completed a project to lower the groundwater at the Edfu Temple.

A plan has been approved that will remove all the mines around the traditional area of John’s baptisms on the Jordan River.

Haaretz (premium) visits the site of Tell el-Ajjul, once a prosperous Canaanite city south of Gaza but today at risk of complete destruction.

“Those who trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion which cannot be moved but abides forever” (Psalm 125:1). Wayne Stiles uses photos to explain what this means today.

Two archaeology students have crowdsourced images to create a VR reconstruction of the Mosul museum. The article includes a cool YouTube 360 video.

The Palestinian Museum opened this week in Bir Zeit, but it has no exhibits.

The enforcement of a new antiquities law is making it harder for black market antiquities to be sold in Israel.

Israel will be returning two Bronze Age wooden anthropoid sarcophagus lids found by IAA agents in an Old City dealer’s shop.

Of 28 Egyptian obelisks standing today, only 6 are in Egypt. That’s one of many interesting facts about obelisks in a WSJ article that is based on a book by Bob Brier entitled Cleopatra’s Needles.

Allison Meier reviews the new exhibition in NYC, “Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus.” The article includes many photos.

Charles Jones has recently updated the list of titles in JSTOR which focus on Antiquity. It now includes 243 titles.

Dubgallu is a new forum for scholars of the ancient Near East. Registration is free, and open to anyone who academically studies the ancient Near East.

There’s a sale on for various electronic editions of the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Old and New Testaments Logos, Accordance, and Olive Tree.

The Atlas of Palestinian Rural Heritage looks interesting. Some themes covered: Tilling – Harvesting – Moving the Harvest – Threshing – Sifting – Grinding – Making Dough – Baking Bread – Cooking – Making Grape Syrup – Sesame Oil – Olives and Olive Oil – Storage – Bard – Domestic Birds – Honeybee Farming – Milk – Shepherd – Washing – Water – Gathering Rainwater.

If you have a passion for biblical geography, perhaps you would consider supporting Seth Rodriquez to go to Zimbabwe to teach future pastors about the land of Israel. This is a great opportunity to help others learn about what we love.

I’ll be traveling for a few weeks and the regular roundups will resume when I return.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Steven Anderson

Old City from west, db6605212212
On this day 50 years ago, David Bivin took this photo while standing on the edge of no man’s land looking toward the Old City of Jerusalem, then occupied by Jordan. Photo from Views That Have Vanished.
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A seven-year-old boy found a 3,400-year-old figurine at Tel Rehov.

Archaeologists working at Timna in southern Israel found some remarkably well-preserved fabrics from the time of David. You may recall that for a long time scholars denied there was any activity at the site during the time of the United Monarchy.

A €1.6 million Israeli-German project will use digital tools to put the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls back together again.

A major renovation of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is underway.

Two artists covertly scanned the bust of Nefertiti and have now released a 3-D dataset.

Two guards at Dayr al-Barsha in Middle Egypt were killed by looters.

Adam Prins recently presented a seminar at the Albright Institute on “3D Models in Archaeological Excavation Recording: The JVRP Method.”

An exhibition of two recent treasure hoard discoveries provides insight into Roman life in England.

A series of lectures will be given at Tel Aviv University for the annual celebration of “Aharoni Day” this coming Thursday.

Project Mosul is a new website that “solicits photographs of antiquities and uses 3-D modeling software to create a virtual record of what was lost in the attack.”

Now online: Bryant Wood’s critique of Steven Collins’ northern location of Sodom.

Wayne Stiles explains five ways the Lord taught his people to walk by faith in the land of Israel.

The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Old Testament e-book volumes are on sale for $4.99, ending today.

HT: Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, Agade

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Have archaeologists identified some of the pilgrimage roads that led up to Jerusalem?

The Dead Sea is a fascinating place, as Wayne Stiles shows from his research and with some good visual aids.

@PalExFund shares a great photo from 1903 of the “PEF Observation Rock” along the shore of the Dead Sea.

Though the winter season at Khirbet el-Maqatir was cancelled, Scott Stripling led a small group to Israel and he shares his diary of the places they saw and the friends they met.

You can listen to part 2 of my discussion with Gordon Govier of 2016 excavations as well as other recent programs at The Book and the Spade.

Shmuel Browns shares some beautiful photos from Makhtesh Gadol. And he is co-leading the Great Makhtesh Photograph Adventure next month.

ABR is introducing a new archaeology curriculum for children.

Test your knowledge of Jericho with a new quiz at the ASOR Blog.

Eisenbrauns has a sale on Israel Exploration Society publications for 30 to 50% off.

Ken Dark concludes that satellite imagery is less useful for discovering new features around the Sea of Galilee than fieldwalking and surface surveys.

Leen Ritmeyer notes that Jerusalem the IMAX movie is currently available for free on Youtube.

Threshing floor in Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah, with Ambassador Hotel, mat23102
Threshing floor in Jerusalem near the Ambassador Hotel, 1953
Source: Library of Congress, LC-matpc-23102/www.LifeintheHolyLand.com
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A study of the temperature of the walls of Tut’s tomb is promising for those looking for a hidden chamber.

Ben Carson believes the pyramids of Egypt were built by Joseph to store grain.

Joseph’s tomb has been restored.

The Hebron archaeological site will not be leased to Jewish settlers.

The PEF has posted a brief video compilation of their recent conference on Jericho.

G. M. Grena reports on a new book dedicated to Robert Deutsch (that includes a chapter by Gabriel
Barkay), his visit to Passages exhibit and lecture, a forthcoming game, and a secret link.

If you don’t know about the Lanier Theological Library, you should read this.

This is your last chance to get in on Logos’s Classic Studies and Atlases on Biblical Geography (7 vols.) at the best pricing ($24-30).

Now free in pdf format: The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology: Characters and Collections, by Alice Stevenson.

Our most popular photo this week on Facebook and Twitter was this Psalm 23 image from the American Colony Collection.

Shepherd resting with flock at Ein Farah, mat05629
Shepherd tending his flock at a spring in the Judean wilderness
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