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I’ve just been alerted to the spring course schedule at Jerusalem Seminary that begins in March, with some low early-bird pricing through February 1. They have some excellent courses taught by outstanding professors, all available online.

Jerusalem Seminary is also offering a Pastors/Seminarians field study course in May that is designed for those who have already been to Israel, with a number of off-the-beaten-track stops, plus a dozen unique lectures by veterans in the land. Here are the spring courses:

Biblical Hebrew as a Living Language (Level 1), taught by Talia Podkamenski and a second JS-H4N teacher

Biblical Hebrew as a Living Language (Level 2), taught by Crystal Ovadia and a second JS-H4N teacher

Celebrating Biblical and Messianic Feasts in Early Christian Traditions, taught by Petra Heldt

Faith, Politics, and Ministry in the Middle East, facilitatedby Philip Lanning

The Gospel of Matthew in its First Century Jewish Context, taught by Noel Rabinowitz

Unfolding the Psalms, taught by Murray Salisbury

Biblical Hebrew Tutoring (1-on-1, or group)

All the details are here.

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Two 3,800-year-old cuneiform tablets found in Iraq give first glimpse of Hebrew precursor.”

Asshur, the ancient religious capital of Assyria, will be flooded once construction is completed on a dam on the Tigris River.

Arab News looks at evidence of early Christianity in the Arabian Peninsula.

Mohy-Eldin Elnady Abo-Eleaz looks at how kings of the Late Bronze Age dealt with various kinds of “fake news.”

A Greek blacksmith is creating replicas of ancient armor for display in museums. I saw about a dozen of these last week in the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology in Athens.

Mark I. Pinsky reviews Eric M. Meyers’s autobiography, An Accidental Archaeologist: A Personal Memoir. Only $9.99 on Kindle.

Eric Meyers is interviewed by Eve Harow on the Rejuvenation podcast.

Alex Joffe grew the readership of ANE Today from zero to 42,000 over the last decade, and now he is stepping down. This provides him with the occasion to reflect on the challenge of getting archaeologists to write for normal people.

The Met has closed its galleries for Ancient Near Eastern and Cypriot Art for a two-year, $40 million renovation project.

The H.A.P.S. summer scholarship is possibly the first crowd-funded grant aimed at helping humanities Ph.D. students – specifically, those studying the Ancient Near East.”

New release: City of Caesar, City of God: Constantinople and Jerusalem in Late Antiquity, edited by Konstantin M. Klein and Johannes Wienand (De Gruyter, 2022; $127; free download).

New release: Naming and Mapping the Gods in the Ancient Mediterranean, edited by: Thomas Galoppin, Elodie Guillon, Max Luaces, Asuman Lätzer-Lasar, Sylvain Lebreton, Fabio Porzia, Jörg Rüpke, Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli, and Corinne Bonnet (De Gruyter, $196; free download)

New release: The Scribe in the Biblical World: A Bridge Between Scripts, Languages and Cultures, edited by Esther Eshel and Michael Langlois (De Gruyter, $100)

New release: The Solid Rock Hebrew Bible – “this edition prints the entire Hebrew text (in a traditional two-column layout and an easy-to-read 13-point font, with vowel points included for readers’ convenience) and includes adjustments made to the base text (the Leningrad Codex) in over 2,500 places.” $35 per printed volume, and free download.

ASOR webinar on Jan 26: “Antiquities Trafficking in the Age of Social Media: How Big Tech Facilitates and Profits from the Digital Black Market,” featuring Katie A. Paul and moderated by Eric Cline ($12).

Video recordings from the “Yahwism under the Achaemenid Empire” conference are now available (also on YouTube).

Speakers at the online Spring Bible & Archaeology Fest 2023 include Erez Ben-Yosef, Shimon Gibson, James Hoffmeier, Chris McKinny, Gary Rendsburg, Sarah Parcak, and others.

Amélie Kuhrt died on January 2.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Arne Halbakken, Gordon Dickson, Ted Weis, Wayne Stiles, Mondo Gonzales, Alexander Schick, Charles Savelle, Keith Keyser, Explorator

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“Accumulated disquiet among Israeli archaeologists over the widespread publication of sensational claims regarding ostensibly newly deciphered, once-in-a-lifetime biblical inscriptions in Jerusalem has spilled over into an open letter.”

A recent episode of This Week in the Ancient Near East discusses the way in which new alleged inscriptions in Hezekiah’s Tunnel were announced.

Israeli archaeologists discovered the oldest hoards of silver, attesting to its use as currency some centuries earlier than previously thought. The underlying journal article is here.

Excavations at Khirbat el-Masani revealed the remains of a Byzantine monk whose neck, hands, and feet bore heavy iron rings, perhaps as a symbol of his ascetic lifestyle.

“Newly uncovered remains of fabrics from the Far East dating to some 1,300 years ago in Israel’s Arava region suggest the existence of a previously unknown ‘Israeli Silk Road.’”

The United States has returned an 8th century BC cosmetic spoon, probably taken from the region of Hebron, to the Palestinian government. This the first such repatriation of an antiquity by the US to the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority is apparently planning to construct homes on the area of the altar on Mount Ebal.

Walking The Text has begun a mini-series on Ruth, with a number of helpful maps and illustrations.

El-Araj, possibly Bethsaida, is the latest site featured in the “Digging In” series of the Biblical Archaeology. The article includes a 6-minute video taken on location.

Hybrid lecture on Jan 26: “Byzantine Bethsaida and the House of St. Peter,” by R. Steven Notley and Mordechai Aviam, at the Museum of the Bible.

New from Eisenbrauns: Yotvata: The Ze’ev Meshel Excavations (1974–1980) The Iron I “Fortress” and the Early Islamic Settlement, by Lily Singer-Avitz and Etan Ayalon

Aaron Demsky provides a extensive discussion of the location of Rachel’s tomb, concluding that it was near the border of Benjamin and Ephraim.

GTI Tours is offering a study tour specifically designed for those who have visited Israel before, with a variety of experiences most tourists don’t have.

The BAS Scholars Series includes four lectures, with a discount for purchase of all four:

  • Mar 5: “Holy City Hotspot: Exploring Jerusalem’s Acropolis,” with Andrew Lawler
  • June 4: “A Wise Woman and a Bearded Man: Ten Seasons of Excavation at Tel Abel Beth Maacah,” with Nava Panitz-Cohen
  • Sept 28: “Free Health Care Is a Miracle: Psalm 8, Jesus, and the Jerusalem Temple,” with Amy-Jill Levine
  • Dec 6: “The Life of Jesus Written in Stone: The Earliest Commemorative Churches in Roman Palestine,” with Jordan Ryan

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Arne Halbakken, Gordon Dickson, Ted Weis, Wayne Stiles, Mondo Gonzales, Alexander Schick, Charles Savelle, Keith Keyser, Explorator

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Nearly 20 years after a portion of the Pool of Siloam was discovered, the Israel Antiquities Authority has announced that the entirety of the pool will be exposed and opened to the public. The excavation follows the Supreme Court’s decision last year to not challenge a Jewish organization’s purchase of the land’s lease from the Greek Orthodox Church. Predictably, the Greek Orthodox Church is crying foul. The left-wing Emek Shaveh is unhappy. There is a nice artistic rendering of what the pool may look like here. A CBN video (with a passing appearance of Doug Bookman) shows a tractor clearing the area that has long been a garden.

The Jerusalem Post provides a good summary of the excavations of the Roman road from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount, with the notice that 300 feet are yet to be excavated before the entire route can be opened to the public.

Jewish visits to the Temple Mount hit a modern record in 2022, with 51,483 going up to the holy site last year.”

Creating more tourist attractions in the City of David will only exacerbate the horrendous traffic problems to the area, writes Gil Zohar.

The Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion was vandalized by a couple of thugs, damaging several grave markers including that of Bishop Gobat. Ynet has many photos of the damage as well as a video of the criminals in action.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin wants state ownership of the Maria Magdalena Monastery, the Ascension Monastery, and the Viri Galilaei Church (People of the Galilee) all situated on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.”

Meir Panim has posted a one-hour virtual tour of Yad VaShem, Israel’s national holocaust memorial.

A spindle whorl with an intricate design is the 120,000 registered object in the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

A 6th-century Byzantine church with beautiful mosaics was uncovered in Jericho.

“A 9,000-year-old human skull discovered near the West Bank city of Jericho has a new face, thanks to technology and a multi-national research team.”

A coin from the Bar Kochba revolt was found recently during an archaeological dig in Murabba’at caves in the Nahal Darga Reserve in the Judean Desert.”

“An ancient fire pit, beside which lay eight ostrich eggs dating back over 4,000 years, was discovered in the Nitzana sand dunes in the Negev region.”

A virtual reality tour of Tel Dan, led by the voice of excavator Avraham Biran, is now available at UCSD’s Qualcomm Institute.

Moshe Gilad writes about his visit to the monasteries and ancient remains of Latrun (subscription).

The conference schedule is now posted for “Conrad Schick and His World,” hosted by the Albright Institute in Jerusalem on February 6-7. Registration closes on February 1 or when full, whichever comes first.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Arne Halbakken, Gordon Dickson, Ted Weis, Wayne Stiles, Mondo Gonzales, Alexander Schick, Charles Savelle, Keith Keyser, Explorator

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While I work on the weekend roundup, with dozens of stories from the last few weeks while I was traveling, I wanted to give special notice to the upcoming free seminar offered by Jerusalem University College. I graduated from JUC in 1994 with an M.A. in Biblical History, and I’ve long recommended the school for advanced and graduate studies in the land of Israel. This free online seminar entitled “Explore the Gap: Stories in Context” will give you a taste of their unique opportunities.

Seven presentations will be given on the evening of Friday, February 3 (7-10pm EST) and the morning of Saturday, February 4 (9-1:30 EST). You can hop on and off as your interests and time allow. Here is the schedule:

Friday:

  • “Is Samaria/Sebaste Too Sin-Ruined to Save?,” by Jack Beck
  • “Micah the Morashti: Prophet ‘Outside the Beltway,’” by Elaine Phillips
  • “Biblical Influences on the Modern Jewish Settlement of the Holy Land,” by Jon Kaplan

Saturday:

  • “How the ANE Cultural Context Contributes to OT Interpretation: The Tower of Babel,” by John Walton
  • “A Tale of Two Swords,” by Chris McKinny
  • “Why Jesus Was Baptized Though He Had No Sin,” by Brad Gray
  • “From Edom to Jericho,” by Hélène Dallaire

I know most of the presenters, and they are at the top of their fields. I expect their presentations will be engaging and thought-provoking. Advance registration is required, and you can do that in about one minute with this link.

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There won’t be a roundup tomorrow, so today’s is a long one (with 30 items). I am grateful for tips this week from Agade, Keith Keyser, Arne Halbakken, Gordon Dickson, and Mark Hoffman. See the last item for a word about the future.

Archaeologists made some discoveries in preparing to open to the public the tomb of Salome, the traditional midwife of Jesus. The cave is situated along the route of the new Judean Kings Trail, which runs from Beersheba to Beit Guvrin.

“Israeli archaeologists have discovered the earliest evidence of cotton in the ancient Near East during excavations at Tel Tsaf, a 7,000-year-old town in the Jordan Valley.”

A group of schoolchildren discovered a Roman oil lamp while walking in Galilee.

“Israel is embarking on a challenge to make the mapping of archaeological sites tech-savvy using remote underground sensor technology in a move to cut costs and resources used up by extensive excavation.”

The NY Times looks at the hope for dating ancient remains offered by archaeomagnetism.

Some are seeking the Israeli government to turn the ruins of the Hasmonean and Herodian palaces at Jericho into a national park in order to preserve it and make it accessible to Israelis.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project has been making great progress, but they need financial support.

The Temple: Then and Now is a forthcoming five-episode video project from Bible Land Passages. They have just released a trailer.

Joseph Lauer has observed that most respectable news outlets have ignored the recent claims of Gershon Galil to have discovered five inscriptions in and around Hezekiah’s Tunnel. He links to one article (in Hebrew) which quotes Dr. Barkay as saying, “I haven’t seen anything yet that convinces me that this is true. We have to wait for a scientific publication and better photos that will clarify what is there.” Carl Rasmussen shares photos of the location of one of the alleged inscriptions.

ASOR webinar on Jan 12: “‘Earliest Inscription Found!’ Exposing Sensationalism in the Field of Ancient Inscriptions,” by Christopher Rollston ($12)

20 ancient tombs dating back to as early as 660 BC were uncovered in the city of New Damietta in Egypt’s Nile delta.”

“An ancient Egyptian painting [in a palace at Amarna] is so detailed, researchers can determine which species of birds were featured in it.”

Conservators in Iraq’s national museum are working to preserve and digitize 47,000 ancient manuscripts.

“Yale computer scientists, archaeologists, and historians are teaming up to uncover long-lost clues from the ancient city of Dura-Europos.”

More than half of the destructions dated to 1200 BC in the eastern Mediterranean world “were misdated, assumed, or simply invented out of nothing and are what we can call, false destructions.”

The Vatican Museums are returning three fragments of sculptures from the Parthenon that they have held for a long time.

Gifs can help to show the former glory of ancient ruins.

Juan Manuel Tebes asks why the Bible never mentions the Edomite god Qos. I think his answer is wrong, but it’s an interesting question.

Leon Mauldin tackles the question of who the deliverer of Israel was in the days of Jehoahaz and Jehoash. His conclusion is quite reasonable.

Jacob Sivak looks at some of the archaeological background to James Michener’s The Source.

An anonymous archaeologist explains why some archaeologists and scientists are carrying out their research anonymously.

A complete list of speakers and topics has been released for the 3rd annual Jerusalem University College online seminar. Speakers include Chris McKinny, Brad Gray, Jack Beck, and Hélène Dallaire.

Oscar White Muscarella, an archaeologist who argued vociferously that antiquities collectors and museums — including his longtime employer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art — were fueling a market in forgeries and encouraging the plundering of archaeological sites, died on Nov. 27.”

Erich Winter, professor emeritus of Egyptology at Trier University, died on Dec 17. A list of his publications is available here.

Ross Thomas, archaeologist and British Museum curator, died on Nov 14 at the age of 44.

Eric Meyers offers “a few inconvenient lessons of Hanukkah.”

Preserving Bible Times now has Zechariah and Elizabeth, by Doug Greenwold, available in audiobook format. (Also ebook)

The latest OnSite video from Biblical Archaeology Society explores Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.

“Herod the Great-Villain of the Christmas Story” is the subject of the latest episode of Digging for Truth, with guest Bryan Windle. On Christmas day, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” will be released.

Who were the Magi? Bryan Windle provides an excellent and well-illustrated survey of the possibilities, and the strengths of each view.

I’ll have a “Top 10 of 2022” finished by Monday, but there will be no weekend roundups for the next 3-4 weeks while I travel around Turkey and Greece. I’m co-leading a group of 90 from The Master’s University, and I highly recommend our agent there, Tutku Tours.

Merry Christmas!

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