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An interesting and unique opportunity available this summer is the Global Smyrna Meeting on the Seven Churches of Revelation. Organized by Tutku Educational Travel, this week-long program (June 20-26) has two features that are especially noteworthy: (1) travel to the cities of all seven churches; (2) study with some of the best scholars of the New Testament.

Speakers include Mark Wilson, Ben Witherington, Mark Fairchild, Carl Rasmussen, Jeff Weima, Dana Harris, and Linford Stutzman.

The touring time is much more significant than with a tour group. For example, the schedule provides 4.5 hours touring of Pergamum with an archaeologist, 3 hours at Thyatira, 2.5 hours at Sardis with an archaeologist, and a lecture by an archaeologist at the Ephesus Museum. This is more concentrated time on these cities than any other tour I know of, and the pre-trip lectures enhance the experience even more.

You can find all the details here. As regards the travel situation, Turkey has been the most open of all the countries in the Middle East this past year, so I’m telling people that Turkey is the place to go in 2021. If you haven’t been to Cappadocia, you can add that as a pre-tour extension. If you have traveled with Tutku before, you know that everything they do is top-notch and the accommodations are excellent.

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Several shipwrecks from the Roman period are being studied near the Greek island of Kassos.

Timothy H. Lim explains that while the Essenes living at Qumran preferred isolation, most Essenes did not.

In the 1930s, the Oriental Institute conducted a series of investigations throughout ancient Persia.

Discover magazine looks at the use of the number zero in ancient history.

A new exhibition has opened at the University of Pennsylvania: Invisible Beauty: The Art of Archaeological Science.

UC Berkeley has announced a new program entitled “Assyrian Studies.”

Digging Digital Museum Collections Series “has created a pedagogical resource that provides examples of learning activities based on online museum collections and resources.”

Eric Cline and Christopher Rollston are being succeeded as editors of BASOR by a team of four.

Now on Pre-Pub at Logos: The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Archaeology.

John DeLancey gives a 12-minute tour of Caesarea Philippi.

Joel Kramer talks about how archaeology supports the Bible in an interview with Sean McDowell.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Arne Halbakken

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A Greek inscription from the 5th century AD reading “Christ, born of Mary” was discovered in a salvage excavation in the Jezreel Valley.

Archaeologists discovered a marble statue of a ram dating to the Byzantine period at Caesarea.

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a new group of 50 wooden sarcophagi at Saqqara, dating to the New Kingdom period.

“Alexandria University launched a new project to excavate and preserve underwater artifacts, in a bid to revive tourism and protect Egypt’s underwater heritage.”

“Tomas Libertiny, a Slovakian artist, has created a beautiful beeswax sculpture of Egyptian queen Nefertiti with the assistance of 60,000 honey bees.”

A Roman fort has been discovered near Aswan.

Ten maps can tell us a lot about the Sinai Peninsula.

Charles F. Aling is interviewed in the latest edition of the Scholar’s Chair at the Bible Archaeology Report.

Leen Ritmeyer provides a brief history of the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim, with many illustrations.

The Annual Yohanan Aharoni Day 2021 will be live on Zoom and Facebook on March 4. The topic is “The Forces that Shaped Jerusalem: Earth, Faith and People,” with sessions on landscape, religion, and the charismatic individual.

Conference recordings are now available from the recent conference “‘The Land That I Will Show You’: Recent Archaeological & Historical Studies of Ancient Israel.” (Playback speed is adjustable.)

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Arne Halbakken

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Analysis of soil from Herod’s palace garden in Jericho reveals that he raised “lush bonsai versions of pines, cypresses, cedars, olives and other trees.”

There is more here about the police bust of a major antiquities ring in central Israel.

Israel21c runs an interesting piece on the value and conservation of ancient mosaics in Israel.

With the mines removed, worshipers were able to celebrate Epiphany near the Jordan River for the first time in more than 50 years.

Roger D. Isaacs adds to the lists of top 10 Bible discoveries of 2020.

Because of travel restrictions, Jerusalem University College is offering for the first time ever its full slate of classes online, including courses on physical settings, cultural background, parables of Jesus, and history of the Second Temple period.

New: Heart of the Holy Land: 40 Reflections on Scripture and Place, by Paul H. Wright (and on Kindle)

New: Encountering Jesus in the Real World of the Gospels, by Cyndi Parker

New: Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion, edited by Avraham Faust. Hardback for purchase or free pdf. Individual essays are available here.

The Israel Film Archive has some short film clips of historic interest. They are in Hebrew, but visually interesting even if you don’t know Hebrew.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, A.D. Riddle, Arne Halbakken, Explorator, Alexander Schick

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AhramOnline explains why 2020 was a good year for Egyptian archaeology.

“Ramses and the Gold of the Pharaohs” is a new exhibition that has been approved by the Egyptian government to tour Houston, San Francisco, Boston, London, and Paris from 2021 to 2025.

Not all scholars are convinced that Salome’s dance floor in Herod’s palace at Macherus has been discovered.

A woman’s garden ‘stepping stone’ turns out to be an ancient Roman artifact.

Ancient Romans liked their fish very fresh, but salted fish and fermented fish sauces were especially popular with those less well-off.

CAMNES has announced its livestream lecture schedule for 2021.

Groningen-Leuven-Oxford Network Workshop on Hebrew Bible and Jewish Antiquity will be held on Mar 8 and 9. It is free and open to the public.

Kipp Davis is featured on The Book and the Spade as the “Dead Sea Scrolls Detective.”

Carl Rasmussen writes about a very unusual Roman building on the outskirts of ancient Tarsus.

Ferrell Jenkin’s latest post about the seven churches of Revelation includes a unique rooftop view of Thyatira as well as a new picture of the recently reconstructed stoa.

HT: Agade, Wayne Stiles

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A worker clearing a nature path at Nitzana (Nessana) in the Negev discovered a stone with a Greek inscription reading “Blessed Maria.”

A forthcoming article by David Ussishkin argues that there was no gate shrine at Lachish desecrated in the reign of Hezekiah.

Bill Barrick’s latest research trip post focuses on Tel Dan and includes a variety of images and a list of recommended resources.

The Crusader-era siege ramp around Ashkelon served another purpose: protecting the city from being overtaken by sand.

After an extended investigation, the Israel Antiquities Authority recovered thousands of looted artifacts in three raids in central Israel.

Evie Gassner looks at a lot of evidence in order to determine just how Jewish King Herod was.

Bruce Routledge will be lecturing on Jan 11, 11am CET, on “Iron Age Jordan: The Levant from a very different angle.” To register and receive a Zoom link, email [email protected].

Conversations in the Archaeology and History of Ancient Israel with Israel Finkelstein. This video series with a controversial archaeologist will be rolling out over the coming year. The initial videos (20-30 min. each) are available now.

Claus-Hunno Hunzinger died this week. He was the last living member of the original Dead Sea Scrolls team.

An obituary has been posted for Shlomo Bunimovitz who died last month.

Peter Goeman gives a good roundup of articles in the blogosphere in the latest biblical studies carnival.

HT: Agade, Andy Cook

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