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Excavations in Alexandria have revealed a well-preserved mosaic floor from the Roman period.

An artificial reef and underwater museum is being created in the Red Sea waters of Aqaba from old military vehicles.

The Tetrapylon avenue at Aphrodisias will open soon, following the completion of excavations.

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities June 2019 Newsletter provides the latest updates.

Four ancient Babylonian tablets at the British Museum were apparently used to calculate the motion of Jupiter.

An exhibition of looted archaeological artifacts is now on display at the Capitoline Museums.

A man who made more than half a million dollars by selling to a museum an “ancient Egyptian figurine” he made in his garden shed is sorry.

Mastic, from the island of Chios (cf. Acts 20:15), is getting a fresh look as a possible super-drug.

In an excerpt from her new book, Sarah Parcak asks, “Will the future of archaeology not require moving dirt?”

Jimmy Hardin discusses the latest discoveries at Macherus on The Book and the Spade.

In the final post in his series on Paul’s shipwreck on Malta, Carl Rasmussen shares photos of a more likely place than the traditional bay.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Charles Savelle, Mark Hoffman, Steven Anderson, Explorator

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The big story of the week was the “discovery of Ziklag,” a claim made by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel regarding his recent excavations of Khirbet a-Ra‘i. You can read about it in the The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, and Haaretz (premium). You can download high-res photos or watch a one-minute silent video showing excavations at the site. I think the whole thing is sad.

Now, to the week’s stories, of which there are not so many:

You might have trouble picking out your friends in this year’s group photo of the Gath excavation team. (Very clever!) You can poke around the blog for recent updates and lots of photos.

The Tel Burna excavation season is over. John DeLancey created a video of the site with his drone.

A journal article has been published on last year’s discovery of a ceramic pomegranate at Shiloh.

Scott Stripling is back on The Book and the Spade discussing this year’s excavations at Shiloh.

A newly constructed building on an archaeological site in the hills near Hebron has been bulldozed.

On the Logos blog, Karen Engle explains the value of biblical archaeology.

It’s always more enjoyable to think about a difficult passage when you feel more immersed in its setting, and that’s what Wayne Stiles does this week with Jesus’s question at Capernaum.

Israel’s Good Name enjoyed a fascinating outing to the Nizzana Dunes. Don’t skip this one if you love wildlife.

Carl Rasmussen has begun a very interesting series (part 1, part 2) on Paul’s shipwreck on the island of Malta.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a photo of Capernaum with a unique perspective.

OK, so I’ll elaborate briefly on my thoughts on “Ziklag.” First, the lead archaeologist who made the claim has a track record of making dubious sensational claims. Second, the archaeologist was very careful to conceal his idea from other scholars until he made his big announcement to the press. Now, that may be the way to do things in the competitive business world, but in academia, you’re supposed to share your ideas with colleagues for fruitful critique. Garfinkel’s approach, once again, is more designed to make headlines than to discover truth.

Third, other sites, such as Tel Sera, have appropriate occupation levels, from the Philistines followed by the Israelites, with destruction layers. From the biblical text, we know that there were dozens of sites in this area, and David no doubt removed the Philistines from more than one of them (1 Chr 18:1). Furthermore, the minimal amount of Philistine pottery gives reason to doubt that Kh. a-Ra‘i was actually a Philistine site at all.

Fourth, Khirbet a-Ra‘i (coordinates 31°35’26.83″N, 34°49’10.03″E), is near Lachish (2.5 miles northwest), but according to Joshua 15, Ziklag is located in a more southern district (grouped with sites like Beersheba and Hormah). That is why scholars have proposed for Ziklag the sites of Tel Sera (15 miles southwest of Lachish) and Tel Halif (13 miles south of Lachish). If Khirbet a-Ra‘i was Ziklag, it should be in verse 38 of Joshua 15, not in verse 31. Fifteen miles distant is a long way in the land of Israel!

As with Kh. Qeiyafa, Garfinkel simply ignores what the Bible says about the geographical situation of sites and chooses the most spectacular name to attach to his site. The press will let him get away with it, because sensational stories mean more money for them. By the time that journal articles are written or professors speak up, the headlines have already raced around the world, and the public’s attention is elsewhere. Khirbet a-Ra‘i is a fine archaeological site; it doesn’t need false claims in order to make it worthy of study or publicity.

Final note: Amanda Borschel-Dan has written a solid report for The Times of Israel in which she quotes at length two scholars dumbfounded by Garfinkel’s claim. Luke Chandler (a volunteer at the site this year) and Ferrell Jenkins also weigh in. My analysis here was written before I read these reports, but you’ll see there’s a good bit of overlap.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Keith Keyser, BibleX

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I go away for one week, and I come back to a large pile of stories in the biblical and archaeological world. This is going to take three long posts to catch up.


Discoveries:

Excavations at the synagogue of Huqoq have uncovered a mosaic depicting the Israelites’ encampment at Elim as well as two of the four beasts of Daniel 7.

Recent research has revealed that Tel Shikmona was not a trading settlement but a purple dye manufacturing center.

The Siloam Road, connecting the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount of Jerusalem, was officially opened this week.

Archaeologists discovered an ancient baptismal font hidden inside another baptismal font at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

An ancient Roman-era shipwreck has been discovered at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Cyprus.”


Excavations:

The Tel Burna crew has finished three weeks of their summer dig, with daily posts providing summaries of the finds along with photos. Here’s the latest. John DeLancey has posted his perspective as a volunteer.

The Gath expedition is halfway finished with their season, and they are unearthing a road, a window, architectural remains, and a monster wall.

This summer’s excavations at el-Araj (Bethsaida?) have produced more mosaics from the Byzantine church, a mold for making lead fishing weights, part of a roof roller, and Roman flagstones.


The Jerusalem Report has a feature piece on recent excavations at Tell Beth Shemesh.

Excavations are beginning in Laodicea on the road that leads to the ancient stadium.


Studies:

A new DNA study indicates that Philistines living in Ashkelon in the late 12th century BC originated from Greece, Crete, or Sardinia. These articles are based on a journal article published in Science Advances (pdf).

“New research explains why salt crystals are piling up on the deepest parts of the Dead Sea’s floor.”

Joe Zias argues that nearly all, if not all, of the human remains found at Masada are ethnically non-Jewish.

A new study shows that masons’ marks were used at Hippos only from the late first century to the late second century (Haaretz premium).


Sad News:

Doug Greenwold died on June 23. Doug was the Senior Teaching Fellow at Preserving Bible Times and a co-founder of The Institute of Biblical Context. He will be greatly missed.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Agade, Explorator, Lois Tverberg

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The Ketef Hinnom Archaeological Garden has now opened, no longer requiring passage through the Begin Center to visit the First Temple period tombs.

An agreement was signed to carry out renovations in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher by the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic churches. There is no word on whether the ladder will be moved.

Some are claiming that Muslims have turned the Golden Gate into a mosque.

The IDF carried out a simultaneous detonation of 900 landmines in the region of Qasr el-Yehud near the Jordan River.

A number of wildfires have been set this week in the region of Samaria.


The Times of Israel runs a story on the relaunch of the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

I can’t tell which part of this “10th-century gate discovered at ‘Bethsaida’” wasn’t reported last year, but the Jerusalem Post is running it as news.

A Turkish archaeologist discovered a stone with a Greek inscription embedded in a wall during roadwork near Cnidos.

Carl Rasmussen shares photos of Roman-period anchors piled up in a corner of the Malta Maritime Museum.

Glenn C. Altschuler reviews Jodi Magness’s new book, Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth. I would expect the book to be a worthwhile read for anyone interested in Masada.

Charles Savelle reviews David Dorsey’s classic, The Roads and Highways of Ancient Israel (now back in print).

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Keith Keyser

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Eggshells discovered in the City of David are the first evidence of chicken eggs used the diet of ancient Israelites.

A group of high schoolers discovered a rare gold coin from the time of Theodosius II (AD 420) on a class trip in Galilee.

A new archaeological visitor center has opened at Jokneam, at the base of Mount Carmel not far from Megiddo. The highlight is a 9th-century statue of the city’s ruler. There’s a slideshow on Facebook.

The partnership between Israel Finkelstein and Tel Aviv University physics professor Eli Piasetzky began when the latter was volunteering undercover at the Megiddo excavation.

The new Petra Museum has been inaugurated. It is located next to the main entrance to the site.

Flora Brooke Anthony provides examples of how Egyptians depicted in art their northern neighbors in the Levant.

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities Newsletter for March 2019 is now online.

Adriano Orsingher explains the purpose of Phoenician and Punic masks.

Salvage excavations in Larnaca, Cyprus, revealed more than 110 tombs from the Early Bronze to the Late Roman periods.

Lightning recently struck the Acropolis in Greece, closing it temporarily.

Emory University is receiving the Senusret Collection, “one of the most extensive collections of ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern artwork to be donated to a US museum.”

“Life Lessons from Israel: Dan” is the latest video produced by Biblical Israel Ministries & Tours.

Israel’s Good Name recounts his visit to Herodium.

Now is the time to register for the 2019 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath.

“The arched stone-built hall in Jerusalem venerated by Christians as the site of Jesus’ Last Supper has been digitally recreated by archaeologists using laser scanners and advanced photography.”

Carl Rasmussen’s posts this week focus on Jesus’s crucifixion, including (1) crucified man from Jerusalem; (2) bone box of Caiaphas; (3) Church of the Holy Sepulcher; and (4) the best rolling stone tomb in Israel.

Pilgrims in Jerusalem yesterday celebrated Good Friday and Passover.

Police arrested several people who were planning to smuggle two baby goats onto the Temple Mount for a sacrifice.

The Samaritans celebrated Passover on Thursday evening. See below for a few photos my son took at the event.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Steven Anderson, Chris McKinny

“He was led like a lamb to the slaughter…”

“And as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth…”

“He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken…”

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An inscription written in the Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian languages has been discovered at Naqshe-Rustam, the royal necropolis of Persepolis.

Work on the sewer system in Kition, Cyprus, keeps revealing ancient remains from the Classical and Roman periods.

A decade of restoration work of King Tut’s tomb has been completed. The History Channel has many photos.

The vase that the British Museum realized was a mace is in fact a vase.

The BBC reports on several women whose interest in archaeology began with a childhood fascination with mummies.

Eisenbrauns is running a sale of 30-50% off of titles in the Duke Judaic Studies and Sepphoris Archaeological Report series.

Beit Shemesh and Kiriath Yearim are the subjects of discussion in this week’s The Book and the Spade.

Shmuel Browns shares several photos he took along the Alon Road in eastern Samaria.

If you have been to Israel before, answer a few quick questions to help Wayne Stiles as he puts together a video series to help travelers prepare for a Holy Land Tour.

It’s a slow week, so here’s a bonus quotation:

“My definition of archaeology, shared with students during almost forty years of teaching historical geography, is that archaeology is the science of digging a square hole and the art of spinning a yarn from it” (Anson Rainey, “Stones for Bread: Archaeology versus History.” Near Eastern Archaeology 64 (2001): 140.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis

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