Weekend Roundup

In case you were wondering, the Western Wall is closed too. (Perhaps not technically, but the rabbis are issuing edicts on behalf of the Health Ministry.)

Greece has closed all of its museum and archaeological sites until March 30 because of a shortage of guards.

A study commissioned by the Museum of the Bible argues that all 16 of the “Dead Sea Scroll” fragments that they own are forgeries. National Geographic’s extensive report includes a statement by Emanuel Tov that questions that conclusion.

A student identified that a display of medieval artifacts included a sword from the Early Bronze Age.

“It Happened Here” – Life Lessons from Israel: Beersheba – this 6-minute video is #21 in the series by Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours.

The Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Their website includes a number of links to related presentations (in French).

“The Institute of Archaeology of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is very pleased to announce the establishment of The Roger and Susan Hertog Center for the Archaeological Study of Jerusalem and Judah.” Some generous scholarships for M.A., Ph.D., and post-doc programs require application by May 1.

A couple of our blog readers saw the recent post about “Israel by Foot,” and then combined a hiking trip in Galilee with a tour of Israel we recommended with John and Doro Black. They share their experiences and various travel tips on their website dubbed “The Hitched Hikers.”

Carl Rasmussen shares photos and directions to a well-preserved portion of the Herodian aqueduct three miles north of Caesarea.

Emperor Hadrian was quite the traveler, a fact illustrated in this presentation of coins from all over the Roman Empire.

Eric Cline is on The Book and the Spade this week talking about his new book, Digging Up Armageddon.

Ferrell Jenkins was allowed to take one, and only one, photo in the tomb of Rekhmire in the Valley of the Nobles in Egypt.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis

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Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Tourism:
National Geographic has a beautifully illustrated article on the history of Jerash (ancient Gerasa).

Saudi Arabia is now giving visas to foreign tourists.

A $6 million, 9-year project has made much of Jerusalem’s Old City accessible to wheelchairs. And now you can rent a golf cart at Jaffa Gate (for $100/hour).

The entry fee for Rome’s Colosseum is jumping to €16.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a number of photos from his visit to the Brook Besor.

The first photograph of the Acropolis of Athens was taken in 1842.

I enjoyed talking about my visit to Susa on The Book and the Spade. Part 2 is now posted.


Lectures:
Peter Machinist will be lecturing on “Assyria and the Hebrew Bible: A Reassessment” at NYU on Nov 14. Registration required.

Felix Höflmayer, Katharina Streit, & Lyndelle Webster will be lecturing at the Albright Institute on Oct 31 at 4:00. Their topic:  The Austrian-Israeli Expedition to Lachish After Three Years of Excavation.


Videos:
New series on YouTube: “The Holy Land: Connecting the Land with Its Stories is a nine-episode series hosted by Dr. John (Jack) Beck that takes you to regions throughout Israel to experience the land, the culture, and the customs that surround the sacred stories of the Bible.” The first two episodes have been released, and you can see a 2-minute special feature about Jerusalem here.

The latest video from Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours: “It Happened Here” – Life Lessons from Israel: Beth Shemesh (6 min).

Appian Media is posting regularly to their YouTube channel, including some behind-the-scenes videos.

We’ll have more in part 3 tomorrow.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Explorator

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

With summer excavations wrapping up, some dig directors are calling up journalists to report their prize discoveries…

Excavations at Gath this summer uncovered portions of an earlier Philistine city, with massive fortifications suggesting that this period was the city’s actual heyday (=time of David and Goliath). This story by Ariel David is reported in Haaretz (premium), and Aren Maeir provides a pdf version. The Jerusalem Post has a brief account here. The Times of Israel write-up is here.

No, they didn’t find the archive at Hazor, but they did discover a staircase.

Excavators working at Hippos have discovered well-preserved mosaics in the “Burnt Church” that include poorly spelled inscriptions.

Tel Shimron in Galilee has a daily blog for its summer excavations. Here is yesterday’s post.

You have only two more seasons to volunteer in the excavations at Gath before they put the shovels into the shed for good.

In a video posted yesterday, David Moster looks at seven types of rare verses, including the longest and shortest verses in the Hebrew Bible. You can see a list of the rare verses in the notes below the video.

Madeline Arthington writes about her tour of the tabernacle model in southern Israel (with lots of photos).

A new documentary goes in search of the “Apollo of Gaza,” a bronze statue discovered in 2013 that disappeared shortly thereafter. The 47-minute video will be posted online until August 14.

The temperature at the southern end of the Dead Sea last week broke a record at 122° Fahrenheit (49.9° Celsius). That’s still under the national record of 129°F (54°C ) in June 1942 near Beth Shean.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Charles Savelle, Keith Keyser, Explorator

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Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists working at el-Araj (Bethsaida?) are claiming that a Byzantine church they are excavating is the “Church of the Apostles.” The story is reported in Haaretz (premium); the excavation website has lots of photos.

The excavation season at Gath is over. Among this week’s posts is this one with their end-of-season photo shoot.

“A rare, very early rural mosque was unearthed during recent archaeological excavations in the southern Israel Bedouin city of Rahat.”

Excavations on Mount Zion have revealed a moat from the Crusader siege of Jerusalem in 1099.

“An unprecedentedly vast Neolithic settlement — the largest ever discovered in Israel and the Levant, say archaeologists — is currently being excavated ahead of highway construction five kilometers from Jerusalem

The University of Basel announced its possession of the oldest autograph of a Christian letter.

Researchers are studying the harbor technologies of Portus, the maritime harbor of Rome in the first centuries AD.

For the first time in decades, Egypt has opened the Bent and Red Pyramids of Dahshur to tourists.

Wayne Stiles draws spiritual lessons about closed doors from Paul’s second missionary journey.

New from Eerdmans: Scribes and Scrolls at Qumran, by Sidnie White Crawford

Now at the top of my wish list (but more difficult to acquire outside of Israel): Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Archaeological Discoveries, 1998–2018, edited by Hillel Geva.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Agade

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Weekend Roundup (and the fake “Ziklag”)

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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Weekend Roundup

This year’s Institute of Biblical Context conference was superb. If you can make it to next year’s conference (theme: the contextual world of the apostle Paul), I’d recommend it (June 8-10 in Zeeland, Michigan).

(Re-)Opening day for the Temple Mount Sifting Project was a great success.

Abigail VanderHart provides an interesting look into how the antiquities market is regulated in Israel.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is offering visitors a chance to volunteer in an archaeological excavation. There are other options with Volunteers for Israel.

Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours has produced a 6-minute devotional video with footage from Gamla.

With the summer excavations about to begin at Gath, Aren Maeir shares a preview of the 2019 shirt.

Israel’s Good Name recounts his travels in the southern Aravah, including Timna Park and several other off-the-beaten-track sites.

Walking the Text has just released the 2nd edition of “The #1 Mistake Most Everyone Makes Reading the Bible.” Select “More” at the top right.

The American Center of Oriental Research Newsletter for July-December 2018 is now online.

Egypt is asking the UK to stop Christie’s auction of a bust of King Tut.

In a well-illustrated article on the ASOR Blog, Vanessa Davies explains why the Egyptians and the Hittites made “peace”  16 years after their major battle.

Crowds of tourists are causing big problems at major tour destinations around the world.

All of Jerusalem will become a “clean air” zone under a new law passed by the City Council.

Ferrell Jenkins explains the history of the cedar of Lebanon trees at Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Ted Weis

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

In an article posted on his Academia website (abstract here), Joe Zias argues that the “Cave of John the Baptist” actually depicts the Crusader patron saint of leprosy suffers, the man Lazarus from Jesus’s parable in Luke 16.

A military fortress from the 26th Dynasty has been discovered in North Sinai.

The April Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities provides the latest in archaeological discoveries, exhibitions, inaugurations, and more. (As of this writing, the pdf has the pages in reverse order.)


The Harvard Gazette describes the background and value of the Digital Giza Project.

If you haven’t visited the Harvard Semitic Museum, you can now take a very nice virtual tour.

The topics on this week’s The Book and the Spade are the four-room house, slavery, and Selah.

Leon Mauldin writes about “the hearing ear” in the biblical and ancient world.

Israel’s Good Name took a birdwatching trip to Eilat.

Max Richardson has been photographing in Jerusalem since 1985 and he shares some of his photos in The Jerusalem Report.

Mark Hoffman reviews the new Daniel and Esther volumes in the Photo Companion to the Bible series.

HT: Charles Savelle, Ted Weis, Agade

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Weekend Roundup

A 1st-century Jewish settlement is now being excavated near Beersheba, and one find is an early depiction of a nine-branched menorah.

Christopher Rollston offers some reflections on the Nathan-Melek seal impression, concluding that it is “most likely” that this is the same person mentioned in the Bible.

“Excavation work carried out in Ramses II’s temple in Abydos, Sohag, has uncovered a new temple palace belonging to the 19th Dynasty king.”

Hasmonean-era tombs near Jericho have been looted recently.

Conservation work was done on the Western Wall ahead of the Passover holiday.

“Ancient Color” is “a new exhibition at University of Michigan’s Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, dives deep into the material and application of pigment in ancient Rome, and in doing so highlights a colorful, international history.”

Opening today at the Peabody Museum: “Ancient Mesopotamia Speaks: Highlights from the Yale Babylonian Collection.”

With 40 inches of rainfall so far this year, the Sea of Galilee rose 6 inches last weekend.

Recent rains caused flash flooding near the tomb of Cyrus in Pasargadae.

David Moster explains “Telling Time in Ancient Israel” in a new 9-minute video.

Wayne Stiles has just announced a tour to sites in Turkey and Greece, including a 3-night cruise to the Greek isles.

Reported on April 1: the discovery of the world’s oldest break-up letter.

If you’ve been thinking about registering for the Institute of Biblical Context conference this June, note that the early bird discount ends on Wednesday.

This video shows footage of Jerusalem one month after the Six-Day War in 1967.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Alexander Schick

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Weekend Roundup

Excavations in the Sharafat neighborhood in west Jerusalem revealed a Hasmonean-era agricultural village. Haaretz (premium) has a longer article with more photos.

A study of the garbage dumps of the Byzantine city of Elusa in Israel’s Negev reveals that the city’s decline was the result of climate change.

The Malham Cave, under Mount Sedom near the Dead Sea, has been identified as the longest salt cave in the world.

The third artifact in the TMSP’s 12 object series is a fiscal bulla inscribed “Gibeon / to the king.”

Amnon Ben Tor will be awarded the Israel Prize in the field of archaeology.

Gabriel Barkay, an Israeli archaeology, recalls his experience in excavating Susa in Iran

The Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society will be hosting lectures in the coming months by Amihai Mazar (on Tel Rehov), Jonathan Price (on Beth Shearim), and Jürgen Zangenberg (on Horvat Kur).

Andrea Berlin will be lecturing in Rockford, Illinois, on April 1, on “Phoenicians and Jews — A Tale of Two Peoples in Israel’s Upper Galilee.”

“Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt” is a new exhibit at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis. A review article explains why so may of the statues’ noses are broken.

The latest video by the Institute for Biblical Culture is on “Ancient Israelite Fashion.” New classes in April include “The Prophets of Ancient Israel” and “The Geography of Biblical Israel/Canaan II.”

The founder of Sirin Riders explains why Israel is a great place to ride horses.

James Papandrea is on The Book and the Spade discussing his new book, A Week in the Life of Rome.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

A Greek inscription found at the Nabatean city of Halutza confirms previous scholarly identification of the site as Elusa. The Times of Israel article provides more information about the results of the excavation.

Aren Maeir made a visit to Gath/Tell es-Safi this week, where everything is very green.

Tel Tzuba (Belmont) is the latest destination for Israel’s Good Name.

Cesares de Roma is a Spanish art project that has brought to life silicone images of Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, and Nero.

The Romans attempted to ban wild Purim parties in the year 408.

In light of the present controversy, Leen Ritmeyer explains the history of the Golden Gate of Jerusalem.

Egypt has opened a 105-mile hiking trail called the “Red Sea Mountain Trail” that west of Hurghada.

40,000 runners from 80 different countries ran 42 kilometers in the Jerusalem Marathon.

David Moster explains biblical geography in a 9-minute video entitled, “If an ancient Israelite had Google Earth.”

This isn’t new, but I haven’t seen it before: Flight of Faith: The Jesus Story is a 48-minute documentary with lots of aerial footage.

The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem has opened a new exhibit entitled “Highway through History.” As part of the launch, they have created a five-minute drone video of Beth Shemesh and the excavations in preparation for the road expansion.


The New York Times reviews “The World Between Empires” exhibit now at the Met.

The “Alexander son of Simon” ossuary is possibly related to the man who carried Jesus’s cross. It is on display now at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, and this week they recorded a short video about it. Apparently they were so inspired by an inquiry from your roundup writer.

HT: Agade, G. M. Grena, Chris McKinny, Ted Weis, Steven Anderson, Paul Kellogg, Charles Savelle

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