Weekend Roundup

Happy Leap Day! See below for a photo taken on this day sixteen years ago.

Bryan Windle identifies and explains the “top three reports in biblical archaeology” for the month, including the royal estate of Horvat Tevet, the Moza temple, and the Lachish temple.

Ira Rabin believes that the ink used in writing the Dead Sea Scrolls will shed new light on these ancient manuscripts.

A historian has re-discovered a well-preserved 616-page codex of the “Writings” section of the Old Testament that dates to AD 1028. The more technical journal article is available here, and the 1905 article is available here.

Yinon Shivtiel has identified a number of the caves that Josephus fortified during the First Jewish Revolt.

The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review features two articles making the case for competing sites for Bethsaida: et-Tell by Rami Arav and el-Araj by Steven Notley and Mordechai Aviam.

A 2,000-year-old silver dagger and its sheath has been restored to like new condition.

“Ancient Greeks had a great love and respect for their dogs, cherishing them as companions, protectors, and hunters, as evidenced by several dog tombstones discovered over the centuries.”

David Moster will be teaching a course in March on Ezra and Nehemiah for The Institute of Biblical Culture.

“Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins” is a new exhibition that opens at the Getty Villa on March 18 and runs to July 27.

New book: Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon, by Eric H. Cline

Scholars have digitized high-resolution photos taken by U-2 spy planes over the Middle East in the 1950s.

The Smithsonian has released 2.8 million images for free use, and Mark Hoffman briefly shares his experience in searching.

The icon collection for St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai is now available online.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #34 – “I will make your enemies your footstool”

Shmuel Brown shares a number of photos of the “lovely carpet of wildflowers in reds, yellows, purple and white along the shore of the Dead Sea.”

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Pat McCarthy, Keith Keyser, Ted Weis

Qumran area of Caves 1 and 2, tb022904796

A view of green grass below the Qumran cliffs where Cave 1 is located;
photographed on February 29, 2004

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Weekend Roundup

A stone measuring table and several dozen stone weights were discovered in a plaza along the first-century AD street from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount. Archaeologists believe that the area it was found served as the Jerusalem’s central market. The Times of Israel article includes a video and many photos.

It’s not quite a copy of the Tel Dan Inscription, but a pottery restorer discovered a faint ink inscription of a single Hebrew word on a storejar excavated at Abel Beth Maacah (Haaretz premium).

“Egypt’s recent decision to transport ancient Pharaonic artifacts to a traffic circle in the congested heart of Cairo has fueled fresh controversy over the government’s handling of its archaeological heritage.”

Rainfall this week led to flooding in the Judean wilderness. The video at the bottom of this page shows waterfalls in Nahal Qumran. Aren Maeir shares videos and photos of a river running through the Elah Valley.

The Biblical Archaeology Society is offering dig scholarships for excavations this coming year.

The most recent maps posted on the Bible Mapper Blog are of Southern Greece, the Judean Wilderness, and Philistia.

The photographs of Nancy Lapp, taken during excavations around the Middle East from the 1950s to the 1990s are the subject of an interesting photo essay by Rachael McGlensey. More than 2,000 images from Jordan have been digitized in the Paul and Nancy Lapp Collection at ACOR.

Bob Rognlien’s new book is out: Recovering the Way. The book trailer will introduce you to it. Here’s my endorsement:

Recovering the Way is an enjoyable and fascinating read, combining historical insights from the time of Jesus with practical encouragement for our lives today. All that Bob has learned and experienced in three decades of leading pilgrims through the land of Israel provide the reader with a rich treasure of biblical instruction, wise application, and captivating stories. All of this benefits from dozens of beautiful illustrations which help the reader to see the world where Jesus ministered.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

“Colorful remains of mosaics from a 3rd century synagogue in the ancient town of Majdulia are the earliest evidence of synagogue decoration in the Golan.”

“A group of archaeologists, architects and researchers petitioned the High Court of Justice . . . to stop a controversial plan to build a cable car to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.”

The latest in the Life Lessons from Israel video series focuses on the Talmudic Village of Katzrin.

Aviva and Shmuel Bar-Am write about a number of small archaeological sites in Pisgat Zeev, a northern suburb of Jerusalem.

Israel21c: Fabulous photos of 5 picturesque places to visit in Israel. The sites include Banias, En Gedi, Masada, Beth Shean, and Caesarea.

Archaeologists are hoping to continue excavations at el-Ahwat, possibly the biblical Harosheth HaGoyim, before modern construction destroys remains.

Israel’s Good Name visited the Horns of Hattin during a reenactment of the famous battle between the Crusaders and Saladin.

Carl Rasmussen reports on his visit to the “real” Bethsaida.

Luke Chandler, Ferrell Jenkins, Chris McKinny, and BibleX note the release of three new volumes in the Photo Companion to the Bible series.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

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New Photo Collections: Esther and Daniel

I am excited to announce the release of the Photo Companion to Esther and the Photo Companion to Daniel. These books both lend themselves well to illustration, and yet acquiring relevant photographs is quite challenging for a number of reasons. Our team has been at work on these resources for more than a year, and we are very pleased with the results. Highlights of Esther include:

  • The exact spots where Mordecai overheard the conspiracy, Ahasuerus sat on his throne, and Haman waited early in the morning
  • Contemporary Persian reliefs depicting Ahasuerus, his officials, and his soldiers
  • Plans and models of the city of Susa and its palace that bring the story to life

Highlights of Daniel include:

  • Inscriptions, reliefs, and artifacts that shed light on the ancient Babylonian and Persian empires which Daniel served
  • Ancient images of lions, beasts, and human statues that provide the context for Daniel’s persecution and his visions
  • A march through Daniel 11, with images of nearly every king and queen prophesied by Daniel hundreds of years in advance

As always:

  • Satisfaction is guaranteed
  • Shipping in the US is free
  • Immediate download of everything you order

Here’s one early endorsement for Esther:

An amazing resource! The photographs and graphics included in this collection are not only beautiful, they’re also extremely helpful for visualizing the world of Esther and the events described in the book. The authors are to be commended for this remarkable volume.”

Anthony Tomasino, author of Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary: Esther and Evangelical Exegetical Commentary: Esther You can download Daniel 3 and Esther 4 to see the detail and abundance of these collections. Our introductory prices are the best, and today you can pick up Esther for $34, Daniel for $39, or the set for $59. We also offer a download-only version. We hope that these resources prove to be extremely valuable for studying and teaching these extraordinary books that testify to God’s sovereignty and care.

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Review by Phillip J. Long of Photo Companion to Acts

Phillip J. Long, Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages at Grace Christian University, recently reviewed the Photo Companion to Acts on his blog, Reading Acts. His review is the lengthiest of this work to date and we are most grateful for drawing readers’ attention to the strengths and weaknesses of this resource.

He begins by commenting on his familiarity with our work:

I first became aware of Bolen’s Pictorial Library of Biblical Lands at an ETS [Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting] in 2003. I have used these photographs in virtually every class I teach in order to add some colorful graphics to an otherwise dull PowerPoint presentation.

Big smile here! We are thankful that our photos have been so useful.

My favorite part of the review follows next:

If you are teaching the Book of Acts, then the Photo Companion to the Bible is an essential collection of images to use to illustrate your lectures and sermons. If you are a student of the Bible, you can read the text of the Bible and page through the slides in order to place the text into a physical context.


He notes a number of strengths of the collection, including the aerial photographs, the explanatory notes, the references to journal articles, and the free updates. In particular, he highlights the copyright concerns in using photographs that are alleviated by this resource.

He also provides some critiques, including slides which do not seem on topic or which may be unnecessary. You can go to his full review for those and all of his other observations.

We are very grateful to Dr. Long for his careful and thoughtful review. We invite you to consider using the Photo Companion to Acts in your own study or teaching of this book.

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Gift Ideas for 2018

Some valuable resources became available this year that I thought I might briefly summarize, either as a gift-buying guide or as additions to your own wish list.

Let me start with the Lexham Geographic Commentary to the imageGospels.
Originally released for Logos Bible Software, it is now available in print.
The volume is loaded with 48 essays written by people who have lived and breathed biblical geography and archaeology for many years, including Barry Beitzel (editor), Benjamin Foreman, Gordon Franz, J. Carl Laney, Chris McKinny, Elaine Phillips, A.D. Riddle, and Paul Wright. I wrote two of the essays—one on the disciples’ statement about the “magnificent stones and wonderful buildings” of the Temple and the other on the location of the swine dive in the Sea of Galilee. I think that this book should win an award for its unique contribution. It’s on sale now for $25, including free shipping, plus you get the ebook for free. Or Amazon has the print book alone for $27.

The ESV Archaeology Study Bible was released earlier this year after many years of research, writing, and production. This up-to-date resource is filled with excellent sidebars and commentary notes. You can see my earlier description here. It’s available now at Amazon for $42.Image result for esv archaeology study bible

Randall Price and Wayne House wrote the Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology. I’ve heard that it’s gone through several printings already. I hope to offer a longer review here on the blog in the next few months. My expectation is that it will be very useful to both Bible teachers and students alike.

The National Geographic Atlas of the Bible was released in June. I haven’t purchased it yet, but the listing tells me that it is 112 pages long and includes 17 maps. One Amazon reviewer says that the text is written from a minimalist perspective.

The Biblical Archaeology Society store has a sale now, including free shipping on orders of $50 or more. Two new books of most interest to me are A Walk to Caesarea: A Historical-Archaeological Perspective, by Joseph Patrich ($34), and Megiddo-Armageddon: The Story of the Canaanite and Israelite City, by David Ussishkin ($60)

Filament is a new resource that I saw at a recent conference that combines a print Bible with digital content on your phone or tablet. The printed book has the Bible text only, and the accompanying app provides study notes, photos, and videos.

Doug Greenwold at Preserving Bible Times has just released a new book on John 4 entitled Jesus Engages a Samaritan Woman. Shipping is free through the end of the year.ruth-dvd-frontback-500

Finally, I’d encourage you to consider for yourself or others the newest resources created this year by us at BiblePlaces.com.

We have a limited audience and every sale helps us to continue forward with the next project. This year we released Ruth and Psalm 23 in the Photo Companion series ($29 and $24, respectively, or $39 for both). We also created a beautiful photo book entitled Psalm 23: A Photo Commentary, available from Amazon for $20. The latest volume of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands is Persia, available for two more days at the introductory price of $25.

If you shop on Amazon, use the code GIFTBOOK18 to get $5 off a $20 book order through 12/21.

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Archaeologists have discovered engravings of ships and animals on the walls of a Roman-era cistern in Beersheba.

Rami Arav provides a summary of the 2018 excavation of et-Tell (aka Bethsaida). He believes that in the 11th–10th centuries, the site was a “full-fledged urban center, most probably the site of the king of the Geshurites.”

A new era has begun at Gath (Tell es-Safi) with the covering over of excavation areas that will not be conserved for visitors.

The new excavation at Kiriath Jearim and the family providing the financial backing are profiled by the Jewish News of Northern California.

Wayne Stiles recently visited the Gezer boundary inscriptions and he wonders how long it will be before they are no longer legible.

Aviv and Shmuel Bar-Am describe several sites of interest east of Jerusalem, including the Good Samaritan Museum and Ein Fawwar.

Israel’s Good Name shares his experience in volunteering for the Tel Dor excavation.

Israel set a new record with nearly half a million tourists in October.

The Israelite Samaritans Project is a new research venture of Yeshiva University.

Have you seen Carta’s new map bank? Individual digital maps of the biblical world are available for purchase.

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

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

After being closed for six years to protect artifacts during the civil war, Syria’s National Museum of Damascus has reopened.

A Haaretz premium article suggests that the Israelites at Dan worshiped the Lord. “Suggestive finds include seal impressions with Yahwistic names, temple architecture, and artifacts typical of Yahwistic temple rituals.”

The latest in Brad Gray’s Psalm 23 series looks at the rod and staff (and sling) of the shepherd.

Israel’s Good Name has written a couple of posts about the Autumn Raptor Migration.

Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours has begun a new series of short devotional videos: “It Happened Here—Life Lessons from Israel.”

A snake crawled out of the stones of the Western Wall above the women’s prayer area, creating a bit of a scare.

Glenn Corbett and Jack Green explain the tremendous value of the ACOR Photo Archive.

A new 17-minute film entitled “Paul in Athens” reconstructs the famous events of Acts 17. This documentary was created by Yaron Eliav and the University of Michigan TLTC Team.

John McRay, longtime professor of New Testament and Archaeology died in August. The Book and the Spade shares an archived interview with him about Athens in the Time of Paul.

HT: Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Agade

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Weekend Roundup

Scholars are studying sites in the Jordan Valley to see if they are related to early Israelite settlement.

Zahi Hawass tells the story of the discovery of the Solar Boat of Khufu.

An 10-year-old boy hiking in Galilee discovered an ancient stone figure.

Aren Maeir has written an initial summary of this summer’s excavations of Gath. They found quite a bit related to Hazael’s destruction of the city.

Israel’s Good Name describes his excavation experience at Gath.

Gonzalo Rubio explains how eclipses were regarded as omens in the ancient world.

Yosef Garfinkel is lecturing on Khirbet Qeiyafa and Khirbet al-Ra’i on September 15 at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston.

Jerusalem Perspective has posted a lecture by Ronny Reich on “The Mikveh and Ritual Immersion in Jesus’ Day.” Reich is the leading expert on ancient Jewish ritual baths.

The J. Paul Getty Museum has posted a catalog of 630 ancient lamps in their collections.

“Tomb of Christ: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre Experience” will open on November 15 at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC. The website includes a digital guide for the exhibition.

Biblical Israel Ministries & Tours has launched an updated website, including a list of their upcoming Israel tours.

The NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible releases on Tuesday. This is a revision of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, and one major improvement is the more-readable font. We contributed many of the photos, and I wrote the notes for 2 Kings. Westminster Bookstore has it on sale.

Accordance has many graphics collections for sale, including the American Colony Collection and Cultural Images of the Holy Land.

Wipf and Stock are offering 40% off their catalog with code LABOR40.

Now available in the US (from Biblical Archaeology Society):

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, A.D. Riddle, Alexander Schick, Paleojudica

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Weekend Roundup

Brian Peterson reviews the events and discoveries of Week 2 of the Shiloh excavations.

Scott Stripling is interviewed about the excavations at Shiloh on The Land of Israel Network (34 min).

Ferrell Jenkins looks at the importance of Shiloh, the longtime location of the tabernacle.


The Times of Israel has a lengthy follow-up on the study that suggests that the carbon-14 calibration scale for Israel is faulty.

ASOR has posted an update on the severe damage to the site of Ebla in Syria.

Israel is opening a new national natural history museum in Tel Aviv.

Israel’s Good Name went on a tour of the Tel Aviv Zoological Research Institute, a place not normally open to the public.

Aren Maeir has posted the lecture and field trip schedule for the Gath excavations.

The American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) in Amman has posted 9,000 low- to medium- resolution watermarked images from Jordan and the surrounding region, including many taken by Jane Taylor.

Wayne Stiles writes about an important event at the Water Gate in Jerusalem.

Ron Traub writes about the Baram synagogue near the northern border of Israel.

Leon Mauldin is visiting Rome and sharing photos.

Mitchell First has written an article on “The Earliest Surviving Texts of the Torah” for Jewish Link of New Jersey.

The Vatican Library has made 15,000 manuscripts available online, with another 65,000 to come in the next couple of decades.

The ESV Archaeology Study Bible has some recent video posts of interest:

“The Biblical Archaeology Society is now accepting applications for the 2018 Joseph Aviram, Yigael Yadin, and Hershel Shanks fellowships that allow scholars to attend the annual meetings” of ASOR and SBL. (The announcement mentions that Aviram, at age 102, is still the president of IES!)

Norma Dever died on Thursday. William Dever writes an obituary that may surprise you.

HT: Charles Savelle, Agade, Joseph Lauer

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