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“Work has begun on the reconstruction of some of the 50 massive marble columns of the basilica in the Ashkelon National Park as part of an overall facelift for the park, and next week the fourth [7.5-ton] pillar will be put in place.”

A volunteer group has begun cleaning up the archaeological sites in Tiberias in hopes of having a national park established for the ongoing protection of the ruins.

On the Mount Ebal curse tablet, Aren Maeir offers some initial thoughts. At Haaretz, Nir Hasson provides a general overview along with some criticisms of the artifact and questions about how it was uncovered and exported. Shawn Zelig Aster weighs in on the inscription’s possible significance. James Davila observes that if the claims are accurate, the amulet would be the earliest inscribed metal amulet by a good five centuries, but he thinks it unlikely that the inscription is a defixio amulet from the Persian period or later.

Biblical Archaeology Review assistant editor Nathan Steinmeyer gives a short video tour atop the walls of Jerusalem (5 minutes, with no 2x option).

“Imagine learning the Bible not as a religious exercise, but as local history. In Israeli public schools, that’s the reality.”

New release: The Jewish Quarter Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem: Conducted by Nahman Avigad 1969-1982: Vol. VIII: Architecture and Stratigraphy: The Palatial Mansion: Areas F-2, P and P-2. Edited by Hillel Geva.

Hillel Geva has retired from director of the Israel Exploration Society, and Rona Avissar Lewis is now in charge.

“Giants in Judges” is the subject in the most recent episode of the Biblical World podcast with Chris McKinny and Kyle Keimer.

HT: Agade, Arne Halbakken, Alexander Schick, Joseph Lauer

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A new genizah discovered in the Cairo Jewish cemetery last month has been emptied by employees of the Egyptian Antiquities Authority.

“A man plowing his farm in Turkey’s central Çorum province discovered a rare 3,300-year-old ancient bracelet from the Hittite era.”

The Jerusalem Post profiles “Trowelblazers,” a project that celebrates “women’s contributions in the ‘digging sciences’ of archaeology, geology and paleontology.”

The Tower of the Winds in Athens is the oldest meteorological station in the world.”

The Lycian Way is a 335-mile marked hiking trail in southwestern Turkey that passes by 25 historical sites, including Myra and Patara.

New release: Bible Lore and the Eternal Flame: A Numismatic, Historical, and Archaeological Trip through Biblical Times, by Kenneth Bressett; foreword by David Hendin.

New release from Eisenbrauns: The 2006 Season at Tall al-‘Umayri and Subsequent Studies, edited by Larry G. Herr, Douglas R. Clark, Lawrence T. Geraty, and Monique D.
Vincent. Save 30% with code NR22.

Zoom lecture on April 13: “Digging Homer: The Mycenaean Palace at Iklaina & Birth of Greek Epic Poetry,” by Michael Cosmopoulos ($7).

Bible Mapper has released a number of new maps:

Joseph Blenkinsopp died on March 26.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Arne Halbakken, Explorator

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Hi-tech residue analysis of 6th-century BCE jug sherds shows that ancient Jerusalem’s elite imported vanilla from southeast Asia to flavor their wine.”

“Plans are underway to move Megiddo prison in order to excavate the Israeli church with the earliest mosaic dedicated to Jesus.” (I double-checked the date of this story; it says 2022, though it could have run in 2012.)

Nadav Shragai explains why Turkey’s President Erdogan will not return the Siloam Inscription to Jerusalem.

Christopher Rollston identifies some problems with the announcement of the Mount Ebal curse inscription. (Since the original posting, he has added an addendum regarding the “altar.”) Luke Chandler also urges caution.

A shipwreck discovered near Ma’agan Michael on the northern coast of Israel provides a rare view into commerce in the land of Israel circa AD 700.

Ruth Schuster tells the story of the first modern explorers to discover that the Dead Sea is below sea level.

Israel 21c lists 10 amazing Jewish archaeological finds that were discovered by accident.

A trailer has been posted for Gesher Media’s new documentary series, “In Those Days.” “This series will explore the biblical, historical, cultural, and archaeological backgrounds of the story of the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant from Mount Sinai to the building of the First Temple.”

The Jerusalem Post reviews Raiders of the Hidden Ark, by Graham Addison. The book is an account of Montague Parker’s ill-fated expedition to Jerusalem.

This Week in the Ancient Near East podcast: “The early Iron Age site of Har Adir in the mountains of the Upper Galilee is back in the news. Was this an 11th century fortress of a local polity or a bird watching sanctuary?”

Leen Ritmeyer illustrates the transformation of Peter’s house in Capernaum into a house church.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Arne Halbakken, Explorator

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Erez Ben-Yosef’s re-evaluation of the copper mines at Timna has significant consequences for the archaeological evidence for David and Solomon’s era, and David Spoede provides a useful introduction to his discoveries.

Ruth Schuster writes about the history of the date palm tree in the land of Israel.

Bible Archaeology Report: “This month’s news items include three finds related to names that were considered divine in the ancient world: Baal, Horus, and YHWH.”

Ferrell Jenkins shares a recent photo of Mount Hermon after a snowfall.

New release from Eisenbrauns: Megiddo VI: The 2010–2014 Seasons. 1,924 pages, 867 illustrations, $210 (with discount code NR22).

Jerusalem University College is offering three courses in its Online Summer Institute:

  • Egypt and the Old Testament, with Mark Janzen
  • Geographical Lenses on Ezekiel, with Elaine and Perry Phillips
  • The Jewish Context of Jesus and the New Testament, with Oliver Hersey and Joel Willitts

Logos has the Lexham Geographic Commentary digital set on sale for 55% off (2 volumes released; 4 forthcoming).

A tiny Hebrew curse inscription on a folded lead tablet was discovered in 2019 during the wet-sifting of material in the excavation dump on Mount Ebal. The text is written in paleo-Hebrew script, allegedly dating to the 12th century BC or earlier. The hour-long press conference can be watched here. Earlier reports of this discovery are noted here. A journal article is being written and will be published later this year. I will be curious to see how they argue that this was not a Hellenistic-era amulet written in old script; its discovery alongside Late Bronze and Iron Age pottery in a dump is not conclusive, especially at a site likely frequented by pilgrims. I continue to believe that the most sensational announcements require the most rigorous scrutiny, and the public is not well-served by claims not supported by scholarly publication.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Arne Halbakken, G. M. Grena, Explorator

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“An archaeological study of the floor under the Church of the Holy Sepulchre will be possible for the first time, after a two-year undertaking to repair and restore its pavement stones got underway in an inaugural ceremony on Monday.”

Turkish officials deny the report that Turkey will be returning the Siloam Inscription to Israel. The Jerusalem Post explains the history of this significant artifact.

The discovery of a thousand charred linseed at Tel Burna (Libnah?) has led to the suggestion that the economy of the Shephelah greatly changed after Sennacherib’s invasion.

A carved stele from the 4th millennium was lost in the storage area of the Israel Museum, but now after five years of restoration, it has been put on display for the first time.

Leen Ritmeyer’s post on Capernaum includes a number of beautiful reconstruction drawings.

Ferrell Jenkins is back in Israel and shares a photo of a sunrise over the Sea of Galilee.

A rare March snowfall blanketed Jerusalem and parts of Israel in white this week.

Andrew Lawler’s article for Scientific American on the history of excavations in Jerusalem would have convinced me not to read his book. (I did read it, and it’s much better than some of the revised history he presents here.)

A recent study concluded that “Evangelical Christian travelers would prefer to visit Israel on a trip led by a well-known Christian leader or Bible teacher.”

Video from the 2022 Azekah Conference is now online. You can listen to all seven talks in 1.5 hours.

New release: Excavating the Evidence for Jesus: The Archaeology of Christ and the Gospels, by Titus Kennedy (Harvest House, $25)

On sale at Faithlife: 30 Days in the Land with Jesus: A Holy Land Devotional, by Charles H. Dyer ($5.99).

I am back for part two of “The Babylonian Destruction of Jerusalem” on Digging for Truth (25 min). In this episode I talk about the extensive evidence of the 586 BC destruction, including numerous discoveries in the last five years.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, G. M. Grena, Explorator

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An Israeli official claims that Turkey has agreed to return the Siloam Inscription to Israel. This inscription was discovered and removed from Hezekiah’s Tunnel in the 1880s. Those who know the history here will believe it when they see it.

“Three 1,500-year-old ‘magic’ incantation bowls and hundreds of other rare artifacts — some dating to the biblical period — were seized from an apartment in an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood under suspicion of illegal antiquities trade.”

Lawrence Schiffman suggests that Manetho’s records give evidence that the Israelite exodus was preserved in Egypt’s historical memory.

A new book in German gives the history of the Gihon/Siloam water system. The publisher’s website has a nice summary in English.

The Huqoq excavations were recently featured in National Geographic’s “100 Wonders of the World.”

I’m not quite sure why the Jerusalem Post published this short piece on Magdala.

A new documentary entitled “The Samaritans: A Biblical People,” by Moshe Alafi and Steven Fine, will be presented on March 27 at the Yeshiva University Museum. It will presumably be made more broadly available sometime after.

Save the date – May 18: “The First International Academic Conference  on New Studies in Temple Mount Research Hosted by The Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Jerusalem. Lectures will be in Hebrew or English, and the conference will be broadcast live. I don’t see details online yet (but see this), but speakers include Aharon Tavger, Tehilla Lieberman, David Gurevich, Avraham Solomon, Rina Avner, Peretz Reuven, Yuval Baruch, Dror Czitron, Joseph Patrich, David Jacobson, Nikos Kokkinos, Zachi Dvira, Gabriel Barkay, and others.

Logos has announced a number of solid Carta reference works available at pre-publication discount, including:

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Arne Halbakken, Alexander Schick, Explorator

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About the BiblePlaces Blog

The BiblePlaces Blog provides updates and analysis of the latest in biblical archaeology, history, and geography. Unless otherwise noted, the posts are written by Todd Bolen, PhD, Professor of Biblical Studies at The Master’s University.

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