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The alabaster for two of Herod’s bathtubs was quarried not in Egypt but in the Te’omim cave in the Judean hills.

Excavators are claiming that the stump of a juniper tree, discovered near Eilat, may be the oldest Asherah ever found.

A new season of excavations has begun at the Apollonia-Arsuf Crusader fortress on the coast near Herzilya.

“In one of the biggest busts in Israeli history, the Israel Antiquities Authority’s theft prevention unit has recovered over 1,800 ancient artifacts from an unlicensed dealer in the central Israeli city of Modiin. Mostly coins and jewelry, the artifacts also included cuneiform tablets and bronze statuettes.”

Israel’s supreme court has “rejected four petitions against a controversial plan to build a cable car to Jerusalem’s historic Old City, shutting down the legal opposition route for opponents of the plan.”

A renovation project on an ancient Samaritan priestly residential compound is the first step in making the Mount Gerizim archaeological park more welcoming to tourists.

The latest issue of Tel Aviv includes several articles on Iron Age Jerusalem. The titles and abstracts are free, but access to the articles requires subscription.

Virtual tour on June 8: The Room of the Last Supper and Jerusalem, with Museum of the Bible and DIVE (Digital Interactive Virtual Experiences); $20

A colleague of mine at The Master’s University was honored last month by the publication of a festschrift: Written for Our Instruction: Essays in Honor of William Varner. Among the many interesting essays, two are of particular relevance to this blog:

  • “Where Did David Go? David’s Wilderness Wanderings and the Testing of God’s Son,” by Abner Chou (my new boss)
  • “‘What Have I Done in Comparison with You?’: The Itinerary of Gideon’s Pursuit of the Midianites in Judges 7–8,” by Chris McKinny (with additional color maps on Academia)

Andy Cook of Secrets from Ancient Paths has just posted “The life-saving lesson of Bet Shemesh” (5 min).

Joel Kramer at Expedition Bible has released some new videos (4-10 min ea.):

Bruce Cresson died last week. He was director or co-director of excavations at Aphek-Antipatris, Dalit, Ira, Uza, Radum, and Malhata.

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

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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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A rare Phoenician sarcophagus dating to 600 BC was discovered on the outskirts of Rabat, Malta.

The “perfectly preserved” Ses Fontanelles wreck, discovered recently off the coast of Mallorca, is now giving “priceless insights into the Mediterranean of the fourth century AD and the crew’s daily lives.”

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered five water wells from the 13th century BC believed to have been part of the Horus Military Road.

The Iraq Museum in Baghdad has officially re-opened.

Rulers of the great kingdoms of the ANE in the Late Bronze period rarely met each other, for a variety of reasons, explains Mohy-Eldin E. Abo-Eleaz.

Turkish Archaeological News has a roundup of stories from the month of February.

“Artificial intelligence could bring to life lost texts, from imperial decrees to the poems of Sappho, researchers have revealed, after developing a system that can fill in the gaps in ancient Greek inscriptions and pinpoint when and where they are from.”

ARIADNE is a research infrastructure for archaeology… to support research, learning and teaching by enabling access to digital resources and innovative new services…by maintaining a catalogue of digital datasets, by promoting best practices in the management and use of digital data in archaeology, by offering training and advice, and by supporting the development of innovative new services for archaeology.”

Martha Sharp Joukowsky, excavator of the Great Temple in Petra, died in January.

Ghazi Bisheh, excavator of many sites in Jordan, died in January.

Carl Rasmussen has written a third part and a final part to his series on where the treasures of the Jerusalem temple went after AD 70.

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

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Israel’s Good Name reports on his tour of four sites in the Nahal Tirzah area, including a possible site for Gilgal and a Roman army camp.

“People may find it hard to believe that tiny little Israel has more than 300 wineries,” with more than 50 in the foothills between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Foreign tourists are again allowed in Israel, and John DeLancey is posting daily updates about his group’s travels.

With the celebration of his 200th anniversary around the corner, Conrad Schick’s work in Jerusalem is highlighted by Bible History Daily. The article also notes that Shirley Graetz is working on a historical novel about Schick’s life.

Les and Kathy Bruce are leading an English/Spanish tour of Israel in April/May, and a Turkey/Greece tour in May.

Susan Laden and Rob Sugar share about the impact of Suzanne Singer on Biblical Archaeology Review.

New in paperback: Children in the Bible and the Ancient World Comparative and Historical Methods in Reading Ancient Children, edited by Shawn W. Flynn.

Zoom lecture on Jan 26: “The Roman Army in the Negev,” by Alexandra Ratzlaff ($7).

Jerusalem Seminary has announced its spring course offerings, including courses on the “Life and Land of Yeshua,” “Jewish Life and Literature,” and “Faith, Politics and Ministry.” The description and the various instructors in that last course look particularly interesting to me. You can see the full list here.

The latest free maps from Bible Mapper include:

Emanuel Hausman, founder of Carta Jerusalem Publishing House, died this week.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Explorator, Arne Halbakken

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My friend Joshua Clutterham died yesterday. My readers may not recognize that name, but Joshua contributed many photos of Turkey and Greece to our collection. Joshua died at the age of 41 from a rare form of cancer. He leaves behind his wife Meredith and five sons, ages 10 to 3.

I met Joshua when he was a student in our IBEX program in the year 2000. The memory that endures above all others was our excavation with Shimon Gibson near Zova. Some of our students were put to work in three squares, and Joshua was part of the infamous “Square B,” a team of six I constantly teased for having the lowest output of all. Could they not even find a potsherd? Of course, they did as well as the other teams, but the good-natured teasing bonded the group and “Square B” would live on for several years to pull pranks and “honor” me in various ways. They seemed to especially show up on my “B-day” with various reminders, and as time passed, Joshua carried on the tradition by calling me every year on my birthday.

“Square B” with Joshua on far left

Joshua loved Israel, and somewhere around 2006, he came to study at Hebrew University and the Jerusalem University College. My memory is fuzzy on some of the details, but we enjoyed a number of outings together, including an adventure on Mount Carmel, a hike through the cliffs of Michmash and Geba, and a camping trip to Aijalon. We talked about everything, including his desire to find a godly wife.

A photo from our hike out to the famous cliffs near Michmash (1 Sam 14)

For reasons I can no longer recall, Joshua ended up effectively joining the IBEX group for the spring of 2007, my final semester teaching at IBEX. He was an advanced student who served us in various ways. One of the ideas he dreamed up was to film all of my on-site teaching as I guided the students that semester in the Land and Bible class. And so we purchased some equipment, and Joshua became the cameraman for a few dozen trips that year. Joshua had the idea to edit the footage, along with my photos, into a virtual tour series. In my mind, I thought that the filming would be valuable for my children to watch if I was not able to show them the land. Though the tour series was never completed, as Joshua soon went on to study for several seminary degrees and I entered a doctoral program, I have always been grateful for Joshua’s preserving a record of those special days.

Joshua setting up the camera at Caesarea

Joshua also became distracted by a beautiful woman who had entered his life. I remember Joshua telling me about Meredith during a visit to our home in Texas. He was smitten. She was in the M.A. program in Biblical Counseling, and Joshua was at the time a graduate assistant in the program, one that he would go on to become the director of. Before long, I was being invited to Florida to stand alongside Joshua when he committed to love and cherish Meredith until death do them part. I couldn’t have been more happy for them.

When my family moved to California a few years later, Joshua and Meredith were living in a tiny little granny flat near The Master’s College, and whenever I visited I was always amazed at how Meredith managed to keep everyone sane as their family grew from one son to two and then three. Joshua was a tireless worker, not only directing the MABC program but always furthering his education, particularly in his passion for the Old Testament and the land of Israel.

When the opportunity arose for him to travel to Turkey and Greece, he was eager to go but in need of funds. The solution we came up with was that he would take photos for BiblePlaces in exchange for the shortfall. Joshua came back with beautiful photos, a number of which grace the covers of various volumes in the Photo Companion to the Bible series. Many dozens of his photos can be found throughout the Photo Companion (look for photos beginning with “jc”), and I frequently marvel at what a blessing those pictures are to our team’s on-going work. His photos have been published elsewhere as well, including in the ESV Archaeology Study Bibleand What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About.

Joshua’s photo of Colossae is in the top right corner of the Colossians and Philemon cover. His photos are also on the cover of the Romans and 1-2 Corinthians and Paul’s Epistles volumes, and many of his photos are found throughout the NT volumes of the Photo Companion to the Bible.

I certainly had mixed feelings when Joshua told me that he had received an offer to become a professor, and later Vice-President, at Brookes Bible College in Missouri. I knew that this was a great opportunity for him, but I hated to see him and Meredith leave. A few years later, our family was driving through the Midwest, and Joshua suggested our families spend an afternoon at the City Museum in St. Louis. We all had a blast running around the most interesting “museum” I have ever been to. Then together we caravanned to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky for a fun time with all the kids exploring this massive ship.

Clutterham and Bolen families at the Ark Encounter

We regularly stayed in touch, and Joshua continued to dream some big dreams. He was considering various PhD programs, and he was planning a new online program for Brookes. He led trips to Israel, became a pastor, and their family grew to five boys. When my birthday rolled around in December, I knew that one person would always remember and call me.

When I last spoke with Joshua by FaceTime two weeks ago, he was in the hospital and in tremendous physical pain. While his faith was always strong, he was praying for a miracle. He wanted to live—for Meredith and for his boys. They needed a father, and Joshua took so much joy in being with them and raising them to love the God he loves. One of the last things that Joshua was able to do outside of his home or church was to take one of his boys camping. Who was going to do that if the Lord took him?

That reminded me of an earlier camping trip I had with Joshua. Dear friends of our family in Jerusalem had five children when the husband died suddenly of a heart attack. Here were five young kids without a father. Not long after, Joshua and I took their boys (and mine) camping out near the ancient city of Aijalon in the Shephelah. We played soccer, went on hikes, explored caves, and had a great time. I have pictures of Joshua carrying them around on his shoulders, teaching them to build a campfire, and chasing after them up the mountainside. I’m sure that neither of us would have ever imagined that one day he would leave five boys behind, in need of a father figure to take them camping.

Joshua will be remembered by many as a faithful and deeply caring man. Though he was highly educated and deeply knowledgeable in many fields, he stood out for his compassion for others. In the final sermon he gave at his church a week ago, sitting in a chair on the stage in pain, his focus was on his beloved brothers and sisters in the congregation. He earnestly wanted them to treasure their faithful Messiah, and he encouraged them by highlighting Jesus’s words to Peter: “I have prayed for you” (Luke 22:32). This same Jesus is even now at the Father’s right hand praying for his people, Joshua told them. Joshua had no doubt that Jesus was interceding for him, though he knew that it might not be the Lord’s will to heal him.

I will miss my friend. And my heart aches for Meredith. She has always been so strong, balancing care for Joshua and pregnancies and homeschooling and running the household. The Lord could not have given Joshua a better partner and friend. Joshua’s legacy will endure—through so many counseling students at Master’s, Bible students at Brookes, and church family at Clayton. Even our readers here, though perhaps never hearing his name before, will continue to have their lives and Bible study and teaching enriched by the beautiful photos he took at Corinth, Philippi, Assos, Delphi, Miletus, Perga, and more. Though his life was far too short, his impact is deep and far-reaching. Surely his memory will be for a blessing.

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The discovery of bullae in Jerusalem indicates that at the time of Hezekiah there were two central treasuries, one a temple treasury and the other the royal treasury of Judah located at the “Royal Building” in the Ophel excavations. The underlying article will be posted soon at the website of the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology, but is available now on Academia.

An analysis of remains found under a toilet south of ancient Jerusalem reveals that the people who used it were infected with a variety of parasites.

“Almost four miles of alleys in Jerusalem’s Old City were recently made wheelchair-friendly, while an innovative accessibility system for visually impaired people is also being installed after ten years of work.”

There is a new virtual tour of the City of David. To access it, you have to enter your email address, but once you are in, you can virtually walk around the tour areas of the City of David. I am more impressed with the 360-degree views than the very brief explanations given, but I do not know of anything comparable.

The Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society has announced its upcoming lectures to be held on Zoom:

  • Jan 20: Three Decades of Excavations at Bethsaida, by Rami Arav
  • Feb 17: New Light on Iron Age and Persian Period Jerusalem, by Yuval Gadot
  • Mar 15: Did Rabbis Write Down the Mishnah? Orality and Writing in the Jewish World in Late Antiquity, by Philip Alexander

Aren Maeir reflects on his work as an archaeologist in an interview in the Discussions with the Diggers series.

Israel’s Good Name reports on a couple of recent excursions in the vicinity of Givat Ze’ev in the territory of Benjamin.

Suzanne Singer, one of the original correspondents for Biblical Archaeology Review, has died in Jerusalem.

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

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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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