Weekend Roundup

Bryan Windle has created a list of the top 10 discoveries of the decade for biblical archaeology.

Amanda Borschel-Dan identifies her top 10 Holy Land archaeology stories of 2019.

“A hoard of seven ancient [7th-century AD] gold coins was found hidden inside a small clay juglet during a dig in the area of Yavne.”

A Hasmonean fortress not far from Beit El is “suffering from robbery and neglect.”
Melissa S. Cradic and Vanessa Linares consider why vanilla was used in a tomb at Megiddo.

The discovery of “The Book of Two Ways,” a precursor to “The Book of the Dead,” is the subject of a NY Times article on what is called the oldest copy of the first illustrated book.

The British chef Heston Blumenthal created a meal inspired by foods discovered in the Pompeii destruction.

Now online: the schedule for the conference at Tel Aviv University on “Mass Deportations: To and From the Levant during the Age of Empires.”

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

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Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Leen Ritmeyer has written an informative and well-illustrated post on the significance of Shiloh and the recent excavations. Ritmeyer’s reconstruction drawings are available for purchase in his image library, including his new drawing of Shiloh.

A government committee in Jerusalem has authorized the construction of a cable car to the Dung Gate.

A $37 million visitors’ center has been opened at the Huleh Valley Nature Reserve.

Anthony Ferguson shares 5 surprising details about the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Weston Fields’ history.

“The only project agreed on by Israel and Jordan that could possibly, in the foreseeable future, help save the Dead Sea from further shrinkage is stuck in a byzantine web of politics, bilateral tensions and Israeli foot-dragging.” This is a well-researched article on a subject frequently in the news.

Excavations have resumed at Tell Ziraa in Jordan, with the recent discovery of an Iron Age house with several dozen loom weights.

Colin Cornell considers whether the Jews living in Elephantine worshipped a goddess in addition to Yahweh.

Egyptian authorities have announced the discovery of a cemetery in Ismailia that dates to the Roman, Greek, and pre-dynastic eras.

The October issue of the Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities is online.

History Magazine has the story of how Howard Carter almost missed King Tut’s tomb.

Two vast reproduction Assyrian statues were unveiled in Iraq on Thursday as part of a project designed to restore the cultural heritage of Mosul.”

Wayne Stiles explains the significance of the Arch of Titus and the relevance of an olive tree planted beside it.

“A team of international scholars versed in culinary history, food chemistry and cuneiform studies has been recreating dishes from the world’s oldest-known recipes.”

In a 10-minute video, David McClister explains who Flavius Josephus was.

On sale for Kindle:

Tim Bulkeley has died. He began his biblioblog in 2004 and was a regular encouragement to me over the years. He will be missed.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Keith Keyser

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Weekend Roundup

The Tel Moza website gives details for joining the spring excavation as well as background about recent discoveries.

A family volunteering at an excavation in Lower Galilee discovered remains of an iron industry from the 6th century AD.
Some of the latest discoveries from Shiloh are described in a somewhat disjointed article in the Jerusalem Post.
The “Tomb of the Kings” in Jerusalem has been reopened to visitors (again) by France, which owns the site. Access is allowed only to the outer courtyard.

Naama Sukenik explains how new technology is being used to provide insights into counterfeiting dyes in the ancient textile industry.
Mark Barnes looks at the significance of the Mount of Olives in the Bible, including some interesting comparisons and contrasts between David’s and Jesus’s time there.
Who is Gallio and why is he so important to New Testament history? Bryan Windle explains in a well-illustrated article.

The “world’s oldest natural pearl” has been discovered in excavations on an island near Abu Dhabi.

“Ancient Assyrian stone tablets represent the oldest known reports of auroras, dating to more than 2,500 years ago.”

“Life at the Dead Sea” is a new exhibit about the cultural history of the lowest place on the planet that recently opened at the State Museum of Archaeology Chemnitz.

An exhibit of Egypt’s southern neighbor, “Ancient Nubia Now,” is on display until January 2020 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Sculptures from the Torlonia Collection will go on public display for the first time ever at the Capitoline Museums in Rome beginning in March.
The Washington Pentateuch is going on display at the Museum of the Bible.
The archaeological museum in Basra is adding English labels in hopes of welcoming more international visitors.
Jaafar Jotheri provides an overview of excavations in Iraq in the last year.
A conference will be held at the Louvre on November 25 on Tappeh Sialk: A Key Site for the Archaeology of Iran.
Farrell Monaco will be lecturing on “Dining with the Romans” at the Walters Art Museum on November 10.
4,500 tourists watched the sun illuminate the face of Ramses II in the temple of Abu Simbel.
Wayne Stiles is leading a tour of Israel (and pre-tour to Egypt) in October 2020.
There will be no roundup next weekend.
HT: Ted Weis, Mike Harney, Joseph Lauer, Keith Keyser
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Weekend Roundup

The latest sensational claim in biblical archaeology is that Kiriath Jearim is Emmaus.

“Archaeologists have discovered a new sanctuary preceding the ancient city of Troy in Turkey’s western Çanakkale province.”

156 cuneiform tablets, brought illegally to the UK, are being returned to Iraq with the help of the British Museum.

One of the big controversies in biblical geography in recent years is the location of Bethsaida, with two candidates. Bryan Windle provides a good survey of the criteria for Bethsaida along with an evaluation of the first candidate, et-Tell.

Mark Barnes has some good observations in the similarities and differences between Elisha’s and Jesus’s raisings of boys on either side of the hill of Moreh.

Megan Sauter explains the value of inscriptions in understanding worship in the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim.

The two most popular national parks for Israelis this summer were Sachne and Nahal Senir.

Wayne Stiles has released a new book on Kindle: Top 10 Places in Jesus’ Life: Why They Matter in Yours.

Eisenbrauns has put thirteen of their most popular textbooks on sale.  

Joel Kramer is leading a study tour of Israel in March 2020.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #26 – Shepherds by Night

A tourist bought a shwarma in Jerusalem and when he returned home, he found that it cost him 10,100 shekels.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis

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Weekend Roundup

A Times of Israel article discusses the newly deciphered Moabite inscription found an an altar from Ataroth.

With international tourism to Lebanon on the rise, there is a new interest in preserving the country’s cultural heritage.

Claudine Dauphin has been trying to figure out how Umm ar-Rasas, in the semi-arid steppe of central Jordan, was able to survive, including in the Byzantine period when it included 16 Byzantine churches.

The July issue of the Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities is now available.

Bryan Windle selects the top three reports in biblical archaeology for the month of August.

The Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society has posted an archaeological report for August 2019. Future lectures are also listed.

Jimmy Hardin is interviewed on The Book and the Spade on the controversial topic of state formation in the 10th century.

On the 250th anniversary of Napoleon’s birth, the Jerusalem Post looks at the French general’s visit to the Holy Land.

Alex Joffe wonders what the ancient Near East would look like without the year 1919.

Appian Media is close to meeting two fundraising goals for developing new video resources, but the deadline is today.

Two of John Beck’s geography books have just been released as audiobooks: Land without Borders and Along the Road.

John DeLancey is offering a free online course called “Biblical Israel – Learning the ‘Playing Board’ of the Bible.” You can watch the preview here or see a replay of the first session here.

Carl Rasmussen shares photos of Domus Galilaeae, a Catholic retreat center near the Sea of Galilee that is normally not open to visitors.

Ferrell Jenkins posts a nice color photo of winnowing grain at Shechem.

New: Atlas of the Biblical World, by Mark Vitalis Hoffman and Robert A. Mullins. Mark shares the details on his excellent blog.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Writing for Christianity Today, Steven Notley provides the background and evidence for identifying el-Araj as the New Testament city of Bethsaida.

Sergio and Rhoda have released a new video about Bethsaida and “The Church of the Apostles in Galilee.”

A mosaic floor in a church at Hippos apparently depicts Jesus’s multiplication of the fish and loaves (Haaretz premium).

NPR: Here’s what tourists might see if they were allowed to visit Gaza…


Smithsonian Magazine: Two tour guides—one Israel, one Palestinian—offer a new way to see the Holy Land.

The first post in Ferrell Jenkins’s new series “Agreement of Book and Land” is from Psalm 1:1-3.

Israel’s Good Name made a couple of evening trips to the Rishon LeZion sand dunes where he found gazelle, scorpions, and vipers.

New from DeGruyter: The Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages of Southern Canaan, edited by A. M. Maeir, Itzhaq Shai, and Chris McKinny.

The grandma whose congresswoman granddaughter refused to visit lives in the town once known as Upper Beth Horon.

HT: Agade, Tom Powers, Lois Tverberg

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Yosef Garfinkel explain how a shrine model discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa may help us to better understand Solomon’s Temple.

Samuel Dewitt Pfister asks whether the latest claim about Bethsaida and the Church of the Apostles should be trusted.

ABR has announced the discovery of three altar horns in their excavations at Shiloh this summer. (Press release not online as of this writing.)

Applications for excavating at Shiloh in 2020 with the Associates for Biblical Research are now being accepted.

“Hamas has done little to protect Gaza’s antiquities and in some cases actively destroys them.”

Though rare and significant, few people know about a First Temple period cistern discovered near the Western Wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Joe Zias looks at ancient crucifixion, considering the difficulties of the lone archaeological bone and arguing that crosses were shaped as a T.

Clyde Billington reviews the latest archaeological news on this week’s The Book and the Spade.

A slideshow/video on the work of M. G. Kyle at Tell Beit Mirsim’s excavations from 1926 to 1932 is on YouTube. The photos have captions, and if you read faster, you can advance more quickly through parts. The video clips may be the earliest from an excavation in the Holy Land. Near the end, there are scenes from a grain harvest as well as footage from Jerusalem in 1930.

HT: Ted Weis, Agade, G. M. Grena

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Weekend Roundup

New excavations in Perga have revealed the well-preserved(!) foundation of the Tomb of Plancia Magna. And Carl Rasmussen also has photos of new reconstruction work at Thyatira.

Pat McCarthy’s newest page at Seetheholyland.net is about the Sisters of Nazareth excavation, including a church possibly built over Jesus’s childhood home.

Aaron Demsky explains how the Samaria Ostraca shed light on the names of Zelophehad’s daughters and Israel’s settlement in Manasseh.

Mark Barnes draws out some lessons from Shechem, including how conflict, covenant, and choice defined its history.

In a new podcast, Clint Burnett discusses the background of the Nazareth Inscription as well as assessing whether it provides evidence of Jesus’s empty tomb (Apple).

Peter grew up in Bethsaida and ended up in Rome. Wayne Stiles explains how he got there by a series of “hard left turns.”

Shemesh Online reports on the compromise reached that will allow for the construction of the highway over the tell, the reduction of the width of that road, as well as the building of a pedestrian overpass to connect the two sides.

Kristina Killgrove gives five reasons why you shouldn’t buy that ancient artifact.

Cathie Spieser looks at the theology of birth and rebirth in ancient Egypt.

Chapter 8 of The Gospel of Mark in the LUMO Project has been dubbed in Koine Greek.

On The Book and the Spade, Clyde Billington and Gordon Govier discuss some recent stories, including Macherus, Melchizedek, and the Philistines.

In his ongoing Footsteps series, Bryan Windle identifies three things Paul likely saw in Corinth.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #24 is of Gibeon.

HT: Agade, Jared Clark, Joseph Lauer

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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, Part 3

The story around the “First Century Gospel of Mark” text has turned very strange. (Michael Holmes, Elijah Hixson, Brent Nongbri, Candida Moss, Jerry Pattengale)

An Egyptian statue resembling King Tut sold for $6 million in a controversial auction.

A luxury hotel built in Antakya (biblical Antioch on the Orontes) preserves the ancient ruins found below.

Boxes of material from Jerry Vardaman’s excavations at Macherus have been dug out of storage and will be studied and published.

Omri Lernau explains what kinds of fish were eaten in ancient Jerusalem.

Dozens of metal archaeological artifacts excavated at Caesarea were stolen from an Israel Antiquities Authority storage facility (Haaretz premium).

The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review is a double issue, featuring articles on the wise woman of Abel Beth Maacah, the Royal Stoa of the Temple Mount, Jewish purity practices, inscriptions from Mount Gerizim, and the Copper Scroll.

Here’s a tutorial on how to write in cuneiform.

The newest Bible Land Passages documentary has been released. This 18-minute video looks the candidates for the tomb of Jesus.

In a recent episode of Hebrew Voices, David Moster explains how toilets worked in ancient Israel.

And David just produced part 2 of “How to Use the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: the Masorah Notes” (20-min video).

Recent interviews on The Book and the Spade:

Carl Rasmussen explains how a Lewis Bolt was used to lift heavy stones in the ancient world.

Leen Ritmeyer shares some photos from his underground work at the Temple Mount in the 1970s.

Ferrell Jenkins posts an idyllic photo of an olive tree and two olive presses.

A friend at my church is leading a 20-day tour of New Zealand this January and he has a few open spots. He’s a native New Zealander and a seminary graduate, and he will be giving biblical instruction along the way (for example, NZ has 30 million sheep!). I can’t imagine a better tour of New Zealand. Here’s a flyer with more info.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Agade, David Padfield, Mark Hoffman, Explorator

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