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Archaeologists have discovered a 5th-Dynasty tomb in Saqqara, Egypt, that has never been looted.

Excavations begin today. The photos are impressive.

A 4,500-year-old marble pillar that sat in the basement of the British Museum for 150 years has been revealed as the first recorded account of a conflict over a disputed border — and the earliest known instance of word play. The pillar is featured in an exhibit entitled, “No Man’s Land,” that runs through January.

The use of machine translation may open the door to deciphering more than half a million cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia.

The Syrian Director General of Museums and Antiquities claims that the US is looting ancient tombs in northern Syria.

The November issue of the Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities features stories on the latest archaeological discoveries, the transfer of antiquities to the new Grand Egyptian Museum, and cultural events.

All past issues of the “Archaeology in Jordan” Newsletter are now available online. The 2018 issue is also available here.

The new issue of Biblical Archaeology Review includes stories on the destruction of Azekah, an artificial tell in Arkansas, and excavation opportunities in 2019.

Students from all over the world, including Arab countries, have joined Aren Maeir’s MOOC on biblical archaeology.

The Institute of Biblical Culture will be offering two classes in January: Biblical Geography I and Early Biblical Interpreters I. They are also running a buy two, get one free special.

David Moster shares his experience at this year’s SBL conference with a 10-minute video.

The first in Ferrell’s Favorite Fotos series is of Babylon, taken in 1970.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, Chris McKinny, Keith Keyser

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An intact 2,400-year-old ancient Greek shipwreck, believed to be the world’s oldest, has been found at the bottom of the Black Sea.

The Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. announced that independent testing revealed that five of its Dead Sea Scroll fragments “show characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin and therefore will no longer be displayed at the museum.” Kipp Davis, who initially questioned their authenticity, thinks that more fragments held by American institutions will be proven to be forgeries.


Haaretz (premium) has an article on the new excavations at Tel Shimron, a biblical site that is three times larger than Megiddo.

At least 19 people were killed when a flash flood swept away a group of students touring on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea.

The Smithsonian magazine looks at the work of Virtual Wonders in using drone and other advanced technology to create extremely detailed 3D models of Petra. The article includes a video preview of their work.

“For a video game that includes bloody mercenaries, extraterrestrial beings, and time travel, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is shockingly faithful to our contemporary historical understanding of what Ancient Greece looked like during its golden age.”

Leon Mauldin shares photos and descriptions of Troas and Gamla.

Two new books on ancient Israel:

HT: Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Charles Savelle, Agade

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The big story of the week was that a stone in the Western Wall came crashing down near the prayer area by Robinson’s Arch. There’s a video here. The whole wall is a “danger zone” and no one should be allowed near, says Zachi Dvira. The public needs to do some serious “soul searching,” insists one rabbi. No need to worry, says a geologist.

A crane has now removed this fallen stone. Joseph Lauer remarks, “In watching the videos showing the stone’s removal by the special crane, imagine what it took 2,000 years ago to place that stone and all of the other ones in the Wall.

Before the stone fell, archaeologist Dan Bahat petitioned Israel’s supreme court to halt construction of the egalitarian prayer area here.

The archaeologist directing the dig at el-Araj believes that the case for identifying it as Bethsaida is strengthened by the discovery of a reliquary, which may not be a reliquary, but which may just as well be the reliquary of Peter, Philip, and Andrew, at the Church of the Apostles. The stone box was discovered in the debris of a 19th-century house at the site (Haaretz premium).

Marc Turnage is interviewed by OnScript about his participation in the excavations of el-Araj (Bethsaida?).

Researchers are bringing the ancient city of Beit Lehi in the Shephelah to life by launching a digital guide to this restricted-access archaeological site. (Did the archaeologist really say that this site is a “gold mine”?!)

Walking the Text (with Brad Gray) began a new series on Zacchaeus, focusing this week on the background of the story and including many photos of the geographical context.

The Institute of Biblical Culture is now offering free study groups in several areas, including

Inscriptions from Ancient Israel, Dead Sea Scrolls, The Book of Jonah, and more. All study groups are live and online.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Alexander Schick, Lois Tverberg

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A glazed ceramic head from Tel Abel Beth Maacah that dates to the 9th century BC went on display last week at the Israel Museum.

Scholars have mapped ancient Gerasa using aerial photography and airborne laser scanning.

“For the first time ever, archaeologists have been able to cast the complete figure of a horse that perished in the volcanic eruption at Pompeii.” Several horses were found in the stable, apparently unable to evacuate in time.

A newly unearthed house at Pompeii has many colorful frescoes of animals and has been dubbed the “House of Dolphins.”

A tourist was caught trying to steal some pottery and marble from a house in Pompeii.

A skeleton discovered in northern Italy may provide the second known archaeological evidence of Roman crucifixion.

The ancient Greek city of Bargylia in southeastern Turkey is now up for sale for $8.3 million.

The Levantine Ceramics Project is a crowd-sourced tool designed to make it easier for archaeologists to share information about all things ceramic.

The Getty Museum has acquired a fine, 2nd-century AD Roman marble portrait bust of a man.

A Roman mosaic stolen from Syria was seized at the Palmdale, California, residence of the accused smuggler.

“Armstrong International Cultural Foundation will host the world premiere of ‘Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered,’ an archaeological exhibition, from June 10 through Aug. 19.”

Scholars in Israel using radiocarbon dating for the Iron Age may have a faulty calibration curve.

“We are pleased at the University of Bologna to announce the creation of the new didactic channel in English language ‘OrientLab’ on YouTube.com, which has educational purposes for the archaeological community working in the Near East and beyond. The OrientLab videos intend to serve as a guide for beginners on specific topics.”

The “first-century fragment of Mark” that has long been rumored about has been published and dated to the second or third centuries. Though not as early as hoped, it is still likely the earliest copy of Mark’s gospel.

The video interview of Cyrus Gordon now has an indexed transcript. (I found watching the interview worth my time, and I’m grateful now to have a transcript.)

The contents of the July/August issue of Biblical Archaeology Review is online.

Here is an updated list of all the free Loeb volumes.

BibleWorks is closing.

Philip Davies, Professor Emeritus at the University of Sheffield, died on Thursday.

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

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I am home. I can’t say any more about it now, but those who follow our work will benefit from my trip in the months and years ahead. On to the first installment of what really amounts to a roundup for the month of May:

“Three extremely rare Jewish-minted coins dating from the 4th century BCE were recently discovered by the Temple Mount Sifting Project.”

“The study of four donkeys found buried under the houses of Canaanite merchants in the ancient city of Gath is giving archaeologists new clues about early international trade between ancient Egypt, Canaan and Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago.”

Infrared analysis has allowed researchers to view previously unknown text of some Dead Sea Scroll fragments.

“The Temple Mount Sifting Project takes its show on the road with a pilot program in which it uses dirt to connect students to the past and future of the Jerusalem holy site.”

A Bar Kochba Revolt coin discovered near Modiin suggests more widespread support for the rebellion than was previously believed.

An article in The Times of Israel addresses the sensationalized headlines about discoveries at Tel ‘Eton as well as some criticism from Israel Finkelstein.

David Gurevich looks at how archaeological discoveries in Jerusalem in recent decades affects our knowledge of the Great Revolt.

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem (which now allows photographs) has a new exhibit on the biblical tekhelet (blue).

Some scientists are calling for higher-resolution satellite imagery to be made available for Israel.

Mariusz Rosik interviews me about my photography work, including the new Photo Companion to the Bible. If you prefer the Polish translation, you can find it here.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade

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Rome’s ongoing subway system project has uncovered several glimpses of the past, this time the ruins of a Roman military commander’s 14-room luxury villa. ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives has a report on the current status of the Ain Dara Temple. Authorities caught tomb raiders in Galilee as they used a bulldozer to loot graves from the Roman period. 3D computational geometry is being used in a long-distance virtual reconstruction to piece together ancient cuneiform texts. Christopher Rollston is on the OnScript Podcast speaking about the Isaiah seal impression. The Digital Archive for the Study of pre-Islamic Arabian Inscriptions “seeks to gather all known pre-Islamic Arabian epigraphic material into a comprehensive online database, with the aim to make available to specialists and to the broader public a wide array of documents often underestimated because of their difficulty of access.” A proposed restructuring at University College London may have adverse effects on the Petrie Museum. You can learn how to help here. Bible Gateway has published an interview with Lois Tverberg about her new book, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus. On sale for Kindle: Provan, Long, and Longman, A Biblical History of Israel ($3.99). Accordance has a big sale going on now on atlases and related resources. The Satellite Bible Atlas is now available on Accordance, and it too is on sale (40% off) until March 12. BAS is offering subscriptions to its video lecture service for 75% off for a limited time. David Z. Moster’s latest video explains how to use the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Wayne Stiles shares some new video footage shot over biblical Joppa. The LMLK Blogspot links to a new video of aerial footage of Hebron. HT: Ted Weis, Agade, Charles Savelle, Mark Hoffman

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