Weekend Roundup

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Archaeologists have published a report that they have discovered a “massive Iron II temple complex” at Moza, in use from 900 to 600 BC.

An Egyptian anchor discovered off the coast near Haifa is now on display at the Israel Museum. The impressive artifact features hieroglyphics and images.

Excavations at Tel Tsaf in the Jordan Valley have uncovered homes and food silos made of mudbrick and preserved since the Neolithic period.

“Archaeologists on Thursday unveiled 16 ancient Egyptian tombs filled with sarcophagi and other artifacts from a vast burial ground” near Minya in central Egypt.

Israeli researchers have successfully grown six trees from seeds discovered at the sites of Masada, Qumran, and Wadi Makkuk. The seeds date to the 4th century BC to the 2nd century AD, and like their predecessor Methuselah, they have been given biblical names. Photos here.

Shlomit Bechar argues that the Hazor complexes with standing stones were part of a “ruin cult.”

A professor has found a technique to solve quadratic equations that the ancient Babylonians used.

Laerke Recht takes a look at human sacrifices in the ancient Near East.

War has devastated a museum in Maaret al-Numa, Syria known for its Roman and Byzantine-era mosaics.

A terrorist near St. Anne’s Church fired shots toward the Temple Mount, wounding a policeman.

USA Today is having a contest for the Best Religious Museum in the USA. Nominees include the Museum of the Bible, the Ark Encounter, and the Biblical History Center.

The latest video in the “Life Lessons from Israel” is a 6-minute devotional video on Megiddo.

Upcoming events at the Albright Institute include a lecture by Israel Finkelstein on the excavations at Kiriath Jearim.

After renovations to steps and railings, the Ramparts Walk from the Damascus Gate to the Lions Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem has re-opened.

Agrippa II is the subject of Bryan Windle’s latest archaeological biography.

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

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Weekend Roundup

An 8th-century BC tomb with a child and its parents has been discovered in Achziv on Israel’s northern coast.

Joan Taylor looks at the historical evidence to determine what Jesus may have looked like and what clothes he wore.

Nir Hasson reports on Rona Avissar Lewis’s Hebrew-language book in which the author “examines the traces of the presence of children at biblical-era archaeological sites around Israel. Her conclusions about their births, their lives and their deaths may be somewhat different from the accepted conception of the role and situation of children at the time.”

And for another article on children: “Children in the ancient Middle East were valued and vulnerable—not unlike children today.”

The Temple Mount Sifting Project’s history in 12 objects series continues with #4, focusing on artifacts from the Persian period.

Three mosaics from the 2nd century BC have been discovered in Zeugma, Turkey.

A Polish professor believes that he has discovered eight sundials in ancient mosaics, including one in the Medeba Map (the column on the northern end of the city).

A record amount of rainfall fell in Galilee this week, including 5 inches in Safed and 7.8 inches on Mount Hermon, both in under 24 hours. The link includes a video of Saar Falls in the Golan Heights. For a photo of a snowman on Mount Hermon, see Luke Chandler’s post.

Magdala is the latest in John DeLancey’s video series of Life Lessons from Israel.

A trailer has dropped for “The Museum,” a documentary about the evacuation of the Aleppo Museum during the Syrian Civil War.

Statistics for Christian tourists to Israel in 2019: “55% of the 4.5 million tourists arriving in Israel in 2019 were Christians. Of those, 43% were Catholics, 31% Protestants, and 24% Eastern Orthodox. Of the Protestant visitors, 83% were Evangelicals (comprising 28% of all Christian tourists, and 13% of tourists in general). 15% of Protestant tourists hailed from African American churches. Of the Orthodox, 74% were Russian Orthodox, 26% were Greek Orthodox. 84% of all Christian tourists visited Jerusalem, and 65% visited Tel Aviv-Jaffa. The most visited sites by Christians were the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Via Dolorosa, and the Mount of Olives.”

The newest issue of Electrum includes a number of articles related to ancient Jerusalem including:

  • New Evidence for the Dates of the Walls of Jerusalem in the Second Half of the Second Century BC, by Donald T. Ariel
  • Herod’s Western Palace in Jerusalem: Some New Insights, by Orit Peleg-Barkat
  • Coins of the First Century Roman Governors of Judaea and their Motifs, by David M. Jacobson
  • The Purpose of the Ritual Baths in the Tombs of the Kings: A New Proposal, by Omri Abadi and Boaz Zissu
  • The Training Ground (Campus) of the legio X Fretensis in Jerusalem/Aelia Capitolina—a Possible Identification North of the Damascus Gate, by Avner Ecker
  • Eusebius and Hadrian’s Founding of Aelia Capitolina in Jerusalem, by Miriam Ben Zeev Hofman
  • Jerusalem and the Bar Kokhba Revolt Again: A Note, by Eran Almagor

Some lists highlighting the top discoveries of 2019 have started to appear. I hope to present my own list here next week at which time I’ll link to others I have found.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

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Weekend Roundup

“The Amman Theatre Statue is the ninth standing male figure discovered in Amman.” Joel S. Burnett and Romel Gharib try to explain why there are so many.

A pink granite statue of Ramses II, almost 3.5 feet tall, has been discovered near Giza.

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known church in Ethiopia, one that indicates Christianity had spread there not later than the 4th century.

“Decorative pavements in the floor of a recently unearthed Roman house in Pompeii offer a glimpse into the life and work of an ancient land surveyor.”

Leon Mauldin looks to the Isthmian Games for background to Paul’s athletic imagery.

The “find of the month” at the Temple Mount Sifting Project is the fragment of an ancient key.

The Jerusalem Post has published four articles on Masada, including one by Jodi Magness and another by Lawrence H. Schiffman.

The destruction of Caesarea’s harbor is the subject of National Geographic’s Overheard podcast.

Jewish worshipers are again praying on the Temple Mount.

There are no archaeologists who believe that the temple was in the City of David, not even Eli Shukron.

David Moster explains why the letter heh is the “swiss army knife” of biblical Hebrew.

All 5 (available and future) volumes of the Lexham Geographic Commentaries are for sale now in Logos format.

The approach of Christmas is a good time for an illustrated archaeological biography on Caesar Augustus.

Robert Cargill introduces the “New BAR,” including a re-designed cover, an expanded table of contents, a new section called “Epistles,” a change of typeset, and the elimination of “jumps” from all articles.

Philip J. King, longtime professor at Boston College and president of ASOR and SBL, has died. Three of his most helpful books are:

BAS is having a warehouse closeout sale, with all books priced at either $5 or $9. There are some good deals, including recent books on Caesarea, Hazor, and Megiddo.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Ted Weis

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Weekend Roundup, Part 3

Here’s a gem: a video about the excavations at Corinth made in 1945.

The first season of The Holy Land: Connecting The Land With Its Stories with John (Jack) Beck is now available on YouTube.

The Bible and Interpretation has an abridged version of a chapter from Margreet Steiner’s new book, Inhabiting the Promised Land: Exploring the Complex Relationship between Archaeology and Ancient Israel as Depicted in the Bible. This chapter surveys the history of modern scholars trying to locate the patriarchs in various periods.

A new exhibit at the Oriental Institute reveals the original colors of Assyrian reliefs.

Analysis of clay jar lids from the Qumran caves reveals residue of papyrus, supporting the theory that scrolls were once stored in the jars.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #33 is of the Cave of Adullam.

John Byron is on The Book and the Spade discussing the subject of his new book, A Week in the Life of a Slave (and Part 2).

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is now enjoying a new state-of-the-art greenhouse.

If you’ve ever been to an academic conference, you may appreciate this series of videos, especially the last one.

Biblical Archaeology Society is selling many DVDs for $5.

A couple of sets of Lois Tverberg’s excellent books are available for reduced prices this month.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

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Weekend Roundup

If you don’t pay attention, you would think they’re finding all kinds of first-century streets in Jerusalem. But it’s the same one, again and again. The story this week, based on a journal article in Tel Aviv, is that the Siloam Street/Stepped Street/Pilgrim’s Path was built by Pilate. The date is based on the most recent coin, from AD 30/31, found in the fill under the pavement. Leen Ritmeyer rejects the study, saying that the road was actually built by Herod Agrippa II. That last link has a nice map that shows the location of the Herodian/Pilatian/Agrippian Road.

A three-year salvage excavation near Beth Shemesh uncovered a Byzantine Church with an inscription mentioning a “glorious martyr.” The mosaics are quite well-preserved, and there is an intact underground burial chamber. Some of the artifacts are featured in a new exhibition at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

Excavators have found a second monumental gate at Hacilar.

These reports from Beirut are from last year, but I did not see them then:

Rachel Bernstein provides an update on the Temple Mount Sifting Project since its recent reboot and relocation.

Israel Finkelstein responds to the “discovery that changes everything we know about biblical Israel.”

Artificial intelligence is better at deciphering damaged ancient Greek inscriptions than humans are.

The ArcGIS Blog interviews Tom Levy and one of his students about their use of GIS and 3D modeling in their work in the copper mines of Faynan.

Officials in Thessaloniki are arguing about what to do with a “priceless” 6th century AD Byzantine site found during work on a subway tunnel.

Spanish experts have replicated for Iraq two Assyrian lamassu statues previously destroyed by ISIS.

Dirk Obbink denies the charges against him of selling items owned by the Egyptian Exploration Society.

Two scholarships are available for students interested in participating in February’s excavation of Timna’s copper mines.

An international conference entitled “Philistines! Rehabilitating a Biblical Foe” will be held on Nov 17 at Yeshiva University Museum. Registration is required.

‘Atiqot 96 (2019) is now online, with reports on excavations at Rosh Pinna, Mazor, and el-Qubeibe.

Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours has released the 16th video in their series, “It Happened Here.” This one features life lessons from Beth Shean.

Jim Hastings shows how he built a model of a gate of Ezekiel’s temple.

Ferrell Jenkins shares photos from his 1970 tour of Iraq.

Aron Tal reflects on the remarkable return of the ibex. There was a day, apparently, when there were no ibex to be found at En Gedi.

HT: Gordon Franz, Mark Hoffman, Agade, Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, A.D. Riddle, Steven Anderson

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Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: The Western Wall Tunnel

I mentioned in my introduction to this book that Ancient Jerusalem Revealed really provides a “who’s who” in modern Jerusalem archaeology. Dan Bahat is another well-known name, having served as district archaeologist of Jerusalem for some years and having written the Illustrated Atlas of Jerusalem. Bahat is also known for his excavations of the Western Wall Tunnel, and this article provides information from more recent work.

The main point that Bahat wants to make in this article is that Amos Kloner is wrong about the dating of the arched bridge that begins with Wilson’s Arch and runs west. All agree it originally dates to the Herodian period and was destroyed by the Romans. Kloner challenged Bahat’s dating to the Umayyad period, proposing instead that was rebuilt in the Late Roman period (AD 70-330). Bahat is back to prove that he was right all along. This debate does not interest me much, so I’m going to move along.

Unlike the Triple Gate article from last week, this chapter has more illustrations. I especially like the one showing the two-story vault structure supporting the bridge, built over a couple of ritual baths with a four-sided mikveh used for the purification of vessels in the foreground. The reconstruction of the Temple Mount in the Crusader era is strange, however: I don’t think that the Dome of the Rock used to be on the northern end of the Temple Mount.

A few other discoveries round out the article:

  • A three-story Crusader building
  • A Roman-era latrine beneath the three-story Crusader building
  • A Hasmonean ritual bath beneath the latrine beneath the three-story Crusader building

Every article concludes with a selected bibliography. This one has six entries, including one by Bahat, two by R. W. Hamilton, and one by Charles Warren.

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Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: The Southern Temple Mount Wall

From 1997 to 1999, Yuval Baruch and Ronny Reich excavated along the southern wall of the Temple Mount. More specifically, they unearthed material in front of the Triple Gate and along the wall to the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount. Their work is summarized in a chapter they wrote in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

The first interesting discovery they made was of a ritual bath (mikveh) underneath the wall of the Temple Mount. Since this predates the Herodian construction, it dates to the Hasmonean period. The mikveh has a double entrance divided by a quarried pilaster. Those are my favorite kind.

A second find is more briefly described: they discovered the fragment of a Herodian doorpost that matches the western doorpost of the Triple Gate. I am sad that there was not a photo.

They also found fragments they believe belonged to the Royal Stoa on the Temple Mount above.

These were thrown down when the Romans destroyed the city. The authors don’t mention, but I will add, that it is absolutely amazing just how little is preserved of this structure that Josephus described as “more noteworthy than any other under the sun” (Ant. 15.412). BTW, if you’re looking for a handy description of the “magnificent stones and wonderful buildings” of the Temple Mount, I wrote an essay on this for the Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels.

Here’s another remarkable fact: the excavators revealed some 80 meters of the Temple Mount wall east of the Triple Gate, and they determined that a sloped street ran along the top of a series of 18 vaulted shops, yet they found no actual evidence for the street itself. It is amazing to me how much of antiquity has just vanished.

I love the photo of the arches burned into the Temple Mount wall. While it was a sad day for Jerusalem shopkeepers, it provides a poignant scene of the city’s destruction in AD 70. (I have a less dramatic photo here.)

Ronny Reich is the mikveh expert, so I was interested to read his suggestion that ritual baths near the Temple Mount can be dated based upon which direction they pointed. Those quarried along a southeast-northwest axis are pre-Herodian, while those oriented north-south are Herodian. The change in orientation is owing to the dominant feature in the area: the earlier ritual baths follow the natural topography of Mount Moriah, while the later ones are aligned according to Herod’s Temple Mount.

Baruch and Reich save the best for last. They propose that the sloped street that ran from the Triple Gate eastward was used for bringing sheep into the Temple Mount for slaughter. It also was periodically used for the removal of the red heifer. In support of this is the fact that the street is sloped, not stepped, and they contend that the third gate of the Triple Gate was used for animals, not people. This, they believe, makes better sense than a 200-foot high bridge spanning the Kidron Valley.

I enjoyed reading this article, but it would have been better with more illustrations.

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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, 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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Weekend Roundup

This year’s Institute of Biblical Context conference was superb. If you can make it to next year’s conference (theme: the contextual world of the apostle Paul), I’d recommend it (June 8-10 in Zeeland, Michigan).

(Re-)Opening day for the Temple Mount Sifting Project was a great success.

Abigail VanderHart provides an interesting look into how the antiquities market is regulated in Israel.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is offering visitors a chance to volunteer in an archaeological excavation. There are other options with Volunteers for Israel.

Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours has produced a 6-minute devotional video with footage from Gamla.

With the summer excavations about to begin at Gath, Aren Maeir shares a preview of the 2019 shirt.

Israel’s Good Name recounts his travels in the southern Aravah, including Timna Park and several other off-the-beaten-track sites.

Walking the Text has just released the 2nd edition of “The #1 Mistake Most Everyone Makes Reading the Bible.” Select “More” at the top right.

The American Center of Oriental Research Newsletter for July-December 2018 is now online.

Egypt is asking the UK to stop Christie’s auction of a bust of King Tut.

In a well-illustrated article on the ASOR Blog, Vanessa Davies explains why the Egyptians and the Hittites made “peace”  16 years after their major battle.

Crowds of tourists are causing big problems at major tour destinations around the world.

All of Jerusalem will become a “clean air” zone under a new law passed by the City Council.

Ferrell Jenkins explains the history of the cedar of Lebanon trees at Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Ted Weis

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