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

A Roman-era cemetery with 32 tombs has been discovered near Hebron.

Archaeologists have discovered what is “probably the most ancient archaeological solid residue of cheese ever found” in the sands near Saqqara.

Erez Ben-Yosef and Aaron Greener explain the significance of Edom’s copper mines in Timna.

A couple of new studies identify the sources of ancient Egyptian copper.

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities Newsletter for July 2018 includes the latest archaeological discoveries, repatriated antiquities, meetings, temporary exhibits, and increased fees.

“An antiquities museum in Syria’s rebel-held province of Idlib” has reopened after five years. The museum holds some of the Ebla tablets and was damaged in the war.

“The UCLA Library and Early Manuscripts Electronic Library have partnered with St. Catherine’s Monastery to digitize and publish online on an open access basis some 1,100 rare and unique Syriac and Arabic manuscripts dating from the fourth to the 17th centuries.”

Alexander Schick has written an extended article about the Temple Mount. If you don’t read German, there are many photos of interest.

Gabriel Barkay’s lecture, “Was Jesus Buried in the Garden Tomb?” from 2006 is now available online at Jerusalem Perspective.

The latest excursion of Israel’s Good Name takes him to Gath and the Museum of Philistine Culture in Ashdod.

The September/October issue of Biblical Archaeology Review features articles on Masada, Tel Shimron, and dating.

The Columbian has a touristy piece on Jaffa.

Candida Moss identifies the best ancient Christian sites in Egypt.

A number of streams in the Golan Heights that are popular with hikers have been closed due to contamination.

The oldest hippopotamus in captivity has died at the age of 59 at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.

The four volumes of the Tel Beth Shean excavation reports are now available for free in pdf format from Amihai Mazar’s academia website. He has also posted a chapter on Tel Rehov in the 10th-9th centuries.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Ted Weis

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“Following the Messiah,” Episodes 6-10

The next five episodes of “Following the Messiah” are set to release next week, and there is some relevant information that I wanted to pass on.

First, Episodes 6-10 will all be free on Appian Media’s website as well as on YouTube, beginning January 12. They will also be posting several “Behind the Scenes” videos. Episode 6 focuses on Jesus’s miracles, Episode 7 is on his teaching, and Episodes 8, 9, and 10 address his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.

They are also hosting three events, with invitations to the general public. The events are free, but reservations are required.

  • Indianapolis, IN, January 12
  • Athens, AL, January 19
  • Birmingham, AL, January 20

You can also see the first event streamed live on Facebook on January 12 at 6:45 Eastern Time. It’s recommended that you like Appian Media on Facebook in order to see the event.

This is a great project to enjoy, share with friends, and support.

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Church of Jesus’s Tomb Dates to 4th Century

Last year scientists conducted a first-ever examination of the traditional tomb of Jesus inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Test results now reveal that the mortar used to secure a slab over the traditional burial bench of Jesus dates to the 4th century. This confirms that this is the tomb venerated by Christians when Constantine built the first church here.

The story is reported by various sources, including National Geographic. This paragraph is the most important:

While it is archaeologically impossible to say that the tomb is the burial site of an individual Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth, who according to New Testament accounts was crucified in Jerusalem in 30 or 33, new dating results put the original construction of today’s tomb complex securely in the time of Constantine, Rome’s first Christian emperor.

Elsewhere the article several times mentions “surprises” from the investigation. But I think those are best understood either as journalistic editorializing or perhaps the researchers trying to justify the expense. The best word for this study is “confirmation.” We now have physical evidence for what historians have long thought: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was first built in the 4th century over a tomb believed to have been used by Jesus.

HT: Wayne Stiles, Ted Weis

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Weekend Roundup

“In an statement timed just ahead of Passover, the Temple Mount Sifting Project said Sunday it had found a stone finger that may have belonged to a Bronze Age Egyptian statue, but conceded it wasn’t sure.”

For the first time ever, a reenactment of the Passover sacrifice took place in the Jewish Quarter.

Wayne Stiles has released the third video in his virtual tour of the Passion Week.

Carl Rasmussen has written a series of informative posts related to Jesus’s trial and crucifixion, including “Another Gethsemane?,” “Site of Crucifixion of Jesus?,” “Gordon’s Calvary,” and “The Burial Bench of Jesus?

John DeLancey is on The Book and the Spade discussing the latest renovations of the edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

DeLancey also recently announced a tour this fall of Egypt, Jordan, and Israel.

An archaeologist claims that a thick layer of sand at Tel Achziv attests to a tsunami that hit the coast of Israel in the 8th century BC.

Evidence discovered below the Dead Sea suggests that there were significant droughts in the past.

On the ASOR Blog, Douglas Petrovich discusses some of his discoveries behind his theory that Hebrew is the language behind the world’s first alphabet. Alan Millard has written a response. You can get a 25% discount on Petrovich’s book with code PET25.

The Linda Byrd Smith Museum of Biblical Archaeology opens today at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.

Israel’s Good Name recently went on a Bar Ilan U tour of the Old City and Ramat Rahel.

The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review has articles on the Arch of Titus, Magdala, and three more biblical people confirmed by archaeological evidence.

Leen Ritmeyer notes two new apps that take visitors to ancient Jerusalem. Live Science has more about the Lithodomos VR app.

Divers in Italy have begun the search for a third pleasure barge of Emperor Caligula.

The site of Humayma in southern Jordan was probably founded by the Nabatean king Aretas IV early in the first century AD.

“War and Storm: Treasures of the Sea Around Sicily” is a special exhibit of recovered antiquities at Glyptotek in Copenhagen.

According to The Irish News, some of the Chester Beatty manuscripts are now on display in the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

John the Baptist would feel right at home at a Mariners’ game with their new menu offering of toasted grasshoppers.

Frederic William Bush, longtime Professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, died last week.

HT: Charles Savelle, Agade, Joseph Lauer, Steven Anderson

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Archaeologists working along Highway 1 near Abu Ghosh discovered a cache of bronze coins from the time of the Persian invasion in AD 614.

A study of a core sample from 1,500 feet below the floor of the Dead Sea points to lengthy droughts in the past.

With Easter approaching, the IAA gave reporters a tour of its storage facility. Haaretz goes with the sensational headline.

For two more articles on this week’s story about the edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, see The New York Times and National Geographic. The latter includes some terrific photos.

Carl Rasmussen highlights a video that allegedly shows the original stone wall of Jesus’s tomb inside the edicule.

A World of Emotions: The Making of an Exhibition” describes the new exhibit at the Onassis Center in New York. Many photos are included.

Bible History Today has a preview of “Where Are the Royal Archives at Tel Hazor?” from the latest issue of BAR.

Philip F. Esler writes about the ancient Jewish woman that we know the most about: Babatha.

Timothy Lim explains what we know about the Dead Sea Scrolls 70 years after the initial discovery.

Wayne Stiles reveals how the events at Shechem teach us how to live more faithful lives.

HT: Gordon Franz, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Jared Clark, Agade, Joseph Lauer

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Holy Sepulcher Edicule, Restored but Now in Danger of Collapse

The iron cage holding together the edicule built over the traditional tomb of Jesus has been removed in time for the Easter celebrations, but now scientists are warning that the structure is in danger of collapsing because the foundation is built on rubble. From Daily Mail:

The team that led the recent restoration work said the foundations are so shaky that they could suddenly give way. ‘When it fails, the failure will not be a slow process, but catastrophic,’ Antonia Moropoulou, from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), told National Geographic. […] Parts of the Edicule rest on steep and sloping bedrock was once the site of an ancient quarry, and the foundation mortar of the tomb has crumbled after decades of moisture exposure. The survey also pinpointed secret tunnels and channels that run directly beneath the Edicule. […] But the researchers are now calling for another $6.5million (£5.2million) to fix the fractured foundations surrounding the Edicule. They plan to remove the precarious stone paving surrounding the Edicule and excavate the 1,000-foot site underneath to install new sewage and rainwater drainage.

The article includes more of the history of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and many great photos from today’s unveiling.

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The Edicule of the Holy Sepulcher Unwrapped

For the first time in 70 years, the iron cage around the edicule built over the traditional tomb of Jesus has been removed. The British Mandatory authorities installed the girders as a temporary measure in 1947 while church leaders squabbled over a restoration plan.

Alexander Schick was in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Monday and took the photo below.

The renovations are scheduled to be completed in time for Easter next month. The most recent story I see about the restoration is this one by Nir Hasson in Haaretz (premium) last week.

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The edicule of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
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Weekend Roundup

A tomb with a number of well-preserved frescoes from the Hellenistic or Early Roman periods has been discovered in northern Jordan.

A dozen sculptures recently unearthed at Perga are now on display in the Antalya Museum.

The BBC runs an interesting story on the Muslim families that lock and unlock the Church of the Holy Sepulcher each day.

“A crew of facial reconstruction experts have successfully recreated the face of a male who lived in the Biblical city of Jericho.”

Scanning technology has provided 3-D images of unwrapped mummies from ancient Egypt.

A pair of mummified knees are most likely those of the famously beautiful spouse of Pharaoh Ramses II.”

James Davila considers the reemergence of the Jordanian lead codices and links to an insider perspective.

Archaeologists working in the Wadi Feinan region of Jordan believe that they have found evidence of the world’s first polluted river.

The breed known as “Jacob’s sheep” have returned to Israel.

The Jerusalem Post runs a story on Douglas Petrovich’s theory that the earliest alphabet was Hebrew.

The US and Egypt have come to an agreement regarding the importing of looted archaeological artifacts.
Recent damage to the ancient site of Mari is discussed by archaeologist Pascal Butterlin in a short video (in French).

Relics looted from Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra have been recovered in Switzerland.

“Radiocarbon dating remains a reliable tool if it is supplemented by 13C measurements.”

“Why would the Lord first announce the Messiah’s birth to lowly shepherds?” Wayne Stiles explains.

In light of the recent excavation of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Gordon Govier at Christianity Today explains why there are two competing sites for the place of Jesus’s burial.

The late Charles Ryrie’s Bible collection has been sold to various collectors for more than $7 million. 
Daniel Wallace was one of the bidders and he provides more details. I wonder how many of the 
purchases will show up in the Museum of the Bible.
The Westminister Bookstore has a big sale on the ESV Bible Atlas, described by them as “‘National Geographic’ meets world class Biblical Scholarship.” You can look inside here.

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

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