Weekend Roundup

The stories this week are about as random as I can remember, making it challenging to figure out a logical sequence. We’ll start with Jerusalem, and we’ll end with a photo that was popular this week on our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram stream.

Journalists were given a tour of the newly reopened Roman square underneath the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem.

With the water level up nearly 6 feet in the last month, Israeli authorities may have to open the dam of the Sea of Galilee for the first time since 1992. (There’s a beautiful sunrise photo at the end of this article.)

Nof Ginnosar and the Sea of Galilee are the focus of the latest in the “Life Lessons from Israel” video series.

“Russian Archaeology in the Holy Land,” by Yana Tchekhanovets and Leonid Belyaev, is the lead article in the latest issue of ANE Today.

Biblical Byways is offering a low-budget study tour of Israel for Spanish speakers in September.

A replica of a 2,600-year-old Phoenician ship finished its five-month transatlantic voyage last week when it arrived in Miami.

Archaeologists have recovered 1,400 cuneiform tablets from the lost Sumerian city of Irisagrig, but they don’t know where that ancient city was located.

The traditional tomb of Ezekiel (in Iraq, not the one in Iran) is again becoming a place of pilgrimage.

Saudi Arabia plans to create the world’s largest living museum in Al Ula by 2035.

For more than a decade now, “Athens-based photographer and animator Dimitris Tsalkanis has cultivated a sort of unusual hobby: recreating ancient Athens via 3D modeling software.”

An archaeologist in Spain is on trial for forging a third-century depiction of Jesus’s crucifixion.

Salman Abu Sitta will be lecturing in London on February 28 on the subject of the “1871 Survey of Western Palestine Revisited: The Visible and The Hidden.”

New book: Roman-Period and Byzantine Nazareth and Its Hinterland, by Ken Dark

Cynthia Shafer-Elliott talks about her recent book Food in Ancient Judah on the OnScript podcast.

Ferrell Jenkins shares photos of the atad tree, the worthless bramble mentioned in Jotham’s parable in Judges 9.

The archaeological biography on King Ahaz features an altar, a seal, and a toilet.

The Global Smyrna Meeting on the Seven Churches of Revelation offers lectures and sites visits given a whole host of popular teachers, including Mark Wilson, Ben Witherington, Mark Fairchild, Carl Rasmussen, and Dana Harris.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

Wadi Lubban view northwest of Shiloh, db6604081205

This beautiful valley is located in the tribal inheritance of Ephraim, not far from Shiloh. Photo taken in 1966 by David Bivin.

Share:

William Barrick’s Research Tour of Biblical Jordan

Dr. William Barrick, emeritus professor of The Master’s Seminary, recently participated in a research trip to Jordan, and he has written a series of posts describing their daily visits along with discussion of certain controversial issues. I thought my readers would enjoy this, and so I’ve written a roundup of sorts to provide easy access to the various posts and the sites they describe.

Dr. Barrick has an army of former students who are eager to read anything their esteemed professor writes. I am happy to be among that number. In a day in which scholarship has become highly specialized, Dr. Barrick follows the footsteps of William F. Albright or Cyrus Gordon in being a polymath. I commend his latest series to all interested in learning more about the biblical significance of the east side of the Jordan River.

Post 1 – the first stop of the trip is at Tall al-Hamman, a site best identified with Abel-Shittim, not Sodom. (“No one can believe consistently in biblical inerrancy and adopt the northern site as Sodom.”) The post also includes a photograph of Tell ‘Azeimeh, identified with biblical Beth-Jeshimoth.

Post 2 – few groups make the stop at Tell ed-Damiyeh, the site of biblical Adam. Dr. Barrick shares a dramatic photo of the site, with Alexandrium (Sartaba) looming in the background.

Post 3 – this post describes their visit to the Jabbok River and Tell edh-Dhahab, possibly biblical Peniel/Penuel. This area is particularly interesting because of Jacob’s nighttime wrestling match.

Post 4 – traveling to Jordan’s capital city of Amman, this post discusses biblical Rabbah Ammon. Dr. Barrick also highlights some significant inscriptions from the Acropolis Museum, including the Amman Citadel Inscription, the Tell Siran Bottle, and the Balaam Inscription.

Post 5 – on to Medeba, with its famous mosaic map. Then to Mount Nebo, where even after a rainfall, the view toward the Promised Land is still a bit hazy.

Post 6 – the next stop was at Peor, a summit where Balaam blessed Israel, to the horror of the Moabite king. Unfortunately the site has been heavily looted. He suggests four potential solutions to the location of Heshbon. His visit to Dibon prompts a discussion of the Mesha Stele and 2 Kings 3.

Post 7 – the trip continues to southern Jordan, with photos of many sites, including Aroer, the Arnon Gorge, the land of Edom, Sela, and Bozrah. The climb up Sela is given greater detail and more illustrations.

Post 8 – this post describes a full day at Petra and the Petra Museum, with biblical connections, recommended articles, and links to online videos.

Post 9 – this day’s focus was on the southern end of the Dead Sea, with particular interest in the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sites visited included Lot’s Cave (Deir Ain Abata) and Lot’s Cave Museum (aka the Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth).

Post 10 – more evidence is provided related to the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah, with the conclusion that these cities must be on the southern end of the Dead Sea. A visit to Numeira prompts the question of how the chronology of the site may fit the biblical date of the destruction of Gomorrah. Bab edh-Dhra has a massive cemetery and may be identified with Sodom.

Post 11 – the final post in this series features the Hill of Elijah, Bethany beyond the Jordan, Gerasa, and Ramoth-gilead (Tell er-Rumeith). The biblical significance of each site is explained, and photos abound.

Share:

Weekend Roundup

Note: this blog moved to a new location a few days ago. The old address should forward to the new, but you can update your bookmark to https://www.bibleplaces.com/blog/. Email subscriptions should not be affected, but those using a feed reader will need to update to the new address.

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

Share:

Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists believe that a well-preserved complex at Horvat Tevet, near Afula in the Jezreel Valley, served as a royal estate for Israel’s kings.

Archaeologists working at Tell Damiyah (biblical Adam) are uncovering a religious complex that dates to 700 BC.

Ann Killebrew shares about her experience and discoveries made in the last decade of excavating Tel Akko.

16 tombs from the 26th dynasty have been found at Al-Ghoreifa in Egypt.

New research of the mummified remains of Takabuti, held at the Ulster Museum, reveals the Egyptian had genetic roots to Europe and was likely stabbed to death.

Ueli Bellward explains the complex water collection system of Petra, including how its flash flood system enabled the city to survive.

Archaeologists are concerned about the increasing popularity of Gobekli Tepe.

A story in Discover magazine explains how archaeologists know where to dig.

Archaeologists believe that they have found a second example of crucifixion, discovered near Venice.

The AP has a number of photos of a massive locust invasion in eastern Africa.

Caesarea’s ancient theater stage is undergoing a major renovation.

John DeLancey has just wrapped up another tour of Israel, blogging about each day.

Holly Beers is on The Book and the Spade discussing her new book, A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman Woman.

Bryan Windle identifies the top three reports in biblical archaeology in the month of January.

BiblePlaces.com celebrated its 20th anniversary this week, and we are thankful for many encouraging words, including reflections from Mark Hoffman, Ferrell Jenkins, Leon Mauldin, and Charles Savelle.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Cam von Wahlde, Joseph Lauer

Share:

Weekend Roundup

Israel has announced the creation of seven new nature reserves in the West Bank: Ariel Cave, Wadi Og, Wadi Malha, the Southern Jordan River, Bitronot Creek, Nahal Tirza, and Rotem-Maskiot.

The Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome is set to reopen this spring after being closed for 80 years.

The Grand Egyptian Museum, set to partially open in the coming months, expects more than 5 million visitors annually.

Passages, a Christian version of Birthright Israel, is on track to bring 10,000 students to Israel by the end of this year.

Carl Rasmussen shares his experience in using Global Entry for international travel.

A DNA analysis of the York Gospels was done using DNA extracted by using erasers.

Emily Master of The Friends of Israel Antiquities Authority is the featured guest on The Book and the Spade.

Available for pre-order: The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel: Exodus. There are early reviews here and here.

King David is the subject of Bryan Windle’s latest archaeological biography.

Shmuel Browns shares his favorite photos of the year and gives his readers a chance to vote on their favorite.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Mark Hoffman, Explorator

Share:

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Aaron’s tomb in Jordan will re-open to Israeli tourists after the site was closed following a group that allegedly prayed there.

A researcher claims that the world’s oldest chess piece was discovered in Jordan.

Sara Toth Stub explains what happened to Petra after it was abandoned by the Nabateans.

It’s not clear where Egyptians came up with five million African sacred ibises, but a DNA study shows that they were not raised in breeding farms.

Archaeologists have discovered five lion mummies in excavations in Saqqara.

3-D scans of the bust of Nefertiti are now available online.

The Ilisu dam will soon flood Hasankeyf, one of the oldest known and continuously inhabited settlements in the world.

The Central Baths at Pompeii have now been opened to tourists.

A reconstruction of the god Moloch is part of an exhibit on Carthage in Rome.

Cyrus, king of Persia, is the latest subject in Bryan Windle’s series of bioarchaeographies.

Save the date: the annual conference of the Institute of Biblical Context, now redubbed the Infusion Bible Conference, will be held on June 8 to 10, 2020 in west Michigan. The topic is “Paul and His Roman World.”

Gift subscriptions are now available for Walking the Bible Lands.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Explorator, Keith Keyser

Share:

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

“Colorful remains of mosaics from a 3rd century synagogue in the ancient town of Majdulia are the earliest evidence of synagogue decoration in the Golan.”

“A group of archaeologists, architects and researchers petitioned the High Court of Justice . . . to stop a controversial plan to build a cable car to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.”

The latest in the Life Lessons from Israel video series focuses on the Talmudic Village of Katzrin.

Aviva and Shmuel Bar-Am write about a number of small archaeological sites in Pisgat Zeev, a northern suburb of Jerusalem.

Israel21c: Fabulous photos of 5 picturesque places to visit in Israel. The sites include Banias, En Gedi, Masada, Beth Shean, and Caesarea.

Archaeologists are hoping to continue excavations at el-Ahwat, possibly the biblical Harosheth HaGoyim, before modern construction destroys remains.

Israel’s Good Name visited the Horns of Hattin during a reenactment of the famous battle between the Crusaders and Saladin.

Carl Rasmussen reports on his visit to the “real” Bethsaida.

Luke Chandler, Ferrell Jenkins, Chris McKinny, and BibleX note the release of three new volumes in the Photo Companion to the Bible series.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

Share:

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

Share:

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

We have collected 40 items so far from the last two weeks, and I’ll think we’ll break it up into three parts, going through Monday.

If you’ve prayed at all for those affected by the Saugus High shooting, thank you. My oldest sons graduated from the school, and my two daughters are students there now. They were not on campus at the time, but they have friends who were wounded and traumatized. Our church is a central gathering place for students as they process everything. You can pray that we will be faithful and wise. And now to the stories…

National Geographic is the latest to report on the Siloam Street excavations and the attendant controversy, along with various other recent Jerusalem excavations. They do so, as you would expect, with beautiful photos.

Israel’s Good Name describes a day of excavating in the Mount Zion Archaeological Dig.

I bet you don’t know how many inscriptions we have that may be related to Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul when Paul and Barnabas visited Cyprus. Bryan Windle provides photos and details in this well-researched archaeological biography.

Now online: The ACOR Newsletter for Summer 2019

A British scholar explains a little of the history of aerial photography in Jordan.

Bible Mapper has begun a new blog, with a number of helpful maps already posted.

New book: The Canaanites, by Mary Ellen Buck ($15)

An interview with Father Eugene provides some background on the new Terra Sancta Museum in Jerusalem.

A leopard was apparently spotted in Samaria. The video is in Hebrew, and the footage is in infrared(?), but it may be the first sighting in decades.

Jessica Halfin suggests “11 biblical experiences in Israel you’ll never forget.” It’s a good list.

My friend John Black and his wife Doro are leading a more affordable Israel tour in February and they have a few remaining spots.

HT: Agade, Charles Savelle, Keith Keyser

Share:

Israel: Take a Hike!

I believe that there is no better way to experience Israel than by hiking it. That doesn’t mean that your first trip to Israel should be a pure hiking tour. I would suggest instead that you first learn the land as a whole, and that requires being on a bus so you can cover the ground. But as you have opportunity on that or subsequent trips, you will find that nothing is as rewarding as walking through the land. The air you breathe, the dust you kick up, the surprises you see, the connections you make—all of these are vastly different than the view from the bus window.

It’s not necessarily easy going on a hike, especially if you’re not traveling with someone with experience. The best hiking maps are in Hebrew, and the logistics can be challenging as well. But if you’re not in a hurry and you make some preparation, you can have a successful trip with memories that last a lifetime.

Over the years, a few people have written books (in English) for hiking in Israel. (Here’s an older one I like.) But trails are altered and the books become dated and go out of print.

Israel by Foot is a new website dedicated to helping hikers in Israel. The creator, Erez Speiser, wrote me some weeks ago to ask about the possibility of writing a guest post for this blog. But I love what he is doing and I would rather tell you myself.

I predict that Erez’s website is going to change some of your lives. Because you will start reading of the possibilities, get motivated, and then realize that you really could do this.

There are a number of options on Israel by Foot, but readers of this blog might start with “Bible Walks,” where Erez (who created all of the content himself) gives detailed descriptions for about five hikes, including the distance, the climb, the best time of year, directions to the trail head, and Google Map points. That is all free; for $5 you can purchase a detailed hiking map and GPS files for any particular hike. (You know how much you’ll be willing to pay for a detailed map in English when you are lost? :-))

I love the “Inn to Inn Hikes” section. That’s because I don’t enjoy hiking so much with 40 pounds on my back. Multi-day hikes are just much more difficult logistically. (I led a 11-day hike for a couple dozen people once, but it worked so beautifully because we had a trail van carrying our sleeping bags and food. Heavy backpacks would have completely changed the calculus.)

Just reading the options for the “Inn to Inn” will motivate some of you to start planning for your 30th wedding anniversary trip or your 60th birthday present to yourself or something! How about: Judean Desert (Arad to En Gedi via Masada) in 4-6 days. Or Sea to Sea (across the Upper Galilee) in 5 days. Or the northern (and most beautiful!) section of the Israel National Trail – from Dan to Arbel!

Erez has another section of single-day self-guided hikes. These are easier to incorporate into another trip. There are several dozen options listed in various regions of Israel.

You might consider if a “hiking-based” trip could be a way to spend some quality time with some of your older kids. Or maybe a person you disciple or a small group you lead. Some married couples are ideally suited for trips like this. I know there are lots of other places to travel, and this is not on the cheaper end for those living outside of Israel, but I believe that amazing memories are made when (1) you are walking outdoors (2) in a place where you are surrounded by the Bible and (3) you are feeling a small measure of pain.

Share: