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For our readers who are professors or pastors and are ready to think about planning future trips for your classes or churches, I recommend you take a look at 2021’s familiarization tours offered by Tutku Educational Travel. These trips are subsidized with the hope that you’ll love your trip and come back with a group. It’s a good way to get a good introduction and be prepared to lead a tour. I’ve copied Tutku’s schedule below, and you will recognize the names of a number of excellent scholars. This is a great (and rare) opportunity to learn from the best in their fields. I’ve traveled with Tutku several times and highly recommend them.

BIBLICAL ISRAEL FAM TRIP          $2,190 land & air included

January 1-9, 2021

Tour Host: Dr. Carl Rasmussen      click for brochure

Greetings! The following is the handcrafted itinerary of the trip to Israel that Mary and I are leading in response to those who have  asked us to put together a “not for credit” study tour. I will be giving mini lectures along the way both on the bus and on the sites, drawing from my studies. I have spent 16 years of my adult life living in, and guiding, academic groups in Israel, Jordan, Greece, and Turkey (including living, teaching, and guiding in Jerusalem for 7 years)…


BIBLICAL EGYPT FAM TRIP          $2,990 land & air included

January 6-15, 2021

Tour Host: Dr. Jim Hoffmeier      click for brochure

Growing up in rural Egypt gave me a love for its people, history and culture, so that Egyptology and archaeology were my natural academic studies. On this tour we will visit ancient and modern wonders and  integrate Biblical history, with a goal of making connections  between Egyptian history and culture and the Bible.


BIBLICAL ITALY FAM TRIP          $2,990 land & air included

January 15-23, 2021

Tour Host: Dr. Mark Wilson      click for brochure

“And so we came to Rome!” Twice Luke announces this in the final chapter of Acts. Our tour will begin with Paul’s arrival at the port of Puteoli. Along the way we’ll see Herculaneum, a city destroyed by   Mt. Vesuvius and the archaeological treasures of the Naples Museum. We will then trace the Via Appia to the imperial city, actually walking on this “Queen of Roads” in several places. In Rome we will visit all the major monuments, especially those related to Peter and Paul. The Pio Christian Museum features special Jewish and Christian artifacts in the Vatican Museum. Lastly, we will visit the port of Ostia, whose well-preserved ruins include an early synagogue. Join me as we too come to Rome in the footsteps of the apostles!


BIBLICAL TURKEY FAM TRIP          $1,990 land & air included

March 5-13, 2021

Tour Host: Dr. Mark Wilson      click for brochure

Greetings! At this special trip, we will visit all 7 churches mentioned in Revelation 1-3 and places where New Testament books were written to and/or from! Thus, it is not a mere tour, but a hands on experience as we study the New Testament and its  Greco Roman background together! You will be amazed at what you will be learning along the way and March is perfect—not too hot, not too cool, and the wild flowers are in bloom in most parts of the country!


BIBLICAL GREECE FAM TRIP          $1,990 land & air included

March 6-14, 2021

Tour Host: Dr. Mark Fairchild      click for brochure

Join me for this brief introductory tour of the Biblical sites in Greece. We will travel to all of the ancient sites that were  associated with St. Paul’s journeys in Greece. Additionally, we will  visit other important historical sites along the way, such as the famous Delphic Oracle and the monastic community at Meteora. I invite you to accompany us on this odyssey to the birthplace of western civilization.


BIBLICAL JORDAN FAM TRIP          $1,990 land & air included

March 13-21, 2021

Tour Host: Dr. Mark Fairchild      click for brochure

Many prophets walked the land and performed miracles in Jordan. They bathed in the seas and rivers and trekked the desert. Trace their steps, marvel at the ruins of ancient civilizations, and re-live   history.  Home to Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and the Dead Sea, a finalist for the New Seven Wonders of Nature, Jordan offers one-in-a-lifetime vacation destinations you will not find anywhere else… Explore splendid desert castles or bathe in the restful waters of the Red Sea. Come see the beauty of the Kingdom’s treasures and experience the splendor that has dazzled visitors for centuries.

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“A singular two-millennia-old subterranean system of three rooms has been uncovered near the Western Wall. The three-room complex — painstakingly chiseled by hand out of bedrock prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE — is the first evidence of everyday life gone underground in the ancient city.” There’s a nice 3-minute video in English here.

An intact terracotta sarcophagus dating from the second century AD has been unearthed alongside the archaeological site of Ostia Antica” near Rome.

Researchers have found that early Iron Age Nubia utilized bitumen from the Dead Sea in funeral preparations.

An incredible, undisturbed tomb probably dating back to the Punic period has been found in Tarxien” on the island of Malta.

Eberhard Zangger and Rita Gautschy argue that a monumental depiction of the Hittite pantheon in the rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya near Hattusha actually served as an ancient calendar based on celestial events.

A study of a trash pit in Beth-Yerah/Philoteria provides insights into the diet of the inhabitants in the 2nd century BC.

The founders of Hobby Lobby are suing Christie’s auction house for selling it a stolen copy of the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet.

Some of the lectures from the Bar Ilan archaeology series have been recorded and are available online.

HT: Agade, Keith Keyser, Arne Halbakken

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For only the 4th time, a Bar Kochba coin has been found in Jerusalem, possibly brought there by a Roman soldier. This article has nice photos, and this article has a short video.

The Jerusalem Post surveys how archaeology in Israel has been affected by governmental actions in response to COVID-19.

El-Araj, a good candidate for Bethsaida, has been flooded by this winter’s rains and the rise of the Sea of Galilee.

Critics are claiming that construction by the Palestinian Authority is destroying remains at Tel Aroma, the northernmost Hasmonean fortress in Samaria.

“Exploratory drilling has started just outside the Old City for a project to extend the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem fast rail to the Old City’s Dung Gate — the main entrance to the Western Wall.”

The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem has filed a lawsuit demanding closure of Ein Yael outdoor museum.

Four fragments of Dead Sea Scroll fragments that were thought to be blank are not.

A new excavation at Petra will focus on the lower part of the Treasury as well as nearby tombs and facades.

A new burial chamber has been discovered at the mummification workshop complex of the 26th Dynasty at Saqqara.”

“A stone chest excavated by archaeologists near Deir el-Bahari and the temple of Hatshepsut could lead archaeologists . . . to a royal tomb.”

Egypt’s decision to move ancient objects from their original setting in Luxor to Cairo’s Tahrir Square is stirring controversy.

“The excavation team working on the site of the ancient city of Patara, near the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, has unearthed a new inscription in the ancient theater.”

“A small sinkhole that appeared next to the Pantheon in Rome has enabled archaeologists to examine the original Roman paving that was laid when the Pantheon was built by Marcus Agrippa around 27-25 BC.”

The traditional tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamadan, Iran, was set afire yesterday.

David Moster has created a new video on “Biblical Pandemics.”

The Temple Mount Sifting Project Symposium on May 24 features eight lectures via Zoom on the archaeology of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Registration is required.

Francis I. Andersen died recently. His breadth of publications is remarkable.

Thomas O. Lambdin died on May 8.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, Explorator, BibleX

Ecbatana tomb of Esther and Mordecai, tb0510183126

Traditional tomb of Esther and Mordecai in Hamadan (biblical Ecbatana) before attack

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Greece is planning to reopen its tourist sites on June 15.

The Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome will be restored beginning in September. The story includes a video (in beautiful Italian).

The Acropolis in Athens is undergoing a number of renovations to improve safety and enhance the experience for visitors.

As you would expect, National Geographic’s story on the Pamukkale region in Turkey has some stunning photos.

Curators at the British Museum helped border officials confiscate a collection of fake antiquities.

Recent episodes in the Lonesome Curator series focus on “Food in Nazareth” and “The Nebuchadnezzar Brick.”

Sophia Germanidou gives an overview on the use of bees’ honey in the ancient world.

Jennifer Drummond explains how to make Roman “French” Toast.

Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has produced a video showing how to cook Tiger nuts, based on vignettes in the tomb of Rekhmire.

The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press is making some of its books available for free pdf download.

The Travelogues website provides graphic materials from Greece and the eastern Mediterranean from the 15th century onward.

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

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A first-century synagogue discovered at Beth Shemesh will have to be moved because it is in the line of the highway-widening project. An article in Hebrew at Makor Rishon includes a photo.

Haaretz: A “study of the three oldest stone enclosures at Göbekli Tepe has revealed a hidden geometric pattern, specifically an equilateral triangle, underlying the entire architectural plan of these structures.”

A project to preserve and popularize a group of megalithic dolmens in northern Lebanon has been completed.

Brent Nongbri asks whether Qumran Cave 1 is really Cave 1.

Bryan Windle’s Top Three Reports in Archaeology in April look to technology stories as well as the impact of COVID-19.

Wayne Stiles explains how Paul’s incarceration in Rome is instructive in our present crisis.

Christopher Rollston is the guest on The Book and the Spade, talking about the Dead Sea Scroll forgeries (part 1, part 2).

Nijay Gupta recommends the best resources for studying New Testament backgrounds and context. And Brad Cooper shares a broader list of similar resources that also includes online courses, online resources, and more.

The latest Biblical Studies Carnival is online, filled with links to stories, blogposts, podcasts, and book reviews from the past month.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, BibleX

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Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) has terminated its biblical archaeology program, laying off five professors and ending the MA and PhD programs of 25 graduate students. The Gezer excavation publication project now lacks funding.

“Pieces of papyrus sold as rare fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary a decade ago are ‘likely fraudulent’ and the seminary might seek financial restitution.”

Sergio and Rhoda show how much the Sea of Galilee’s water level has changed in the last two years.

Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is launching a series of virtual tours of some of its archaeological sites and museums, beginning with the tomb of Kheti at Beni Hasan.

“New University of Arizona-led research uses tree rings to shed light on discrepancies between archeological and radiocarbon evidence in dating the ancient volcanic eruption of Thera.”

The last land mine has been removed from the Jordan River baptismal area near Qaser al-Yahud, The article includes a video of 562 mines being set off.

Erez Ben-Yosef, director of the Central Timna Valley Project, is interviewed on LandMinds about metallurgy, nomadic societal organizations, and implications for the biblical record.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project has not stopped, though there are no guests or volunteers.

David Christian Clausen discusses the evidence for identifying the location of the Upper Room in Jerusalem.

Rabbi David Moster will be teaching Biblical Hebrew this summer in a 40-session online course. Readers use use the coupon “BiblePlaces” will receive a $500 discount.

For the 100th episode of The Teaching Series, Brad Gray takes a look at the significance of the number 40 in the Bible, reflecting on its repeated presence in episodes of testing and trials.

The Conference DVD Bundle for last year’s Institute of Biblical Context is on sale through Monday, with all 42 presentations available for $79 (digital) or $99 (DVD).

Some Carta resources are finally coming to Logos Bible Software, including The Sacred Bridge, The Quest, and the Carta Bible Atlas. A 13-volume set is also available.

Mark Wilson’s Seven Churches Network website has been greatly updated, including many of his published articles.

Ferrell Jenkins has posted a series this week showing photos of rolling stones from the Tomb of the Kings, the Herodian family tomb, Hesban, and Khirbet Midras.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Paleojudaica

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