The Holy Fire ceremony was celebrated in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher today.

It snowed on Mount Hermon this morning. The annual precipitation in Israel this year is close to average.

Hershel Shanks is a guest on The Book and the Spade talking with Gordon Govier about 40 years of publishing Biblical Archaeology Review.

Leen Ritmeyer is interviewed on the Voice of Israel about his involvement in the archaeology of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

The Mujib Biosphere Reserve (biblical Nahal Arnon) is open for another adventure season.

Wayne Stiles provides a spiritual lesson from the skeleton that today stands on ancient Gibeah.

New Bible atlas: The Historical and Geographical Maps of Israel and Surrounding Territories, by
Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, with $10 off the $89 price through April 30.

We’re sharing our favorite 12 sites in Galilee on Facebook and @BiblePlaces.

HT: Steven Anderson

Holy fire ceremony from dome, mat14517
The Holy Fire ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Photo from The American Colony Collection, ca. 1941

The largest treasure of gold coins ever found in Israel was recently discovered in the harbor of Caesarea. Most of the coins date to the Fatimid period (ca. AD 1000). There’s a close-up of a well-preserved coin here. Seven high-res images are available here.

The Jerusalem Post has photos and a video of the recent snowfall in Israel. Record snowfall was recorded in Istanbul, and the snow was heavy in Lebanon and Jordan. Yahoo has more photos of Jerusalem here. And Shmuel Browns has some photos from his neighborhood in the German Colony.
Leen Ritmeyer suggests that some paving stones on the Temple Mount pre-date the Roman destruction.

The next stop for the Passages exhibit is the happy town of Santa Clarita, California.

Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are coming to the California Science Center next month, along with the Jerusalem IMAX movie.

Ever wanted to volunteer in Israel? Wayne Stiles suggests 15 volunteering opportunities.

James Pritchard’s HarperCollins Atlas of Bible History is not the best atlas out there, but it’s currently only $3.99 for Kindle. As one reviewer notes, the text may be more useful on the screen than the maps.

This week on the Book and the Spade: Herod’s palaces and ancient olive oil, with Clyde Billington.

Ferrell Jenkins explains how Pilate used coins to promote the emperor cult.

Codex Vaticanus is now online.

Aren Maeir’s recent lecture at GVSU is now posted on Youtube.

Eric Cline will be lecturing at the Oriental Institute in Chicago next week.

Gabriel Barkay, Zachi Dvira, and others involved in the Temple Mount Sifting Operation are coming on a fundraising tour in April and May. Check out their blog to learn how you can arrange talks or dinners with them.

The Islamic State is reportedly looting ancient sites “on an industrial scale.” Some people are trying to stop it.

HT: Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle, Jock Stender

Gold coins discovered in Caesarea harbor
Photo copyright: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

A new “Rosetta Stone” has been discovered near Alexandria, with the text written in hieroglyphics and demotic script.

One hundred prehistoric cultic sites have been studied in the Eilat Mountains. The academic article on which the news story is based is available on academia.edu. And there are more photos here.

Roman-period mosaics have been discovered in an illicit excavation near Kerkenes, Turkey.

An unlooted Mycenean tomb has been excavated in central Greece from about 1200 BC.

The air pollution (aka “dust”) in Israel and the Middle East was extremely high this past week. Daily
Mail has some amazing photos and Exploring Bible Lands cites a relevant verse. Carl Rasmussen explains the positive effect.

The dust storm was followed by a snow/rain storm (with video). This storm exposed a large Byzantine storage jar on the beach of Yavne-Yam (with photo).

Since you’re reading this, you’re already familiar with one of the 5 Holy Land Blogs You Should Follow, by Wayne Stiles, but you may not be aware of all of the other ones.

Ferrell Jenkins is taking a closer look at Herod’s temples, beginning with the one at Caesarea Philippi (or better, Omrit?) and continuing with Caesarea on the Sea. Both posts are well illustrated.

The New York Times reports on questions about the origins of tablets from the Jewish exiles in Babylon now on display in Jerusalem.

An article in The Jewish Week describes some of what George Blumenthal has done to bring the world of biblical archaeology closer to all of us.

Which popular movies were filmed in Israel? Which ones were not? Those in the former category include “Exodus” and “Schindler’s List.” A longer list is available in this premium article at Haaretz.

Flames of Rome, by Paul L. Maier, is on sale for Kindle now for $1.99. This covers the period after Pontius Pilate and is also recommended if you like historical fiction from biblical times.

Just published: Robert Alter’s Strong As Death Is Love: The Song of Songs, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Daniel.

#5 on our list of Jerusalem favorites is Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The top four are coming on Monday on Twitter and Facebook.

HT: Jay Baggett, Charles Savelle, Agade, Joseph Lauer


Leen Ritmeyer explains why the Western Wall of the Temple Mount was not destroyed by an earthquake, and he follows up a reader’s question to prove it with photos.

Snow fell in Israel this week. Arutz-7 has photos.

The story going around this week on the location of Jesus’ trial being excavated is not new. We’ve been posting on it here under the less sensational title of the Kishle excavations. We agree that this is the area of Herod’s palace, and that this is where Jesus’ trial occurred. George Athas explains further.

I’m on the Book and the Spade this week, talking with Gordon Govier about the top 10 biblical archaeology discoveries of 2014.

Many eastern Christians visited the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism on January 6.

New book: Biblical Lachish: A Tale of Construction, Destruction, Excavation and Restoration, by

David Ussishkin. I see a few mentions online with a 2014 date, but it’s not clear if the English edition is actually available. (I’ll have to remove Lachish from my pending post on “Whatever Happened to

Popular Books on Archaeological Excavations?”) UPDATE: BAS has the book in stock.

The Bible and Interpretation features an excerpt from Eric H. Cline’s book, 1177 BC: The Year 
Civilization Collapsed, explaining the power vacuum that allowed Israelite and Philistine settlement.

Tourism to Israel dropped after the summer events.

Turkey has nominated Ephesus for the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Scott Stripling summarizes the recent winter excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir (biblical Ai?).

Wayne Stiles is hosting an informal gathering on What It’s Like to Travel to Israel next weekend.
ASOR has listed its Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014.

Walking with Paul, a Lands of the Bible wall calendar, is now available for 50% off. Several of our photos are featured.

Ephesus Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates, tb041405300
Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates at Ephesus
Photo from
Pictorial Library of Bible Lands

Bryant Wood made the case that Khirbet el-Maqatir is biblical Ai in a lecture he gave at the recent symposium held at Houston Baptist University.

Biblical Archaeology Review has posted online the documentation for this month’s cover story,

“Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible.” This is a valuable resource, and more easily accessible than the author’s monograph.

An alabaster statue of a New Kingdom princess has been discovered in excavations near Luxor. The 6-foot statue was once part of a 56-foot-tall statue that guarded the entrance to a temple.

“Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province is ‘a global museum of antiquities,’ dotted with hundreds of unexcavated ancient cities whose archeological treasures could rival those of the great Sumerian capital of Ur, experts say.”

BibleX points to an article on the time and cost of Paul’s missionary journeys.

Israel experienced a very bad dust storm earlier this week, resulting in the closure of a number of the country’s airports.

Mark Hoffman explains how to make a custom Bible map using Accordance as well as other options.

The ASOR Archaeology Weekly Roundup links to stories about Pompeii, the Apostle Philip, and more.

I’m on this week’s edition of The Book and the Spade with Gordon Govier, discussing the upcoming summer excavations in Israel. (Here’s a direct link.)

Luke Chandler invites you to join him on a tour of Israel. At $3,300, it is one of the most affordable trips I know of.

Wayne Stiles flew out to Israel yesterday and will be blogging about his trip daily. He also will be posting new pictures on his Instagram feed. I’m heading over as well, but I don’t expect to have much time to write on this blog while I am away.

HT: Jack Sasson


The recent snowstorm killed six animals in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.

Shmuel Browns shows what it’s like to guide in the Jerusalem snow.

Ferrell Jenkins notes that his favorite single-volume Bible dictionary is now on sale for Kindle for $4.99.

Biblical Archaeology Society is offering a new free eBook: Life in the Ancient World.

Christopher Rollston has published a preliminary report on the Ninth-Century “Moabite Pedestal 
Inscription” from Ataroth.

Aren Maeir gives his viewpoint on the ASOR Blog of how archaeologists should use the Bible. (I would argue that it is precisely the approach that he advocates that leads to the mess that biblical
archaeology is in.)

Princeton University Press is giving away 5 copies of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World app this weekend (iPad only).

HT: Jack Sasson, Charles Savelle