Online Lecture on the Identification of Libnah and Ether

by Chris McKinny

Today at 12 PM Central Time (my time zone and a little more than two hours from now) – I will be lecturing on the historical geography of Libnah and Ether. This will be continuing the series of online lectures that our project has been presenting on in the absence of an archaeological excavation season.

As readers of this blog might already know – Libnah is likely to be identified with Tel Burna – a site that our project has been exploring for ten seasons.

This fall – we hope to investigate Khirbet ʿAter – a nearby site that is commonly identified with the biblical site of Ether (e.g., Josh 15:42). In this lecture – I will discuss the various reasons why Tel Burna and Khirbet ʿAter should be identified with Libnah and Ether respectively. I will also discuss our initial impressions of the archaeological remains of Khirbet ʿAter and our future plans.

Here are the details:

Chris McKinny: “In the Shephelah… Libnah, Ether (Josh 15:42)” The Historical Geography of Libnah and Ether (click for recorded video)

Tel Burna (Libnah) foreground with surrounding towns
Map of the slain kings of Joshua 12 – readers of the blog might remember an earlier post on this subject
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Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Restoration of the ancient theater and stadium of Aizanoi in western Turkey has begun.

The ships and boats from Thonis-Heracleion have much to say about how Egyptian shipwrights of the Late and early Ptolemaic periods built their vessels, as well as the range of decisions that were made when they reached the end of their working lives on the waters of the Nile.”

Among those arrested in an investigation of trafficking of looted antiquities is a retired curator from the Louvre.

Facebook has announced it will remove content that seeks to sell any and all historical artifacts.

Now online: the first installment of the publication project on the records of the Pennsylvania excavations at Nippur 1889-1900 in searchable digital form (pdf).

“During the Early Iron Age, people dwelled among the ruins of the palace at Knossos in what we may refer to as a ‘landscape of memory’, one imbued with the collective memories of a bygone era.”

“Egyptian archaeologists are taking advantage of the global anti-racism movement to renew their calls on the French government to remove a statue of Jean-François Champollion, kneeling on the head of a Pharaonic king.”

Recent fires at Susa and Ecbatana in Iran apparently caused no damage.

Zoom lecture: The Discovery: 1000-Year-Old Bible Refound in Cairo Synagogue, by Yoram Meital, June 28 at 8:00pm Cairo time. To register, email dropofmilkegypt@gmail.com.

Carl Rasmussen shares more about Aphrodisias, including The Theater and Its Artifacts and Jews, Proselytes, and God-Fearers at Aphrodisias.

Note: there will be no roundups the next two weekends.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Mark Hoffman, Alexander Schick, Explorator

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Just as the Biblical Museum of Natural History was about to open in Beit Shemesh, “a plague of biblical proportions struck.” Virtual tours are available at the museum’s website. They are also offering a new book by the museum’s director, The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom, Vol. 1: Wild Animals.

The Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian Holy Sites 1917-2020 CE: White Paper, by the The Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought (108pp). The labeled photograph of the Temple Mount on page 81 may be of particular interest.

New from Appian: An 80-page study guide to accompany “Lessons from the Land: The Gospels.”

“In Search of King David’s Lost Empire” is a long piece by Ruth Margalit that reviews the history of the maximalist-minimalist debate. Some responses by Eilat Mazar, Gabriel Barkay and others may be found here.

Assyrian soldiers had the edge with the invention of the socketed arrowhead. The underlying IEJ article is on Academia.

An article in the Jerusalem Post summarizes a recent BAR article on life at Tel Hadid near Gezer after the Assyrians deported the Israelites.

Israel should preserve more archaeological sites uncovered in salvage digs, argue some archaeologists. The article reports that there are 35,000 ancient sites in the country.

Tony Cartledge describes his experience in excavating a 12th-century Canaanite temple at Lachish, including his wife’s discovery of what turned out to be a scepter.

Charles Savelle links to three podcast episodes he has enjoyed on Thutmose III and the Battle of Megiddo.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Mark Hoffman, Alexander Schick, Explorator

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Conference: The NT in Archaeology and Ancient Judaism

One of the advantages of the present crisis is that conferences that you probably would not be able to fly to are now easy to watch from home. And some of them are free, including one this weekend.

This one is hosted by “Windows into the Bible University” and it’s a virtual conference on “The New Testament in Archaeology and Ancient Judaism.” Registration is free but required.

Here is the schedule, with all times Eastern:

Saturday, June 27

10:00 am: Marc Turnage, “The Son of David: Solomon, Healing, Exorcism, and Jesus”

11:30 am: Archie Wright, “The Development of Satan in the Second Temple Period and the New Testament”

12:45 pm: Mark Nanos, “How to Read Paul and His Letters Within Judaism”

​3:00 pm: Mordechai Aviam, “On Disciples and Pottery: Excavating el-Araj and the Identification of Bethsaida”

4:30 pm: Round Table Discussion, “Reading the New Testament In Light of Ancient Judaism,” with Marc Turnage, R. Steven Notley, Archie Wright and Jeffrey Garcia

Sunday, June 28

2:00 pm: R. Steven Notley, “Reading the Gospel Parables as Jewish Literature”

3:30 pm: Jeffrey Garcia, “Crossing the Streams: John, Jesus and the Rabbis on Charity and Deeds of Lovingkindness”

4:45 pm: Marc Turnage, “The Kingdom of Heaven: Politics and Redemption in Ancient Judaism”

For more details and to register, go here.

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New Books for July Reading

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

Eisenbrauns is about to release, or has just released, two new books. They arrive just in time to add to your July reading list, if you are so inclined.

The first book is a collection of essays published upon the retirement last year of James K. Hoffmeier. Hoffmeier was Professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. “An Excellent Fortress for His Armies, a Refuge for the People”: Egyptological, Archaeological, and Biblical Studies in Honor of James K. Hoffmeier is edited by Richard E. Averbeck and K. Lawson Younger Jr. I believe the photograph on the cover may have been excavated from our own BiblePlaces.com’s archives. It shows the Jebel Barkal stela of Thutmose III. (Daniel Wright had a little fun with the cover design on Facebook.) Below is the table of contents. I see several interesting essays that I look forward to reading.

Chap. 1. The Tests of a Prophet (Richard E. Averbeck)

Chap. 2. Fishing for Fissures: The Literary Unity of the Kadesh Poem of Ramesses II and Its Implications for the Diachronic Study of the Hebrew Bible (Joshua Berman)

Chap. 3. Food for the Forces: An Investigation of Military Subsistence Strategies in New Kingdom Border Regions (Louise Bertini and Salima Ikram)

Chap. 4. Left Behind: New Kingdom Specialists at the End of Egyptian Empire and the Emergence of Israelite Scribalism (Aaron A. Burke)

Chap. 5. The Ficus Judaicus and the New Testament (Thomas W. Davis)

Chap. 6. Gifts of the Nile: Materials That Shaped the Early Egyptian Burial Tradition (Joanna Dębowska- Ludwin and Karolina Rosińska- Balik)

Chap. 7. Computer Analytics in Chronology Testing and Its Implications for the Date of the Exodus (David A. Falk)

Chap. 8. Uniting the World: Achaemenid Empire Lists and the Construction of Royal Ideology (Deirdre N. Fulton and Kaz Hayashi)

Chap. 9. Geophysical Research in Pelusium: On the Benefits of Using the Resistivity Profiling Method (Tomasz Herbich)

Chap. 10. The Genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 and Comparative Studies: Evidence for a Seam (Richard S. Hess)

Chap. 11. Sety I’s Military Relief at Karnak and the Eastern Gate of Egypt: A Brief Reassessment (Hesham M. Hussein)

Chap. 12. Maʿ at in the Amarna Period: Historiography, Egyptology, and the Reforms of Akhenaten (Mark D. Janzen)

Chap. 13. “I Have Made Every Person Like His Fellow” (Jens Bruun Kofoed)

Chap. 14. The Founding of the Temple in Ancient Egypt: Ritual and Symbolism (Ash Melika)

Chap. 15. Goliath’s Head Wound and the Edwin Smith Papyrus (Edmund S. Meltzer)

Chap. 16. Did the Patriarchs Meet Philistines? (Alan Millard)

Chap. 17. Writing Trauma: Ipuwer and the Curation of Cultural Memory (Ellen Morris)

Chap. 18. Old Kingdom Exotica at Pharaoh’s Court and Beyond: Dwarfs, Pygmies, Primates, Dogs, and Leopards (Gregory Mumford)

Chap. 19. Judges 10:11: A Memory of Merenptah’s Campaign in Transjordan (Steven Ortiz and S. Cameron Coyle)

Chap. 20. Digging for Data: A Practical Critique of Digital Archaeology (Miller C. Prosser)

Chap. 21. Debriefing Enemy Combatants in Ancient Egypt (Donald B. Redford)

Chap. 22. Israelite Origins (Gary A. Rendsburg)

Chap. 23. The Egyptian Background of the Joseph Story: Selected Issues Revisited (Nili Shupak)

Chap. 24. Mighty Bull Appearing in Napata: Memorialization and Adaptation of the Bronze Age into the Iron Age World of the Kushite, Twenty- fifth Dynasty of Egypt (Stuart Tyson Smith)

Chap. 25. Hosea 1–3 as the Key to the Literary Structure and Message of the Book (Eric J. Tully)

Chap. 26. The Egyptian Fortress Commander: A Career Check Based on Selected Middle and New Kingdom Examples (Carola Vogel)

Chap. 27. Mud- bricks as a Dating Tool in Egyptian Archaeology (Kei Yamamoto and Pearce Paul Creasman)

Chap. 28. The God ʾ El of Ramesses II’s Stela from Sheikh Saʿ d (the “Job Stone”) (K. Lawson Younger Jr.)


The second book coming from Eisenbrauns is New Directions in the Study of Ancient Geography, edited by Duane W. Roller. The table of contents did not give me a good indication for what to expect from this volume, but I was helped by the publisher’s description.

This volume brings together five essays that represent the latest directions in the study of geography in classical antiquity. Arranged chronologically, these contributions cover several centuries and cultures, ranging from ancient Mesopotamia to the Roman Empire and deal with topics such as ancient cosmology, literary interpretations of geography, ancient navigation, and geography in the Roman Imperial world.
Beginning in the ancient Near East, Paul T. Keyser’s essay considers how Greek scholars—whose views on the cosmos are still relevant today—were influenced by early Near Eastern beliefs about the universe.

Moving to the Hellenistic period, Duane W. Roller presents and provides commentary on a navigational guide for Ptolemaic seamen written by Ptolemy II’s chief of naval staff, Timosthenes of Rhodes. Georgia L. Irby provides an analysis of a literary map—the Shield of Aeneas from Vergil’s Aeneid—as well as a detailed study of Pomponius Mela and his Chorographia, the earliest surviving Greco-Roman geographical treatise and the only extant independent geographical work in Latin. An essay by Molly Ayn Jones-Lewis completes the volume by describing how Tacitus’s Germania, of the early second century AD, is a work heavily reliant on environmental determinism, an issue that is still relevant today.

Together, these essays demonstrate the great diversity of both ancient geographical writing and modern scholarship on ancient geography. This volume will be greeted with enthusiasm by ancient historians and classical studies scholars, particularly those interested in the cultural and political facets of geography.

I remember the good ol’ days when Eisenbrauns’ vision was to make more affordable for ANE student these kinds of specialized academic works. It seems we have to kiss those days goodbye. Both of these titles are listed for $99.95. You will find occasional opportunities, however, where the prices are discounted. On their Facebook page announcing the Hoffmeier Festschrift, Eisenbrauns invites people to “Sign up to find out when it publishes and receive 40% off!” I am not sure where or how you sign up.

HT: Mike Mason

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Weekend Roundup, Part 2

“A joint report by German and Syrian organisations has documented severe damage to Syria’s historical heritage and antiquities.” (Report on Academia)

“An ancient cave decorated with distinguished engravings depicting scenes of animals has been discovered at Wadi Al-Zulma in North Sinai.”

“The southern region of Najran [in Saudi Arabia] is set to become the largest open museum of rock inscriptions in the world.”

Egypt is proposing a merger of its tourism and antiquities departments.

“British anti-racism protestors called for the destruction of Egypt’s Giza Pyramids on Sunday, after tearing down a statue of a slave trader in the city of Bristol and throwing it in the Avon river.”

“A comparison between the names mentioned in the biblical book of Jeremiah and those appearing on archaeological artifacts from the period when the prophet is believed to have lived – around the sixth to seventh centuries BCE – offers support to its historicity.”

The British Museum blog: “Whip up a classical feast with nine recipes from ancient Greece and Rome.”

The latest British Museum travel guide is for Thebes in the 13th century BC.

New: Unearthing the Bible: 101 Archaeological Discoveries That Bring the Bible to Life, by Titus Kennedy. The author was on the Eric Metaxas show recently discussing the book.

Coming soon: The Case for Biblical Archaeology: Uncovering the Historical Record of God’s Old Testament People, by John D. Currid (also in Logos)

Carl Rasmussen shares photos of Aphrodisias, one of the most beautiful antiquity sites in Turkey and one that many tourists never see (including, sadly, your roundup writer).

“Windows into the Bible” is a new podcast by Marc Turnage that looks at geographical, cultural, historical, and spiritual contexts. I’ve been told the episode on Pilate is quite intriguing.

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

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

A sceptre about 3,200 years old made of copper and coated in silver leaf found in the biblical city of Lachish could be the first evidence of life-sized ‘divine statues’ in the Levant.”

Excavations of the underground Siloam Street have been (or were) halted after engineering instruments detected that the ground was moving.

Contrary to previous belief, chalkstone vessels continued to be used in the Galilee for several centuries after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.

“Israeli archaeologists have published a 360-degree analysis of a rural, affluent Christian town in the Galilee that was most likely destroyed by Persian invaders in 613.”

Analysis of bird remains excavated in Jerusalem confirmed that specific species of birds – pigeons, doves – were indeed sacrificed in the Temple as the biblical text suggests. The story is based on an article in the latest issue of BASOR.

Roman and Byzantine mosaic floors provide insights into how humans restrained animals by the use of cages, ropes, knots, other tethering devices.

“A large number of archaeological sites in the West Bank, including many that are part of Jewish history and tradition, will be placed or remain under Palestinian control according to US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.”

An Explainer piece by Rossella Tercatin in the Jerusalem Post reveals who is in control of the archaeological sites in the West Bank.

Why is the Israel Museum still closed?

Ferrell Jenkins shares some photos and insights about the Judean wilderness.

Daniel Santacruz shares a dozen photos of wildflowers he took near his home in Maale Adumim.

This week we released volume #20 in the Pictorial Library of the Bible Lands. The Western Mediterranean collection focuses on Roman sites in Gaul (France) and Hispania (Spain) and includes more than 1,400 photos and 25 PowerPoints. The sale price ($25) ends on Tuesday.

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

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Can’t Get Enough Rome? Then Try This…

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

Ancient Rome was a large and magnificent city, and while there are lots of impressive structures to be seen today, there are many ruins scattered around and under the modern city. The Atlas of Ancient Rome, quite an extraordinary work in its own right, takes up the task of illustrating the ancient city with plans, reconstructions, and other drawings. This two-volume set is a translation of an original Italian work edited by Andrea Carandini.

The first volume contains “Text and Images” and clocks in at 640 pages. The opening chapters include topics such as “The Natural Landscape” and “The Historical Landscape” and “Building Techniques.” These are followed by 14 chapters corresponding to the 14 Regiones of the ancient city. Each chapter covers the diachronic development of the city for that particular zone, so that, for example, you can without great difficulty focus your study specifically on Rome in the Age of Augustus or specifically on Flavian Rome. In volume one, you will also find a couple dozen beautiful and illuminating reconstruction drawings. I try to show off some of these reconstructions in the following video, and you can also view samples at the atlas’s dedicated webpage.

The atlas is not cheap. The publisher’s price is $200, and Amazon lists it for $169. Is it worth it? Volume one is quite impressive, but $169 is a stretch. My initial instinct was to set aside the second volume for later because it contains “Tables and Indexes.” I assumed “Tables and Indexes” would amount to lots of boring text giving statistics and other data. But when I cracked the cover on volume two, I realized that boy, had I got it wrong. Of the 464 pages, only about 45 page are black-and-white text. It turns out volume two is page after page after page of remarkable full-color plans, diagrams, and maps. Below is a short video in which I flip through some pages to give an idea of the content. You really have to hold it in your hands. After this, the price tag started to make more sense.

I am not a scholar of Rome, but I highly suspect that if your interest in the city goes deeper than the surface, then this two-volume set is a must-have. If you do not fit that description, then you will still probably want to encourage your library to get a copy.

Carandini, Andrea, ed.
2017 The Atlas of Ancient Rome. 2 vols. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Related sites:

YouTube video highlighting Atlas’s features, by Princeton University Press
Princeton University Press’s description of Atlas
Atlas’s dedicated webpage

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Weekend Roundup, Part 2

The completely buried Roman city of Falerii Novi has been mapped with radar technology.

An Egyptian archaeologist is using technology, including Google tools, to assist in the work of preserving and documenting her nation’s heritage.

A research study is using AI to analyze ancient feces and learning in the process of the relationship between humans and dogs.

Phillip J. Long provides a helpful review of a valuable up-to-date summary of the DSS and their relation to Qumran: Scribes and Scrolls at Qumran, by Sidnie White Crawford.

The final publication of Tall Zira’a, Volume 6, Hellenistic to Umayyad Period (Strata 8–3) is now available online as a free download.

‘Atiqot 99 (2020) is now online.

“Tutankhamun In Colour,” a BBC program featuring colorized photos from Howard Carter’s Egyptian explorations, will air on June 18.

Context Matters is a weekly podcast begun earlier this year and hosted by Cyndi Parker.

In a BBC audio presentation, Bridget Kendall explores ancient Babylon with four experts.

More than 1,000 color sides taken by Kenneth Russell have been added to the ACOR Photo Archive.

Carl Rasmussen shares a photo of an ancient papyrus attesting that a man had offered sacrifices to the gods—a way of proving that one was not a Christian.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is now offering “remote sifting.”

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

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Weekend Roundup, Part 1

The Jerusalem Post runs a story on the 2013 discovery of a winery at Jezreel. A scholarly article was published this year on the excavation in the Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies.

Analysis of pottery workshops in the Jerusalem area reveals changes brought about by the Roman destruction of the city in AD 70. The underlying journal article was recently published in BASOR.

In his latest “Discussions with the Diggers,” Bryan Windle interviews Robert Mullins, focusing on his current excavations of Abel Beth Maacah. (I read yesterday that Yadin in the 1950s would have preferred to excavate Abel instead of Hazor, but he was unable to because of the military situation.)

Virtual conference on June 15-16: On the Origin of the Pieces: The Provenance of the Dead Sea Scrolls

W. Raymond Johnson of the Oriental Institute gave a lecture this week on “Medinet Habu and Tell el-Amarna: Tales of Blocks and Towers.”

SBL Press has “unpublished” Burton MacDonald’s A History of Ancient Moab from the Ninth to First Centuries BCE after determining that it “does not adequately adhere to the expected standard of marking all direct quotations from other sources.” (If you want a copy, better grab one now. Or if you already purchased, you can send it back for a refund.)

New release: A Week in the Life of Ephesus, by David A. deSilva. I enjoy the way this series makes learning historican context enjoyable. (Also available in Logos.)

Kris Udd gave a one-day Seminar on Bible Chronology at his church a few months ago, and he has made the videos and print materials available for free download. I have benefitted from Dr. Udd’s excellent chronology materials for many years, and I am happy to see them made widely available.

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

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