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Archaeologists discovered a stone anchor in an underwater dig at Tel Dor.

Archaeologists have announced the discovery of 150 clay sealings from a Neolithic site in the Beth Shean Valley.

The Israeli team excavating el-Araj (Bethsaida?) signed a collaboration agreement with an Italian university for the exchange of researchers and students.

Five suspects were arrested after they were caught carrying out an illegal excavation in Galilee.

“Israel has opened its first underwater national park at the ancient port city of Caesarea, where divers can tour the 2,000-year-old remains of what was once a major complex extending into the sea.”

Israel will begin allowing individual tourists to arrive on July 1.

Jodi Magness discussed toilet issues at Qumran in a recent lecture.

The June issue of Near Eastern Archaeology includes a study from Gath on bone projectiles.

The three-day “Caesarea Maritima Conference” will begin on June 13 at 3:15 pm and continue through June 15 at 9:00 pm (Israel Time).

Eilat Mazar will be honored on July 1 with an evening of lectures by Amihai Mazar, Gabriel Barkay, Yitzhak Dvira, and Reut Ben Aryeh (in Hebrew).

“The years of archaeological excavations Israel has conducted at the Temple Mount have yielded no proof that the Temple ever existed in Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Monday evening.”

Bryan Windle has put together a very impressive list of “Top Ten Discoveries Related to David.”

Israel’s Good Name spent a day on Mount Hermon after it snowed.

New: Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple, 4th edition, edited by John Merrill and Hershel Shanks.

If you get Wayne Stiles and me in a room together, we’ll end up talking about the top 10 discoveries in Israel’s archaeology.

HT: Agade, Arne Halbakken, Ted Weis, Explorator, Charles Savelle, Paleojudaica

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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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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

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In a recent roundup I criticized Haaretz for writing a dishonest headline, and I chose not to include a link to the story. The headline was “A Chance Discovery Changes Everything We Know About Biblical Israel.” Because time was short, and because Haaretz was making it difficult at the time to access the article, I did not read it.

I have read it now, and I believe that Haaretz did a grave disservice to Erez Ben-Yosef in their headline. Though my assumption was that this story was mere clickbait, what Ben-Yosef writes is quite important.

At the heart of Ben-Yosef’s argument is that archaeology is often used to answer questions that it cannot answer. The foundation of his argument comes from his work at Timna as well as analysis of the comparable mines at Faynan in Jordan. Here’s one quotation:

We know about the existence of a strong nomadic kingdom in the Arava solely because of its copper production; if the economy of the nomadic tribes of the Kingdom of Edom had been based only on commerce and agriculture, archaeologists would probably have reconstructed an “occupation gap” in the Arava region.

You have several options in what to read, should the issue of “archaeological invisibility” be of interest to you. (I’m particularly interested in it with regard to the Israelites in the time of Merneptah, but that is not addressed here.) There is the popular-level Haaretz article which Ben-Yosef wrote himself. That is based on his article in Vetus Testamentum, “The Architectural Bias in Current Biblical Archaeology,” which is available on Academia. A three-page version is published in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (also available on Academia).

As noted before, Israel Finkelstein wrote a response on  Facebook. And Ben-Yosef posted a response on Facebook and Academia, concluding thusly:

In other words, while assertions such as that Genesis 36 depicts a 6th century BCE reality or that David’s activities in Edom reflect an 8th century reality might be based on valid arguments, archaeology cannot be one of these arguments. It is often the case that when convenient, biblical archaeologists from the minimalist school resort to biblical criticism, and when less so, to archaeology (mostly to “absence of evidence”). However, one cannot have one’s cake and eat it too.

Those keeping score at home might be most surprised when they realize that this argument is being made by a professor at Tel Aviv University.

HT: Joseph Lauer

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I am personally very interested in Jerusalem in the Old Testament period (aka First Temple period), so I’m going to indulge myself by writing yet again on a third article (of four total) from that era in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Archaeological Discoveries, 1998-2018. This article is also by Eilat Mazar, and it is entitled “The Royal Quarter Built by King Solomon in the Ophel of Jerusalem in Light of Recent Excavations (2009-2013).”

As before, I am handicapped by not being able to show you the diagrams and archaeological photos in the article. There really are some spectacular views, without overgrown weeds, faded placards, or some tourist who just won’t move out of your way! But my goal in these brief summaries is to give you a sense for what they’ve found, along with a pointer to where you can read more.

Let’s start with a definition: the Ophel, according to this article, is the area between the City of David (to the south) and the Temple Mount (to the north). I’m not so sure that this is how the Bible uses the term (cf. 2 Chr 27:3; 33:14; Neh 3:26-27; 11:21), but that’s how it is used here. If you want to see these discoveries in person, you need to go to the “Southern Temple Mount Excavations,” later renamed the “Jerusalem Archaeological Park” (as if there is only one), and marked by the Davidson Center near the entrance.

This article focuses on Mazar’s work on the southern end of the excavation area (just north of the modern road that takes buses to the Western Wall). Here she found some monumental architecture which she dates to the time of Solomon. In fact, four of the five buildings date to the time of Solomon, with the fifth from the time of David. She writes, “One gets the impression that the construction of buildings in the Ophel ended during the third quarter of the 10th century BCE.”

Building I she identifies as “the Far House,” proposing that it served King David and his allies when he fled from Absalom (2 Sam 15:17). The NASB translation reads, “The king went out and all the people with him, and they stopped at the last house.” Mazar writes, “The features of bayt ha-merhaq [the far house] as described in the Bible match in date and location those of the early structure in the Ophel and it is possible that they are the same building.” I think I would have more confidence in that conclusion if we had other buildings from this time period to compare it with (and thereby determine that this in fact was the “farthest” one), but we don’t.

Building II was a fortress-tower even further than the “far house,” but she dates it to a few decades later. She estimates its size at 50 by 40 feet, though much of the structure has not yet been uncovered.

But she thinks it fits with a description in Nehemiah 3:27 of “the great projecting tower.”

Building III is the gatehouse and casemate wall. Other archaeologists aren’t so sure that this was a gatehouse (only a portion of the structure was preserved), but if it is, this is the only known gatehouse from Jerusalem prior to the “Middle Building” mentioned in the Babylonian conquest description of Jeremiah 39.

Building IV is the “Straight Wall” and it has a length of more than 100 feet, with a width of 8 feet.

Nehemiah mentions a portion of the wall that is called “straight” (Neh 3:25), and Mazar believes that she has found it.

Building V is the casemate wall, also built during the time of Solomon, as one of the elements in “the wall of Jerusalem” (1 Kgs 3:1). So Mazar has found this as well.

This is all truly fascinating, especially given the almost complete lack of material elsewhere in Jerusalem from the time of David and Solomon. My advice, though, to someone who has identified so much is to stop digging before you run out of biblical names to associate with your discoveries.

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Peter Feinman summarizes some papers on the subject of the 10th century BC given at the recent ASOR conference.

Andrea Nicolotti looks for archaeological evidence for the scourging of Jesus.

“Italy’s highest court ruled that a 2000-year-old bronze statue, known as ‘Victorious Youth,’ should be returned to that country by the Getty Villa.”

A well-illustrated BBC feature explains how ISIS’s destruction of a mosque revealed an Assyrian palace.

I am very happy that Wipf and Stock has re-published David Dorsey’s The Roads and Highways of Ancient Israel. For too long, you could only find used copies of this excellent resource for $200 and up.

Lois Tverberg’s excellent Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus is on sale with bigger discounts if you order 2-4 copies.

Everything at Eisenbrauns is 30% off with coupon EEOY18.

Bible Land Passages has now released 10 episodes that connect the biblical stories to the biblical world, using historical, geographical, and archaeological data. The episodes are available for free online as well as for purchase on DVD. The latest episode is entitled “Khirbet Qeiyafa: Witness to David’s Kingdom.” Episode 11, “The Power of Jesus in Galilee,” will be released next month.

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

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