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“Researchers in Saudi Arabia have discovered a sixth-century B.C.E. rock carving of the last Babylonian king, Nabonidus” along with a lengthy cuneiform inscription.

“Beneath the murky waves of the Venice Lagoon, researchers have discovered the remains of an ancient Roman road and other possible port facilities, like a dock, that may predate the founding of the Italian city.”

“A spectacular ancient mosaic floor that was part of a building from the Hellenistic period is among the important finds from excavations carried out recently at Fabrika Hill in Kato Paphos, Cyprus.” The photo is apparently not of the newly discovered mosaic.

NPR has a story on what lies below ground in Istanbul.

“Work has begun to refurbish the old Acropolis Museum near the iconic Parthenon temple and turn it into an exhibition space.”

“Held annually on [Turkey’s] Aegean coast, the Selcuk camel-wrestling festival is part of a nomadic legacy rooted in ancient Turkic tribes.”

“Between the years 193 – 235, the Roman Empire was ruled by a series of emperors who were originally Phoenicians.”

The new director of Michigan State University’s excavations at Isthmia has developed a new website to share both old and new research with the public. The website is here.

The US government has seized the Museum of the Bible’s Gilgamesh Tablet, declaring that it was illegally deported from Iraq.

Death by stoning is not so common these days, especially in the United States. But that’s how a gunman in Texas recently died.

Zoom lecture on August 29: “From Standing Stones to Sacred Emptiness: Textual and Visual Portrayals of Israel’s God,” by Theodore Lewis.

University College London and King’s College London are co-hosting an eLecture series in August, entitled Ancient Near Eastern Languages in Contact (ANELC). The first eLecture will take place on Wednesday 4 August from 16:00 until 17:00 BST (London), when Dr. Ohad Cohen of the University of Haifa will be speaking on “The Canaanite Melting Pot – The Theoretical Implications of ‘Languages in Contact’ to the Understanding of Late Biblical Hebrew.”

New release: The City of Babylon: A History, c. 2000 BC – AD 116, by Stephanie Dalley

HT: Agade, Arne Halbakken, Wayne Stiles, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Explorator, Mark Hoffman, Roger Schmidgall, Paleojudaica

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Notice to email subscribers: our previous service (feedburner) is shutting down, and we have migrated all existing subscribers to the follow.it service. You do not need to do anything to continue your subscription, but if you wish to modify it or take advantage of some new features, you now have more options.

A BBC Travel special reveals the scientific explanation to the deadly gases of the Ploutonion at Hierapolis. The story includes beautiful photos.

Excavations are underway at Claros, site of an ancient oracle in western Turkey.

After several years of restoration, the warren of corridors beneath the Colosseum floor has been opened to the public.

My Modern Met tells the story of a massive scale model of Rome that took about 35 years to build. Unfortunately, the Museum of Roman Civilization where it is housed has been closed for many years.

Caroline Wazer summarizes a recent study about slave collars in ancient Rome.

Brent Nongbri has written a guide to bookshops in Rome in the first century.

Greece has announced plans for five new or upgraded museums in Chios, Trikala, Sparta, Thyrreio and Ermioni.

A registry of all archaeological sites in Greece is now available online.

“Russia has begun a project to rehabilitate Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra in its latest efforts to gain a foothold in the country’s vital sectors.”

A CNN video documents the restoration of antiquities destroyed in the Beirut port blast.

“Egyptian police on Thursday arrested a former lawmaker and 17 other suspects on charges of illegal excavation and smuggling of 201 Pharaonic, Greek and Roman artifacts.”

Two people died while illegally excavating near the Giza pyramids.

Episode 1 of Ancient Lives on the Nile premieres on YouTube on July 9 at 5:00 pm Eastern.

Michele Cammarosano and Katja Weirauch explain the value and use of wax boards in the ancient Near East.

“The Painters of Pompeii” is an exhibit of 80 artifacts and artworks shown exclusively by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art from June 26 to October 17.

I found Bryan Windle’s interview of Mark Wilson to be very interesting and helpful.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, Arne Halbakken, Ferrell Jenkins, Gordon Franz, Charles Savelle, Alexander Schick, Explorator, Paleojudaica, Chris McKinny

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“Archaeologists believe that a 2,300-year-old jar from Ancient Greece containing the bones of a dismembered chicken was likely used as part of a curse to paralyze and kill 55 people in Athens.”

“A multinational team of archaeologists and scientists is reassessing the history of sea-level change in the Eastern Mediterranean based on underwater excavation and photogrammetry at sites on Israel’s Carmel coast.”

“An Egyptian archaeological mission is preparing to launch an excavation project in Saudi Arabia after several discoveries showed that ancient Egyptian King Ramses III had a presence in the Arabian Peninsula.”

Turkish Archaeological News has a roundup of stories from the month of May.

“The Covid-19 pandemic, however, has offered these thieves new opportunities to raid closed archeological sites, churches and museums [in Italy] for priceless artifacts while police are reassigned to enforce lockdowns.”

First discovered in 2015, a cache of Roman coins dating from 200 BCE to 27 BCE are now on display at the Santa Maria della Scala Museum in Siena, Italy.

A replica of Noah’s Ark has been deemed unseaworthy and is prohibited from leaving port.

Charles Aling is on The Book and the Spade discussing “Post-Exodus Disruptions in Egypt.”

Carl Rasmussen shares photos from “The Grotto of Paul” at Ephesus, including ancient paintings of Paul and Thecla.

If you’ll be at the Infusion Bible Conference this week, stop by the BiblePlaces table and say hi to Kris Udd and me. I haven’t had a chance to meet many roundup readers this past year, but our team has used the time to create some great new photo collections.

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

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“A more than 4,000-year-old artificial mound in Syria may be the world’s earliest known war memorial.”

Hobby Lobby is suing former Oxford University professor Dirk Obbink to recover $7 million it paid him for artifacts that he allegedly stole.

A Smithsonian photographer joined a family following the ancient migration path across the Zagros Mountains in western Iran.

Certain artifacts to be loaned by the National Museum of Iran for the “Epic Iran” exhibit in London never arrived.

Portable X-ray fluorescence analysis is a rapid, inexpensive technique that may allow researchers to understand the archaeological record of a site without excavating. The underlying journal article is here.

Zoom lecture on June 9: “Warfare and Mercenary Forces in the Age of Amorites,” by Aaron Burke

International Conference (online) on June 8-10: Multifaceted Edom. Recent Research on Southern Transjordan in the Iron Age from an Archaeological and Cultural-Historical Perspective

As part of the Noah Symposium held at the University of Sirnak, Timo Roller spoke on the history of pilgrimage to Cudi Dagh, a possible landing place of Noah’s Ark. Roller has a couple of posts about the symposium (in German).

Orbis is a useful tool for exploring the Roman world, including determining travel times in 14 different modes in the New Testament era.

Carl Rasmussen shares photos of Cenchrea, a port of Corinth, as well as a very unusual find of glass panels depicting the harbor.

Bryan Windle reviews the latest edition of Mark Wilson’s Biblical Turkey. He also reveals why you may not (yet) want to get rid of your previous edition.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Arne Halbakken, Steven Anderson, Charles Savelle

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If you’re interested in becoming immersed in the first-century Roman world in an entertaining work of historical fiction, I recommend you pick up A Rooster for Asklepios, by Christopher D. Stanley. I found the book to be the perfect combination of instruction and pleasure, and it pulled together for me so many details I have learned in classes, research, and travel.

As a scholar whose expertise is in the social and religious history of the Greco-Roman world, Professor Stanley knows well the background of the New Testament world. My common sentiment as I read was gratitude—gratitude for the author’s careful research and his ability to weave a fascinating story. Sometimes his descriptions confirmed what I knew, but he usually delved much more deeply than I ever have, and I thoroughly enjoyed soaking it in.

A Rooster for Asklepios: A Slave's Story, Book 1 - Kindle edition by  Stanley, Christopher D.. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

The story follows a master and his slave as they travel from their home in Pisidian Antioch to seek healing from the god Asklepios in Pergamum. The story always kept moving, and yet at the same time, I felt that the author was sneaking in some fascinating historical details on nearly every page. I constantly marveled at how much first-century ground he covered, and I wonder how much could be left for his second and third works of the trilogy.

Without giving away the storyline, here’s a taste of what you’ll experience:

  • How slaves were variously treated by their masters
  • The life of an aristocratic household
  • The morning ritual at the household shrine
  • Daily prayers offered to the gods
  • A festival to the local god Men Askaenos
  • The manumission of a slave woman
  • Class distinctions between slaves, freedmen, and aristocrats
  • Commerce in the marketplace
  • A visit to the Asklepion
  • The nature of patron-client relationships
  • The disdain for a strange new sect related to a certain Paulos
  • The way in which Jews navigated life in a Roman world
  • Food and dining customs
  • A wedding
  • Political maneuvering among city officials
  • Regular visits to a Roman bathhouse
  • Doctors, medicines, and medical treatment
  • Dress
  • Sacrificial practices
  • Athletic contests
  • Common names in the Roman world
  • Jewish proselytes, God-fearers, and the synagogue

Certain subjects were familiar to me, but they struck home in new ways. For instance, when you’re immersed in the life of a couple of Gentile characters, their point of view about how the “Jews undermine the unity of the city” made more sense than it ever had before. Because I usually come at matters from a Jewish or Christian perspective, I have failed to appreciate how distinctly odd Jews and Christians were in pagan cities.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the Roman world in which Paul traveled and the early church grew. The book only lightly touches on the nascent Christian movement, but you’ll understand the New Testament better if you experience its world. Once again, this journey was so greatly enhanced by my confidence in the author’s decades of research on the social world of Greco-Roman antiquity and his “obsessive concern for accuracy.” 

Because the book is set in modern-day Turkey, I think that those who have traveled to these places would especially enjoy it. I would be happy recommending or requiring this for a group traveling to Turkey, Greece, or Rome as well as for courses in the New Testament, early Judaism, and the Greco-Roman world.

I have already recommended this to my college students, and I think it could be enjoyed as a family with older children, though I would note that the book does include a smattering of coarse language, largely related to the main character’s bowel disorder.

You can learn more about the book and the trilogy at the website, www.aslavesstory.com, as well as on the Facebook page. The book is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle, and it was just released last week on Audible.

I am looking forward this summer to reading the second book, A Bull for Pluto. But I would note, for those perhaps unwilling to commit to a trilogy, that the first book can be read with great enjoyment all by itself.

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“One Place, Many Stories: Madaba” combines 3D models of the archaeological parks, audio and video tours, along with storytelling from local community members.

Győző Vörös has received an award from the Vatican for his archaeological work at Machaerus.

Cyprus is planning to build a marine archaeological park at the ancient port of Amathus.

Jiří Janák provides “new insight into Akhenaten’s motivations by analysing theological, cultic and iconographic changes within his religious-political reform.

Archaeologists at Northern Arizona University are using computers to quickly sort pottery sherds by type.

The British Epigraphic Society is hosting a series of digital “Epigraphic Conversations.” Next up: “Why were inscriptions reused or inscribed,” on May 28, with hosts Muriel Moser-Gerber and Aaron Schmitt.

Zoom lecture on May 28: The Sixteenth Annual Roger Moorey Lecture at the Ashmolean: “Round objects at Persepolis: Common and Uncommon Threads,” by Michael Roaf.

Zoom lecture on June 8: “Pasargadae and Persepolis Revisited: The Extended Achaemenid Cities beyond the Royal Palaces,” by Rémy Boucharlat.

This September Wayne Stiles is leading a tour of Greece, Patmos, Ephesus, and Crete with a post-tour visit to Rome and Pompeii.

HT: Agade, Arne Halbakken, Charles Savelle

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