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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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A new project aims to restore five ancient theaters in central Greece, including Nicopolis and Dodona, in order to increase tourism to the sites.

An article in Daily Sabah discusses the contribution of Çatalhöyük, Alacahöyük, and Kültepe to Anatolian and Mesopotamian history.

Live Science has more about the amphitheater recently discovered in western Turkey.

Carl Rasmussen shares photos of the theater at Miletus and its inscription mentioning “the place for the Jews and the God-worshipers.”

Gardens of the Roman Empire “is the first complete and authoritative online scholarly corpus of all the gardens attested in the Roman Empire.”

On the British Museum blog, Francesca Bologna considers what we really know about the life and reign of Nero.

Some Syrian refugees are finding shelter in archaeological ruins.

The961 highlights 21 interesting Phoenician artifacts on display at the British Museum.

Ariane Thomas discusses the life of a curator at the Louvre on the Thin End of the Wed podcast.

Zoom lecture on April 27: “What Makes a Great Invention? The Invention of the Alphabet in the Sinai Desert C. 1840 BCE,” by Orly Goldwasser.

Zoom lectures on April 29: “Food in the Ancient Near East,” with Cynthia Shafer-Elliott and Rosaura Cauchi.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Arne Halbakken, Explorator

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Tutku Educational Travel has a number of terrific tours planned in the latter half of 2021 and on through 2022. I’ve traveled with Tutku several times in the past, and my university is a regular partner with them for our student tours, and so I like to recommend them to others looking for great tours with the best instructors. You can get the full run-down of upcoming trips on the Tutku website, but I wanted to recommend and highlight six in particular:

Open to all:

For faculty and pastors (with discount):

You can see the full list of biblical tours here.

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