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‘Atiqot 103 (2021), now online, includes articles about Iron Age pottery at Tel Eton, a fishpond at Illut, and Crusader remains at Acco.

Richard Elliott Friedman argues that Solomon’s temple was destroyed by the Edomites, not the Babylonians (Haaretz premium). An underlying journal article is available here.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen questions the standard identification of the Nahal Zered as Wadi al-Hasa.

Excavations are underway at Tel Burna (Days 1-2, Days 3-4).

A new study suggests that disruption of copper trade in the ancient Near East was not as severe as thought at the end of the Bronze Age.

The collection of 264 gold coins known as the Givati hoard were apparently minted as emergency coinage by Byzantine authorities in Jerusalem shortly before the Persian invasion in AD 614.

Archaeologists found remains of an Urartian castle dating to the 8th century BC in eastern Turkey.

A harpist has created a playable replica of the iconic Gold Lyre of Ur (25 min video).

Kyle Keimer and Chris McKinny conclude their podcast series on the Archaeology of Passion Week with part 2 and part 3. Accompanying visuals are available for each episode.

Zoom lecture on June 22, 11:30 am Eastern: Archaeological Sites of Iraqi Kurdistan as Tourism Destinations (Zoom link)

Zoom lecture on June 23: “What Recent Excavations Reveal About the Formation of Ancient Israel,” by James W. Hardin, Mississippi State University.

Zoom lecture on July 8, 12:00 pm Eastern: The Story of Tell Qasile: A Philistine Outpost in Northern Tel Aviv, by Amihai Mazar

The Bible Mapper Blog has posted some new maps, with downloadable high-res versions:

If you’ve ever wanted to go horseback riding on the Golan Heights, you can experience it through the report and photos of Israel’s Good Name.

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

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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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“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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Leen Ritmeyer has created a new 41-slide presentation on “Jerusalem in the Time of Nehemiah” that is now available through his webstore.

The Byzantine mosaic recently discovered in Yavne will be displayed outside the city’s cultural center.

David Hendin explains how the coins of Sepphoris provide a “fascinating historic portrait of the city.”

John DeLancey’s latest devotion from Israel is about 1 Samuel 17 and the battle of David and Goliath.

New on This Week in the Ancient Near East podcast: “The Strange Story of the Roman Era Half Lamp, or A Sconce to Light Their Way.”

Zoom lecture on June 3: “Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon,” by Eric H. Cline.

The publisher L’Erma di Bretschneider has 92 titles related to the archaeology of Pompeii and Herculaneum that are discounted by 55% through May 23.

The transatlantic voyage of a reconstruction of a 6th-century-BC ship suggests that the Phoenicians had the technical ability to sail to America, but whether they ever did so is debatable.

HT: Agade, Arne Halbakken, Charles Savelle, Alexander Schick

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“A rare 2,000-year old oil lamp shaped like half of a grotesque face that was discovered in Jerusalem last week appears to have a matching partner — that was discovered in Budapest nine years ago.”

Ruth Schuster writes about recent discoveries at Hippos, including the Roman theater and the necropolis (Haaretz premium).

Bible History Daily asks the excavators of Hazor about last year’s cancellation and this year’s plans. They pose the same four questions to the excavators of Tel Burna.

Research is progressing on the seven Judean date palms that were germinated in southern Israel in recent years.

The Jordan Times interviews Eliot Braun about the ruins and cemeteries on the southeastern end of the Dead Sea.

Rossella Tercatin asks, “What do ancient coins tell us about the Omer period and the time of the Bar-Kochba revolt, when the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot became associated with death and mourning?”

Biblical World is a new podcast, and the first episode, hosted by Chris McKinny and Oliver Hersey, looks at the archaeological background of Hezekiah’s religious reform.

The Institute of Biblical Culture is registering now for its summer Biblical Hebrew course. The BIBLEPLACES coupon will give you a $300 discount. David Moster has also just created a new video: “Some of the Best Puns in the Bible.” There’s a geographic pun mentioned at 6:52.

John DeLancey has begun a new video series entitled “Devotions from Israel.” The first 5-minute devotional looks at 2 Chronicles 20.

David Barrett is creating a biblical map every week on his Bible Mapper Blog. The most recent are:

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Arne Halbakken, Joseph Lauer

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