Thursday, 5 December 2013

hezekiah's tunnel

Regarding Recent Suggestions Redating the Siloam Tunnel

A web-exclusive discussion by Aren Maeir and Jeffrey Chadwick

An article published in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (the research journal widely known as BASOR) proposed a new understanding and dating of Jerusalem’s famous Siloam Tunnel, perhaps better known as “Hezekiah’s Tunnel.”
The Siloam Tunnel.
The study by geologists Amihai Sneh, Eyal Shalev and Ram Weinberger, all with the Geological Survey of Israel, was titled “The Why, How, and When of the Siloam Tunnel Reevaluated.”1 Having examined the ancient water tunnel, the three authors suggest that it was excavated following existing karstic cavities (hollows that form through the dissolution of natural bedrock by mildly acidic ground waters). An important statement made in the article is that it would have taken the ancient workmen about four years to dig the 533-meter tunnel.
In a surprising departure from prevailing thought, the authors assert that the water tunnel could not have been constructed during the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah, in the late eighth century B.C.E., and particularly not in preparation for the Assyrian attack on Judah in 701 B.C.E. According to their understanding, there was not enough time to quarry out the impressive water system during Hezekiah’s preparations for the Assyrian onslaught. Accordingly, they suggest that the Siloam Tunnel was constructed later, in the seventh century B.C.E., by Hezekiah’s son Manasseh. 2
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house in shephelah

Eshtaol Excavations Reveal the Oldest House in the Shephelah

Bible and archaeology news

The Eshtaol excavations uncovered this 10,000 year old house, the oldest known domestic structure in the Shephelah. Credit: Dr. Ya‘akov Vardi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) excavations at Eshtaol recently uncovered the remains of a 10,000-year-old house in the Judean Shephelah, the lowland west of Jerusalem, as well as a later cult site, stone axes and other Neolithic remains. The excavations, which were conducted before a proposed Israeli highway expansion, revealed several stages of the millennia-long narrative of early cultural development at Eshtaol, a site associated with the birth and burial of Samson in the Biblical period (Judges 13:25; 16:31).
In an IAA press statement, archaeologists Amir Golani, Ya‘akov Vardi, Benyamin Storchan and Ron Be’eri describe the significance of the 10,000-year-old domestic building (pictured to the right), which dates to the transitional Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. “It should be emphasized that whoever built the house did something that was totally innovative because up until this period man migrated from place to place in search of food. Here we have evidence of man’s transition to permanent dwellings and that in fact is the beginning of the domestication of animals and plants; instead of searching out wild sheep, ancient man started raising them near the house.”
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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

water system at gezer

Who Built the Water System at Gezer? A Preliminary Assessment of the Renewed Excavations

By: Dan Warner
In 1907, the Irish archaeologist Robert S. Macalister found an anomaly during his pioneering excavations at Gezer. He thought it was a reservoir but the feature turned out to be one of the largest, if not the largest, water systems in the ancient Near East[i].
Macalister's Excavation Showing Entrance To Water System, Looking South,  From Macalister (Gezer I, Fig. 132)
Macalister’s Excavation Showing Entrance To Water System, Looking South, From Macalister (Gezer I, Fig. 132)
But no sooner had he cleared it out, a severe winter storm hurled his debris back in sealing it for over 100 years and leaving it untouched until recently. But some of the fog maybe lifting concerning certain unanswered questions, left by Macalister so long ago[ii]

Sunday, 3 November 2013

roman curse tablet

a 1,700-year-old curse tablet unearthed in a mansion by Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists

A lead curse tablet, dating back around 1,700 years and likely written by a magician, has been discovered in a collapsed Roman mansion in Jerusalem, archaeologists report.

The mansion, which is being excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Givati Parking Lot, is located in what is known as the "City of David," an area that holds at least 6,000 years of human occupation. The mansion itself covers at least 2,000 square meters (about half an acre) and contains two large open courtyards adjacent to each other. It was in use between the late third century and A.D. 363, when it was destroyed in a series of earthquakes on May 18 or 19.

The text is written in Greek and, in it a woman named Kyrilla invokes the names of six gods to cast a curse on a man named Iennys, apparently over a legal case. [See Photos of the Ancient Curse Tablet]

"I strike and strike down and nail down the tongue, the eyes, the wrath, the ire, the anger, the procrastination, the opposition of Iennys," part of the curse reads in translation. Kyrilla asks the gods to ensure that "he in no way oppose, so that he say or perform nothing adverse to Kyrilla … but rather that Iennys, whom the womb bore, be subject to her…"

To obtain her goal Kyrilla combined elements from four religions, Robert Walter Daniel, of the Institut für Altertumskunde at the University of Cologne, told LiveScience in an email. Of six gods invoked, four of them are Greek (Hermes, Persephone, Pluto and Hecate), one is Babylonian (Ereschigal) and one, Abrasax, is Gnostic, a religion connected to early Christianity. Additionally, the text contains magic words such as "Iaoth" that have a Hebrew/Judaism origin.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Gezer excavations

Gezer Excavations Uncover Previously Unknown Canaanite City

Archaeologists discover a Late Bronze Age occupation layer destroyed by fire

Beneath these Iron Age walls at Gezer lies a recently discovered Late Bronze Age city that had been destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Samuel Wolff.
Archaeologists excavating the famous ancient city of Gezer in Israel discovered a new occupation layer constituting a previously unknown Late Bronze Age city at the site. During the summer 2013 excavation season, the Tel Gezer team, led by codirectors Dr. Steven Ortiz of the Tandy Institute for Archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Dr. Samuel Wolff of the Israel Antiquities Authority, found pottery vessels, a cache of cylinder seals and an Egyptian scarab with a cartouche of Amenhotep III. The finds demonstrate that the residents of this 14th-century B.C.E. city were Canaanites with strong ties with Egypt. During the Late Bronze Age, Gezer and other cities in the southern Levant were under the reign of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty. Hebrew University professor Tallay Ornan told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Gezer’s destruction by conflagration in the Late Bronze Age “either represents an Egyptian campaign to subdue Gezer, or local Canaanites attacking an Egyptian stronghold at Gezer.”
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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

why the bronze age kingdoms collapse

Bronze Age Collapse: Pollen Study Highlights Late Bronze Age Drought

Featuring sidebars on pollen analysis and the collapse of Bronze Age cities fromBiblical Archaeology Review and Archaeology Odyssey

Sites destroyed in the Bronze Age collapse around 1200 B.C.E.
During the Late Bronze Age (1500–1200 B.C.E.), the Eastern Mediterranean boasted a flourishing network of grand empires sustaining sophisticated infrastructures, the likes of which the world would not see again for centuries to come. An interregional destruction (attested in Greece, Turkey, Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt) known as the Bronze Age collapse is one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries.
In the Archaeology Odyssey article “When Civilization Collapsed: Death of the Bronze Age,” William H. Stiebing describes the Late Bronze Age collapse:
It was a cataclysm of immense proportions: Near the end of the 13th century B.C.E., the great Bronze Age civilizations of the Aegean and Near East suddenly collapsed. In the latter part of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1400–1200 B.C.E.), Mycenaean civilization flourished in Greece and Crete. The Hittites controlled most of Anatolia and northern Syria from their capital at Hattusa. The Egyptian New Kingdom ruled not only in the Nile Valley but also in Palestine and southern Syria. Commerce flowed over trade routes that crisscrossed both land and sea. A late-14th-century B.C.E. ship excavated off the Uluburun promontory in southern Turkey, for example, carried cargo from Cyprus, Canaan, Egypt, Anatolia and Mycenaean Greece. A century later, all these civilizations had begun to unravel. Cities burned, trade became almost nonexistent, and large groups of people migrated from one place to another.

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Monday, 7 October 2013

elie wiesel on aaron in the bible

Aaron in the Bible

Elie Wiesel presents "the teflon kid"

Aaron, the first high priest and brother to Moses, worships the golden calf, in an illumination from the late-13th-century manuscript La Somme le Ray. Elie Wiesel points out that this incident, which had disastrous consequences for the Israelites fleeing Egypt, cast a shadow over Aaron. In Exodus 32, Aaron instructs the Israelites, who had grown restless during Moses’ long sojourn at Mount Sinai, to gather their jewelry and fashion a golden calf. He then constructs an altar and begins to worship. When Moses returns and sees the people worshiping the calf, he is angered by their idolatrous sin and throws down the stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. Later, when the Lord punishes “the people who through Aaron made the bull-calf” (Exodus 32:35), Aaron remains unharmed—a mystery Wiesel raises but cannot solve. British Library MSADD 28162, Folio 2V.
I have a problem with Aaron, number two in the great and glorious epic that recounts the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. He is a man of peace. He succeeds at everything. Everyone admires, even loves him. Whether great or small, they need him, his understanding and his mediation. Whatever he does, he is well regarded.
But is it possible that Aaron is without fault? Like all biblical characters, he must be imperfect. He too has his moments of weakness and his crises. But in those he is forgiven.
His younger brother Moses must overcome obstacles and dangers. More than once, Moses’ life has been threatened and his reputation questioned. But not Aaron, who passes through difficulties unscathed. Moses is often torn between two passions, two obligations: the demands of God and those of his people. But not Aaron. When the Hebrews became impatient and restless in the desert, demanding food and drink, they did not rise up against Aaron, but against Moses. Likewise, when God became angry at the people for their lack of faith, most of the time his anger was directed at Moses alone. Is this because Moses, the great political and military leader, represented civil authority, while his brother Aaron, the high priest, embodied spiritual authority? One would say that providence seemed to smile more on Aaron than on Moses.
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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

jews on former temple mount

Why it matters that Jews are standing on the Temple Mount

Jews are increasingly staking a claim to the Muslim-controlled Temple Mount, testing the Israeli government's resolve to avoid conflict by protecting Muslim sovereignty over the site.
Christian Science Monitor Christa Case Bryant 10 hours ago

As Yehuda Glick strides across the Temple Mount, his bare feet scuffing along the paved stones and a kippah tucked under his baseball cap, the Muslim worshippers who know this sacred space as the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) start chanting tauntingly in Arabic, “God is great, praise be to God!”

Trailed by a group of religious Jews, an Israeli police escort, and a Muslim community representative, Mr. Glick responds in Hebrew, “Shalom – peace to you all.”

Behind him rise the two sites that make Jerusalem the third-holiest city in Islam: the Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine commemorating the prophet Mohammed's ascension to heaven. It is built on the spot where Jews believe the very presence of God once rested in the Jewish temple. This is considered the holiest place in Judaism, yet it has been largely off-limits to Jewish worshipers because of concerns that range from violating Jewish law to provoking riots.

But in recent years, religious Jews are increasingly asserting their right to be here and are pushing for Israel to claim sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Their effort is testing the resolve of the Israeli government and the patience of 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. At stake are freedom of worship and the future of the most contested sacred space in the world. And the effort could potentially inflame the Israeli-Arab conflict, which is increasingly taking on a religious tone.

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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

1st century AD mansion in mt zion vicinity

Newfound Mount Zion 'Mansion' May Hold Clues to Jesus' Jerusalem 
Newfound Mount Zion 'Mansion' May Hold Clues to Jesus' Jerusalem
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During new excavations at Jerusalem's storied Mount Zion, archaeologists uncovered the remains of a possible mansion that's 2,000 years old. The dig leaders think the building and its contents could shed light on the wealthy class of Jerusalem during Jesus' day.
Artifacts and other clues suggest the mansion may have been the home of an elite Jewish family during the early Roman period, the researchers said. The building would have been located close to the expansive complex of Herod the Great, and inside, excavators found traces of an exceptional bathroom and the shells of sea snails that were valued for their rich purple dye.
"If this turns out to be the priestly residence of a wealthy first-century Jewish family, it immediately connects not just to the elite of Jerusalem — the aristocrats, the rich and famous of that day — but to Jesus himself," James Tabor, the dig's co-director, said in a statement. [Proof of Jesus Christ? 7 Pieces of Evidence Debated]
The archaeological finds could add to knowledge about this elite class that researchers have gleaned from the Bible, as well as the writings of Titus Flavius Josephus and later rabbinical texts.
"Jesus, in fact, criticizes the wealth of this class," added Tabor, who is a scholar of early Christian history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "He talks about their clothing and their long robes and their finery, and, in a sense, pokes fun at it. So for us to get closer to understanding that — to supplement the text — it could be really fascinating."
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dalmanutha discovered

Biblical-Era Town Discovered Along Sea of Galilee 
Biblical-Era Town Discovered Along Sea of Galilee
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A town dating back more than 2,000 years has been discovered on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee, in Israel's Ginosar valley.
The ancient town may be Dalmanutha (also spelled Dalmanoutha), described in the Gospel of Mark as the placeJesus sailed to after miraculously feeding 4,000 people by multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread, said Ken Dark, of the University of Reading in the U.K., whose team discovered the town during a field survey.
The archaeologists also determined that a famous boat, dating to around 2,000 years ago, and uncovered in 1986, was found on the shoreline of the newly discovered town. The boat was reported on two decades ago but the discovery of the town provides new information on what lay close to it.
The evidence the team found suggests the town was prosperous in ancient times. "Vessel glass and amphora hint at wealth," Dark wrote in an article published in the most recent edition of the journal Palestine Exploration Quarterly, while "weights and stone anchors, along with the access to beaches suitable for landing boats — and, of course, the first-century boat … all imply an involvement with fishing."[Photos: 4,000-Year-Old Structure Hidden Under Sea of Galilee]
The architectural remains and pottery suggest that Jews and those following a polytheistic religion lived side by side in the community. In addition, the researchers found that the southern side of the newly discovered town lies only about 500 feet (150 meters) away from another ancient town known as Magdala.

tel maresha caves of the idumeans

Tel Maresha Caves Reveal Lost World of the Idumeans

“Dig for a Day” & Israel Antiquities Authority excavate subterranean metropolis

Beneath Tel Maresha are thousands of manmade caves hewn from the soft chalk of the Judean foothills. These underground complexes supported the everyday needs of a multi-ethnic community of Idumeans, Judeans and Arabs. Photo by Garo Nalbandian.
Tel Maresha, located in the Judean foothills southwest of Jerusalem, exists on two levels—one a typical Hellenistic town; the other a subterranean metropolis of cave complexes. These caves, as described by archaeologist Ian Stern in the September/October 2013 issue of BAR, accommodated many of the everyday building, industrial and even ritual needs of a thriving, multi-ethnic community dominated by the Idumeans, the descendants of the Biblical Edomites.
Mentioned already in the Book of Joshua (15:44), Tel Maresha expanded greatly in the third century B.C.E. and became a well-planned Hellenistic city. The Idumeans and their neighbors outfitted the cave complexes below with a variety of industrial features, including columbaria for raising doves, olive presses for producing oil, and looms and dyeing bins for manufacturing textiles. What is more, the chalk excavated from the Tel Maresha caves supplied a ready source of fresh building material for the city above.
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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

ophel treasure

The Ophel Treasure

A “once-in-a-lifetime discovery” at the foot of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

The gold medallion, the prize find of the "Ophel treasure." Photo: Ouria Tadmor.
Dr. Eilat Mazar’s excavation at the Ophel in Jerusalem is one of the most high-profile investigations in the field of Biblical archaeology. The area between the City of David and the Temple Mount has been known as the Ophel (meaning “a high place to climb to”) since the First Temple period. In the Bible, King Jotham “did much building on the wall of the Ophel” (11 Chronicles 27:3) in the mid-8th century B.C.E., and the site’s history stretches back well before this constructon. In her bookDiscovering the Solomonic Wall in Jerusalem, Mazar recounts the storied excavation history of the site, which sits at the heart of ancient Jerusalem. Ophel investigators include Captain Charles Warren, Dame Kathleen Kenyon and (Eilat Mazar’s grandfather) Benjamin Mazar, yet none of these esteemed predecessors uncovered a cache as striking as the one found by Eilat Mazar during the 2013 field season.
The Ophel excavation team recently came across an archaeologist’s dream: a gold cache. A gold medallion stands out as the prize find: the medallion (pictured above) features a menorah, shofar (ram’s horn) and a Torah scroll, three sacred and iconic Jewish emblems. Alongside the elegantly etched medallion, the team uncovered 36 gold coins and gold and silver jewelry. In a post issued by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mazar says, “We have been making significant finds from the First Temple Period in this area, a much earlier time in Jerusalem’s history, so discovering a golden seven-branched Menorah from the seventh century C.E. at the foot of the Temple Mount was a complete surprise.”

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Thursday, 5 September 2013

online archive of mesopotamian artifacts

Image: Trustees of the British Museum

The British Museum and US-based Penn Museum are collaborating on the creation of a web resource to display archaeologist Leonard Woolley’s Mesopotamian excavations from 1922-34.

The two institutions are in talks with colleagues at the National Museum of Iraq about the project and hope to develop a collaboration with their Iraqi counterparts as the initiative progresses.

The project will include all available information on each object, as well as photographs, drawings, maps and field records, with full translations in English to provide context. The project is funded by a $1.28m grant from the Leon Levy Foundation and is due to be completed in June 2015.

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said: “Through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation, these sensational discoveries, housed in three great museums, can be presented to a worldwide audience of millions.”

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