Nine Unopened Dead Sea Scrolls Found In Israel Antiquities Authority Storeroom

Great find!

Nine tiny but mighty Dead Sea Scrolls have been discovered — or more accurately, re-discovered — within the vaults of at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), The Times of Israel reported.

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The rolled scrolls (in the second row) and their empty cases from Cave 4.While searching through the Israel Antiquities Authority storerooms one day in May 2013, Dr. Yonatan Adler, a lecturer at Ariel University and post-doctoral researcher at Hebrew University, came across an unmarked phylactery case.

He had the case scanned on the suspicion that it might contain an undocumented scroll and in December continued investigating for unopened scrolls while on a visit to the IAA Dead Sea Scrolls labs. There he found two scrolls inside a tefillin case that had been documented after the original 1952 discovery but never examined.

Adler eventually found seven more previously unopened scrolls, all of which are believed to have been included in the discoveries in Qumran Cave 4. Phylacteries, also called tefillin in Hebrew, are pairs of leather cases containing biblical passages and traditionally worn by Jews during prayer.

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A phylactery case from Cave 5.These newly re-discovered scrolls are among more than two dozen tefillin scroll fragments discovered in the Qumran caves, and among thousands of scrolls and scroll fragments found containing biblical and secular texts.

Due to the scope of the scrolls’ initial discovery, curator and director of the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls Projects Pnina Shor told The Huffington Post, it is reasonable to assume these nine “new” finds will not be the last.

“With the progress of research on the one hand and our digitization project on the other we hope ‘new’ finds will keep ‘popping up’,” Shor said. “Since we intend to image and eventually treat and preserve every single fragment/item, we hope to find many more such treasures, that have gone unnoticed and have not been deciphered yet.”

Although no major revelations are anticipated form the new scrolls, some of the tefillin cases from the Qumran caves that have been opened have revealed fascinating insights into Jewish life in that era (roughly the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century AD), Shor told HuffPost.

“These parchment slips, folded and placed in capsules, are understood to be the “frontlets between your eyes.” mentioned in the Book of Deuteronomy (6:8). The texts are in principle the same as those required by later Rabbinic Halakha and those in use today. Since these tefillin – phylacteries from the Judean Desert caves are the only examples we have from the Second Temple period, we do not know whether their distinctive features reflect the traditions of a specific community or whether they represent a more widespread tradition. Perhaps these “new” ones will shed more light on this matter.”

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A phylactery scroll after it was opened and preserved.Professor Hindy Najman of Yale University also commented to The Times of Israel:

“We have to be prepared for surprises. On the one hand there’s tremendous continuity between what we have found among the Dead Sea Scrolls — liturgically, ritually and textually — and contemporaneous and later forms of Judaism. But there’s also tremendous possibility for variegated practices and a complex constellation of different practices, different influences, different ways of thinking about tefillin.”

Shor will oversee the task of opening and reading these new scrolls, but it will take time and patience, she said. “We need to do a lot of research before we start doing this,” Shor told The Times.

Shor is simultaneously spearheading a project to digitize the entire Dead Sea Scrolls archive for access to a mass audience. She expects IAA to complete the imaging within the next two years, and these nine new scrolls may very well be included in the database

 

How to Make a Mudbrick

Via the Biblical Archaeology Society:

The recipe is simple—and the ingredients common: As long as you have access to mud, water and straw (or another type of organic material), you, too, can mimic the manufacturing process used by ancient Egyptians—and Israelite slaves—to make mudbricks.

There is a slide show here too.

So basically, it goes like this:

1. Mix topsoil and water to create a thick mud.
2. Add straw. While the composition of the mud will affect the exact proportions, as a general rule, add a half pound of straw for every cubic foot of mud mixture. If you have access to grain chaff (a byproduct of threshing), you can use that as temper. If not, chop straw into very small pieces—called straw chaff—and use that.
3. Knead the mud mixture with your bare feet for four days.
4. Once it has fermented (after four days of kneading), leave the mixture alone for a few days.
5. Knead the mixture again on the day you plan to form your mudbricks.
6. Pour the mud mixture into molds (the shape of your choosing) and let them solidify in the molds for at least 20 minutes.
7. Remove from molds and deposit on a drying floor layered with sand and straw to prevent the bricks from sticking to the floor itself.
8. Let the bricks dry for a week.

After the bricks have dried, they are ready to be used—whether to build something new or to reconstruct ancient walls!

 

Ancient Papyri Discovered at Luther College

And some rare early Christian document are among the finds:

In January, nine papyri documents almost 2,000 years old were discovered by a student in the Luther College library archives, where they had remained hidden in a cardboard box for decades.

Luther sophomore Brittany Anderson was conducting a routine inventory of the papers of the late Orlando W. Qualley, longtime professor of classics and dean of the college, when she came across the nine ancient documents among Qualley’s letters and journals donated to the college in the 1980s. The papyri—one of which, a libellus, is especially rare—date from the first to the fifth centuries A.D. and were apparently purchased by Qualley from an antiquities dealer when he was part of a University of Michigan archaeological excavation at Karanis, south of Cairo, in 1924-25.

“Luther College is incredibly fortunate to have in its possession the Qualley papyri, especially the libellus, a rare and invaluable find from the early centuries of Christian history,” said Philip Freeman, Qualley Chair of Ancient Languages at Luther. “As soon as they are properly preserved, we hope to display all the papyri in our library for everyone to see. They provide a great opportunity for our students to examine a genuine piece of the ancient world.”

The nine papyri, written in ancient Greek, measure from 5 to 20 centimeters in length and are in remarkably good shape, though all are fragmentary and quite fragile. Papyrus was the primary writing medium of the ancient world and was made from the interwoven fibers of the papyrus plant, which grows along the banks of the Nile River.

Upon finding the documents, Anderson contacted the Luther Classics Department faculty, who examined the papyri and in turn contacted the Papyrus Collection staff at the University of Michigan, one of the leading centers of papyrus study in the world, for help in identifying and analyzing the discoveries. Several are accounting documents, but papyrologist Graham Claytor immediately identified one as a libellus dating from the first great Roman persecution of Christians beginning under Emperor Decius in the year 250.

Decius issued a decree that year ordering all inhabitants of the empire to offer a sacrifice to the gods as a show of loyalty. A libellus was a document given to a Roman citizen to confirm the performance of such a sacrifice. Christians were forbidden by their beliefs from performing these sacrifices and were thus subject to arrest, torture and execution for refusing to obey the emperor’s decree. Pope Fabian was among those who refused to sacrifice and was subsequently killed by the Roman authorities.

The Luther College libellus bears the name of Aurelius Ammon, a servant of the well-attested Aurelius Appianus, a leading citizen of Alexandria, Egypt. It declares that Aurelius Ammon has sacrificed “in accordance with the orders” of the emperor. The papyrus was probably part of a collection made in ancient times from the village of Theadelphia in Egypt’s Fayum region. Only a few of these rare documents have been uncovered, and they are currently housed in research libraries in Hamburg, Berlin, Manchester, Florence, and the University of Michigan. Now Decorah, Iowa, joins the list.

Luther College plans to work with the University of Michigan to preserve all the Qualley papyri and make them available online in digital format to scholars and people around the world.

 

Ancient Rural Town Uncovered in Israel

On the outskirts of Jerusalem.

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… archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 2,300-year-old rural village that dates back to the Second Temple period, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced.

Trenches covering some 8,000 square feet (750 square meters) revealed narrow alleys and a few single-family stone houses, each containing several rooms and an open courtyard. Among the ruins, archaeologists also found dozens of coins, cooking pots, milling tools and jars for storing oil and wine.

“The rooms generally served as residential and storage rooms, while domestic tasks were carried out in the courtyards,” Irina Zilberbod, the excavation director for the IAA, explained in a statement.

Archaeologists don’t know what the town would have been called in ancient times, but it sits near the legendary Burma Road, a route that allowed supplies and food to flow into Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The rural village located on a ridge with a clear view of the surrounding countryside, and people inhabiting the region during the Second Temple period likely cultivated orchards and vineyards to make a living, IAA officials said.

The Second Temple period (538 B.C. to A.D. 70) refers to the lifetime of the Jewish temple that was built on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to replace the First Temple after it was destroyed. Archaeological evidence suggests this provincial village hit its peak during the third century B.C., when Judea was under the control of the Seleucid monarchy after the breakup of Alexander the Great’s empire. Residents seem to have abandoned the town at the end of the Hasmonean dynasty — when Herod the Great came into power in 37 B.C. — perhaps to chase better job opportunities in the city amid an economic downturn.

“The phenomenon of villages and farms being abandoned at the end of the Hasmonean dynasty or the beginning of Herod the Great’s succeeding rule is one that we are familiar with from many rural sites in Judea,” archaeologist Yuval Baruch explained in a statement. “And it may be related to Herod’s massive building projects in Jerusalem, particularly the construction of the Temple Mount, and the mass migration of villagers to the capital to work on these projects.”

The discovery was made during a salvage excavation ahead of a construction project that began last year; a 21-mile-long (35 kilometers) gas pipeline was supposed to run through the site, but engineering plans were revised to go around the ruins, IAA officials said. Salvage excavations are common in Israel to avoid building over ancient sites. For instance, remarkably well-preserved Byzantine church mosaics were recently revealed ahead of the construction of a park, and an ancient Roman road connecting Jerusalem to Jaffa was uncovered ahead of the installation of a drainage pipe.

 

Syria’s Archaeological Sites Ravaged by Bombing, Looting

Discovery has the sad news:

When Asma al-Assad, the British-born wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, received an honorary Ph.D. in archeology in 2004 from the prestigious University of Rome “La Sapienza,” she stressed that such knowledge should be used “to foster mutual respect for what human societies have achieved over the millennia across the globe.”

Awarded for her role in the development of historical and archaeological studies and the preservation of the Syrian heritage, the degree was handed to al-Assad amid the ruins of the fabled ancient city of Ebla. The ceremony changed for the first time the University’s 700-year-old tradition which required the honorary degree to be given inside the city of Rome.

Ten years later, Asma is banned from traveling to all EU member states except the U.K, while bombing and looting have ravaged most of her country’s precious archaeological sites.

According to UNESCO, the U.N. cultural, education and science arm, illegal excavation in the past three years has spread everywhere, from Ebla, the site where Asma received her honorary Ph.D., to the ancient Sumerian city of Mari.

Apamea, a city founded in 300 B.C. by one of Alexander the Great”s generals, which boasted one of the longest and widest colonnades in the ancient world, “is completely destroyed by thousands and thousands of illegal diggings,”  Francesco Bandarin, assistant director-general for culture at the agency, warned at a news conference last week.

“A site has a value not only for the monuments that are destroyed but also for the values of the objects in the ground,” Bandarin said. “When this is lost, the scientific value of the site is clearly, clearly compromised,” he added.

To curb the destruction, the European Union gave UNESCO 2.5 million euros ($3.4 million) last week for a program aimed at fighting looting as well as raising awareness on Syria’s endangered cultural heritage…

… Syria’s cultural heritage is unique. As Asma al-Assad remarked in her acceptance speech of the doctorate, it’s a land where “those essential human attributes — culture, society and civilization — first flourished.”

Along with Mesopotamia, the country echoes the main advances made by humankind such as the birth of the first villages and what is believed to be the world’s first alphabet. Ironically, it is also here that archaeologists found the first evidence for the use of chemical weapons.

Over four millennia, Syria’s valleys and deserts have witnessed everything from Biblical civilizations, Roman conquerors and Christian Crusaders. The result is an abundance of unique monuments which include Roman cities, castles and forts, medieval Islamic markets, palaces, mosques and cathedrals.

“The country has tens of thousands of archaeological sites, not all of which have been recorded or even discovered yet. Before the crisis, new sites were being discovered all the time,” Emma Cunliffe, Global Heritage Preservation Fellow Postgraduate Researcher at Durham University, and author of “Damage to the Soul: Syria’s Cultural Heritage in Conflict,” told Discovery News…

Rest here.