Biblical Archaeology

What Is the Oldest Hebrew Bible?

ashkar-gilson-manuscript

What is the oldest Hebrew Bible? That is a complicated question. The Dead Sea Scrolls are fragments of the oldest Hebrew Bible text, while the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex are the oldest complete versions, written by the Masoretes in the 10th and 11th centuries, respectively. The Ashkar-Gilson Manuscript falls in between the early scrolls and the later codices…

Bible History Daily seeks to answers the question.

 

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Bible Archaeology

Ancient Winery Discovered in Central Israel Region During Storm

Large 1,500-year-old winepress unearthed in area once known for wine production.

In the Jerusalem Post:

Israel antique winepress

A large, well-preserved 1,500-year-old winery has been exposed during a violent storm in the Sharon Plain region, located between the Mediterranean Sea and Samarian Hills, the Antiquities Authority announced Monday.

According to IAA archeologist Alla Nagorski, the discovery was made off the Eyal Interchange several weeks ago when flooding and hail disrupted an excavation at the site, where natural gas lines are scheduled to be embedded.

The northern part of the Sharon Plain is considered the most historical wine region in Israel, and is where the first roots of Israeli wine were planted in modern times.

When water was pumped from the site, Nagorski said the well-preserved winery was found. She described it as impressive and rare.

“It is evident that great thought was invested in the engineering and construction,” she said. “The wine press is huge – 3 meters in diameter and 2 meters deep, and could accommodate 20 cubic meters of wine.”

More here.

 

Biblical Archaeology

War Crimes Charges Now Extend to the Destruction of Ancient Monuments

Here’s why.

A view of the side of a damaged house in the historical city of Sanaa

For the first time, the International Criminal Court in The Hague has opened war crimes proceedings against an Islamist militant accused of leading in the destruction of historical monuments.

The charges reflect a heightened global concern about the safety of antiquities across the Middle East and North Africa, including in UNESCO world heritage sites. Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliates are increasingly launching deliberate assaults on treasured religious monuments…

Reuters has the rest here.

 

Church

2,700-Year-Old Phoenician Shipwreck Discovered

Discovery News:

An international team of researchers has discovered the remains of a Phoenician ship that sunk in the waters off the island of Malta around 700 BC, Maltese authorities announced this week.
One of the oldest shipwrecks found in the Mediterranean, the vessel is about 50 feet long. It was found at a depth of 400 feet on the sandy seabed of Gozo island, the second-largest island in the Maltese archipelago.
“There are very good chances that the wooden hull is still present, buried beneath the sand,” Timmy Gambin, a senior lecturer in maritime archaeology at the University of Malta and the co-director of the project, told Discovery News.
Gambin and colleagues from Texas A&M University and the French National Research Agency, found the ship’s cargo spread over a 700-square-foot area. According to Gambin, it was “in a fantastic state of preservation.”
The sandy seabed likely cushioned the impact when the ship sunk, leaving jars and ceramic containers unbroken.
According to the researchers, the ship carried a mixed cargo of jars and grinding stones.
About 20 grinding stones made from volcanic rock, each weighing as much as 75 pounds, were identified at the site.
“The stones, probably coming from Sicily, were being transported to be sold elsewhere in the Mediterranean,” Gambin said.
The researchers also spotted some 50 amphorae — containers with two handles and narrow necks used to hold wine and oil — made in seven different types and sizes. This would indicate the vessel had traveled to numerous harbors before sinking.
Like other Phoenician trading vessels, the ship might have made stops in Sardinia and Malta to sell its cargo…

More here.

 

Church

The Ancient Mass in the “House Churches” was not as Informal as Many Think

Writes Msgr Charles Pope:

As you may know, the Catholic Faith was illegal in the Roman Empire prior to 313 AD, when the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan permitting the Christian Faith to flourish publicly. Prior to that time, Church buildings as we know them today were rare—Mass was usually celebrated in houses. Now be careful here; these “houses” were usually rather sizable, with a central courtyard or large room that permitted something a little more formal than Mass “around the dining room table.” I remember being taught (incorrectly) that these early Masses were informal, emphasized a relaxed, communal quality, and were celebrated facing the people. Well, it turns out that really isn’t true. People didn’t just sit around a table or sit in circle—not at all. They sat or stood formally, and everyone faced in one direction: east...

dura_church_diagram

Very interesting. Read on here.

 

Church

Hoard of Jewish Revolt Coins Discovered Near Jerusalem

The World of the Bible:

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, near the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway, Israel Antiquities Authorities (IAA) archaeologists uncovered a trove of bronze coins dating back to the Year Four of the Jewish Revolt against Rome (around 70 AD). The hoard appears to have been buried only a few months before the fall of Jerusalem, perhaps by someone who anticipated the imminent turmoil of the region. A total of 114 coins was found. Each of the coins is decorated on one side with a chalice and the inscription “To the Redemption of Zion” in Hebrew, and on the other side with palm branches and citrons, as well as the Hebrew inscription “Year Four.” The coins could have been a form of pro-rebellion propaganda. The palm trees stamped on the coins, for instance, symbolize the land of Israel. The site of the discovery, today known as Hirbet Mazruk, used to be a Jewish stronghold during the Revolt, and as a result was entirely destroyed by the Romans.

For more information: http://www.timesofisrael.com/trove-of-jewish-revolt-coins-discovered-near-jerusalem/

 

Bible Archaeology

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!