Biblical Archaeology

Was One of Jerusalem’s Greatest Archaeological Mysteries Solved?

Leen Ritmeyer reports:

Today the Israel Antiquities Authority announced:

A fascinating discovery recently uncovered in archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the Givati parking lot at the City of David, in the Jerusalem Walls National Park, has apparently led to solving one of Jerusalem’s greatest archaeological mysteries: the question of the location of the Greek (Seleucid) Acra–the famous stronghold built by Antiochus IV in order to control Jerusalem and monitor activity in the Temple which was eventually liberated by the Hasmoneans from Greek rule…

Read on here.

 

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

Seal from Time of David Discovered in Temple Mount Debris

A rare cone-shaped stone seal dating to the 10th century BCE – the time of the Biblical kings, David & Solomon. This is the first seal of its kind found in Jerusalem

This is a fine discovery. As reported over on the Bible Places Blog:

Archaeologists have been sifting debris discarded from illegal excavations on the Temple Mount for more than a decade now. Yesterday they announced the discovery of a seal dating to the 10th century BC. From a press release from the Temple Mount Sifting Project:

“The seal is the first of its kind to be found in Jerusalem,” stated Dr. Gabriel Barkay, the co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. “The dating of the seal corresponds to the historical period of the Jebusites and the conquest of Jerusalem by King David, as well as the construction of the Temple and the royal official compound by his son, King Solomon… What makes this discovery particularly significant is that it originated from upon the Temple Mount itself.”

The seal was discovered by Matvei Tcepliaev, a ten year old boy, visiting the Temple Mount Sifting Project from Russia, and was only recently deciphered by archeologists. Since the project’s inception in 2004, more than 170,000 volunteers from Israel and around the world have taken part in the sifting, representing an unprecedented phenomenon in the realm of archaeological research.

[…]

“The discovery of the seal testifies to the administrative activity which took place upon the Temple Mount during those times,” said Barkay. “All the parallel seals with similar stylistic designs have been found at sites in Israel, among them Tel Beit Shemesh, Tel Gezer, and Tel Rehov, and were dated to the 11th – 10th centuries BCE,” asserted Barkay.

“Upon the base of the seal appear the images of two animals, one on top of the other, perhaps representing a predator and its prey. Additionally, the seal is perforated, thus enabling one to hang it from a string,” said Barkay.

Aside from the seal, which was likely used to seal documents, hundreds of pottery sherds dating to the 10th century BCE have been discovered within the soil removed from the Temple Mount. Additionally, a rare arrowhead made of bronze and ascribed to the same period by its features, has been discovered.

The press release includes photos of the seal and other finds from the same period. The organization recently released a video which documents the success of the project in a bid to raise additional funds.

It’s so sad that this archaeological destruction has taken place on the Temple Mount, and that systematic archaeological excavations are simply not possible. Instead, archaeologist are forced to sift through the rubble for finds such as these.

Archaeology

Mona Lisa’s Bones Found?

It’s on Discovery News, so don’t get your hopes up…

Italian archaeologists trying to solve the mystery behind the identity of one of the world’s most famous models said Wednesday that they had found shards of bone which could have belonged to Mona Lisa.

The team is certain that Florentine Lisa Gherardini was the mysterious woman who sat for Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait, but after years of research on skeletons unearthed in the Tuscan city, they have just one bit of femur that might match — and even that is too damaged for DNA testing.

Shards of bone? They could belong to anyone. No, they’re grabbing at straws here, I’m afraid.

Church

The Wine in a Middle Bronze Age Palace in Israel

BibleX:

Wine is referenced over 230 times in the Bible. So some readers might be interested in this post from the Smithsonian blog on the chemical analysis of the contents of large jars found at Tel Kabri, tentatively identified as a wine cellar of a Middle Bronze Age palace. The blog post summarizes more extensive and technical discussion found 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/

 

Church

400-Year-Old Crucifix Found

By a Canadian student:

It is tiny in size — measuring only 1.1 inches in width — and its top is broken, but a 400- year-old copper crucifix found at Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula earlier in July has big historical significance, according to historians. It symbolizes an early dream of religious freedom in North America.

The artifact is clearly a Catholic item, featuring a simple representation of Christ on the front and the Virgin Mary and Christ Child on the back. Yet it was found in a predominantly English settlement.

Back in England, its owner would could be fined, imprisoned or put to death for practicing Catholic faith, according to Barry Gaulton, Field Director of the Colony of Avalon and Associate Professor of Archaeology at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

“The Catholic iconography is unmistakable. As with all archaeological discoveries, the context in which the artifact was found tells us its story,” Gaulton said in a release.

The story the crucifix tells is that of the dream of the Newfoundland’s settler, Sir George Calvert. Calvert was an English lord who helped settle the colony around 1628. His vision was to create a community where all Christians could enjoy freedom of religion without fear of persecution. He was one of the early pioneers of religious freedom in North America.

Just the presence of the Catholic crucifix reveals that Calvert’s vision had started to take shape. The small cross was found by Anna Sparrow, an undergraduate student at Memorial University in St. John’s.

As for who the crucifix belonged to, the archaeologists are not sure. They say it could have belonged to one of the craftsmen working on Calvert’s house, or the colony’s second governor, the Catholic gentleman Sir Arthur Aston, or even George Calvert himself.

An archaeologist’s job can be painstaking, tedious work, involving careful excavation, delicate sifting and gentle brushing. For Sparrow, the thrill of finding such a significant artifact, made all the hard work worthwhile.

As she said in a press release, “There is so much time, effort and patience involved in excavation, that to find something with such historical significance is incredible.”