web analytics
January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Archaeologists’

American, Israeli Archaeologists Attack Authenticity of ‘Jerusalem Papyrus’

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

The authenticity of a rare and important find that was exposed in an enforcement operation of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery recently, and touted as the earliest extra-biblical source to mention Jerusalem in Hebrew writing, has come under attack by two respected archaeologists.

Christopher Rollston, a renowned classics scholar teaching at George Washington University, wrote in his blog last week that “the fact that the papyrus itself has been carbon dated to the 7th century BCE certainly does not mean that the writing on the papyrus is ancient. In fact, it really means nothing. After all, ancient papyrus is readily available for purchase online (check the web and see!), thus, no modern forger worth his or her salt would forge an inscription on modern papyrus. Rather, he or she would purchase some ancient papyrus online and then write a text on it.”

Such forgeries are frequent, writes Rollston, and so “for anyone to conclude that this (or any) inscription must be ancient because the papyrus is ancient is quite naïve.”

Professor Aren M. Maeir, an archaeologist from Bar Ilan University, wrote on his blog on Friday that he is “not sure that it is real or a fake, but various issues are problematic. I would very much like it to be authentic – but first – doubts must be dispelled.” Prof. Maeir added that a better authentication is paramount “in light of the strong indications that many of the recently acquired fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls may be fakes – indicating that there are some very good forgers working out there – some of whom seem to have an in-depth knowledge in epigraphy, paleography and related issues.”

Speaking at the ninth annual conference on archaeological discoveries in Jerusalem and its environs that was held at the Hebrew University last week, Prof. Maeir attacked the IAA for its premature announcement before thoroughly examining not only the papyrus, but the ink as well. “I believe you, but not everyone will believe,” he said. “How do we know that it’s not fake [and intended to be sold on] the antiquities market?”

Prof. Rollston points out that “the Jerusalem Papyrus is from the antiquities market and it has been floating around on the market for a few years now. It was not found on an actual archaeological excavation. I saw some good images of it a few years ago in Jerusalem.” He cautions that “there are many modern inscriptional forgeries on the market, as I have argued in various publications, for some fifteen years now. … The money that modern forgers and dealers can make on modern forgeries is astronomical, consistently in the five and six figure range. The motivation is strong. In this case, this papyrus was seized, but that does not mean that it could not have been produced in the modern period with the intent of marketing it.”

Prof. Maeir makes a similar point: “The lack of sufficient details on how the papyrus was obtained, due to the need of the IAA Anti-theft Unit to protect its sources, is understood from an operational point of view (and I fully believe them about this), but it creates an aura of secrecy and lack of credibility around this. And if in fact the papyrus was known for several years to other scholars as well, this makes the background of its discovery even more obscure.”

But while Prof. Maeir is urging a more substantial effort to prove the age of the ink on the papyrus, Prof. Rollston insists even that would not necessarily prove anything, since “the capacity is present for faked inks to be produced in the modern period that yield an ancient C-14 date. Moreover, of course, a clever forger might simply purchase some ancient inscription on the antiquities market (e.g., one with mundane content and so not a high-value inscription) and then carefully scrape the ink from that inscription and then mix that (dry) ink with water and then use that ink in a modern-forgery with sensational content.”

Prof. Shmuel Achituv of Hebrew University argued against the fraud accusation by both scholars, telling Ha’aretz he believes the fact that the papyrus was folded over when it was seized goes a long way to suggest it is not a forgery. “Would a forger purchase an ancient, dry and brittle papyrus, write on it text in a font that fits the seventh century BCE, and then fold it up and tie it with a rope, risking his entire effort would be damaged?” Prof. Achituv asked.

Achitov also suggested that two Hebrew words on the papyrus, “Yerushalma” and “Na’arata” (“her maidservant”) are rare and would not have been used by a forger, “even if he is well versed in Scripture. If I were a forger, I’d pick a more impressive text,” he said.

Both critics of the papyrus each have a possible personal agenda in this debate, which does not necessarily mean that they’re wrong. Prof. Maeir objects to what he terms the “geopolitical considerations” which, as he told students at Brigham Young University in Utah, “played a large role in early excavations shortly after the state of Israel was formed in 1948. Many archaeologists were looking specifically to help establish the ancient legitimacy of Jewish claims to the land of Palestine, which had been occupied by the Turks for centuries before World War I.”

Prof. Rollston was fired from the Emmanuel Christian Seminary in Tennessee after clashing with the seminary leadership over his controversial column in the Huffington Post condemning female discrimination in the Bible. The seminary argued that he would offend students and turn off donors. Rollston wrote, back in 2012, that “gender equality may not have been the norm two or three millennia ago, but it is essential. So, the next time someone refers to ‘biblical values,’ it’s worth mentioning to them that the Bible often marginalized women and that’s not something anyone should value.”

JNi.Media

Sound of the Kohen Gadol’s Golden Bell Rings Again in Jerusalem [video]

Monday, October 10th, 2016

As we enter the final hours of the day before Yom Kippur, archaelogist Eli Shukrun posted news on Facebook of a unique, tiny power-packed find in Jerusalem five years ago to remind the Jewish People of our ancient heritage and the future still to come.

A golden bell that belonged on the garment of the Kohen Gadol who served in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem was discovered in an excavation near the Western Wall.

Shukrun, who notes the find is of tremendous significance to the Jewish world, returned to the area to demonstrate once more with an expert audiologist, as she put it, the “only archaeological discovery that was ever in the Holy of Holies.”

In 2011, archaeologists in the City of David uncovered the little golden bell with a small buttonhole.

At that time, Shukrun and fellow archaeologist Ronny Reich announced, “It appears the bell was sewn on the garment of a man of high standing in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period (1 CE).”

It appeared to be possible the bell could have fallen from the hem of the garment of the High Priest who served in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.

The archaeologists took the little bell for analysis, and were able to recreate the sound it made two millennia ago.

That is when all 72 were sewn on to the beautiful blue tunic, the me’il techelet, of the Kohen Gadol, together with the lovely woven pomegranates along the hem of the garment worn by the High Priest when he entered the Holy of Holies in the Temple just one day in the year – on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement of the Jewish People.

“And you shall make the robe of the ephod completely of blue wool. Its opening at the top shall be turned inward; its opening shall have a border around it, the work of a weaver. It shall have [an opening] like the opening of a coat of armor; it shall not be torn. And on its bottom hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson wool, on its bottom hem all around, and golden bells in their midst all around. A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, on the bottom hem of the robe, all around. It shall be on Aharon when he performs the service, and its sound shall be heard when he enters the Holy before HaShem and when he leaves, so that he will not die.” Exodus 28:31-35

On Tuesday at sundown, the Land of Israel and the State of Israel will come to a complete halt as Yom Kippur, the most sacred day in the Hebrew calendar begins.

Each member of the House of Israel enters his or her own personal Holy of Holies to make a “heshbon nefesh,” a personal inventory to atone for the sins committed against God during the past year, abstaining from all food and drink, intimate relations and the wearing of cosmetics, perfumes, or leather for 26 hours. This is done to underscore the gravity of the day.

May all in the House of Israel be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a sweet, healthy, and prosperous year, materially and spiritually.

Hana Levi Julian

Archaeologists Restore Second Temple Courtyard Flooring with Help from Mathematician

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

Archaeologists from the Jerusalem-based Temple Mount Sifting Project are confident that they have successfully restored a unique architectural element of the Second Temple: a series of regally decorated floor tiles that adorned the porticos atop the Temple Mount, which were likely featured prominently in the courtyards of the Second Temple during the rule of King Herod in Jerusalem (37 to 4 BCE).

Frankie Snyder, a member of the Temple Mount Sifting Project’s team of researchers and an expert on ancient Herodian style flooring, said he succeeded in restoring the ornate tile patterns “using geometric principles, and through similarities found in tile design used by Herod at other sites.” Snyder, who has an academic background in both mathematics and Judaic Studies, explained that “this type of flooring, called ‘opus sectile,’ Latin for ‘cut work,’ is very expensive and was considered to be far more prestigious than mosaic tiled floors.”

Assortment of Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

Assortment of Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

“So far, we have succeeded in restoring seven potential designs of the majestic flooring that decorated the buildings of the Temple Mount,” said Snyder, who noted that there were no opus sectile floors in Israel prior to the time of King Herod. “The tile segments were perfectly inlaid such that one could not even insert a sharp blade between them.”

“It enables us to get an idea of the Temple’s incredible splendor,” said Dr. Gabriel Barkay, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. The restored tiles will be presented to the general public on September 8, at the 17th Annual City of David Archaeological Conference.

Zigzag Module, Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

Zigzag Module, Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

“This represents the first time archaeologists have been able to successfully restore an element from the Herodian Second Temple complex,” said co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project Zachi Dvira.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project was established in response to the illegal removal of tons of antiquities-rich earth from the Temple Mount by the Islamic Waqf in 1999. It is located in the Tzurim Valley National Park, and is supported by the City of David Foundation and the Israel Archaeology Foundation. The initiative is run under the auspices of Bar-Ilan University and the Israel Parks & Nature Authority.

To date, approximately 600 colored stone floor tile segments have been uncovered, with more than 100 of them definitively dated to the Herodian Second Temple period. This style of flooring is consistent with those found in Herod’s palaces at Masada, Herodian, and Jericho, as well as in majestic palaces and villas in Italy, also attributed to the time of Herod. The tile segments, mostly imported from Rome, Asia Minor, Tunisia, and Egypt, were created from polished, multicolored stones cut in a variety of geometric shapes. A key characteristic of the Herodian tiles is their size, which corresponds to the Roman measurement of one foot, approximately 29.6 cm.

Herodian floor tiles Opus Collection / Courtesy City of David

Herodian floor tiles Opus Collection / Courtesy City of David

The possibility that large expanses of the Temple Mount during the Second Temple were covered with opus sectile flooring was first raised by archaeologist and director of the Jerusalem Walls National Park with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority Assaf Avraham in 2007.

Avraham’s theory was based on a description given by the Romano-Jewish historian Josephus (1st Century CE) who wrote, “… the uncovered [Temple Mount courtyard] was completely paved with stones of various types and colors…” (The Jewish War 5:2). Additionally, Talmudic literature records the magnificent construction of the Temple Mount, describing rows of marble in different colors — green, blue and white.

“Now, as a result of Frankie Snyder’s mathematical skills, we have succeeded in recreating the actual tile patterns,” said Dr. Barkay, stressing that “this represents the first time that we can see with our own eyes the splendor of the flooring that decorated the Second Temple and its annexes 2,000 years ago.”

Barkay related that in describing the Temple that Herod built, “the Talmud says that ‘Whoever has not seen Herod’s building has not seen a beautiful building in his life,'” so that although our generation has not yet merited to see the Temple in its glory, “with the discovery and restoration of these unique floor tiles we are now able to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Second Temple, even through this one distinctive characteristic.”

Since the Temple Mount Sifting Project’s inception in 2004, more than 200,000 volunteers from around the world have taken part in the sifting, representing an unprecedented phenomenon in the realm of archaeological research.

JNi.Media

2700 Year-Old Inscription in City of David Excavations

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the area of the Gihon Spring in the City of David, in the Walls around Jerusalem National Park, have unearthed a layer of rich finds including thousands of broken pottery shards, clay lamps and figurines. Most intriguing is the recent discovery of a ceramic bowl with a partially preserved inscription in ancient Hebrew. While not complete, the inscription presents us with the name of a seventh century BCE figure, which resembles other names known to us from both the Biblical and archaeological record (see examples below) and providing us with a connection to the people living in Jerusalem at the end of the First Temple period.

This fascinating find will be presented at Megalim’s Annual Archaeological Conference which will take place on Thursday, August 29th in the City of David.

The most similar name to our inscription is Zechariah the son of Benaiah, the father of the Prophet Jahaziel. The name Zechariah the son of Benaiah appears in 2 Chronicles 20:14 where it states that Jahaziel, son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, prophesized before the Biblical King Jehoshaphat before the nation went off to war against the ancient kingdoms of Ammon and Moab.

 

Pottery Sherd of a Bowl from the end of the First Temple Period, bearing the inscription "ryhu bn bnh". Photo: Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority

Pottery Sherd of a Bowl from the end of the First Temple Period, bearing the inscription “ryhu bn bnh”. Photo: Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority

 

Israel Antiquity Authority archaeologists Dr. Joe Uziel and Nahshon Zanton, who discovered the bowl while excavating remains associated with the First Temple period destruction, explained that the letters inscribed on the shard likely date to the 8-7th centuries BCE, placing the production of the bowl sometime between the reign of Hezekiah and the destruction of Jerusalem under King Zedekiah. The archaeologists also explained that the inscription was engraved on the bowl prior to firing, indicating that the inscription originally adorned the rim of the bowl in its entirety, and was not written on a shard after the vessel was broken.

While the purpose of the inscription on the bowl is unclear, archaeologists have posited that the bowl may have contained an offering, likely given by the individual whose name was inscribed on the bowl, or alternatively given to him. Inscription Analysis

The first letter of the ceramic bowl’s partially preserved inscription in ancient Hebrew script is broken and is therefore difficult to read, but appears to be the letter ר. The next three letters יהו constitute the theophoric suffix (the component in which the name of the deity appears as part of the first name, such as Yirme-yahu and Eli-yahu, etc). These letters are followed by בנ (the son of) after which appears the patronymic name composed of the three letters בנה. According to archaeologists Uziel and Zanton, “If we consider the possibility that we are dealing with an unvowelized or ‘defective’ spelling of the name בניה (Benaiah), then what we have before us is the name “…ריהו בן בניה”

Many of the first names mentioned in the Bible contained the theophoric component יהו, as is the case of this inscription from the City of David. Besides the biblical references, other examples of this have also been found in archaeological excavations, written on a variety of objects such as seals, bullae, pottery vessels or even carved on rock. Noteworthy among the many names that end with the theophoric suffix יהו are several prominent examples that were previously discovered in City of David by Professor Yigal Shiloh, such as Gemar-yahu the son of Shaphan, Bena-yahu the son of Hoshayahu, etc. which were also found in the destruction layer and the ruins of the Babylonian conquest.

 

Jewish Press Staff

Archeologist Discover ‘Gates of Hell’ in Turkey

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Archaeologists say they have discovered the Greek and Roman mythical entry into the underworld, popularly known as the “Gates of Hell,” Discovery News reports.

Legends from both ancient Greece and Rome record stories of mortals who entered or were abducted into the netherworld through such gates. The god Hades kidnapped the Goddess Persephone led her to the underworld through a crack in the earth’s surface. The musician Orpheus traveled to the Greek underworld in search of Eurydice by entering a cave at Taenarum or Cape Tenaron on the southern tip of the Peloponnese. Hercules entered Hades at that same spot. Aeneas entered the region through a cave at the edge of Lake Avernus on the Bay of Naples, and Odysseus through Lake Acheron in northwest Greece.

The newly proposed site of Pluto’s Gate—Ploutonion in Greek, in the ancient city of Hierapolis, now Pamukkale, in southwestern Turkey, is reported to be a close match to historical descriptions of the Greek and Roman “gates.” Describing the site, the Greek geographer Strabo said 2000 years ago: ‘This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.”

Sounds dangerous.

The site excavation.

The site excavation.

Italian Archaeologist Francesco D’Andria from the University of Salento claims his team has discovered what they believe to be the ruins of the actual site.

Prof. D’Andria told a conference on Italian archaeology in Istanbul that he and his team had pinpointed the location by reconstructing the route of a thermal springs.

Among the ruins the archaeologists found a cave with Ionic semi columns with inscriptions of dedications to the gods of the underworld Pluto and Kore.

D’Andria also found the remains of a temple, a pool and a series of steps placed above the cave — all matching the descriptions of the site in ancient sources.

“We found the Plutonium by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring, Pamukkale’ springs, which … originate from this cave,” D’Andria told Discovery News.

“People could watch the sacred rites from these steps, but they could not get to the area near the opening. Only the priests could stand in front of the portal,” D’Andria said.

According to the archaeologist, the place was popular with the tourists of the ancient world, the pilgrims. Pilgrims took the waters in the pool near the temple, slept not too far from the cave. Small birds were given to visitors to test the deadly effect of the cave, while hallucinated priests sacrificed bulls to Pluto. The fumes coming from the depths of Hierapoli’s phreatic groundwater produced hallucinations, and the pilgrims would swear they received visions and prophecies..

The ceremony included leading the animals into the cave, and dragging them out dead.

About as entertaining as Sunday Football, but a tad more lethal.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/archeologist-discover-gates-of-hell-in-turkey/2013/04/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: