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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

Second Temple-Era Podium May Be Discovery in City of David

Monday, August 31st, 2015

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has made an exciting announcement: A 2,000-year-old podium may have been found in the City of David section of the Old City of Jerusalem.

A unique stepped structure exposed on the street ascending from the ‘Siloam Pool’ to the Temple Mount is raising questions among the researchers at IAA.

The intriguing, impressive pyramid-shaped staircase is constructed of large ashlar stones. It was uncovered during a current IAA archaeological excavation in the Jerusalem Walls National Park in the City of David.

The area of the excavation is the site of ancient Jerusalem, and the dig is being carried out in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the City of David Foundation.

This structure is situated alongside the 2,000 year old Second Temple stepped street, which carried pilgrims on their way from the Shiloah (Siloam) Pool to the Temple, which stood atop the Temple Mount.

The street, a section of which was excavated in the past, is remarkably well-preserved and is built of enormous stone slabs. IAA archaeologists believe the street most likely runs above the 2,000 year old drainage channel, discovered a number of years ago, which carried rain water out of the city.

The street was constructed sometime in the fourth decade of the first century CE, and was one of the largest construction projects undertaken in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period.  Dozens of whole pottery vessels, stone vessels and glassware were found at the foot of the pyramid-shaped staircase.

Coin from the period of the Great Revolt against the Romans, discovered in the destruction layer atop the street from the Second Temple period.

Coin from the period of the Great Revolt against the Romans, discovered in the destruction layer atop the street from the Second Temple period.

“The structure exposed is unique. To date such a structure has yet to be found along the stepped street in the numerous excavations that have taken place in Jerusalem and to the best of our knowledge outside of it. For this reason, its exact use remains enigmatic,” said archaeologists Nahshon Szanton and Dr. Joe Uziel, who are heading the excavation on behalf of the IAA.

“The structure is built along the street in a place that is clearly visible from afar by passers-by making their way to the Temple. We believe the structure was a kind of monumental podium that attracted the public’s attention when walking on the city’s main street.

“It would be very interesting to know what was said there 2,000 years ago. Were messages announced here on behalf of the government? Perhaps news or gossip, or admonitions and street preaching – unfortunately we do not know.

“Bliss and Dickie, two British archaeologists who discovered a small portion of this structure about 100 years ago, mistakenly thought these were steps that led into a house that was destroyed. They would certainly be excited if they could come back today and see it completely revealed,” the archaeologists added.

It is known from rabbinic sources there were “stones” that were used for public purposes during the Second Temple period. For example, one source cites the “auction block” in connection with the street: “[a master] will not set up a market stand and put them (slaves) on the auction block” (Sifra, BeHar 6).

In the Mishnah and Talmud the “Stone of Claims” is mentioned as a place that existed in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period: “Our Rabbis taught: There was a Stone of Claims in Jerusalem: whoever lost an article repaired thither, and whoever found an article did likewise. The latter stood and proclaimed, and the former submitted his identification marks and received it back. And in reference to this we learnt: Go forth and see whether the Stone of Claims is covered” (Bava Metzia 28:B),” an IAA spokesperson added.

Thief Returns ancient Roman Artifacts: ‘They Brought Me Nothing but Trouble’

Monday, July 13th, 2015

By Zack Pyzer/Tazpit News Agency

A pair of ancient Roman trebuchet stones were discovered outside a museum in southern Israel on Monday, accompanied by a cryptic note.

The artifacts were identified as two of the many thousands of such projectiles launched by the Roman legions at Jewish rebels in 67 CE, during a battle for the northern city of Gamla.

The stones were left outside the Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Be’er Sheva. Judging by the content of the note, it seems as though the person who stole them 20 years previously was at last righting his wrong.

The typed message from the unnamed individual was discovered by an employee of the museum, and began, “These are two Roman trebuchet balls from Gamla, from a residential quarter at the foot of the summit.”

“I stole them in July 1995 and since then they have brought me nothing but trouble. Please, do not steal antiquities!”

Explaining the significance of the projectiles, Dr. Danny Syon, from the Israel Antiquities Authority, said “The Romans shot these stones at the defenders of the city of Gamla, in order to keep them away from the city walls.”

“In that way they could approach the wall and breach it with a battering ram. The stones were manually chiseled on site by soldiers or prisoners,” Syon continued.

The trebuchet balls will now be displayed in the National Treasures Department, while many other stones from the Gamla region are already exhibited at the Gamla Nature Reserve.

In a land bursting with archeological treasures, this is not the first time that stolen antiquities have reached the Israel Antiquities Authority in a bizarre manner.

In one case, an Israeli returned a 2,000 year old Jewish coffin to the authorities. It had been kept in a bedroom in Tel Aviv until the man realized the morbidity of the find.

Rare Inscription from King David Discovered in Jerusalem Hills

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

This article has been updated.

A rare inscription from the time of King David was discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafain the Elah Valley, southwest of Jerusalem and near Beit Shemesh.

A ceramic jar approximately 3,000 years old that was broken into numerous shards was found in 2012 in excavations. Letters written in ancient Canaanite script could be discerned on several of the shards, sparking the curiosity of researchers, Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Its artifacts department glued together hundreds of pottery shards to form a whole jar and solved the riddle – the jar was incised with the inscription, ” Eshbaʽal Ben Bada.”

Professor Garfinkel and Ganor said:

This is the first time that the name Eshbaʽal has appeared on an ancient inscription in the country. Eshbaʽal Ben Shaul, who ruled over Israel at the same time as David, is known from the Bible.

It is interesting to note that the name Eshbaʽal appears in the Bible…only during the reign of King David, in the first half of the tenth century BCE. This name was not used later in the First Temple period.

[Editor’s note: The name “Eshbaʽal” only appears in Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 1-8:34 & 1-9:39 and he is generally identified as Ish Boshet, the son of King Saul.]

They added that the correlation between the biblical tradition and the archaeological finds indicates this was a common name only during that period. “The name Bedaʽ is unique and does not occur in ancient inscriptions or in the biblical tradition,” they added.

The fact that the name Eshbaʽal was incised on a jar suggests that he was an important person, according to the researchers. He apparently was the owner of a large agricultural estate, and the produce collected there was packed and transported in jars that bore his name.

The researchers stated:

This is clear evidence of social stratification and the creation of an established economic class that occurred at the time of the formation of the Kingdom of Judah.

Khirbet Qeiyafa is identified with the biblical city Shaʽarayim. During several seasons of excavation, a fortified city, two gates, a palace and storerooms, dwellings and cultic rooms were exposed.

The city dates from the time of David – the late 11th and early centuries BCE. Unique artifacts that were previously unknown were discovered at the site.

According to Garfinkel and Ganor:

In recent years four inscriptions have been published: two from Khirbet Qeiyafa, one from Jerusalem and one from Bet Shemesh. This completely changes our understanding of the distribution of writing in the Kingdom of Judah, and it is now clear that writing was far more widespread than previously thought.

It seems that the organization of the kingdom required a cadre of clerks and writers and their activity is also manifested in the appearance of inscriptions.

 

Church from 6th Century Discovered near Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Archaeological excavations near the Jerusalem–Tel Aviv Highway 1, at the entrance to Abu Gosh approximately eight miles west of the capital, have uncovered a large Byzantine-period road station that included a church.

The excavations were conducted while upgrading and widening the highway to six lanes.

The site lies next to a seep spring known as ‘Ain Naqa‘a, located on the outskirts of Moshav Bet Neqofa. The current excavation season uncovered a church measuring about 16 meters (52 feet) in length and which includes a side chapel 6.5 m long and 3.5 m wide and a white mosaic floor.

A baptismal font in the form of a four-leafed clover, symbolizing the cross, was installed in the chapel’s northeast corner.

Fragments of red-colored plaster found in the rubble strewn throughout the building showed that the church walls had been decorated with frescoes. To the west of the church were rooms that were probably used as dwelling quarters and for storage. One of them contained a large quantity of pottery tiles.

The excavations yielded numerous different finds, testifying to intensive activity at the site. These included oil lamps, coins, special glass vessels, marble fragments, and mother-of-pearl shells.

Annette Nagar, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said:

The road station and its church were built in the Byzantine period beside the ancient road leading between Jerusalem and the coastal plain. Along this road, which was apparently already established in the Roman period, other settlements and road stations have previously been discovered that served those traveling the route in ancient times.

Included in the services provided along the route were churches, such as the one recently uncovered at the entrance to Abu Gosh. Other churches have been recorded in the past in Abu Gosh, Qiryat Ye‘arim, and Emmaus. This road station ceased to be used at the end of the Byzantine period, although the road beside which it was built was renewed and continued to be in use until modern times.

The excavation site will be covered and preserved for future generations.

Section of Ancient Jerusalem’s Lower Aqueduct Discovered

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

A section of Jerusalem’s Lower Aqueduct, which conveyed water to the city more than 2,000 years ago, was exposed during the construction install a modern sewer system for Arabs in the villages of Umm Tuba and Sur Bahar, near HaHoma in southern Jerusalem.

The Israel Antiquities Authority conducted an archaeological excavation there following the discovery of the aqueduct.

Excavation director Yaakov Billig said:

The Lower Aqueduct to Jerusalem, which the Hashmonean kings constructed more than two thousand years ago in order to provide water to Jerusalem, operated intermittently until about 100 ago. The aqueduct begins at the ‘En ‘Eitam spring, near Solomon’s Pools south of Bethlehem, and is approximately 21 kilometers (12 miles) long.

Despite its length, it flows along a very gentle downward slope whereby the water level falls just one meter per kilometer. At first, the water was conveyed inside an open channel and about 500 years ago, during the Ottoman period, a terra cotta pipe was installed inside the channel in order to better protect the water.

The aqueduct’s route was built in open areas in the past, but with the expansion of Jerusalem in the modern era, it now runs through a number of neighborhoods: Umm Tuba, Sur Bahar, East Talpiot and Abu Tor.

Since this is one of Jerusalem’s principal sources of water, the city’s rulers took care to preserve it for 2,000 years, until it was replaced about a century ago by a modern electrically operated system.

Due to its historical and archaeological importance, the Israel Antiquities Authority is taking steps to prevent any damage to the aqueduct and is working to expose sections of its remains, study them and make them accessible to the general public.

The Umm Tuba section of the aqueduct was documented, studied, and covered up again for the sake of future generations.

1,400-Year-Old Wine Press Mysteriously Appears in Jerusalem

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

By Michael Zeff

While jogging in a Jerusalem neighborhood park, a local Jerusalemite stumbled upon an ancient ruin which hadn’t previously been there.

The Jerusalem resident immediately reported the strange discovery to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), who confirmed that they had no archaeological excavations going on in that neighborhood or any knowledge of any ruins.

After arriving at the scene, IAA archaeologists were surprised to discover a 1,400 year old wine press fully and meticulously excavated and exposed to the world.

“Our team was shocked,” IAA spokesperson told the Tazpit News Agency, “They saw a carefully exposed ancient wine press where none existed before, where not a single archaeologist has ever even been digging”.

The mystery kept bothering IAA officials, until the IAA team who took over maintenance of the site discovered that the ancient wine press had been discovered and excavated by local children.

The neighborhood kids, it appears, are avid archaeology fans and at first were simply “playing pretend” in the forest surrounding the neighborhood, until their game turned into reality.

The children were commended by the IAA for their care of the ruin, and the gentle work they put into exposing the wine press while carefully preserving it at the same time.

Police Allow Muslim Officials to Damage Holy Floor of Temple Mount Rock [video]

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Archaeologists are furious at the police for allowing the Muslim Waqf on the Temple Mount earlier this week to damage the ancient mosaic floor that covers the Foundation Rock of the Temple Mount.

Known in Hebrew as Even HaShetiya, it is the rock from which the world was created, according to the Kabbalistic literature known as the Zohar, which states:

The world was not created until God took a stone called Even HaShetiya and threw it into the depths where it was fixed from above till below, and from it the world expanded. It is the center point of the world and on this spot stood the Holy of Holies.

Adam and Eve were created there, according to tradition, which also teaches that Cain, Abel, Noah and Abraham offered sacrifices there. It also is the foundation of the two destroyed Holy Temples. The Palestinian Authority has methodically been trying to destroy all evidence of the existence of the Temples that Muslim clerics increasing teach never existed,

This week’s destruction robbed archaeologists of a rare opportunity to photograph the mosaic floor over the rock as well as the cave underneath, archaeologist Tzachi Devira told the Kipa website.

Devira, director of the project to sift debris from the Temple Mount, directly blamed the police for illegally allowing the Waqf to carry out work without supervision.

He recently learned that the Muslims were preparing to change the carpets that cover the floor and the cave, giving Devira a “rare historic opportunity” to photograph the mosaic.

He said “stubbornness of the police” prevented his entry while the Muslims carried out their work behind closed doors earlier this week.

Devira said that the Waqf was laying down new carpets purchased with funds donated by the Kingdom of Jordan.

However, Temple Mount activists who try to observe Muslim activity on the Temple Mount discovered that the Waqf exploited the changing of the carpets to damage the floor without legally required police presence.. Pictures that were taken by Muslims inside the holy site were leaked, and parts of the floor were seen, exposing mosaics from different periods.

Devira and others urgently appealed to Cabinet ministers, including Housing Minister Uri Ariel, who in turn asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to intervene because of fears that the Muslims would destroy more evidence of the existence of the Temples.

The Yisrael HaYom newspaper quoted Ariel having written to the Prime Minister:

The Waqf began a renovation project at the Dome of the Rock, the site of the Temple, and this includes re-flooring and potentially additional activities whose nature are unknown, all the while using heavy equipment.

These works are unprecedented and warrant the review of the Ministerial Committee on Archeological Digs at Holy Sites, and the fact that there is heavy machinery involved makes this all the more pressing.

Police finally ordered the work to stop immediately, and Kipa reported that an Israel Antiquities Authority spokesman said “work had not been coordinated.”

Devira asserts that the Waqf is forbidden to carry out any work without the presence of a policeman and an archaeologist.

Below is video of Arabs dumping Temple Mount debris. Click on CC in bottom right corner for English captions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/police-allow-muslim-officials-to-damage-holy-floor-of-temple-mount-rock-video/2015/04/17/

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