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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

Tomb Raiders Caught Red-Handed in Northern Israel

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

by Ilana Messika Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Border Police officers thwarted last weekend a cell of tomb raiders at “Horvat Maskana,” an excavation site north of the Golani Junction, in the lower Galilee.

Three men from the village of Tur’an in the Northern District were caught digging in an ancient burial cave in search of valuable artifacts, causing extensive damage to the archaeological layers and to the buried.

“‘Horvat Maskana’ was a Jewish village during Roman times,” said Nir Distelfeld, an inspector of the IAA Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery. “The community of ‘Maskana’ is mentioned within the Jerusalem Talmud (second century compilation of discussions on Rabbinic Law) as a Jewish village situated midway between Sephoris [in central Galilee] and Tiberias [on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee]: ‘Two who departed, one from Tiberias, one from Sephoris and who arrived simultaneously at Maskana’,“ he quoted.

According to Distelfeld, the robbers were hunting for objects frequently used in burial ceremonies which can often be found in burial caves in perfect condition due to the protection afforded by the heavy stone that has been preserving them for thousands of years. The artifacts are extremely valuable in the antiquities market.

“These criminals are destroying our peoples’ history and erasing pieces of the country’s archaeological puzzle,” he said.

The three suspects were detained at the police station, interrogated and released on bail. The case will be transferred to prepare for an indictment. The penalty incurred for illegal digging can amount to three years in prison and for the crime of damages to antiquities, five years.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Arson in the Kidron Valley Damages Architectural Jewels

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

by Ilana Messika
Israeli authorities reported an arson this weekend (November 12) in the area of the “Tomb of Absalom” and the “Cave of Jehoshaphat.” The site is situated in the Kidron Valley on the eastern side of the Old City, separating the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives.

The fire reportedly caused serious archaeological damage.

The burial complexes in the Kidron Valley are attributed to the Jewish aristocracy of the late Second Temple period and are considered to be architectural wonders. The national park around the walls of Jerusalem surrounds the Old City, the ancient heart of holy city.

“The findings [of the investigation] point to an arson which unfortunately caused severe damage to valuable heritage values and archaeological jewels,” said Assaf Avraham, director of the national park administered under the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

“The national park has many visitors but is also, to our regret, often fertile ground for acts of vandalism carried out by law breakers,” he added.

The Israel Police and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority are continuing their investigation, which thus far indicates that one or more perpetrators appear to have deliberately set the blaze.

Both bodies are working on finding those responsible in order to bring them to justice.

Hana Levi Julian contributed to this report.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Rare 1,200-Year-Old Gold Coin Discovered in Lower Galilee

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

A rare gold coin dating back to 8 CE, has been unearthed in an excavation taking place in Kafr Kana in the Lower Galilee, the Israel Antiquities Authority reported Tuesdsay.

The coin was found by two teenagers who were volunteering at the dig, which was being carried out prior to construction of a parking lot in the town.

The 1,200-year-old coin is inscribed with Arabic writing that speaks of the Prophet Mohammed and monotheism, according to the IAA.

The Authority’s coin expert, Dr. Robert Cole, said the coin was extremely rare, commenting, “The excitement from the find is not only with the students but also the archaeologists. It is rare to find a single gold coin in an excavation.

“It is interesting to know that such a gold coin, for a simple man, was a lot of money,” he said. “One dinar was worth more than 100 pounds of grain, and with four and a half dinars, he already could buy a house in the village,” said Cole.

Other artifacts were found in addition to the coin, said Omar Zeidan, IAA director of the excavation. “The coins were found in 7th -8th century buildings along with fragments of pottery, metal objects and animal bones,” he said. He added that the evidence signified the inhabitants lived at the time of the early Islamic period.

Hana Levi Julian

National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel Taking Shape in Jerusalem [video]

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Finally, a building in Jerusalem where every visitor can see and feel the history and archaeology of the Land of Israel is taking shape right in front of our very eyes. The archaeology campus currently under construction will allow the general public access to Israel’s archaeological heritage by revealing the enormous variety of national treasures that were discovered in archaeological excavations, as well as the methods of exposing these national treasures in laboratories.

Israel Hasson, Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority, on Sunday unveiled the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, currently under construction on Museum Hill in Givʽat Ram, between the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum.

The campus will serve as an open, active house endeavoring to make the cultural heritage that belongs to all of us accessible to the general public: millions of archaeological treasures of the societies and religions that lived in Israel which were excavated and that will be excavated in the future. The campus will be home to visitors from Israel and abroad, and an educational center for students who will be able to see firsthand the exciting finds that were left for them by those who lived here hundreds and thousands of years ago.

The ceremony inaugurating the public wing of the campus will be attended by the Prime Minister and donors during the Sukkot holiday, and the building will be open to the public in about a year.

According to Hasson, “Just a small hop, skip and a jump over to the archaeology campus will allow every one of us to make a gigantic leap back in time, to the history of mankind and the country. The IAA is this generation’s guardian of the cultural assets of the past. The heritage belongs to all of the public, and it is our obligation to share with everyone the treasures that were safeguarded until now in the storerooms. On this campus, visitors will be able to take part for the very first time in the fascinating process of archaeological conservation that up till now was carried out behind-the-scenes, and experience firsthand the rich past of the country, as it takes shape before their eyes. The campus will be an attraction for tourists from Israel and abroad, and a home for anyone who wants to know where he comes from and where he is going.”

The total construction cost of of construction, about $105 million, comes from twenty-six donors as well as the State of Israel.

Display cabinet dedicated to new discoveries presents the story of the shipwreck in Caesarea harbor that was laden with a cargo of magnificent bronze statue fragments intended for recycling. Photographer: Ardon Bar-Hama

Display cabinet dedicated to new discoveries presents the story of the shipwreck in Caesarea harbor that was laden with a cargo of magnificent bronze statue fragments intended for recycling. Photographer: Ardon Bar-Hama

The campus, which covers an approximate area of 360 acres, is a unique gem designed by architect Moshe Safdie, symbolizing the archaeological excavation process – a tensile “transparent” roof that is the first of its kind in the country and simulates the tent-like canopies used to shade archaeological excavations, directing rainwater to a pool situated in a courtyard below, and creating a flowing cascade of water. Three levels descending like the strata in an archaeological excavation, contain courtyards, impressive display galleries, dedicated, climate controlled housing centers, and paths that overlook the laboratories and hundreds of thousands of artifacts housed in the campus, as well as the National Library for the Archaeology of Israel.

The inaugural exhibition in the campus will focus on and illuminate the diversity of the work of the professionals engaged in the worlds of archaeology and conservation.

Fascinating mosaics, many of which have never been displayed before, will be revealed for the first time within the framework of the archaeology campus. Photographer: Ardon Bar-Hama

Fascinating mosaics, many of which have never been displayed before, will be revealed for the first time within the framework of the archaeology campus. Photographer: Ardon Bar-Hama

The first exhibition in the display cabinet dedicated to new discoveries will present the story of the shipwreck in the Caesarea harbor, which was laden with a cargo of magnificent bronze statue fragments intended for recycling. From this exhibit one can learn a great deal about the world of marine archaeology, among other things, how the archaeologists excavated the artifacts underwater.

The exhibitions are spread throughout the building and deal with a variety of subjects.

In the huge housing center for the National Treasures visitors will walk on a suspended bridge while watching an audiovisual exhibit that will be projected on hundreds of thousands of artifacts.

The eastern rooftop of the campus is dedicated to mosaics, many of which have not been seen before and will be revealed to the public for the first time. The impressive el-Hammam mosaic from Bet Sheʽan was removed from the site in 1934, and only now, 82 years later, will visitors have an opportunity to see it. A magnificent mosaic depicting the biblical story of Samson carrying the gate of Gaza on his back after the Philistines tried to kill him (Judges 16:3) was exposed by Jody Magness at Huqoq and will also be presented on the rooftop. A large nave of a Byzantine church with a colorful mosaic in it that was excavated by Shlomo Kol-Yaʽakov east of Ramla was restored in its entirety in one of the open courtyards of the campus.

At the National Campus for Archaeology visitors will get a behind-the-scenes view of how the experts conserve antiquities in laboratories that will be visible to the public. Credit: Shai Halevi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

At the National Campus for Archaeology visitors will get a behind-the-scenes view of how the experts conserve antiquities in laboratories that will be visible to the public. Credit: Shai Halevi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Hundreds of 7,000-year-old artifacts are exhibited in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery, revealing the Chalcolithic culture, which is surprising in its complex social system, the development of new production technologies and its extensive trade relations. Prominent among the artifacts: a painstakingly restored wall painting from Ghassul that was probably situated in a cultic chamber, statuettes, sculpted stands, clubs and scepters as well as the rare wooden bow and sandal from the Cave of the Warrior.

A special gallery in the campus focuses on ancient glass, and lumps of raw glass and hundreds of vessels are on exhibition (from the furnace to the masterpieces), describing the glass industry in the country and the ancient world, and the extensive distribution of these vessels in tombs some two thousand years ago. The precious glass vessels were buried as funerary offerings together with the deceased, in the belief that they would accompany the deceased to the next world.

The National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel is home to the World Center for the Dead Sea Scrolls, including the conservation center where the scrolls undergo conservation, a climate-controlled housing center for more than 15,000 scroll fragments, a library dedicated to the subject, and a gallery for the exhibition of the complex methods used by the five IAA Dead Sea Scrolls conservators – the only people in the entire world that are officially authorized to touch these 2,000 year old scrolls.

At the National Campus for Archaeology visitors will get a behind-the-scenes view of how the experts conserve the Dead Sea Scrolls. Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

At the National Campus for Archaeology visitors will get a behind-the-scenes view of how the experts conserve the Dead Sea Scrolls. Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Other parts of the campus include the National Library for the Archaeology of Israel, which will be one of the largest in the Middle East, an auditorium where conferences, lectures, and movies in the field of archaeology can be held and shown, the administration offices of the IAA, a café and archaeological exhibits integrated on landscaped rooftops designed by landscape architect Barbara Aronson, which will enhance the area’s scenery.

The National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel will be inaugurated on October 19 in a ceremony attended by the Prime Minister. It will be streamed live on the IAA Facebook page. The historic inauguration event will mark the importance of preserving Israel’s archaeological, spiritual and cultural heritage and will express gratitude to the donors who through their generosity made possible the construction of the campus.

JNi.Media

Largest Archaeological Garden Ever in Israel Inaugurated at IDF Kirya Base in Tel Aviv

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

In a festive ceremony attended by Israel Defense Force chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot, the director of the Israel Antiquities Authority and a representative of the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, the largest archaeological garden ever built in Israel was inaugurated Tuesday at the IDF Kirya base in Tel Aviv.

The exhibition – A Tumultuous City – is situated in the heart of “The City that Never Sleeps” and presents dozens of impressive items from major cities in the ancient world.

Among the most unique exhibitions are a stone that weighs six tons from the Western Wall.

In addition to the IDF chief of staff, IAA irector Israel Hasson, a representative of the Heritage Project in the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, the Camp Rabin base commander Colonel Yigal Ben-Ami and senior officials of the IDF and the IAA were on hand for the festivities.

Hasson told those gathered, “The IAA seeks to expose soldiers – our future generation – to their past. The exhibition, which we organized in the epicenter of the army, brings a reminder that spans thousands of years of history to the daily life of tens of thousands of soldiers and visitors, that we are part of a chain of magnificent life. The exhibition was established as part of the IAA’s outreach policy of sharing our heritage with the public, whether in setting up exhibitions in public places or encouraging soldiers, pupils in military preparatory programs and youth to participate in archaeological excavations”.

According to the Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, Ze’ev Elkin, “The importance of the presence of our heritage in the heart of the Kirya base in Tel Aviv, where all of the army’s senior officers pass, constitutes another tier in our national strength, resulting from the recognition of our heritage and the deep understanding of each soldier and officer that our future depends on our past and our heritage here in Israel”.

Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev said, “The decision to inaugurate an archaeological garden here in the base of the IDF general staff conveys first and foremost an important moral message – recognition of Israel’s history is essential in building the image of the soldier who knows his past, understands the challenges of the present and is always ready to ensure the future of his people for the sake of future generations”.

Camp Rabin Commander Colonel Yigal Ben-Ami, added, “A people needs to be aware of its past. About 25,000 people pass by here every day and they will now have direct contact with their heritage. The new garden is an amazing connection between what we went through and our revival”.

According to Ayelet Grover, curator of the exhibition on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The Hebrew word kirya first appears in the Book of Isaiah (22:2), meaning “town”, where it is written: ‘a tumultuous city, exultant town.’

“In a bustling place like the Kirya base, which is in the heart of The City that Never Sleeps – the economic, cultural and arts center of Israel, it was appropriate that we organize an archaeological exhibition in the city, which deals with human culture and the development of urban space.

“The exhibition tells the story of the oldest cities in Israel, the most ancient of which were established 5,000 years ago, and some of them still exist today.

“The presentation of stones that come from the earth and hold within them memory, history and culture, especially in a place where the full-force of contemporary architecture is present, creates, in my opinion, a thought-provoking dialogue between past, present and future,” she said.

Hana Levi Julian

Archaeological Evidence of the Kingdom of David

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

By Anna Rudnitsky

Biblical archaeology was revolutionized several years ago when evidence of the existence of the kingdom of David was brought to light in the form of a fortified Iron Age town excavated in the Elah Valley by Hebrew University Professor Yosef Garfinkel and Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeologist Sa’ar Ganor.

The place was described by the Bible as the location of the battle between David and Goliath. The highlights of the findings of the Elah Valley excavations are now to be presented to the public for the first time at an exhibition scheduled to open at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem on September 5.

“Archaeology cannot find a man and we did not find the remnants linked to King David himself,” Professor Garfinkel told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “But what we did find is archaeological evidence of the social process of urbanization in Judea.”

According to Prof. Garfinkel, the evidence of urbanization fits in with what is described in the Bible as the establishment of the Kingdom of David, when small agrarian communities were replaced by fortified towns. “The chronology fits the Biblical narrative perfectly. Carbon tests performed on the olive pits found in Khirbet Qeiyafa show the town was built at the end of the 11th century BCE,” Garfinkel explained.

Two phenomena particularly attracted the attention of Garfinkel and Ganor when they began excavations at the site of Khirbet Qeiyafa about 10 years ago. Numerous iron stones were found and a wall of unusual form, with hollows in two places, enveloped the site.

The archaeologists only realized in the second year of their excavations that they had found a fortified town from the Iron Age that perfectly fit the description of the Biblical town of Sha’arayim. The name in Hebrew means “two gates,” and the hollows in the modern wall, built on top of the ancient one, were precisely in the same place as the previous existence of two gates, which is quite a rarity for a relatively small town.

The geographical location of the town also fits right in line with the Biblical depiction of Sha’arayim, mentioned in the context of the aftermath of the battle between David and Goliath when the Philistines “fell on the way to Sha’arayim.” The town is also mentioned in the Book of Joshua as being situated near Socho and Azeka, two archaeological sites surrounding Khirbet Qeiyafa.

Other remarkable finds at the site include two inscriptions in the Canaanite script that are considered to be the earliest written attestation to date as to the use of the Hebrew language. A pottery shard contains the distinctly identifiable Hebrew words, “king,” “don’t do,” and “judge.”

The Bible Lands Museum exhibition, “In the Valley of David and Goliath” will feature the pottery shards as well as a clay model of a shrine found at the site and the huge stones used in the wall around the town. “Although I led the excavations, I myself was amazed to see the different pieces brought together in a way that allows visitors to get a clear picture of how the town looked and that gives them an opportunity to go back in history to the times of the kingdom of David,” Professor Garfinkel said.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Islamic Guards Attack Archaeologists on Temple Mount “for Picking Up Olives”

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

by Michael Bachner/TPS on July 27, 2016 Jerusalem (TPS) – A group of six Israeli archaeologists visiting the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City were attacked by employees of the Jordanian Waqf on Wednesday morning. According to the archaeologists, the Waqf officials demanded that the group leave the site after they had thought one of them picked up several olives from the ground.

Two assailants were arrested by the police and taken for questioning, but the Jewish group claims that there were approximately eight assailants in total. They also claimed that the Waqf employees took one of their mobile phones and deleted photos of the incident that had been taken and that police forces only arrived 15 minutes after the incident took place.

While the Jewish group claimed that one of archaeologists was lightly wounded in the incident, the Jerusalem police said that nobody required medical treatment following the attack.

“At first, we were not accompanied by policemen or Waqf officials,” wrote Zachi Dvira, one of the archaeologists who also heads the Temple Mount Sifting Project, on his Facebook page after the incident. “At some point, one of the participants picked up a stone from the ground. A Waqf guard who was watching us from a distance shouted at her not to pick up olives from the ground.”

“Afterwards, they decided we must end our tour even though there was plenty of time left,” he added. “An argument broke out and they became violent. Four of them assaulted one of us (Yuval Markus), tackling him to the ground and hitting him.”

“I wasn’t able to contact the four policemen who were present at the site since they were busy escorting one religious Jew,” added Dvira. “I started filming the incident for deterrence and then they attacked me and grabbed my phone to delete the footage. Only when I threatened to complain to the Waqf director by name did they return the phone. The policemen then finally arrived and arrested two of the seven or eight guards who attacked us.”

The Waqf is an Islamic trust that manages the Temple Mount on behalf of Jordan in accordance with the peace agreement signed with Israel in 1994. Waqf employees closely monitor Jews visiting the holy site and prevent them from praying, bowing, or violating the strict visitation rules imposed upon religious Jews at the site.

“This is outrageous,” Temple Mount Activist Arnon Segal told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “These attacks could eventually result in death. The Waqf employees are being permitted to act uninhibited, without anyone putting them in their place. Netanyahu even said last week that he wanted to strengthen the Waqf. I wonder when Israeli law enforcement authorities will start enforcing the law instead of preserving international agreements that will not help us.”

The Jerusalem District Police released a statement saying that “two Waqf guards approached a group of visitors and attacked one of them during visitation hours at the Temple Mount. A police force arrested the two Waqf members and took them for questioning. The man who was attacked did not require medical treatment.”

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism though Jewish access to the site is severely restricted. The site is also the third holiest to Muslims, who refer to it as Haram al-Sharif or as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/islamic-guards-attack-archaeologists-on-temple-mount-for-picking-up-olives/2016/07/27/

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