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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

Centuries before Hanukkah: Remains of 8,000-Year Old Olive Oil Found in Galilee

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

The earliest evidence for the use of olive oil in the country, and possibly the entire Middle East, was revealed at an antiquities site in the Lower Galilee, Israel Antiquities Authority wrote contend in the Israel Journal of Plant Sciences.

Dr. Ianir Milevski and Nimrod Getzov directed an archaeological salvage excavation in 2011–2013 at “En Zippori” in the Lower Galilee, prior to the widening of a highway, and their findings and research indicate that olive oil was already being used in the country 8,000 years ago.

Getzov and Milevski methodically sampled the pottery vessels found in the excavation in order to ascertain what was stored in them and how they were used by the site’s ancient inhabitants. Together with Dr. Dvory Namdar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Earth Sciences, they took small pieces of pottery and utilizing chemical methods for extraction and identification examined the organic remains that were absorbed in the sides of the vessel.

These tests revealed that the pottery dating to the Early Chalcolithic period contained olive oil. A comparison of the results of the extraction from the archaeological shards with those of modern, one-year-old oil, showed a strong resemblance between the two, indicating a particularly high level of preservation of the ancient material, which had survived close to its original composition for almost 8,000 years.

Of the 20 pottery vessels sampled, two were found to be particularly ancient, dating to approximately 5,800 BCE. According to the researchers, “In underwater archaeological excavations directed by Dr. Ehud Galili opposite Kfar Samir, south of Haifa, remains of an olive oil industry from this period were previously discovered, whereas now at Zippori, evidence has been found for first time of the use of olive oil.

“Together with the Kfar Samir discovery, this is the earliest evidence of olive oil production in the country, and possibly the entire Levant (the Mediterranean basin).”

Milevski and Getzov said, “It seems that olive oil was already a part of the diet and might also have been used for lighting. Although it is impossible to say for sure, this might be an olive species that was domesticated and joined grain and legumes – the other kinds of field crops that we know were grown then.

“Those crops are known from at least two thousand years prior to the settlement at ‘En Zippori. With the adoption of olive oil the basic Mediterranean diet was complete. From ancient times to the present, the Mediterranean economy has been based on high quality olive oil, grain and must, the three crops frequently mentioned in the Bible.”

 

 

 

‘House of David’ Rock on Exhibit at NY Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

A stone on which is inscribed the earliest known reference to the era of King David is on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dimly lit, the stone slab, or stele, doesn’t look particularly noteworthy, especially when compared to the more lavish sphinxes, jewelry and cauldrons one encounters en route to the room where it is installed.

A Twitter post this fall, art journalist Lee Rosenbaum described the 2750-year-old rock, nearly 13-by-16 inches and which resembles an aardvark or elephant, as “homely.”

What’s significant about this stone is its inscription: “the earliest extra-biblical reference to the House of David.”

“There is no doubt that the inscription is one of the most important artifacts ever found in relation to the Bible,” Eran Arie, curator of Israelite and Persian periods at the Israel Museum, wrote in the exhibit catalog.

The stone is on display as part of the “Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age” exhibit running through January 4.

As is to be expected with a rock nearly three millennia old, the slab is missing considerable portions, and Arie’s translation of the remaining 13 lines of text is full of ellipses and bracketed additions. What is clear is that the Aram-Damascene king Hazael brags of having killed 70 kings, including of Israel and of the “House of David.” Scholars agree that the round figure is probably exaggerated, although Hazael did have a reputation for being ruthless and successful.

The breaks in the stone neither obstruct nor obscure the “bytdvd,” or House of David, inscription, which remains “absolutely intact and clear,” said Ira Spar, professor of history and ancient studies at Ramapo College in New Jersey and a research Assyriologist at the Metropolitan Museum.

Epigraphers and biblical historians agree almost unanimously that the letters “bytdvd” refer to the House of King David, according to Spar.

“While it is clear that David was king of Israel, the archaeological evidence for the extent of his kingdom remains unclear,” he said.

Despite its “extraordinary inscription,” the rock, a seventh century BCE “Annals of Sennacherib” that tells of a siege of Jerusalem mentioned in the Bible, and a 10th-century BCE “Taanach Cult Stand” that may feature a depiction of the Jewish God, have been “curiously” ignored in reviews of the Met’s exhibit, notes the Biblical Archaeology Society website.

In the catalog for the “Assyria to Iberia” exhibit, the Israel Museum’s Arie wrote that the inscription’s matter-of-fact invocation of David’s name just some 150 years after his reign amounts to a “clear indication that the ‘House of David’ was known throughout the region and that the king’s reputation was not a literary invention of a much later period.” This, he adds, “clearly validates the biblical description of a figure named David becoming the founder of the dynasty of Judahite kings in Jerusalem.”

The Use of Fire May Have Begun In Israel 350,000 Years Ago

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

A study of artifacts in an ancient cave near Haifa indicated that humans first started using fire there approximately 350,000 years ago, Scienemag.org reported.

The Tabun Cave, located approximately 12 miles south of Haifa, “is unique in that it’s a site with a very long sequence,” according to University of Haifa archaeologist Ron Shimelmitz. His new study examined  “step by step how the use of fire changed in the cave.”

The Tabun Cave is rich in artifacts. It was occupied intermittently from 500,000 to around 40,000 years ago.

“Researchers examined artifacts previously excavated from the site, which are mostly flint tools for cutting and scraping, and flint debris created in their manufacture,” Sciencemag wrote.

An examination of approximately 100 layers of sediments in the depths of the cave deposits showed that none of the flints were burned from a period of approximately 350,000 years ago. Layers above that exposed many flints with red or black colors or cracking that showed they had been exposed to fire.

The researchers wrote in the Journal of Human Evolution that since wildfires were rare in cases, they were controlled by those who lit them.

There are indications from other sites that humans used fire before then but there is no conclusive evidence that they were  able to master its use.

Debates still rage among experts whether the use of fire actually began up to 2 million years ago or only more recently.

Harvard University’s Richard Wrangham said the Tabun caves study was “exciting” but not enough to convince him.

He agrees with Prof. Shimelmitz agree that whenever fire began, it changed the lives of humans by allowing them to cook and keep warm.

“There’s a reason people think we got fire from the gods,” Shimelmitz added.

 

 

New App Puts Dead Scrolls on iPhone and iPad

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

The Dead Sea Scrolls are now available on iPhone and iPad, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Thursday with the launch of its first App featuring archaeology games and puzzles for kids.

Genesis 1:1 (the account of creation), the Ten Commandments, Psalms, and 11 other 2,000 year old manuscripts are featured in the ”Dig Quest” App that introduces kids ages 7-11 to archaeology with a suite of unique games, featuring beautiful artifacts from the National Treasures of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The App transforms a kid’s iPhone or iPad into an archaeological tool and lets them play games to hone their skills, discover secret meanings, solve puzzles, and piece the past together like true archaeologists. Along the way, they unlock ancient artifacts and create their own personal collection.

The games were developed in collaboration with the IAA’s team of archaeologists and researchers. As the children play, they get a feel for what archaeologists do as they experience the excitement of discovery and the creativity and skills involved in solving mysteries from the distant past.

Players select between two dig sites, each of which has a unique game that puts the player in the driver’s seat and requires using different archaeological skills.

At Lod, you clear the dirt to uncover an ancient Roman period mosaic and then play a fast-paced quiz-style game using your smarts and powers of observation to identify and classify the animals and objects on the mosaic.

In the Qumran caves, you discover fragments of the 2,000 year-old Dead Sea Scrolls that you piece together in a puzzle game. Then you scan the scrolls to reveal their text more clearly, mirroring the advanced spectral imaging process performed by the IAA team in the laboratories.

Dig Quest Israel Dead Sea Scroll Cave No Banner iPad-001

Each site features Discoveries for the user to uncover that tell more about the story of the excavation and the artifacts that are found. Artifacts and discoveries can be collected in a “Collection box.”

The game features:

  • More than 30 levels in two unique games based on two world-famous archaeological discoveries;
  • More than 50 images of historical treasures;
  • Historical and archaeological facts and artifacts;
  • Translated and spoken excerpts from the Dead Sea Scrolls;
  • A Collection box where players store artifacts and discoveries;
  • An archaeologist character host, Gabe, inspired by real IAA archaeologists;

The App is launching with two games, and additional games are planned as well as an Android release.

It can be downloaded the from the App Store .

The Golden Treasure Found Near the Temple Mount

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Rare 2,000 Yr Old Monument to Emperor Hadrian Found in Jerusalem

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

A rare find of tremendous historical significance has been discovered in Jerusalem: a fragment of a stone engraved with an official Latin inscription dedicated to the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

Researchers say this is among the most important Latin inscriptions ever discovered in Jerusalem.

The fate of Jerusalem following the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE) and prior to the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-136 CE) is one of the major issues in the history of the city and in terms of the Jewish people’s connection to it.

In the past year, the Israel Antiquities Authority has carried out salvage excavations in several areas north of the Damascus Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem. It was in one of those areas that the stone fragment bearing an official Latin inscription from the Roman period was discovered.

According to IAA excavation directors Dr. Rina Avner and Roie Greenwald,  “We found the inscription incorporated in secondary use around the opening of a deep cistern.

“In antiquity, as today, it was customary to recycle building materials and the official inscription was evidently removed from its original location and integrated in a floor for the practical purpose of building the cistern. Furthermore, in order to fit it with the capstone, the bottom part of the inscription was sawed round.”

Upon finding the inscription it was immediately clear to the excavators that they had uncovered an especially significant discovery, as indicated by the size and clarity of the letters.

The inscription, consisting of six lines of Latin text engraved on hard limestone, was read and translated by Avner Ecker and Hannah Cotton of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The English translation of the inscription is as follows: (1st hand)To the Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, son of the deified Traianus Parthicus, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with tribunician power for the 14th time, consul for the third time, father of the country (dedicated by) the 10th legion Fretensis (2nd hand) Antoniniana.

According to Ecker and Cotton, “This inscription was dedicated by Legio X Fretensis to the emperor Hadrian in the year 129/130 CE.” Their analysis shows that the fragment of the inscription revealed by the IAA archaeologists is none other than the right half of a complete inscription, the other part of which was discovered nearby in the late nineteenth century and was published by the pre-eminent French archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau. That stone is currently on display in the courtyard of Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum.

Only a small number of ancient official Latin inscriptions have been discovered in archaeological excavations throughout the country and in Jerusalem in particular.

There is no doubt that this is one of the most important of them.

The significance of the inscription stems from the fact that it specifically mentions the name and titles of Hadrian who was an extremely prominent emperor, as well as a clear date. The latter is a significant and tangible confirmation of the historical account regarding the presence of the Tenth Legion in Jerusalem during the period between the two revolts, and possibly even the location of the legion’s military camp in the city, and of one of the reasons for the outbreak of the Bar Kokhba revolt several years later and the establishment of ‘Aelia Capitolina’.

Even after 2,000 years the inscription is in an impressive state of preservation. Once the excavation findings are published, the inscription will be conserved and put on display for the public.

The events of the Bar Kokhba revolt are ascribed to the reign of the emperor Hadrian. He is remembered in Jewish history for having issued dictates imposing the persecution and forced conversions of Jews, which the sources referred to as the ‘Hadrianic decrees’.

Rare ‘Four Species’ Coin from Bar Kochba in Display in Israel

Monday, October 6th, 2014

A rare silver coin with an inscription form the period of the Bar Kochba revolt is on display at the Israel Museum through the week-long Sukkot holiday, which begins Wednesday night.

The rare cache of Byzantine-era antiquities discovered in 2013 will be on display through the Sukkot holiday.

The writing on the coin with a depiction of the Four Species used on Sukkot indicates that it was written by Bar Kochba or in his name and illustrates the effort spent to supply the Four Species to Bar Kochba’s soldiers in the rebellion against the Roman conquerors.

The exhibition includes the largest gold medallion with Judaic symbols known in existence. Among the archaeological finds on view are gold coins and silver and gold jewelry, in addition to the sizable medallion, measuring four inches in diameter.

The treasures were found in a Byzantine period public building near the southern wall of the Temple Mount during excavations led by Dr. Eilat Mazar, of Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, together with a team from Oklahoma’s Ambassador College.

The unique medallion has, in its center, a seven-branched menorah. On the left is a shofar, the ram’s horn traditionally blown on the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement. On the right is an unidentified object, possibly a bundle of myrtle, willow and palm branches, being three of the four species used during the Sukkot holiday and common Jewish symbols of the period, or perhaps a uniquely fashioned Torah scroll of unknown design from this period.

The unusually large size of the medallion raises important questions about its use. Some scholars believe it was used to decorate a Torah or piece of furniture, while others argue that it was simply a large ceremonial ornament. Like many finds from this period, the medallion’s combination of symbols reflects the timeless notion of ​​Jewish yearning for the restoration of the Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

One of the two cloth pouches in which the hoard was found held thirty-six gold coins, decorated on one side with portraits of Byzantine-era emperors over a period of 250 years, together with their names and titles; on the back there are crosses or images of gods. The latest coin is dated 602 CE, indicating that the cache was hidden at the beginning of the 7th century, possibly during the Persian invasion of 614 CE.

bible coin

 

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rare-four-species-coin-from-bar-kochba-in-display-in-israel/2014/10/06/

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