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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

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

Rare Cache of Silver Coins From Hasmonean Period Found in Modi’in

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

More proof that Jews lived and prospered in the Land of Israel long before the so-called “Palestinian Arabs” ever walked this piece of real estate…

During the time of the Hasmoneans, a Jewish family of means owned an estate in Modi’in which had an olive grove and a press with which to produce olive oil, as well as vineyards and wine presses for the production of wine. And the family patriarch was a coin collector.

He was clearly a man of means: but something must have happened, and the family was forced to flee. Just before quitting their estate, he hid his coins between the massive stones in a wall, hoping to retrieve them later. But it was not to be, and it is only now, millennia later, his fellow Jews have discovered the treasure, and are learning his story.

* * *

The hoard of silver coins dating to the Hasmonean period (126 BCE) was exposed in April, in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority is currently conducting near Modi‘in, with the participation of local youth. The excavation is being carried out prior to the construction of a new neighborhood, at the initiative of the Modi‘in-Maccabim-Re‘ut municipality. The treasure was hidden in a rock crevice, up against a wall of an impressive agricultural estate that was discovered during the excavation there.

 IAA archaeologist Shahar Krispin during the discovery of the silver coin hoard that was found in the estate house in Modi'in.

IAA archaeologist Shahar Krispin during the discovery of the silver coin hoard that was found in the estate house in Modi’in.

Avraham Tendler, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said “This is a rare cache of silver coins from the Hasmonean period comprised of shekels and half-shekels (tetradrachms and didrachms) that were minted in the city of Tyre and bear the images of the king, Antiochus VII and his brother Demetrius II.

“The cache that we found is compelling evidence that one of the members of the estate who had saved his income for months needed to leave the house for some unknown reason. He buried his money in the hope of coming back and collecting it, but was apparently unfortunate and never returned.

“It is exciting to think that the coin hoard was waiting here 2,140 years until we exposed it,” Tendler said.

“The cache, which consists of 16 coins, contains one or two coins from every year between 135–126 BCE, and a total of nine consecutive years are represented, explained Dr. Donald Tzvi Ariel, head of the Coin Department at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“It seems that some thought went into collecting the coins, and it is possible that the person who buried the cache was a coin collector. He acted in just the same way as stamp and coin collectors manage collections today.”

“The findings from our excavation show that it was a Jewish family that established an agricultural estate on this hill during the Hasmonean period,” Tendler added.

Aerial photograph of the Hasmonean estate house in Modi'in.

Aerial photograph of the Hasmonean estate house in Modi’in.

“The family members planted olive trees and vineyards on the neighboring hills and grew grain in valleys. An industrial area that includes an olive press and storehouses where the olive oil was kept is currently being uncovered next to the estate.

“Dozens of rock-hewn winepresses that reflect the importance of viticulture and the wine industry in the area were exposed in the cultivation plots next to the estate. The estate house was built of massive walls in order to provide security from the attacks of marauding bandits.”

Hana Levi Julian

Driver of Norwegian Diplomatic Vehicle Found Smuggling Antiquities to Jordan

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Inspectors at the Allenby Crossing uncovered 10 kilograms of ancient figurines and coins during a routine inspection last week.

The treasure trove was discovered on May 31 during a search of a Mercedes car that was driven on behalf of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, which owned the vehicle.

The artifacts were apparently hidden behind the side panels of the car, wrapped in cartons.

The driver, Issa Nagam of the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, is suspected of smuggling the antiquities. He was arrested and released under restrictive conditions by Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Justice Karen Miller.

The Customs Investigation Unit and the Jerusalem Tax Authority is involved with the investigation of this case.

Hana Levi Julian

Pharoah Sends Passover Greetings; Rare Scarab Seal Found at Tel Dor

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

A rare scarab seal belonging to a senior Egyptian official of the Thirteenth Pharaonic Dynasty (the 18th-17th centuries BCE) has been found at Tel Dor on Israel’s Carmel Coast. The seal was discovered by Alexander Ternopolsky, a birdwatcher, who handed it over to the archeological team working at the site.

“The scarab must have belonged to a very senior figure in the kingdom, probably the viceroy responsible for the royal treasury,” explains Prof. Ayelet Gilboa from the Department of Archeology at the University of Haifa, who is heading the excavations at Tel Dor together with Prof. Ilan Sharon from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“The owner of this scarab filled a similar position to that held by Joseph in Egypt after he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams.”

Rare scarab seal

Rare scarab seal

The coastal city of Dor, at the foot of Mt. Carmel, was a key port city for thousands of years. Until the Romans built Caesarea, Dor was the most important commercial center in the area and served as a hub for commercial and passenger traffic throughout extensive periods in human history. The city is mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions dating back 3500 years, and even in the Books of Joshua, Judges, and I Kings in the Bible.

Excavations began at Tel Dor in the mid-twentieth century and have been directed since 2002 by Prof. Gilboa and Prof. Sharon. Findings include settlements from the Late Bronze Age (the Canaanite period in the second millennium BCE), as well as a Phoenician settlement and Israelite and Assyrian administrative centers (Iron Age); a city and palace from the Hellenistic period, including a splendid mosaic; and monumental remains from the Roman period, including a pair of temples that may have been dedicated to Poseidon, the Roman god of the sea.

“We have not yet reached the settlement of the 17th century BCE,” Prof. Gilboa explains, “and this is why this finding is particularly important. The rains this past winter must have eroded the soil on the southern slope of the site, and thanks to Mr. Ternopolsky’s keen eyesight, the scarab was discovered and handed over to us.”

The writing on the scarab seal provides important information about its owner.

The writing on the scarab seal provides important information about its owner.

A preliminary study showed that the stone scarab is engraved with the name of its owner, as well as his position and ankh symbols (crosses with a looped head), which symbolized eternal life, and pillar-like djed symbols that emblemized resurrection and stability. The description of the scarab owner’s position includes such phrases as “overseer the treasury,” “bearer of the seal,” and more, but the owner’s name has not yet been deciphered.

“Scarabs were very common objects in ancient Egypt, but the size and quality of this one, its owner’s high-ranking position, and the gold ring in which it is set all make this particular scarab a rare finding in our region,” Prof. Gilboa explains.

The excavators suggest two possible scenarios for the manner the scarab might have reached Dor. The first is that a representative of the viceroy may have come to this important trading city, which was a supply base for spices, resin, and other commodities that were highly valued by the Egyptians, in order to seal a deal for his superior. Accordingly, he would have brought the viceroy’s seal with him (or perhaps even the viceroy himself made the visit).

Side view of scarab seal found on Carmel Coast in northern Israel near Tel Dor.

Side view of scarab seal found on Carmel Coast in northern Israel near Tel Dor.

Hana Levi Julian

1,700-Year-Old Gravestones of Unknown Rabbis Uncovered in Northern Israel

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Three 1,700-year-old burial inscriptions in Aramaic and Greek have been uncovered in the northern Israeli community of Tzipori.

The discovery came after residents of the moshav found pieces of the stone and called the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology at Kinneret Academic College.

Researchers from the college excavated the site together with archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The two Aramaic inscriptions mention individuals referred to as “rabbis” who were buried in the western cemetery of Tzipori; their names have not yet been deciphered.

According to Dr. Motti Aviam of the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology, “The importance of the epitaphs lies in the fact that these reflect the everyday life of the Jews of Tzipori and their cultural world.

“Researchers are uncertain as to the meaning of the term ‘rabbi’ at the time when Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi resided in Tzipori together with the Tannaim and after him by the Amoraim – the large groups of sages that studied in the city’s houses of learning.

“One of the surprises in the newly discovered inscriptions is that one of the deceased was called ‘the Tiberian’. This is already the second instance of someone from Tiberias being buried in the cemetery at Tzipori.

“It is quite possible that Jews from various parts of Galilee were brought to Tzipori to be buried in the wake of the important activity carried out there by Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi.

“Another possibility is that the man moved to Tzipori and died there, but wanted to be remembered as someone who originally came from Tiberias,” he explained.

In the second Aramaic epitaph the word ‘le-olam’ (forever) appears for the first time in inscriptions found at Tzipori. The term le-olam is known from burial inscriptions in Beit She‘arim and elsewhere. “It means that the deceased’s burial place will remain his forever and that no one will take it from him. Both inscriptions end with the Hebrew blessing ‘shalom,’” Aviam explained.

Greek inscription on ancient gravestone found in Moshav Tzipori in northern Israel.

Greek inscription on ancient gravestone found in Moshav Tzipori.

“The Greek inscription mentions the name Jose, which was very common amongst Jews living in Israel and abroad.”

So far, 17 epitaphs were documented in the Tzipori study, most of them written in Aramaic, which was the everyday language of Jews in Israel at that time.

Contrasting this are the funerary inscriptions found in Tiberias – the second capital of the Galilee – which were mainly written in Greek.

Several of the ancient inhabitants from Tzipori are mentioned in these inscriptions, which include the names of rabbis and often have the names of the professions they were engaged in. Aramaic was the everyday language used by the Jews in the period of the Mishnah and Talmud, but some of them also spoke and read Greek, and thus there are also burial inscriptions in that language.

Tzipori was the first capital of the Galilee from the time of the Hasmonean dynasty until the establishment of Tiberias in the first century CE. The city continued to be central and important later on and was where Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi resided and compiled the Mishnah.

Jewish life in the city was rich and diverse, as indicated by the numerous ritual pools (mikvahs) discovered in the excavation.

At the same time the influence of Roman culture was also quite evident as reflected in the design of the town with its paved streets, colonnaded main roads, theater and bathhouses.

The wealth of inscriptions from the cemeteries attests to the strong Jewish presence and the city’s social elite in the Late Roman period.

Hana Levi Julian

Byzantine-Era Lamb Sculpture Discovered at Caesarea Port

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

Archaeologists discovered a Byzantine-era marble sculpture of a lamb Thursday morning in excavations at Caesarea port in the Caesarea National Park,

Experts suggested that the lamb served as part of the decoration in the 6th-7th century CE church that was discovered adjacent to the ancient port.

 

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/byzantine-era-lamb-sculpture-discovered-at-caesarea-port/2015/12/24/

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