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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

King Hezekiah’s Seal Discovered in Jerusalem

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

(JNi.media) The City of David excavations of the Jerusalem Hebrew University on Mount Ophel, at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount compound, have yielded a sensational discovery: a seal (bulla) with the name of King Hezekiah (727-698 BCE). This external evidence further establishes the veracity of the biblical account of the nation of Israel’s empires going back some 3,000 years.

The seal is oval, with the dimensions of 8.6 by 9.7 mm, impressed on soft clay (Bulla) of 12 by 13 mm, about three millimeters thick. The bulla was used originally to sign a document written on papyrus and kept rolled and tied with thin twine whose subtle marks can be seen on the back of the bulla. The seal was discovered along with many pottery shards and various figurines and seals.

King Hezekiah’s bulla was discovered in a garbage heap that was dumped during or shortly after Hezekiah’s time, from a royal building that was used to store food. This building is part of a series of buildings, including a gate and towers, which were built in the second half of the tenth century BCE (the time of King Solomon), as part of the Ophel fortifications of the new government complex that connected the city of David with the Temple Mount.

Another imprinted 33 seals were unearthed along with the bulla, some of them bearing Hebrew names, marked in their backs by coarse canvas and thick wires, which apparently were used to seal sacks containing food products. Each seal is surrounded by a sunken border left by the seal’s frame. The Hezekiah seal bears the inscription: “Hezekiah (son) Ahaz King of Judea,” with an emblem of the sun emblem with tilted down wings and two icons of the Ankh (symbol of life).

According to Dr. Eilat Mazar, “despite the fact that seals bearing Hezekiah’s name have been seen on the antiques market since the 1990s, some with the symbol of a winged scarab (dung beetle) and some with a winged sun symbol, this is the first time that a seal of a King of Israel or Judea was found in a scientific archaeological excavation.”

The discovery of a royal seal at the Ophel archaeological excavations brings to life in a direct way the biblical stories about King Hezekiah and the national affairs that took place in his days in the Royal Borough of Jerusalem.

The seal was discovered via a process of wet sifting of the layers of soil from the excavation, which was conducted at the sifting facility at Tsurim Valley, run by Dr. Gabi Barkai and Tzachi Dvira and sponsored by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the City of David Fund. The seal was found by Efrat Greenwald, a member of the Ophel team who was responsible for screening the excavation soil. Reut Ben-Arie, who prepared the Hebrew bullas from the Ophel excavations, was first to recognize that the seal belonged to King Hezekiah.

The following is an account of Hezekiah’s life from Kings II, 18, translated by Chabad:

Hezekiah King of Judah

1 And it was in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, the king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz the king of Judah, became king.

2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem, and his mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah.

3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, like all that his father David had done.

4 He abolished the high places, and smashed the monuments, and cut down the asherah, and crushed the copper serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the children of Israel were burning incense to it; and he called it Nehushtan.

5 He trusted in the God of Israel there was none like him among all the kings of Judah who were after him, nor were there before him.

6 He cleaved to the Lord; he did not turn away from following Him; he kept His commandments, which He had commanded Moses.

7 Now the Lord was with him: in everything he ventured he succeeded; and he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.

8 He slew the Philistines up to Gaza and its boundaries, from watchtower to fortified city.

JNi.Media

Seal of First Temple Era King Discovered in Old City of Jerusalem

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Archaeologists have discovered a First Temple-era seal with the name of King Hezekiah, who ruled Judea at the time.

Hebrew University Dr. Eliot Mazer, who leads the ongoing excavations at the Old City site, said that the half-inch long seal, or “bulla,” is the “closest as ever that we can get to something that was most likely held by King Hezekiah himself.,” who ruled in the 8th century BCE.

The inscription on the bulla, one of several that have been found in the past several years, reads:

Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah.

The seal was embellished with motifs from Egyptian culture and was used to seal a scroll, indicating that King Hezekiah had signed the document.

He is best known today as for excavating the water channel from Silwan water springs to the Old City, an engineering feat.

King Hezekiah dug the tunnel after the invasion by the Assyrian empire.

The Bible records in 2 Kings 18:5 notes his historical significance:

After him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Eight Is Not Enough: History of the Ancient Candles in Israel

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

(JNi.media) The central commandment associated with Hanukkah, lighting the candles, presents the spiritual redemption of the nation following the victory of the Hasmoneans in their war against the Hellenistic Seleucid empire of Antiochus IV. The additional light we kindle each day of Hanukkah reminds us of the Hellenistic attempt to defile all the oil in the Temple, and the miraculous appearance of a pure oil jug that lasted until we were able to replenish the supply of untainted oil.

The Hanukkah commandment is to light the candles at the front door, or in a window overlooking the street, so they may be seen by passersby, as an announcement of the miracle. The candles light up the darkness, expressing the hope that the goodness associated with light prevail over the evil associated with darkness.

Biblical and Mishna-time candles were different from the candles we know today, notes a recent online exhibition at the Israel Antiquities Authority. The term “candle” was used to refer to a vessel, usually made of clay, which contained the fuel and a fuse. Initially a small clay bowl was used to contain the oil—usually olive oil—and the fuse was typically made from linen. Eventually, artisans pinched a fold in the lip of the clay bowl, for the fuse.

The shapes of ancient candles evolved over the years. During the Early Bronze Age to the Persian period (3500-300 BCE), the most common candles in Israel were open. These were simple, bowl-shaped ceramic lamps, with a pinched lip, made with a potter’s wheel, without decoration.

During the Hellenistic period (third century BCE) — the time of the Hasmoneans — and later, during the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic eras, local artisans began to produce a different kind of candle. the “closed” candle. This lamp was made with a stencil, and is composed of two separate parts, upper and lower, joined together after drying. The top of the candle had two openings: one for melting the fat and the other for laying the fuse; the lower part served as the base and the oil container. The origin of the closed candle was in Greece, and soon it became so common that it replaced the open candle in Israel. The closed candle is characterized by incised decoration, in relief or by drawing on the outside. Occasionally, candles were painted or colored.

The late Islamic period reintroduced the bowl-shaped open candle, made with a potter’s wheel.

The oil lamp provided portable and controlled light for thousands of years, until the invention of electricity. Here are a few candles representing the evolution through the ages in Israel. For a complete display, go to the Israel Antiquities Authority page.

 

Pinched lip candle — 1000-2000 BCE

Pinched lip candle — 1000-2000 BCE

Long nose, corked refill hole, satire decoration — Hellnistic period 337-333 BCE

Long nose, corked refill hole, satire decoration — Hellnistic period 337-333 BCE

Sunburst candle with radial decoration — Hellnistic period 337-333 BCE

Sunburst candle with radial decoration — Hellnistic period 337-333 BCE

JNi.Media

Archaeologists Reveal Another Ancient, Luxurious Mosaic in Lod

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Second Impressive Mosaic Uncovered in Lod

A second impressive mosaic discovered by archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority is ready to be publicly displayed this week for the first time ever.

In June–November 2014 a team of IAA archaeologists directed a large excavation in the Neve Yerek neighborhood of Lod. It is an area where a breathtaking mosaic that served as the living room floor in a villa some 1,700 years ago was previously exposed.

Ancient Mosaic uncovered in Lod

Ancient Mosaic uncovered in Lod

The aim of the excavation was to prepare the ground for construction of a visitor center, to which the beautiful mosaic will be returned when it completes a series of exhibitions in museums around the world.

Important artifacts were discovered in the new excavation, the most notable of which is another colorful mosaic (11 × 13 m) that was the courtyard pavement of the magnificent villa that had the famous mosaic in its living room.

IAA mosaic of fish uncovered in Lod.

IAA mosaic of fish uncovered in Lod.

According to Dr. Amir Gorzalczany, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The villa we found was part of a neighborhood of affluent houses that stood here during the Roman and Byzantine periods. At that time Lod was called Diospolis and was the district capital, until it was replaced by Ramlaafter the Muslim conquest. The building was used for a very long time.”

The northern part of the complex, where the “Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center” will be constructed, was exposed when the Israel Antiquities Authority was inspecting development work being carried out in the early 1990s prior to the construction of Highway 90.

Detailed mosaic in Lod showing gazelles.

Detailed mosaic in Lod showing gazelles.

The mosaic, which was discovered and excavated at that time by the late Miriam Avissar, is among the most beautiful in the country, and has been exhibited in recent years in some of the world’s leading museums, including the Metropolitan, the Louvre and the State Hermitage etc. It is currently on display at the Cini Gallery in Venice, Italy, and in the future it will be housed in the main building to be erected in Lod.

The southern part of the complex was exposed in the current excavations. Among other things, it includes a large magnificent courtyard that is paved with a mosaic and surrounded by porticos (stoas–covered galleries open to the courtyard) whose ceiling was supported by columns. According to Dr. Gorzalczany, “The eastern part of the complex could not be completely exposed because it extends beneath modern buildings in the neighborhood.”

The scenes in this mosaic depict hunting and hunted animals, fish, flowers in baskets, vases and birds. Dr. Gorzalczany added, “The quality of the images portrayed in the mosaic indicates a highly developed artistic ability.”

Numerous fragments of frescoes (wall paintings prepared on wet plaster) reflect the decoration and the meticulous and luxurious design, which are in the best tradition of the well-born of the period. In light of the new discoveries, this part of the villa will also be incorporated in the visitor center.

Archaeologists Hagit Torgë, Uzi ‘Ad, Eriola Jakoel and Yossi Elisha of the Israel Antiquities Authority participated in the excavation.

Hana Levi Julian

Under the Temple Mount

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

Republishing our 2012 archaeological exploration under the City of David.

A 45-minute tour underneath the walls of Jerusalem and uncovering the ancient history of Jerusalem.

Video of the Day

Palmyra ‘Arch of Triumph’ Latest Casualty of ISIS

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

The Da’esh (ISIS) terror group has blown up another priceless archaeological treasure in its quest for the world’s attention.

According to Syrian chief of antiquities Ma’amoun Abdulkarim, the Arch of Triumph at the 2,000-year-old city of Palmyra was destroyed on Sunday, local witnesses attested.

The group had already blown up two temples at the Roman-era UNESCO World Heritage site, which it captured from Syrian government forces this past May.

Other monuments and historic buildings at the ancient site, which the group considers to be sacrilegious, have been mined.

“It’s as though there is a curse that has befallen this city,” Abdulkarim told Reuters. “I expect only news that will shock us. If the city remains in their hands the city is doomed.”

But he added that he does not believe the destruction is driven by idealism alone at this point.

“It is now wanton destruction … their acts of vengeance are no longer ideologically driven because they are now blowing up buildings with no religious meaning,” he said.

In August, the terrorists blew up two pagan temples – the temple of Ba’alshamin, and then the Temple of Bel – one of the best preserved Roman-era sites.

Earlier this month it was confirmed that Da’esh had demolished some of the best preserved of Palmyra’s funeral towers. These were sandstone mausoleums built to hold the remains of the ancient city’s richest families.

UNESCO — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — describes the Arch of Triumph that graced the colonade entryway to Palmyra as “an outstanding example of Palmyrene art.”

An outraged UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova called the destruction of Palmyra’s architectural gems by Da’esh, “a war crime.”

In August, the terrorists beheaded venerated chief archaeologist of the ancient city, 82-year-old Khaled Asa’ad, after interrogating him for more than a month.

Asa’ad was executed in a main square of the historic site. His body was then hung from one of the 2,000 year old columns, his family said.

Hana Levi Julian

Rare 1,500-year-old Mosaic Featured on Sukkot at Kiryat Gat Industrial Park

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

A rare 1,500-year-old mosaic discovered two years ago during an archaeological excavation in the Kiryat Gat Industrial Park is being revealed to the public for the first time during the Sukkot holiday.

The mosaic, which depicts a map with streets and buildings, was exposed during a dig conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority together with school children and employees from the industrial park.

IAA workers conserving the mosaic.

“The appearance of buildings on mosaic floors is a rare phenomenon in Israel,” commented IAA archaeologists Sa’ar Ganor and Dr. Rina Avner. ““The buildings are arranged along a main colonnaded street of a city, in a sort of ancient map. A Greek inscription preserved alongside one of the buildings exposed in the mosaic indicates that the place which is depicted is the settlement Chortaso, in Egypt.

“According to Christian tradition, the prophet Habakkuk was buried in Chortaso. The appearance of this Egyptian city on the floor of the public building in Kiryat Gat might allude to the origin of the church’s congregation”.

Great artistry and fine detail was used to conserve the mosaic.

“The mosaic pavement was part of the floor of a church that did not survive, the IAA explained. Two sections of the mosaic were preserved; animals such as a rooster, deer and birds, and a goblet with red fruits are portrayed on one part of the pavement.

Buildings were among the images depicted in the excavated mosaic conserved in the Kiryat Gat Industrial Park.

Nile River landscape in Egypt consisting of a boat with a rolled-up sail, streets and buildings is depicted on the second carpet. The buildings are portrayed in detail and in three dimensions, with two and three stories, balconies and galleries, roofing, roof tiles and windows.

The artist utilized ‘tesserae’ of 17 different colors in preparing the mosaic,” noted Ganor. “The investment in the raw materials and their quality are the best ever discovered in Israel.”

For the first time, the “Factories from Within” Festival will be held in the Kiryat Gat Industrial Park during Chol Hamoed Sukkot. The entire industrial park will become an event-filled arena on October 1, including one-time performances in unconventional locations with rare visits inside of some of the best-known factories in Israel.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rare-1500-year-old-mosaic-featured-on-sukkot-at-kiryat-gat-industrial-park/2015/09/29/

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