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December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

Huge Stalactite Cave Discovered Near Gush Etzion

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Construction workers southwest of Jerusalem have discovered a huge stalactite cave located near the Tzur Hadassah community, on the western side of Gush Etzion.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority has not disclosed the exact location because of dangers of entering the area. Officials also want to take step to preserve and map the cave, which rivals the size of the Sorek cave, officially known as the Avshalom Cave, between Ramle and Beit Shemesh, southwest of Jerusalem.

Stalactite caves are formed when limestone rocks are slowly dissolved as rainwater seeps in through crevices of a cave, and the site at Sorek is one of Israel’s most popular natural wonders.

It was discovered in 1968 after an explosion carried out by a quarry.

The Sorek Stalactite Cave is approximately 100 yards long and maintains a temperature of 22 degrees C) all year. The stalactites are in a variety of mineral-based colors and are in endless shapes.

stalacite 4

 

stalacite 1

 

 

 

stalacite 2

Ancient Money Box from Second Temple Era Discovered Near Jerusalem–Tel Aviv Highway

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Pottery sherds, or fragments, discovered by an Israel Antiquities Authority inspector several months ago, during extensive work by the Netivei Israel – National Transport Infrastructure Company, Ltd. on the new Highway 1 project resulted in an archaeological excavation. A previously unknown settlement from the Late Second Temple period was discovered, as well as a rare hoard of coins that was found in one of its houses along the new highway connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The hoard, which was kept in a ceramic money box, included 114 bronze coins dating to the Year Four of the Great Revolt against the Romans. This revolt led to the destruction of the Temple on Tisha B’Av (the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av), 2,000 years ago.

“One of the significant points of the find is that all the coins were all dated to the same year and each have the same worth,” Pablo Betzer, one of the excavation directors of the Israel antiquities Authority told Tazpit News Agency. “The location of the find is also significant as it was found outside Jerusalem.”

According to Betzer and Eyal Marco, the other excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, the hoard appeared to have been buried several months prior to the fall of Jerusalem. “It provides us a glimpse into the lives of Jews living on the outskirts of Jerusalem at the end of the rebellion.”

“Evidently someone here feared the end was approaching – perhaps he could see the advancing Roman army and did not want to take a chance. He hid his property in the hope of collecting it later when calm was restored to the region,” Betzer told Tazpit.

The hoard as it was found in the excavation.

The hoard as it was found in the excavation.

All of the coins are stamped on one side with a chalice and the Hebrew inscription “To the Redemption of Zion” and on the other side with a motif that includes a bundle of lulav between two etrogs. Around this is the Hebrew inscription “Year Four”, that is, the fourth year of the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans (69/70 CE).

The hoard was concealed in the corner of a room, perhaps inside a wall niche or buried in the floor and was discovered after three weeks of digs in the area. Two other rooms and a courtyard belonging to the same building were exposed during the course of the archaeological excavation. The structure was built in the first century BCE and was destroyed in 69 or 70 CE when the Romans were suppressing the Great Revolt. Early in the second century CE part of the building was reinhabited for a brief period, which culminated in the destruction of the Jewish settlement in Judea as a result of the Bar Kokhba rebellion. This is attested to by three complete jars that were discovered embedded in the courtyard floor.

It seems that the residents of this village, like most of the Jewish villages in Judea, were active participants in both of the major uprisings against the Romans – the Great Revolt and the Bar Kokhba Revolt. As a result of their involvement the place was destroyed twice, and was not resettled.

The Israel Antiquities Authority and Netivei Israel Company are examining the possibility of preserving the village remains within the framework of the landscape development alongside the highway.

Rare 800 Yr Old Christian Monastery Seal Discovered in Jerusalem

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

A rare 800-year-old Christian monastery lead seal was discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Bayit Ve’Gan, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Tuesday.

The seal – or bulla, as it is known in Latin – was found during an excavation in the summer of 2012 at the Horbath Mizmil archaeological dig, and has since been identified as belonging to the Saint Sabas monastery. The site was abandoned at the end of the Byzantine period and resettled during the Crusader period (11-12 CE) and reached maximum population during the Mamluk period (13-15 CE). Artifacts discovered during the excavations reflected daily life in a farmstead there – and the seal.

S. Sabas – or Mar Saba, in Syriac – was an important leader among the Christian monasteries during the Byzantine period in the area of the Judean Desert.

The seal bears an inscription for Mar Saba, the saint, in Greek, with his likeness, on one side, and a second inscription attributing the item to the saint’s largest monastery, the ‘Great Laura’ during the Byzantine period in the Jerusalem area. The two parts of the seal, which are meant to be pressed together, are connected by a single thread.

Dr. Yuval Baruch, IAA regional archaeologist for Jerusalem and surrounds, presented the unique find to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, who noted its importance for the history of Christianity in the Holy Land and its significance for archaeological research.

Rare Ancient Coffin in Jezreel Valley Holds Egyptian Pharaoh’s Signet Ring

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

A gold signet ring bearing the name of Egyptian Pharoah Seti I was among the personal belongings of a wealthy Canaanite recently discovered in a 3,300-year-old coffin at the foot of Tel Shadud in the Jezreel Valley.

The archaeological dig took place at a site where construction was to begin on a pipeline carrying natural gas to Ramat Gavriel by the Israel Natural Gas Lines Company.

The Israel Antiquities Authority usually carries out an excavation at construction sites before any project begins. Often, unusual discoveries are made, and this time was no exception.

Excavation directors Dr. Edwin van den Bring, Dan Kirzner and the IAA’s Dr. Ron Be’eri said, “We discovered a unique and rare find: a cylindrical coffin with an anthropoidal lid – a cover fashioned in the image of a person – surrounded by a variety of pottery consisting mainly of storage vessels for food, tableware, cultic vessels and animal bones… it seems these were used as offerings for the gods and were also meant to provide the dead with sustenance in the afterlife.”

The skeleton of an adult was found inside the clay coffin. Next to it was more pottery, a bronze dagger, bronze bowl and hammered pieces of bronze.

Rare 3,300 year old coffin of a wealthy Canaanite uncovered in the Jezreel Valley.

Rare 3,300 year old coffin of a wealthy Canaanite uncovered in the Jezreel Valley.

“Since the vessels interred with the individual were produced locally, we assume the deceased was an official of Canaanite origin who was engaged in the service of the Egyptian government.”

Also found next to the deceased was an Egyptian scarab seal, encased in gold and affixed to a ring. This item is used to seal documents and objects.

The name of the crown of Pharaoh Seti I, who ruled ancient Egypt in the 13th century BCE, appears on the seal. Seti I was the father of Ramses II, identified by some scholars are the pharaoh mentioned in the Biblical story of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt.

The Egyptian coffin lid after it was cleaned up. Photo by: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

The Egyptian coffin lid after it was cleaned up.
Photo by: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Already in the first year of his reign (1294 BCE) a revolt broke out against Seti I in the Beit Shean Valley, but he conquered that region and established Egyptian rule in Canaan.

Seti’s name on the seal symbolizes power and protection, and the reference to him on the scarab found in the coffin aided the researchers in dating the time of burial. A cemetery dating to Seti I’s reign was previously uncovered at Beit Shean, the center of Egyptian rule in the Land of Israel, and similar clay coffins were exposed.

This new discovery, however, surprised archaeologists.

Tel Shadud preserves the Biblical name “Sarid” and the mound, located in the northern part of the Jezreel Valley close to Kibbutz Sarid, is often referred to as Tel Sarid.

The city is mentioned in the Bible among the settlements of the Tribes of Israel, with Sarid included in the territory of the Tribe of Zevulun as a border city. It is mentioned in the Book of Joshua:

“The third lot came up for the Tribe of Zevulun, according to its families. And the territory of its inheritance reached as far as Sarid . . . (Joshua 19:10)

The researchers add that only a few such coffins have been uncovered in this country – the last one found at Deir el-Bala about 50 years ago.

Archaeologists Inaugurate King Solomon’s Coronation Site

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

In a secret ceremony held Tuesday, officials inaugurated the  site of King Solomon’s coronation in the City of David.

The massive Canaanite fortress, built some 3,800 years ago, protects the Biblical Gihon Spring by allowing access to the water solely through a western entrance from within the city.

In the Book of Samuel (Shmuel) II, Chapter V, King David conquered the Zion Fortress from the Jebusite king and his men. Archaeologists believe it is possible they have discovered the fortress referred to in the Biblical passage, entered by King David’s soldiers as they conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites.

At the beginning of the Book of Kings I, the prophet Nathan and Tzadok HaKohen describe the coronation of King Solomon as having taken place “on Gihon.” Researchers believe the ceremony took place at the heart of the Spring House, over the gushing Gihon Spring.

“When we open the Bible and read about King Solomon who was crowned here, on the Gihon Spring, today you can come and see that this is where it all started,” said Oriya Desberg, director of development at the City of David.

It took archaeologists 15 years to uncover the structure in one of the most complex and digs ever undertaken in the State of Israel.

The Spring House is a massive Canaanite fortress built in the 18th century BCE and is the largest such structure ever uncovered from the pre-Herodian period.

The archaeological dig from which the fortress emerged was led by Haifa University’s Professor Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“In order to protect the water source, they built not only the tower, but also a fortified passageway that allowed the city residents a safe access to the water source,” explained archaeologist G. Uziel. The passageway continued to operate until the end of the Iron Age, the archaeologist said, “and it was only when the First Temple was destroyed that the fortress collapsed into ruins and was no longer used.”

The walls  – 23 feet (seven meters) thick – were built with stones that are about ten feet (two to three meters) wide, and no mechanical tools were used in the construction.

Arabs Caught Red-Handed Stealing Second Temple Coffins

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Israel and Palestinian Authority Arabs were caught red-handed a last Friday in the process of stealing 11 ancient coffins from a magnificent ancient burial cave in the Jerusalem region and which the Jewish population used for burial in the Second Temple period.

Some of the ossuaries, chests that were frequently used for re-burial where space was scarce, still contained the skeletal remains of the deceased.

Israel Antiquities Authority detectives and police arrested several suspects early Friday morning, and the arrest were kept under was until Monday morning,

The suspects  are residents of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Arab village of Abadiyah, in the vicinity of Bethlehem and were caught as they were closing a deal to sell the ossuaries to Jewish merchants, near the Hizma checkpoint north of Jerusalem.

It is suspected the ossuaries were recently looted from an ancient burial cave in the region of Jerusalem.

The Jewish population used stone ossuaries for secondary burial during the Second Temple period and they were very common from the second century BCE until the first century CE. The ossuaries are decorated with typical Jewish symbols, among them the lily flower, the six-petal rosette and other symbols. The decorations adorning the ossuaries were a major element of the Jewish art of the period.

Shallow engravings, etched in the past by means of a sharp stylus, were found on the walls of two of the seized ossuaries. They cite the names of the deceased whose bones were collected in the coffins. One of the engraved ossuaries that were found bore the name “Ralfin,” written in squared Hebrew script characteristic of the Second Temple period.

This name is apparently a Hebraized form of an unusual Roman name. “This is the first time this name appears on an ossuary from the Land of Israel,” according to Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, who examined the ossuaries.

On the other ossuary is a Greek inscription that could not be deciphered, and below it the name “Yo‘azar”, in squared Hebrew script. The name Yo‘azar is a common Jewish name in the Second Temple period, and occurs in contemporary written sources, such as Josephus’ writings. The name appears in this form and a slightly different form – “Yeho‘azar” – on numerous Jewish ossuaries from this period.

Some of the ossuaries were engraved with inscriptions in squared Hebrew script, characteristic of the Second Temple period and some bore Greek inscriptions, including the names of the deceased.

“These are singular finds,” Dr. Klein said. “The inscriptions on the ossuaries provide us with additional characters and names from amongst the Jewish population in the Second Temple period, and the motifs adorning the ossuaries will supplement our knowledge with new information about the world of Jewish art in this period.

“There is no doubt that the ossuaries were recently looted from a magnificent burial cave in Jerusalem. Remnants of paint remained on top of the ossuaries and the containers themselves belong to the group of “magnificent Jerusalem” ossuaries that were manufactured in the city in antiquity.” The Israel Antiquities Authority reports that the bones found inside the ossuaries will be turned over to the Ministry of Religious Affairs for burial.

Antiquities robbery is a serious offense punishable by five years in jail, and the unlicensed trafficking in antiquities is a criminal offense punishable by law by a prison sentence of three years.

US Donation to Israel for Largest Middle East Archaeology Library

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

The Mandel Foundation of Cleveland is funding a new library for archeology to be built on the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Schottenstein National Campus next to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The IAA announced the gift from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation to establish the Mandel National Library for the Archaeology of Israel and Mandel National Archaeological Archives, which is being designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie.

The campus, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, will serve as the new education, research, conservation and illumination center and as headquarters of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The complex will house nearly 2 million archaeological objects, among them 15,000 Dead Sea scrolls, viewable conservation and restoration laboratories, an auditorium, special study galleries, an archaeological education center, roof top exhibition gardens and a café.

The 35,000-square-meter campus is scheduled to be inaugurated in April 2016.

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel National Library for the Archaeology of Israel, located within the complex, will house nearly 150,000 volumes, including 500 rare books, and over 1,000 periodicals. The adjacent National Archaeological Archives will contain the Israel Antiquities Authority Archive, the British Mandatory Archive as well as maps, permits, plans and publications of excavations from the Mandatory Period through today.

The library and archives will be the largest of their kind in the Middle East. Morton L. Mandel, Foundation chairman and CEO said, “We welcome the opportunity to support the Israel Antiquities Authority in its mission to excavate, research, conserve and educate the public about the archaeological and historical heritage of the Land of Israel spanning the past 10,000 years.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-donation-to-israel-for-largest-middle-east-archaeology-library/2014/03/18/

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