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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘discovered’

Live British Mandate-Era Mortar Shell Discovered on Netanya’s Poleg Beach

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Police who were summoned for a report of a “suspicious-looking” item in Netanya on Wednesday made their next call to the bomb squad.

The “item” discovered by a beachcomber on Poleg Beach turned out to have been a live British Mandate-era 155mm artillery shell.

Civilians who have walked on the beach were more lucky than they knew: Police sappers on the scene said the mortar shell was unstable and dangerous, even after more than half a century.

The sappers chose to safely detonate the shell at the site.

Hana Levi Julian

Head of Search in TA Building Collapse, as 3rd Dead Discovered: Time Not on our Side

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

“Time is not on our side,” said Home Front Command chief for the Metropolitan Tel Aviv District Colonel Amir Ulu, who described the challenges facing hundreds of rescue workers at the collapsed building where three have died—the third victim discovered Tuesday morning—and 23 injured so far. On Monday night the rescuers lost contact with two victims who until then could be heard from under the layers of dirt and destruction. “The more time passes, the more problematic it becomes to find living victims, although in the past we’ve rescued collapse victims after 30 hours,” Ulu said.

Rescue worker with dog at the site of the building collapse September 5, 2016 in Ramat Hakhayal, Tel Aviv.

Rescue worker with dog at the site of the building collapse September 5, 2016 in Ramat Hakhayal, Tel Aviv.

As dark was setting at the collapsed, 4-story parking garage under construction in Ramat HaKhayal in north Tel Aviv, the rescue teams mapped the construction site, but the dimensions and sheer mass of the detritus and debris posed a significant difficulty. “It can take us hours to reach each one of the mapped areas,” Yonatan Raz, Ulu’s deputy, told Walla. “But the command’s decision is that we’re not leaving. We have the capacity to remain here for 48 hours, with the hope of finding trapped victims who are still alive.”

The rescuers believe there are four more people under the collapsed structure. Overnight the site was flooded with high voltage lights and shifts were changed frequently, to maintain the workers’ alertness. The rescuers are fearing additional collapses in two spots, which they continue to monitor. “The structure has stopped moving, which is good news,” Ulu said Tuesday morning.

Ulu related that only a week ago, commanders from the Home Front Corp, Police and MDA underwent a course intended to regulate communications between them in the event of a major disaster, “And here we are, applying what we’ve learned, unfortunately,” Ulu concluded.

David Israel

Rare Roman Period Frescoes Discovered in Galilee

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

A team from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has discovered hundreds of fragments belonging to frescoes from the Roman period in the Zippori National Park, west of Nazareth in Upper Galilee. The fragments, which contain figurative images, floral patterns and geometric motifs, shed light on Zippori (Sepphoris), which was an important urban center for the Jews of the Galilee during the Roman and Byzantine periods.

The discovery was made this summer in the excavations at Zippori, conducted in memory of Ursula Johanna and Fritz Werner Blumenthal of Perth, Western Australia. The excavations are directed by Prof. Zeev Weiss, the Eleazar L. Sukenik Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology.

The frescoes decorated a monumental building that was erected in the early second century CE north of the decumanus, a colonnaded street that cut across the city from east to west and continued to the foot of the Acropolis. The building, whose function is not clear at this stage of excavation, spread over a wide area, and the nature of the artifacts discovered indicate that it was an important public building. At the center of the building was a stone-paved courtyard and side portico decorated with stucco. West and north of the courtyard, several underground vaults were discovered. Some of these were used as water cisterns and their construction was of high quality. The monumental building was built on the slope and the vaults were designed to allow the construction of the superstructure located on the level of the decumanus (an east-west-oriented road in a Roman city).

The monumental building was dismantled in the third century CE for reasons that are unclear, and replaced by another public building, larger than its predecessor, parts of which were uncovered during this digging season. The monumental building’s walls were dismantled in antiquity and its building materials — stone and plaster, some colorful — were buried under the floors of a newly established Roman building on the same location. Hundreds of plaster fragments discovered during this excavation season were concentrated in one area, and it seems that they belonged to one or several rooms from the previous building.

Guilloche, in a fresco from Zippori, dating from the early Second Century CE (Photo: G. Laron).

Guilloche, in a fresco from Zippori, dating from the early Second Century CE (Photo: G. Laron).

The patterns on the plaster fragments are varied and are decorated in many colors. Among them are geometric patterns (guilloche) and brightly colored wall panels. Other fragments contain floral motifs (light shaded paintings on red backgrounds or various colors on a white background).

Particularly important are the pieces which depict figures — the head of a lion, a horned animal (possibly a bull), a bird, a tiger’s hindquarters and more — usually on a black background. At least one fragment contains a depiction of a man bearing a club. Research on these pieces is in its early stages but it is already clear that at least one room in the building was decorated with figurative images, possibly depicting exotic animals and birds in various positions.

A bull's head in a fresco from Zippori, dating from the early Second Century C.E. (Photo: G. Laron)

A bull’s head in a fresco from Zippori, dating from the early Second Century C.E. (Photo: G. Laron)

The population of Zippori prior to the Great Revolt against the Romans was not very large, and archaeological finds dating to this period are particularly notable for the absence of figurative images – both humans and animals. The construction of the Roman city of Zippori after the Great Revolt, in the late first century and the second century CE, is indicative of a change in the attitude of Galilean Jews toward Rome and its culture. The city gained the status of a polis thanks to its loyalty to Rome during the Great Revolt, and constructed monumental public buildings, as befit a polis, that stood out in the urban landscape. This building boom also included the monumental building discovered north of the decumanus whose walls were decorated with frescoes, and whose remains were discovered during this season.

The new finds in Zippori contribute significantly to the research of Roman art in Israel. To date, excavators have uncovered the walls of several public and private buildings from Roman Zippori (second and third centuries CE) which were decorated with colorful frescoes in geometric and floral patterns. This season’s finds are the first, only and earliest evidence of figurative images in wall paintings at the site. The finds date to the beginning of the second century CE. Parallels to these finds are virtually unknown at other Israeli sites of the same period. Some panels bearing depictions of figures were discovered a few years ago in Herod’s palace at Herodium, and according to Josephus (Life of Josephus 65-69) the walls of the palace of Herod Antipas in Tiberias were also decorated with wall paintings depicting animals; but beyond that, no murals with depictions of figures, dating to the first century and the beginning of the second century CE, have been discovered to date in the region.

The discovery in Zippori is unique and provides new information regarding murals in Israel under Roman rule. Zippori is well known for its unique mosaics. The newly discovered frescos are now added to the city’s rich material culture. While the earliest mosaics discovered at the site date to around 200 CE, the ancient frescoes precede them by about a hundred years and are thus of great importance.

These finds raise questions relating to their socio-historic background. Who initiated the construction of the monumental building that was discovered north of the decumanus? Who is responsible for choosing the patterns that adorn the walls, and for whom were they intended?

The various finds uncovered throughout the site indicate that Zippori, the Jewish capital of Galilee, was home to many Jewish inhabitants throughout the Roman period, but the city also had a significant pagan community for which the temple was built to the south of the decumanus, opposite the monumental building, parts of which were discovered this season. It is difficult at this stage of the excavation to determine who was responsible for the construction and decoration of this monumental building. However, the new finds clearly reflect the multi-cultural climate that characterizes Zippori in the years following the Great Revolt, in the late first century and the second century CE.


The Nozyk Genizah Of Warsaw: Historic Torah Fragments Discovered In Poland

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

More than seven decades after the devastation of the Jewish community of Poland, there are still new discoveries being made on a regular basis.

The genizah before examination.

The genizah before examination.

Recently a genizah of old Torah fragments called yeriot was discovered in the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw. The Nozyk Synagogue was the only synagogue out of some 400 in Warsaw to survive the Shoah because the Germans decided to desecrate it by turning the beautiful, sacred place into a stable for their horses.

“We don’t know the exact origins of the genizah,” said Rabbi Moshe Bloom, rosh kollel of Nozyk, “but we can conjecture that after the Shoah the Nozyk Synagogue was returned to the Jewish community of Warsaw and it became a magnet for all things Jewish.

“Over the years, non-Jewish Poles would at times approach the synagogue, sometimes to honor lost friends, sometimes out curiosity, sometimes out of guilt. Some brought with them artifacts that they had kept hidden in their homes and felt a responsibility to return them. The Torah fragments were collected for eventual burial as prescribed by Jewish law.”

Special embellishments found on the last words of the Torah.

Special embellishments found on the last words of the Torah.

When I was recently in Warsaw Rabbi Bloom asked if I would be able to raise money to bury them with proper kavod and ceremony.

I wondered whether anybody had examined them.

“Why?” he asked.

Because, I told him, Torah scrolls from the pre-Shoah period had often been used for hundreds of years and therefore might have unique characteristics that are no longer in use. I asked Rabbi Bloom if I could examine the scrolls. He gave me permission to look them over and even photograph them.

A fragment showing unique tagim in Az Yashir.

A fragment showing unique tagim in Az Yashir.

The genizah consists of about 30 fragments (there are no complete scrolls), some only one or two columns and others much larger. Some showed signs of fire or water damage, slashes from knives, and other ravages of age and war. Almost all sections of the Torah are represented in the collection, from Bereishit to the end of Devarim.

Upon examination, I found that most of the fragments were very similar to those one would find in any synagogue today. A few of them looked to be over five hundred years old due to some of the variant letter shapes and tagim (crowns) that are no longer used.

When I returned to New York I visited with Rabbi Traube of Bais Hastam on 13th Avenue in Boro Park. An expert in the laws, and lore of Torah scrolls, he helped me understand some of the history behind the strange letter forms.

He explained that tradition tells us that the form of the Torah we have today was copied by Eli HaKohen off the stones that Joshua had set up when he brought the Jews into the land of Israel after the death of Moses.

A burnt Torah fragment from the genizah.

A burnt Torah fragment from the genizah.

For thousands of years these letter forms were the way all Torah scrolls were written; it was only about 400 years ago that they began to be used less and less frequently. The Chatam Sofer in his Teshuvah 265 says that Jews stopped using them after a Torah scroll from Tzefat was found without them. He explains that the special letters and tagim were used to remind people of certain lessons in the Torah but since we do not learn from Torah scrolls (other than during prayers) they should no longer be used.

There are many books that describe the different letters and tagim. Torah Sheleimah by Menachem Mendel Kasher covers many of the letter forms and lists many sources. Sefer Tagi lists different letters and reports that the letter peh with the special shape can be found 191 times, the letter lamed 26 times, and the letter ayin eight times.

A fragment with the peh lafufa in the Torah portion describing the fight between Jacob and the angel.

A fragment with the peh lafufa in the Torah portion describing the fight between Jacob and the angel.

The final disposition of the Nozyk genizah is still being decided. Many of the badly damaged yeriot will be buried while some of the others will be put on display thanks to generous support from Monika Krawczyk of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (www.fodz.pl). The proposed exhibit will be located in the synagogue in the town of Leczna and hopefully include the complete story of stam — the writing of Torahs, mezuzahs, and tefillin.

Rabbi Traube of Bais Hastam was excited about the exhibit and is looking forward to making a special trip to Poland to examine the fragments for himself.

“It is rare enough to find a genizah,” he said. “We would be lucky to find one or two interesting items in a genizah but here they have so many it is truly a historic find.”


Editor’s Note: For more information, to organize a lecture, or help support the genizah project, contact Shmuel Ben Eliezer, who serves as the project’s director of research and development, at nozykgeniza@aol.com.

Shmuel Ben Eliezer

Yet Another Hamas Terror Tunnel Opening in Israel Discovered

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

IDF operations in recent days along and inside the southern Gaza Strip have revealed yet another tunnel, quite spacious, that had been dug by Hamas and leads into Israel, the IDF Spokesperson’s office said in a statement Thursday.

According to the statement, the discovery of the tunnel was the result of extensive, high quality prevention and protection efforts of many different forces led by the IDF Southern Command and the Gaza Division since the end of the 2014 Israel–Gaza war, also known as Operation Protective Edge. The efforts are undertaken on a daily basis to guarantee the peace and safety of Israeli civilians in border communities.

According to the IDF, the tunnel was dug by Hamas in order to carry out terror attacks inside Israel, against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

The process of locating the tunnel was interrupted for two consecutive days by Hamas gunmen who shot at IDF forces in attempt to slow down and frustrate the search effort. The Israeli Air Force last night responded by attacking several Hamas terror targets.

The IDF views the Hamas terror activities as an affront to Israeli sovereignty and a threat against Israeli citizens, and assigns complete responsibility for these violations to Hamas. The IDF plans to proceed with its program of discovering and destroying Hamas tunnels.

David Israel

Assyrian Period Fortifications Unearthed in Ashdod

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

An archeological team headed by Dr. Alexander Fantalkin of Tel Aviv university has announced the discovery of one of the largest construction projects in the entire Mediterranean basin: a system of fortifications from the 8th century BCE, as well as coins, weights and parts of buildings from the Hellenistic period, have all been found in the archeological dig Tel Ashdod Yam – where the harbor of the philistine city of Ashdod used to be. The site is about 3 miles south of today’s thriving Israeli city of Ashdod.

This has been the first deep and well organized dig at the site, following the only previous dig there, carried out by the late archeologist Dr. Ya’akov Caplan in 1965-68.

The more recent dig has brought to light the remains of an 8th century BCE fortification system – a mud brick wall comprised of internal and external dykes circling a wharf. The dig has also unearthed ruins of buildings from the Hellenistic period (late 4th to early 2nd centuries BCE), as well as coins and weights.

“We knew there was an important archeological site there that hasn’t been dug until now,” Dr. Fantalkin told Walla. “We concluded the pioneer year of this project, and it’s being planned for many years to come. This is the ancient harbor of the Philistine city of Ashdod, We found there a very impressive fortification system comprised of 18 ft. tall mud brick walls. This brick wall is the core of a system of dykes that are combined into a huge, horseshoe shaped fortification, protecting a man-made pier.”

A three dimensional photograph of the ruins from the Hellenistic period, 2nd century BCE. Photo credit: Philip Sapirstein / TAU

A three dimensional photograph of the ruins from the Hellenistic period, 2nd century BCE. Photo credit: Philip Sapirstein / TAU

Dr. Fantalkin said his team was surprised by the degree of preservation of these structures, from some 2,750 years ago. They’re only now beginning to come to terms with the magnitude of what they’ve discovered.

An Assyrian governor ruled the southern Mediterranean basin in a time that was mired in power struggles and wars. Assyrian texts do describe a Philistine rebellion against Assyrian rule at the end of that period. Dr. Fantalkin believes the fortifications he discovered are related, one way or another, to the events on record.

“The Assyrians ruled firmly here from the middle of the 8th Century BCE,” he said. “It’s not clear if the fortifications were built by the Assyrians themselves or by the local who were commanded by the Assyrians.”

“Following the Philistine rebellion, the Assyrians sent down an army in 712 BCE, and the rebelling king fled to Egypt,” he continued. “The Assyrians demanded the Egyption extradite him, which they did. The entire affair is mentioned both in the Bible and in Assyrian sources. (For Gaza will be abandoned And Ashkelon a desolation; Ashdod will be driven out at noon And Ekron will be uprooted. Zephaniah 2:4) The rebellion was put down forcefully by the Assyrians and the city of Ashdod was destroyed.”

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/assyrian-period-fortifications-unearthed-in-ashdod/2013/08/15/

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