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February 10, 2016 / 1 Adar I, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘History’

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

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.

Palmyra’s Ancient ‘Temple of Bel’ Destroyed in New Blast

Monday, August 31st, 2015

A new blast ripped through central Syria late Sunday, notifying local residents that another majestic tribute to their history had been blown into rubble.

The Temple of Bel, an even larger prize that one taken a week prior, became the latest casualty of the radical Islamist hordes that are now known as “Da’esh to the Middle East — and by various names elsewhere around the world: ISIS, ISIL, or Islamic State. It matters little.

One cannot replace destroyed antiquities, the record of a people’s past.

The extent of the latest damage to the priceless 2,000 year old UNESCO World Heritage Site is not yet clear, because it is beyond dangerous to approach the area. But it is certainly clear the destruction was extensive.

Da’esh operatives practice an extremist form of fundamentalist Islam and have stated their commitment to smashing any idols they encounter, regardless of historic value as museum pieces or archaeological artifacts.

The only exceptions have been stolen pieces the group has sold on the black market in order to fund its activities — but the nature of those looted items is not clear, nor does anyone really know which pieces were sold, nor to whom.

Local residents near Palmyra described the mammoth explosion that shook the ground where they were, according to the BBC. One resident told the Associated Press it was “total destruction,” adding that “bricks and columns are on the ground.”

Reporters were told that only the wall of the temple, which was dedicated to the Palmyrene gods and was one of the best preserved parts of the ancient site, remains.

Just one week ago, the terrorist group blew up another temple in the ruins of the ancient city they had seized in May.

Da’esh terrorists beheaded the chief archaeologist of Palmyra, 82-year-old Dr. Khaled Asa’ad less than two weeks ago after having first interrogating and torturing him for a month.

They hung his bloodied, headless body from one of the 2,000 year old columns in the ancient city after executing him in the main square of the historic site.

Syrian state antiquities chief Ma’amoun Abdulkarim said in a statement quoted by Reuters, “The continued presence of these criminals in this city is a curse and bad omen on (Palmyra) and every column and every archaeological piece in it.”

Syrian officials led by Asa’ad had managed, however, to move out hundreds of the ancient statues that were in Palmyra but were not part of its Roman-era structures, before the site was captured by the Da’esh terrorists.

It was for this reason he was tortured: Da’esh wanted to know the location of the treasures from Palmyra, said a Syrian source. Asa’ad denied them this prize.

Jewish Money in the Civil War to be Shown in Jerusalem

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

The interest of the Jewish community in the American Civil War has traditionally been minute, as most Jews who arrived came in long after the War had ended. For that reason, two rare American Civil War tokens issued during the war by a Jewish restaurant in New York City have raised much curiosity among collectors.

The 150-year-old tokens will be presented this week at the Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem.

The background of the minting of these tokens lies in the American Civil War, during which the state ran out of money as it consumed the existent stash. This prompted the private issuing of over 10,000 different types of tokens by a wide range of private merchants to fill the gap.

Jews at the time comprised less than one percent of the total population, making Jewish artifacts from the time rare and uncommon. Despite the fact many Jewish merchants issued tokens as many of the Jews worked in commerce, only the Felix Dining Saloon token had Hebrew letters, stating Kosher food was served.

Not only the Hebrew letters make these tokens special however; the reverse side of one of the token reveals the Union Shield and the legend “Constitution and the Union” while another shows an Indian surrounded by 13 stars, representing the USA, of course. This corresponds with the historical research which showed that the contemporary Jews identified almost completely with their neighbors, showing long-term and even post-War loyalty and patriotism with the North or South in accordance with where they lived. Thousands of Jews had fought in the war itself, the majority with the North, though Jews were also slave owners and even slave traders.

The Felix Dining Saloon, a Jewish restaurant in New York, was the one to issue the tokens. The token inscription reveals the saloon was at 256 Broadway, New York, today a residential building opposite to City Hall Park. It should not be surprising that such overt restaurants acted in New York at the time as the Napoleonic Wars (1803 – 1815) brought to a substantial immigration wave of Ashkenazi Jews to the city and communal aid societies were formed.

Meron Eren of the Kedem Auction House concludes that “Small and rare as these tokens might be, they bear the vibrancy of Jewish life in New York, which started already over 150 year ago up till today. The tokens declare on one side the proud Jewish identity, and on the other side – the profound affiliation to the American state and values.”

Israel’s President Rivlin Makes History at Kafr Kassem Massacre Memorial

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

President Reuven Rivlin made history Sunday (Oct. 26) by being the first sitting Israeli president to participate in the annual memorial ceremony at Kafr Kassem that marksg the deaths of 48 residents of the village.

During his visit Rivlin met with the mayor and officials of the village, who said they had waited 58 years for such a senior Israeli leader to attend the ceremony and speak against the conduct of Israel’s security personnel during what was then called Operation Kadish.

Known as the Kafr Kassem Massacre, the October 29, 1956 event was one of the most complex and difficult in Jewish-Arab relations in the history of the State of Israel, and the source of the expression, ‘the black flag.’

Because the country was at that time on a wartime footing, an order went out on that day at 3:30 pm placing all Arab villages near the Jordanian border on curfew from 5 pm to 6 am. However, most of the Arabs from the villages who were working out of town were unavailable and could not be notified – there were no cell phones, or any phones in most Israeli homes – in those days.

The Israeli commanding officer received orders to take all precautions to ensure quiet on the Jordanian border, and he then reportedly ordered his commanders to “shoot on sight” any villager violating the curfew. No one was to be allowed to leave their home, or enter the village from any direction. The mayor of the village was advised of the curfew and he asked what would happen to those working outside. He was told they would be taken care of. Word was sent and most returned immediately. Some did not make it back in time.

Of the 48 people in the village, six were women (one was pregnant, leading Arab sources to make the count 49) and 23 were children ages eight to 17. More were wounded but their families were not allowed to come out to help them until the next morning after 6 am, when they were taken to hospitals in trucks.

Eleven border police officers and soldiers involved in the operation were charged with murder; eight were convicted and sentenced to prison terms. Judge Benjamin Halevy wrote in his decision, which is still quoted today, that “The distinguishing mark of a manifestly illegal order is that above such an order should fly, like a black flag, a warning saying: ‘Prohibited!'”

On November 20, 1957, a “sulha” (traditional Bedouin reconciliation ceremony) was held in memory of the victims of the Kafr Kassem massacre between Israeli government and community leaders, and members of the leadership of neighboring Arab villages. Reparations were made to the families of the victims.

In December 2007, then-President Shimon Peres formally apologized for the massacre, but until today, no president ever participated in the annual memorial ceremony commemorating the victims at the village.

“Distinguished guests, I came here today as a member of the Jewish people and as a President of the State of Israel to stand before you, the victims’ families and the injured, to remember the pain together with you,” Rivlin said.

“The existence of this terrible black flag that implemented the killing of innocent people was criminally ignored. The Supreme Court has spoken clearly and gave expression to legally verify the State of Israel’s moral consciousness,” he added. “It is our duty to teach future generations this difficult episode.

“Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, but it will also forever be the home of the Arab population. They are not a fringe group – it is a population which is part and parcel of this land, a population with a cohesive national identity and a shared culture that will always be a fundamental component of Israel.

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’.

New Traces of Life Found in Theresienstadt

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Nearly 70 years after the fall of the Nazis and the end of World War II, small bits of evidence have been found that life — and art — managed to flourish among those who were marked for the dance with death in Theresienstadt.

Initial documentation of the finds, which were discovered throughout modern Terezin in the Czech Republic, have just become available online at www.ghettospuren.de . Very shortly, an English language version will be posted as well, according to the European Jewish Press website (EJP).

“Material evidence and traces” was initiated in May 2012, said Uta Fischer, a city planner based in Berlin, is the manager of the project. For the past two years, the relics from the past have been meticulously collected by Fischer “before it is too late.”

Conservators Prof. Thomas Danzl and Karol Bayer, photo journalist Roland Wildberg and building researcher Jiri Smutny are also involved in the project, which is being financed by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the German Federal Cultural Foundation and other institutions in Germany and Czech Republic.

“O bug, why dances thou on me all night. . . “ the words written on to the walls of an attic by an unknown prisoner who sarcastically pens his complaint about the vermin of ghetto life. A doodled illustration of the offending creature accompanies the work on the wall, along with a number of small animal scenes that seem to be painted for a child’s eyes in another attic.

Elsewhere in Terezin, members of the ghetto police also left their mark on a sandstone arch.

But renovations, vandalism and erosion are erasing these bits of evidence that other lives once passed through here, Fischer warns. She says it is urgent to document these hidden treasures now, before they disappear.

The Theresienstadt concentration camp was a massive prison for Jews who were shipped there by rail car from half of Europe. Tens of thousands, including children, died in the old fortress; some of malnutrition and disease, some simply murdered outright. More than 150,000 Jews were held prisoner there for months – and in some cases years – before they were sent to the death camps in occupied Poland.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/new-traces-of-life-found-in-theresienstadt/2014/09/21/

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