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Posts Tagged ‘Israel Antiquities Authority’

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.

Ancient Water Tunnel Discovered in Jerusalem

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

This discovery was first announced in JewishPress.com in April 2013.

The longest water tunnel ever discovered in Israel is being excavated in Jerusalem, near the train station in the southern part of the city. Both the tunnel and a stone column head at its opening, belonging to a state structure dating back to the kings of Judea, are considered proof that the tunnel digging was done during the First Temple period.

Running 700 feet, the tunnel was discovered several weeks ago during an excursion organized by the Kfar Etzion Field School, according to a report Friday in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv.

Yaron Rosenthal, who runs the school for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, said instructors chanced upon the tunnel just east of the security barrier which separates Israel from Palestinian population centers in Judea. Rosenthal estimated the structure predated 586 B.C. He said the tunnel is one of the longest tunnels in the Holy Land used to transport spring water.

He said that markings, stairs and aesthetic relief carved into the stone suggested that the tunnel belonged to a Judaean king.

“We entered a 15-foot shaft through a very narrow entrance and headed eastward underground,” Rosenthal recalled. “We were amazed at the beauty of the structure we were in, whose corridor is built from huge slabs of more than a cubic yard. At the end of this construction, a simpler path begins and a neat staircase leads to that part.”

The tunnel’s ceiling varies between five and nine feet and it is two to three feet wide, he said. The tunnel is within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, according to Ma’ariv.

The Israel Antiquities Authority conducted preliminary checks in the region three years ago but decided not to excavate, according to Ma’ariv.

Highway Work Uncovers 900-Year-0ld Fountain in Garden

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Construction of a modern highway once again has exposed an ancient site, this time a 900-year-old fountain in a garden, the first time a fountain has been discovered outside the known wealthier districts of Old Ramle

The excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority were carried out at the entrance to Ramle, in an area where a bridge is slated to be constructed as part of the new Highway 44 that will pass over e railroad tracks and relieve drivers from a bottle neck and very long delays during rush hours.

Two residential rooms were exposed of a wealthy estate that was built of ashlar stones. Archaeologists date the structure to the Fatimid period (late 10th century and first half of the 11th century CE).

A fountain made of mosaic covered with plaster and stone slabs was uncovered west of the building. A system of pipes consisting of terra cotta sections and connectors made of store jars led to the fountain. A large cistern and a system of pipes and channels that was used to convey water were discovered next to the residential building. A smithy’s forge built of bricks and used for manufacturing iron tools was exposed c. 20 meters south of the structure.

“It seems that a private building belonging to a wealthy family was located there and that the fountain was used for ornamentation,” said Hagit Torgë, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “This is the first time that a fountain has been discovered outside the known, more affluent quarters of Old Ramle. Most of the fountains that we are aware of from this period in Ramle were concentrated around the White Mosque, which was the center of the Old City of Ramle.

“In addition, this is the first time that the fountain’s plumbing was discovered completely intact. The pipes of other fountains did not survive the earthquakes that struck the country in 1033 and 1068 CE.”

It seems the entire area was abandoned in the mid-eleventh century CE, probably in the wake of the earthquake.

Ramla was established at the beginning of the eighth century CE. Its founding is ascribed to the ruler Suleiman Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik, and it was built as the district capital (Jund Filastin) and in certain periods its importance even eclipsed that of Jerusalem. Ramle grew and expanded during the Abbasid and Fatimid periods, and it was an important economic center in Israel as a result of its strategic location on the road from Cairo to Damascus and from Yafo to Jerusalem.

Numerous oil lamps, a baby’s rattle and parts of dolls made of bone were discovered in the excavation area.

Upon completion of the archaeological excavation, the fountain, which was in an excellent state of preservation, was removed from the area and was relocated in the Pool of the Arches compound in the city where it will be displayed.

Stone Age, Canaanite, Arrowheads and Blades Found in Judean Foothills

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Archaeological excavations which were conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Judean foothills moshav (cooperative village) of Eshta’ol, before laying a sewer line, have unearthed evidence that the area where the moshav houses sprawl started attracting agricultural entrepreneurs as far back as 9,000 years ago.

Benjamin Storchen holding up a bronze period bowl.

Benjamin Storchen holding up a bronze period bowl.

According to Benjamin Storchen, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “the ancient findings we unveiled at the site indicate that there was a flourishing agricultural settlement in this place, and it lasted for as long as 4,000 years.”

The archaeological artifacts discovered in the excavation site indicate that the first settlers arrived here about 9,000 years ago. This period is called by archaeologists the Pre-Ceramic Neolithic period, which includes the earliest evidence of organized agriculture.

The site continued to flourish, and reached the peak of its development in the early Canaanite period, about 5000 years ago. This period is characterized by the consolidation of large rural communities, which were dispersed all across the country. The economy of these villages relied on field crops, on orchards and on livestock farming, which continue to characterize in today’s typical Mediterranean agriculture.

This period is credited with some technological innovations in agriculture which upgraded man’s ability to process extensive areas of crops more efficiently.

It appears that the Canaanite site being excavated at the moshav Eshta’ol was part of a large settlement bloc, which came to an end for reasons that are not sufficiently clear some 4,600 years ago.

Stortz’n explains that “these findings indicate a broad and well-developed settlement in the area of the Judean foothills, near the spot where two local rivers, the Kislon and the Ishwa, meet.”

He claims that “these two riverbeds, which today are dry, were alive with streaming water in ancient times, which provided the necessities of life for the local community and allow them to develop thriving agricultural systems alongside an economy based on hunting. The evidence to that are flint warheads, discovered in the same excavation.

These early farmers developed a rich culture, which was reflected, among other things, in the plan of the Canaanite residence exposed at the site, right next to one of the moshav homes. There’s also an abundance of findings: pottery and stone tools, flint tools, including those used to harvest wheat and for housework, and arrowheads used for hunting animals and as weapons, as well as beads and bone artifacts.

Detectives Arrest Man Who Stole 300-Year-Old Torah Parchment

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Detectives from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) acted on a tip and tracked down a thief who stole a 300-year-old parchment of two chapters from Deuteronomy, or Devarim in Hebrew, the fifth book of the Torah.

Amir Ginod, director of the IAA department that works to prevent thefts of artifacts, said that that the parchment might have eventually crumbled and disappeared for eternity if it had not been uncovered.

Stealing antiquities is a serious crime in Israel, a treasure chest of ancient hiustroy.

In a separate incident, four Bedouin thieves were caught in southern Israel while digging with a backhoe at an archaeological site near the Bedouin city of Rahat, several miles northwest of Be’er Sheva.

The thieves were caught in the act with metal detectors, and they caused heavy and irreversible damage to the site.

Rare Neolithic Well Discovered in Jezreel Valley

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of a rare well dating back to the Stone Age, used by the first firmers of the Jezreel Valley.

Two skeletons , believed to belong to a 19 year-old woman and an older man, were found at the bottom of the well,  at Enot Nisanit in the western Jezreel Valley near the YaYogev Junction (Highway 66), which is being excavated prior to a project to expand the area for travel.

The well is being dated at 8,500 years old, belonging to the Neolithic period.

According to the excavation director, the well was not used after the pair fell – or were pushed – into the well, due to contamination.

Additional finds include toothy sickle blades made from flint, animal bones, and charcoal.

The well will be preserved by the Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the National Roads Company, and will be open to the public as one of the archaeological exhibits around Tel Megiddo.

Stunning Synagogue Discovered in Huqoq

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

A monumental synagogue building dating to the Late Roman period (ca. 4th-5th centuries C.E.) has been uncovered in archaeological excavations at the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee.

Revealed in the excavations are a stunning mosaic floor decorating the interior of the building.  Made of small, high-quality colored stone cubes, the mosaic depicts a scene of the biblical judge/warrior Samson tying fiery torches between the tails of foxes, as described in the book of Judges 15.  In another section of the mosaic, two female faces border a circular medallion, with a Hebrew inscription praising those who perform Torah commandments.

 The excavations are being conducted by Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and David Amit and Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and sponsored by UNC, Brigham Young University in Utah, Trinity University in Texas, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Toronto in Canada. Students and staff from UNC and the consortium schools are also participating in the dig.

“This discovery is significant because only a small number of ancient (Late Roman) synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical scenes, and only two others have scenes with Samson (one is at another site just a couple of miles from Huqoq),” said Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor in the department of religious studies in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences in a press release issued by the Israel Antiquities Authority. “Our mosaics are also important because of their high artistic quality and the tiny size of the mosaic cubes. This, together with the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue’s walls, suggest a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly.”

Huqoq is located just  west of Capernaum and Migdal.  It was discovered in 2011 by Magness.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/stunning-synagogue-discovered-in-huqoq/2012/07/02/

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