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April 18, 2015 / 29 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Israel Antiquities Authority’

Hikers Find Cache of Rare Coins from 2,300 Years Ago

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Three hikers have discovered a cache of rare coins and silver and bronze objects 2,300 years old in a cave in one of the important discoveries in northern Israel in recent years, according to Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The uncovering of the treasure chest came one month after the discovery of the gold treasure by divers off the coast of Caesarea.

Two weeks ago Reuven Zakai, his son Hen Zakai and their friend Lior Halony, members of the Israeli Caving Club, set out to make preliminary preparations for a visit by the club in one of the largest and well-hidden stalactite caves in the north, the IAA said Monday.

The three lowered themselves down in the ground, into the stalactite cave, wriggled through a narrow passage in front of the cave and wandered and crawled between the different parts of the cave for several hours.

The youngest member of the group, Hen, 21, says he forced his way into one of the narrow niches when he suddenly caught sight of a shining object. He discovered two ancient silver coins, which it later turned out had been minted during the reign of Alexander the Great who conquered the Land of Israel at the beginning of the Hellenistic period (late fourth century BCE).

Several pieces of silver jewelry were found alongside the coins, among them rings, bracelets and earrings, which were apparently concealed in the cave, together inside a cloth pouch some 2,300 years ago.

“The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander, a time when the Wars of the Diadochi broke out in Israel between Alexander’s heirs following his death,” IAA archaeologists said.

“Presumably the cache was hidden in the hope of better days, but today we know that whoever buried the treasure never returned to collect it,” they added.

The hikers realized they found an important archaeological discovery and reported it to inspectors of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery in the IAA, whose officials later entered the cave together with members of the Israeli Caving Club and confirmed the evidence of human habitation in the cave over extended periods.

At this point, they believe they have found artifacts in the cave that first date to the Chalcolithic period c. 6,000 years ago; from the Early Bronze Age c. 5,000 years ago, the Biblical period 3,000 years ago and the Hellenistic period approximately 2,300 years ago.

Numerous pottery vessels were also discovered in the cave.In some regions of the cave ancient pottery vessels were found on which stalagmites had developed.Some of the pottery vessels had bonded with the limestone sediments and cannot be separated.

The finds in the cave will allow the researchers – archaeologists and geologists alike – to accurately date both the archaeological finds and the process of stalactite development.

Amir Ganor, director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery commended the three members of the caving club, saying, “They understood the importance of the archaeological discovery and exhibited exemplary civic behavior by immediately bringing these impressive archaeological finds to the attention of the IAA.After the gold treasure from Caesarea, this is the second time in the past month that citizens have reported significant archeological finds and we welcome this important trend.

“Thanks to these citizens’ awareness, researchers at the Israel Antiquities Authority will be able to expand the existing archaeological knowledge about the development of society and culture in the Land of Israel in antiquity.”

Two coins of Alexander of Macedon, three rings, four bracelets, two decorated earrings, three other earrings (probably made of silver) and a small stone weight. Clara Amit, courtesy of the IAA

Two coins of Alexander of Macedon, three rings, four bracelets, two decorated earrings, three other earrings (probably made of silver) and a small stone weight. Clara Amit, courtesy of the IAA

New App Puts Dead Scrolls on iPhone and iPad

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

The Dead Sea Scrolls are now available on iPhone and iPad, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Thursday with the launch of its first App featuring archaeology games and puzzles for kids.

Genesis 1:1 (the account of creation), the Ten Commandments, Psalms, and 11 other 2,000 year old manuscripts are featured in the ”Dig Quest” App that introduces kids ages 7-11 to archaeology with a suite of unique games, featuring beautiful artifacts from the National Treasures of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The App transforms a kid’s iPhone or iPad into an archaeological tool and lets them play games to hone their skills, discover secret meanings, solve puzzles, and piece the past together like true archaeologists. Along the way, they unlock ancient artifacts and create their own personal collection.

The games were developed in collaboration with the IAA’s team of archaeologists and researchers. As the children play, they get a feel for what archaeologists do as they experience the excitement of discovery and the creativity and skills involved in solving mysteries from the distant past.

Players select between two dig sites, each of which has a unique game that puts the player in the driver’s seat and requires using different archaeological skills.

At Lod, you clear the dirt to uncover an ancient Roman period mosaic and then play a fast-paced quiz-style game using your smarts and powers of observation to identify and classify the animals and objects on the mosaic.

In the Qumran caves, you discover fragments of the 2,000 year-old Dead Sea Scrolls that you piece together in a puzzle game. Then you scan the scrolls to reveal their text more clearly, mirroring the advanced spectral imaging process performed by the IAA team in the laboratories.

Dig Quest Israel Dead Sea Scroll Cave No Banner iPad-001

Each site features Discoveries for the user to uncover that tell more about the story of the excavation and the artifacts that are found. Artifacts and discoveries can be collected in a “Collection box.”

The game features:

  • More than 30 levels in two unique games based on two world-famous archaeological discoveries;
  • More than 50 images of historical treasures;
  • Historical and archaeological facts and artifacts;
  • Translated and spoken excerpts from the Dead Sea Scrolls;
  • A Collection box where players store artifacts and discoveries;
  • An archaeologist character host, Gabe, inspired by real IAA archaeologists;

The App is launching with two games, and additional games are planned as well as an Android release.

It can be downloaded the from the App Store .

Archaeologists Uncover Tale of Ancient Mikveh and WWII Australian Soldiers

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Archaeologists excavating a construction site near the Ha’Ela Junction have uncovered a curious tale that entwines the fate of an ancient mikveh with that of two Australian soldiers who somehow ended up in the same spot in World War II.

The ancient ritual pool (“mikveh” in Hebrew) was recently uncovered at the Ha’Ela Junction during the routine excavations that are always carried out prior to construction in Israel, in this case to widen Highway 38.

Nearby, an enormous 1,700-year-old water cistern was also revealed, with graffiti scrawled on the ceiling of the reservoir, apparently by Australian soldiers during World War II.

The excavations are being carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority and are financed by the Netivei Israel Company, which is involved in the construction.

Yoav Tsur, IAA excavation director at the site, explained, “We exposed a mikveh in which there are five steps, with the fifth step being a bench where one could sit at the edge of the immersion pool.

“We found fragments of magnificent pottery vessels there, dating to the second century CE – among them lamps, red burnished vessels, a jug and cooking pots.

“Apparently the mikveh ceased to be used during the second century CE, perhaps in light of the Bar Kokhba revolt.

“A rock-hewn opening was exposed south of the mikveh, which appears to have been the entrance to a large water cistern. It seems that in an early phase it was a smaller reservoir and functioned as the “otzar) (water collection area) for the mikveh. When the mikveh ceased to be used, the cistern’s original cavity was increased to its current large dimensions and an extensive surface was built nearby, which facilitated drawing water.”

The archaeologists were also surprised to find during their excavations some graffiti engraved on the ceiling of the cistern, indicating that the site had been exposed at least until the 1940s.

Graffiti carved into ceiling of ancient cistern by Australian soldiers during World War II.

Graffiti carved into ceiling of ancient cistern by Australian soldiers during World War II.

The inscriptions were read by Assaf Peretz, an archaeologist and historian with the Israel Antiquities Authority, who said that two English names were carved in the rock: Cpl Scarlett and Walsh.

“Next to the names are caved the initials RAE and two numbers: NX7792 and NX9168. The date 30/05/1940 appears below the graffiti.”

The IAA inquired with authorities who confirmed that the numbers engraved in the cistern were indeed serial numbers of two actual soldiers, and that RAE stands for Royal Australian Engineers.

A search in government archives revealed that Corporal Philip William Scarlett was born in Melbourne in 1918, was drafted into the army in 1939, survived the war and died in 1970, shortly before his fifty-second birthday.

His comrade, Patrick Raphael Walsh, was born in 1910 in Cowra, was drafted in 1939, survived the war and passed away in 2005 at the age of 95.

It seems the two were members of the Australian Sixth Division. They were stationed in the country at the time of the British Mandate and undergoing training prior to being sent into combat in France.

Because France surrendered before the troops were ready they were ultimately sent to Egypt in October 1940 where they fought at the front in the Western Desert.

The archaeologists added, “If the relatives of these people are acquainted with the story, we’ll be happy if they contact us and we’ll share with them the warm greetings left behind by Scarlett and Walsh.”

Tsur pointed out that the finds from the excavation tell an exciting tale indeed: they “allow us to reconstruct a double story – about the Jewish settlement in the second century CE, probably against the background of the events of the Bar Kokhba revolt, and another story no less fascinating, about a group of Australian soldiers who visited the [same] site c. 1,700 years later and left their mark there.”

National Treasures from Israel Antiquities Authority Now Accessible Via Internet

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Thousands of archeological artifacts presently stored in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem will be made available online through a new initiative called the National Treasures Online project. This new project and the Rockefeller Museum Online project are just two online projects undertaken by the Israel Antiquities Authority. These new ones join the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, the National Archives and the Survey Maps online.

The National Treasures Online site includes objects from collections of the National Treasures, from prehistoric periods through to the Ottoman period. It currently includes 5,700 artifacts and is continuously updated.

Artifacts are arranged both according to the time period and according to the type of artifact, which is a huge gift for all but the most sophisticated observers. The information provided for each treasure is fairly extensive and includes the materials used, the dimensions of the object and where it was discovered.

The NTO project was launched with the financial assistance of David Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller, JR, who established the museum. It marks the first time the entire collection on display of a museum in Israel is being photographed and made available online.

Having the hi-resolution images and accompanying information available to millions of people anywhere in the world is a huge boon to everyone interested in the archaeology and history of Israel.

Israel Antiquities Authority Director, Shuka Dorfman, 64, z’l

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

The man who has led the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) into the future of hi-tech since November 2000, Shuka Dorfman, passed away today (Thursday) at 64 after a serious illness.

He will be laid to rest Friday at 2 pm in Gedera.

Dorfman served his country as a military attache to South Korea and Japan following an honorable discharge from the IDF as Israel’s top artillery officer, then worked in the private sector until he accepted the directorship of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Just 18 months ago, Dorfman was responsible for uploading 5,000 images of the famed Dead Sea Scrolls to an Internet library in a partnership with Google. One year prior, the Israel Museum collaborated with Google in a similar project to upload five of the scrolls to the Internet.

“We have succeeded in recruiting the best minds and technological means to preserve this unrivaled cultural heritage treasure which belongs to all of us, so that the public with a touch of the screen will be able to freely access history in its fullest glamour,” Dorfman exulted at the time.

Only five conservators worldwide are actually authorized to handle the Dead Sea Scrolls, he noted. But, “now everyone can touch the scroll on screen around the globe.”

It was Dorfman who was responsible for the Spice Route, Masada and Akko being designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. His vision and understanding that technology would shape the future enabled the Authority to upgrade its rate of rescue excavations to ensure that archaeological excellence would not be abandoned in the headlong rush to complete development projects. As a result, numerous archaeological sites were made available for public access that might otherwise have simply been ground into dust.

May his memory be for a blessing.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ancient-water-tunnel-discovered-in-jerusalem/2014/01/11/

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