The Jerusalem District Court on Monday rejected a petition filed by two extreme-left, anti-Zionist NGOs, Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh, against the Archeology Department of the IDF Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, demanding to know the names of archeologists working in digs around the liberated territories. District Court Judge Yigal Marzel ruled that publicizing their names would expose these archeologists to academic boycotts as well as possibly sabotage Israeli government archeological projects in Judea and Samaria.
Judge Marzel accepted the State’s argument that the archeologists, who testified in a separate hearing without the petitioners’ presence, would be exposed to academic boycotts should their names be published. Such boycotts could prevent the archeologists from publishing their findings in international academic journals, and they could be shunned by their foreign peers, seriously damaging their professional careers.
Judge Marzel ruled that the potential personal harm to the archeologists and their research justifies concealing their names. A few of the archeologists who testified consented to have their names be revealed to the petitioners, and they were.
The court sided with the State regarding the petitioners’ request for information on the location of the discovered archeological finds, accepting the argument that such exposure could lead to the theft of the artifacts.
The court also rejected the petitioners’ demand to review the list of artifacts the Israel Antiquities Authority has lent out for exhibition. Judge Marzel also refused to compel the IAA to hand over the records of specific digs, Tel Batir and Tel Shiloh, in Judea and Samaria.
The court did side with the petitioners’ demand to receive a list of the digs in Judea and Samaria, as well as the dates of their completion an future plan for their use.
Yesh Din’s annual budget, based on its 2014 report to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, is $1,565,000. Its donors include the EU, the UK, Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Norwegian Refugee Council, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), HEKS (Switzerland), Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Oxfam-Novib (Netherlands).
Emek Shaveh’s annual budget, also based on a 2014 report to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, is $246,225. Its donors include Switzerland (FDFA – Swiss Foreign Ministry), HEKS (Switzerland), Cordaid (Netherlands), Norway, Ireland, Oxfam GB (UK), CCFD-Terre Solidaire (France), and Oxfam Novib (Netherlands).
Israeli archaeologists on Monday announced the discovery of a rare treasure of gold and silver objects dating back about 3,600 years to the Middle Bronze Age, or the Canaanite period. They were found in the archaeological site of the Tel Gezer National Park, in the Judean foothills near Beit Shemesh.
The excavation was conducted by Dr. Tzvika Tzuk, Director of Archaeology for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in collaboration Dr. Eli Yanai, a retired Israel Antiquities Authority researcher, and Drs. Dan Warner and Jim Parker from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
“This finding is a very significant find to help date the building and show the cultural transparency from Mesopotamia all the way in history down to the State of Israel,” stated Dr. Warner, who is also a historian and Bible teacher.
The treasure constitutes a foundation deposit for the rooms which, according to the archaeologists, represented offerings to deities, a theory supported by the administrative nature of the building and its proximity to the city gates.
“This is a foundation deposit, we found it underneath the house,” Dr. Warner told TPS. “They placed it there to appease the gods so that their house would still stand. These are the tallest preserved walls from this time period anywhere in Israel.”
Researchers managed to separate the findings into five separate parts, while some fragments of silver pieces such as rings and necklace could not be separated due to intensive corrosion.
The central deposit is a pendant with an eight-pointed star within a 3.8 cm diameter disc and a crescent on top of it, which represents a well-known symbol dating more than 1,000 years before that time period. Dr. Irit Ziffer identified the symbol as representing both Ishtar, the Mesopotamian East Semitic goddess of fertility, love, war, sex and power, as well as the Chinese moon god of the Akkadian culture.
The rest of the treasure is comprised of a gold banded scarab from Egypt dated to the Hyksos period, a silver chain, an earing, and another pendant that resembles an arrow.
The treasure was found in one block wrapped in cloth deposited in lidded pottery. Dr. Orit Shamir and Dr. Naama Sukenik of the organic material laboratory of the IAA identified the cloth as linen cloth according to the shape of the threads and weaving techniques.
Dr. Warner told TPS that the material in which the treasure was wrapped is one of the oldest pieces of fabric found in Israel, apart from the ones discovered in Megiddo, while only two textile samples from the Canaanite period have been found, one in Jericho and one in Rishon LeTzion.
“During the Canaanite period, Gezer was one of the cities of primordial importance in Israel and its significance continued until the moment King Solomon built the city anew ,” said Shaul Goldstein, CEO of INPA.
“This finding is a significant achievement, which sheds light on the Canaanite culture in Israel more than 3,600 years ago, and further consolidates the position of the Tel Gezer National Park site as an archaeological gem with great significance to Israel,” Goldstein said.
A rare gold coin dating back to 8 CE, has been unearthed in an excavation taking place in Kafr Kana in the Lower Galilee, the Israel Antiquities Authority reported Tuesdsay.
The coin was found by two teenagers who were volunteering at the dig, which was being carried out prior to construction of a parking lot in the town.
The 1,200-year-old coin is inscribed with Arabic writing that speaks of the Prophet Mohammed and monotheism, according to the IAA.
The Authority’s coin expert, Dr. Robert Cole, said the coin was extremely rare, commenting, “The excitement from the find is not only with the students but also the archaeologists. It is rare to find a single gold coin in an excavation.
“It is interesting to know that such a gold coin, for a simple man, was a lot of money,” he said. “One dinar was worth more than 100 pounds of grain, and with four and a half dinars, he already could buy a house in the village,” said Cole.
Other artifacts were found in addition to the coin, said Omar Zeidan, IAA director of the excavation. “The coins were found in 7th -8th century buildings along with fragments of pottery, metal objects and animal bones,” he said. He added that the evidence signified the inhabitants lived at the time of the early Islamic period.
A rare and important find was exposed in an enforcement operation initiated by the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery: a document written on papyrus and dating to the time of the First Temple (seventh century BCE) in which the name of the city of Jerusalem is clearly indicated. This is the earliest extra-biblical source to mention Jerusalem in Hebrew writing.
The document, which was illicitly plundered from one of the Judaean Desert caves by a band of antiquities robbers and was seized in a complex operation by the IAA’s agents, was presented at a press conference Wednesday.
Two lines of ancient Hebrew script were preserved on the document that is made of papyrus (paper produced from the pith of the papyrus plant [Cyperus papyrus]). A paleographic examination of the letters and a C14 analysis determined that the artifact should be dated to the seventh century BCE – to the end of the First Temple period. Most of the letters are clearly legible, and the proposed reading of the text appears as follows:
This is a rare and original shipping document from the time of the First Temple, indicating the payment of taxes or transfer of goods to storehouses in Jerusalem, the capital city of the kingdom at this time. The document specifies the status of the sender of the shipment (the king’s maidservant), the name of the settlement from which the shipment was dispatched (Naʽarat), the contents of the vessels (wine), their number or amount (jars) and their destination (Jerusalem). Naʽartah, which is mentioned in the text, is the same Naʽarat that is referred to in the description of the border between Ephraim and Benjamin in Joshua 16:7: “And it went down from Janohah to Ataroth, and to Naʽarat, and came to Jericho, and went out at Jordan.”
The document is preserved in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls laboratories.
According to Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy director of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, “the document represents extremely rare evidence of the existence of an organized administration in the Kingdom of Judah. It underscores the centrality of Jerusalem as the economic capital of the kingdom in the second half of the seventh century BCE. According to the Bible, the kings Menashe, Amon, or Josiah ruled in Jerusalem at this time; however, it is not possible to know for certain which of the kings of Jerusalem was the recipient of the shipment of wine”.
Israel Prize laureate and biblical scholar Prof. (Emeritus) Shmuel Ahituv attests to the scientific importance of the document, saying, “It’s not just that this papyrus is the earliest extra-biblical source to mention Jerusalem in Hebrew writing; it is the fact that to date no other documents written on papyrus dating to the First Temple period have been discovered in Israel, except one from Wadi Murabbaʽat. Also outstanding in the document is the unusual status of a woman in the administration of the Kingdom of Judah in the seventh century BCE.”
With the help of volunteers during the past year the Israel Antiquities Authority has been conducting an archaeological excavation in search of ancient artifacts in the Cave of the Skulls in the Judaean Desert.
According to Israel Hasson, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “the discovery of the papyrus shows that there are other artifacts of tremendous importance to our heritage that are waiting to be found in the Judaean Desert caves. The world’s heritage assets are being plundered on a daily basis by antiquities robbers solely for greed. The state has to mobilize and allocate the necessary resources in order to embark upon a historic operation together with the public, and carry out systematic excavations in all of the Judaean Desert caves.”
Amir Ganor, director of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery explained that “organic material, such as documents, particularly delicate paper like papyrus, perish over time due to their sensitivity to moisture. The dry climate of the desert is exceptional in that it facilitates the preservation of documents that provide invaluable information regarding the way of life in antiquity and the early development of religions. The rarity of the finds and their importance are the reasons why the antiquities robbers risk their lives coming to dig in the caves in the desert cliffs. I am glad that we were fortunate to have a role in saving the papyrus, which is an important and special find that bears witness to the historical relationship between the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, and the Jewish people.”
According to Pnina Shor, curator and director of the Dead Sea Scrolls project at the IAA, “this unique papyrus joins the thousands of scroll fragments for which the Israel Antiquities Authority established dedicated conservation and photographic laboratories where the scrolls are treated using highly sophisticated means and the most advanced documentation and photographic technology available today. With a state-of-the-art camera that was developed based on technology used by NASA which records the Dead Sea Scrolls at a level that replicates the original, it is even possible to see the texture of the plant, skin or parchment on which the ancient documents were written.”
Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev said in a statement: “The discovery of the papyrus on which the name of our capital Jerusalem is written is further tangible evidence that Jerusalem was and will remain the eternal capital of the Jewish people. It is our duty to take care of the plundering of antiquities that occurs in the Judean Desert, and no less important than this is exposing the deceit of false propaganda as is once again happening today in UNESCO. The Temple Mount, the very heart of Jerusalem and Israel, will remain the holiest place for the Jewish people, even if UNESCO ratifies the false and unfortunate decision another ten times.”
The earliest-known stone inscription of the Ten Commandments will be offered Nov. 16, 2016 by Heritage Auctions in the Living Torah Museum Auction in Beverly Hills, California, Art Daily reported Tuesday. The tablet is the centerpiece of an offering of Bible-related historical artifacts, researched and authenticated, property of the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn, NY. The opening bid on the Ten Commandments is $250,000.
David Michaels, Director of Antiquities for Heritage Auctions, suggested “there is nothing more fundamental to our shared heritage than the Ten Commandments.” The two-foot-square marble slab, inscribed in early Hebrew script, probably came from a synagogue destroyed by the Romans between 400 and 600 CE, or by the Crusaders in the 11th century, according to Michaels.
Weighing about 200 pounds, the slab of marble is chiseled with 20 lines of script, in Hebrew and Aramaic. After an introductory dedication and invocation, it lists nine of the ten commonly known Biblical Commandments from the Book of Exodus, omitting the “You will not take the name of God in vain,” and adding instead a commandment commonly cited by the Samaritan sect, calling on the worshippers to “raise up a temple” on Mount Gerizim, sacred to the Samaritans, near the city of Shechem.
Bidders are required to agree to place the object on public exhibition, as per a stipulation by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which designated the artifact a “National Treasure” of Israel.
Samaria was the home to of the Samaritan sect, known by Jewish tradition as the “converts by lions,” based on an account of their forced immigration under Assyrian rule from an unknown origin, and their embrace of the local Jewish God for protection from the lions that roamed their new habitat.
Scholars who studied the carved letters believe the stone was carved in the late Roman or Byzantine era, circa 300-500 CE, to adorn the entrance to a Samaritan synagogue.
The discovery of the Ten Commandments Stone was reported in 1947 by Y. Kaplan, the stone’s owner at the time, and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, later Israel’s second President (1952-1963). It was first uncovered in 1913 during excavations for a railroad station near Yavneh, Israel, and was acquired by an Arab who set it in the floor of his courtyard. Over many years, foot traffic wore down some of the letters at the center of the slab, although the forms are still discernible.
In 1943, the stone was acquired by Kaplan, who brought in Dr. Ben-Zvi and other scholars to study it. Antiquities dealer Robert Deutsch purchased it in the 1990s, and Rabbi Saul Deutsch obtained it for his Living Torah Museum in 2005. It has been the centerpiece of the Museum’s collection since then and was subsequently published in Biblical Archaeology Review magazine and other publications.
Although considered a “National Treasure” of Israel, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) approved its export the US in 2005 on condition that it be displayed in a public museum. “We seek either an institutional buyer or a private one who will agree to exhibit the 10 Commandments Stone so that all can see, enjoy and learn from it,” Michaels told Art Daily.
The Living Torah Museum auction will include at least 50 other artifacts from the museum’s collection, including a nine-spouted ceramic oil lamp dated to the first century CE that is regarded by some experts as the earliest known first Hanukkah menorah, Michaels said.
A unique, 2,700-year-old Papyrus which mentions the Hebrew word “Yerushalma” (possibly meaning “to Jerusalem”) will be revealed next week at a conference on Innovations in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Environs, at the Rabin Jewish Studies Building on the Mount Scopus Campus of the Hebrew University, Makor Rishon reported. Researchers say the papyrus may be the earliest evidence in Hebrew of the connection between the city of Jerusalem and the period of the Kings of Israel.
The papyrus is a document written on paper made from the pith of the papyrus plant, cyperus papyrus. Such documents were written on sheets of papyrus, joined together side by side and rolled up into a scroll, in an early form of a book. In a dry climate, like that of Egypt or the Judaean desert, the papyrus pages are stable, since they are made of highly rot-resistant cellulose; but storage in humid conditions can result in molds attacking and destroying the material.
To date, the only other archaeological find that mentions Jerusalem in Hebrew were carvings on a cave wall at the Beit Loya ruin near Amatzia in southern Judea (west of the green line). The cave, which has been dubbed the “Jerusalem Cave” was excavated in 1970, and the writing on the wall says, “The whole land and the Judaean mountains are His, the God of Yerushalaim.” Prof. Shmuel Achituv, a scholar of the history of the people of Israel in the ancient East, deciphered that text and has now also deciphered the papyrus with the word “Yerushalma.” He will lecture on his discovery at next week’s lecture.
According to Achituv, to date the name “Yerushalaim” has been discovered in archaeological finds in languages other than Hebrew, such as in the El-Amarna letters, written in cuneiform, which were sent by the kings of Canaan to the Pharaoh in the 14th century BCE. There is also an Assyrian documentation of the siege laid by King Sennacherib on Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah in 701 BCE.
The Hebrew papyrus was discovered recently in the Judaean desert and purchased from an antique dealer. It was examined by the Israel Antiquities Authority’s labs, and carbon dated. The results showed with certainty that the papyrus dates back to the 8th century BCE, near the end of the Kingdom of Judea, a short while before the destruction of the First Temple.