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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Israel Antiquities Authority’

Fisherman’s House Discovered on Ashkelon Beach

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

A building used by fishermen in the Ottoman period, containing fishhooks and fishing weights, was exposed in an archaeological excavation conducted in Ashkelon, north of the Gaza Strip.

Young residents of Ashkelon and the vicinity who were employed by the Israel Antiquities Authority in an archaeological excavation in the city, recently uncovered buildings that were once used by local inhabitants who were engaged in fishing along the Mediterranean coast. The excavation was carried out for the Ashkelon municipality, at the initiative of the Ashkelon Economic Company, in an area where a new neighborhood is slated to be built, in the northern part of the city.

As part of a project being led by the IAA and aimed at educating young people about their past, dozens of boys and girls were engaged in the challenging work of unearthing the coastal city’s past.

The finds that were discovered: metal fishhooks, dozens of lead weights, a large bronze bell.

The finds that were discovered: metal fishhooks, dozens of lead weights, a large bronze bell.

According to the excavation directors, Federico Kobrin and Haim Mamliya, “Two of the buildings that we uncovered are very curious, and it seems they were used as a fisherman’s house and a lookout tower, possibly a lighthouse, dating back to the Ottoman period (1299 to 1922 CE). The tower was situated on a lofty hilltop, and it looks out over the Mediterranean Sea. From the tower one could signal and direct ships that were sailing between the ancient ports in Ashkelon and Ashdod-Yam.”

Kobrin adds, “The fisherman’s house is divided into three rooms, and a wealth of artifacts was discovered in it that are indicative of its use: metal fishhooks, dozens of lead weights, a large bronze bell, and even a stone anchor. The building’s entrances were fixed in the north in order to prevent the high winds and sea storms from entering into it.” According to the archaeologists, “this is the first time that a building was exposed in Ashkelon that we can attribute with certainty to the fishing industry.”

Federico Kobrin, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, near the lookout tower.

Federico Kobrin, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, near the lookout tower.

Kobrin noted that “working with youth was both a challenge and extremely satisfying. The young people participated in uncovering part of their city’s past; they labored diligently and conscientiously, showed their interest and curiosity regarding the finds, and it was a pleasure to work with them.”

The fisherman’s house will be preserved and incorporated in the development of the neighborhood and strip of beach for the benefit of the residents and to create a connection between them and those who lived and fished there in the past.

JNi.Media

Largest Archaeological Garden Ever in Israel Inaugurated at IDF Kirya Base in Tel Aviv

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

In a festive ceremony attended by Israel Defense Force chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot, the director of the Israel Antiquities Authority and a representative of the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, the largest archaeological garden ever built in Israel was inaugurated Tuesday at the IDF Kirya base in Tel Aviv.

The exhibition – A Tumultuous City – is situated in the heart of “The City that Never Sleeps” and presents dozens of impressive items from major cities in the ancient world.

Among the most unique exhibitions are a stone that weighs six tons from the Western Wall.

In addition to the IDF chief of staff, IAA irector Israel Hasson, a representative of the Heritage Project in the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, the Camp Rabin base commander Colonel Yigal Ben-Ami and senior officials of the IDF and the IAA were on hand for the festivities.

Hasson told those gathered, “The IAA seeks to expose soldiers – our future generation – to their past. The exhibition, which we organized in the epicenter of the army, brings a reminder that spans thousands of years of history to the daily life of tens of thousands of soldiers and visitors, that we are part of a chain of magnificent life. The exhibition was established as part of the IAA’s outreach policy of sharing our heritage with the public, whether in setting up exhibitions in public places or encouraging soldiers, pupils in military preparatory programs and youth to participate in archaeological excavations”.

According to the Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, Ze’ev Elkin, “The importance of the presence of our heritage in the heart of the Kirya base in Tel Aviv, where all of the army’s senior officers pass, constitutes another tier in our national strength, resulting from the recognition of our heritage and the deep understanding of each soldier and officer that our future depends on our past and our heritage here in Israel”.

Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev said, “The decision to inaugurate an archaeological garden here in the base of the IDF general staff conveys first and foremost an important moral message – recognition of Israel’s history is essential in building the image of the soldier who knows his past, understands the challenges of the present and is always ready to ensure the future of his people for the sake of future generations”.

Camp Rabin Commander Colonel Yigal Ben-Ami, added, “A people needs to be aware of its past. About 25,000 people pass by here every day and they will now have direct contact with their heritage. The new garden is an amazing connection between what we went through and our revival”.

According to Ayelet Grover, curator of the exhibition on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The Hebrew word kirya first appears in the Book of Isaiah (22:2), meaning “town”, where it is written: ‘a tumultuous city, exultant town.’

“In a bustling place like the Kirya base, which is in the heart of The City that Never Sleeps – the economic, cultural and arts center of Israel, it was appropriate that we organize an archaeological exhibition in the city, which deals with human culture and the development of urban space.

“The exhibition tells the story of the oldest cities in Israel, the most ancient of which were established 5,000 years ago, and some of them still exist today.

“The presentation of stones that come from the earth and hold within them memory, history and culture, especially in a place where the full-force of contemporary architecture is present, creates, in my opinion, a thought-provoking dialogue between past, present and future,” she said.

Hana Levi Julian

Archaeological Evidence of the Kingdom of David

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

By Anna Rudnitsky

Biblical archaeology was revolutionized several years ago when evidence of the existence of the kingdom of David was brought to light in the form of a fortified Iron Age town excavated in the Elah Valley by Hebrew University Professor Yosef Garfinkel and Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeologist Sa’ar Ganor.

The place was described by the Bible as the location of the battle between David and Goliath. The highlights of the findings of the Elah Valley excavations are now to be presented to the public for the first time at an exhibition scheduled to open at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem on September 5.

“Archaeology cannot find a man and we did not find the remnants linked to King David himself,” Professor Garfinkel told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “But what we did find is archaeological evidence of the social process of urbanization in Judea.”

According to Prof. Garfinkel, the evidence of urbanization fits in with what is described in the Bible as the establishment of the Kingdom of David, when small agrarian communities were replaced by fortified towns. “The chronology fits the Biblical narrative perfectly. Carbon tests performed on the olive pits found in Khirbet Qeiyafa show the town was built at the end of the 11th century BCE,” Garfinkel explained.

Two phenomena particularly attracted the attention of Garfinkel and Ganor when they began excavations at the site of Khirbet Qeiyafa about 10 years ago. Numerous iron stones were found and a wall of unusual form, with hollows in two places, enveloped the site.

The archaeologists only realized in the second year of their excavations that they had found a fortified town from the Iron Age that perfectly fit the description of the Biblical town of Sha’arayim. The name in Hebrew means “two gates,” and the hollows in the modern wall, built on top of the ancient one, were precisely in the same place as the previous existence of two gates, which is quite a rarity for a relatively small town.

The geographical location of the town also fits right in line with the Biblical depiction of Sha’arayim, mentioned in the context of the aftermath of the battle between David and Goliath when the Philistines “fell on the way to Sha’arayim.” The town is also mentioned in the Book of Joshua as being situated near Socho and Azeka, two archaeological sites surrounding Khirbet Qeiyafa.

Other remarkable finds at the site include two inscriptions in the Canaanite script that are considered to be the earliest written attestation to date as to the use of the Hebrew language. A pottery shard contains the distinctly identifiable Hebrew words, “king,” “don’t do,” and “judge.”

The Bible Lands Museum exhibition, “In the Valley of David and Goliath” will feature the pottery shards as well as a clay model of a shrine found at the site and the huge stones used in the wall around the town. “Although I led the excavations, I myself was amazed to see the different pieces brought together in a way that allows visitors to get a clear picture of how the town looked and that gives them an opportunity to go back in history to the times of the kingdom of David,” Professor Garfinkel said.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

3,500 Year Old Treasures Retrieved from the Sea by Electric Plant Worker

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Metal artifacts, the earliest of which are 3,500 years old, were recently presented to the Israel Antiquities Authority by a family that inherited them from their father who passed away.

The Mazliah family of Givatayim contacted a representative of the IAA and invited him to their home to examine numerous metal artifacts that were in the possession of their father, the late Marcel Mazliah. The family explained that their father, who was employed at the Hadera power station since its construction, retrieved many items from the sea while working there, and they thought the items looked pretty ancient. Indeed, the IAA representatives were surprised by what they found: metal objects, most of which are decorated, that apparently fell overboard from a metal merchant’s ship in the Early Islamic period.

An Israel Antiquities Authority employee examining the finds. Photographic credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority.

An Israel Antiquities Authority employee examining the finds. Photographic credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority.

According to Ayala Lester, a curator with the IAA, “The finds include a toggle pin and the head of a knife from the Middle Bronze Age (more than 3,500 years ago). The other items, among them two mortars and two pestles, and fragments of candlesticks, date to the Fatimid period (11th century CE). The items were apparently manufactured in Syria and were brought to Israel. The finds are evidence of the metal trade that was conducted during this period.”

A hand grenade hundreds of years old found at sea. Photographic credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority.

A hand grenade hundreds of years old found at sea. Photographic credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Among the many artifacts is a hand grenade that was common in Israel during the Crusader, Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. The first grenades appeared in the Byzantine Empire, not long after the reign of Leo III (717-741). Byzantine soldiers learned that Greek fire, a Byzantine invention of the previous century, could be thrown at the enemy inside stone and ceramic jars. Later, glass containers were employed. The use of Greek fire and other explosives spread to Muslim armies in the Middle East, and reached China by the 10th century.

A short Hebrew Clip. Credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority.

A short Hebrew Clip. Credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority.

The Mazliah family will receive a certificate of appreciation from the Israel Antiquities Authority and will be invited to tour the IAA’s laboratories where finds undergo treatment and conservation.

JNi.Media

Historical Discovery in Lithuania: Escape Tunnel Used by Jewish Prisoners to Escape from the Nazis

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

The escape tunnel used by the so-called “Burning Brigade” to allude the Nazis has been pinpointed at the Ponar massacre site near Vilnius in Lithuania, using Electric Resistivity Tomography.

Some 100,00 people, of whom 70,000 were Jews originating in Vilna and the surrounding area, were massacred and thrown into pits in the Ponar forest near the Lithuanian capital during WW2. With the retreat of the German forces on the eastern front before the advancing the Red Army, a special unit was formed in 1943 with the task of covering up the tracks of the genocide. In Ponar this task was assigned to a group of 80 prisoners from the Stutthof concentration camp.

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

At night the prisoners were held in a deep pit, previously used for the execution of Vilna’s Jews, and during the day they worked to pen the mass graves, pile up the corpses on logs cut from the forest, cover them with fuel and incinerate them. All the while their legs were shackled and they were certain that, upon completing their horrendous task, they too would be murdered by their captors. Some of the workers decided to escape by digging a tunnel from the pit that was their prison. For three months they dug a tunnel some 100 ft. long, using only spoons and their bare hands.

On the night of April 15, 1944 they escaped. The prisoners cut their leg shackles with a nail file, and 40 of them crawled through the narrow tunnel. Unfortunately they were quickly discovered by the guards and many were shot. Only 15 managed to cut the camp fence and escaped into the forest. Eleven reached the partisan forces and survived the war.

Since WW2, the exact location of the tunnel has been lost, even though a number of attempts were made to find it. Now, through the cooperative work of Dr. Jon Seligman of the Israel Antiquities Authority; Prof. Richard Freund of the University of Hartford; Paul Bauman of Advisian of Calgary, Canada; and the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, the tunnel has been rediscovered using Electrical Resistivity Tomography, from the pit used to imprison the captives, to an open space next to it.

Electrical Resistivity Tomography is a geophysical technique used in mineral and oil exploration for imaging sub-surface structures from electrical resistivity measurements made at the surface, or by electrodes in one or more boreholes.

Preparations for the ERT scan of the trench used to hold the victims before their execution. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

Preparations for the ERT scan of the trench used to hold the victims before their execution. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

Dr. Jon Seligman, of the IAA, said, “As an Israeli whose family originated in Lithuania, I was reduced to tears on the discovery of the escape tunnel at Ponar. This discovery is a heartwarming witness to the victory of hope over desperation. The exposure of the tunnel enables us to present, not only the horrors of the Holocaust, but also the yearning for life.”

Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev said, “I congratulate the Israel Antiquities Authority on its participation in this international effort that turns history to reality. The exciting and important discovery of the prisoners escape tunnel at Ponar is yet more proof negating the lies of the Holocaust deniers. The success of modern technological developments, that have aided the Jewish people to reveal another heroic story the Nazis attempted to hide, profits all humanity.”

The memorial to the Holocaust at Ponar. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

The memorial to the Holocaust at Ponar. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

The award-winning science series NOVA, produced by WGBH for PBS, will follow this excavation and the team, capture their stories, and restore the memory of this lost world in a new film slated to premiere in the US on PBS in 2017. The documentary will tell the story of the fate of the Jews of Vilna, Lithuania, now the modern city of Vilnius, through major archeological excavations of several sites in and around the city, including the larger excavation project at The Great Synagogue of Vilna. The discovery of the evidence of an escape tunnel at the Ponar pits sheds new light on a story of life, resistance and courage.

It is the intention of the partners to return to the site in the near future to expose the tunnel for public viewing as part of the memorial for the victims of Vilna and the surrounding area.

JNi.Media

Israeli Lifeguard Discovers 900 Year Old Oil Lamp During Beach Run

Monday, June 27th, 2016

By Naomi Altchouler/TPS

Ashkelon (TPS) – An Israeli lifeguard found a candle estimated to be about 900 years old during a morning run on the beach in Tel Ashkelon National Park in southern Israel last Tuesday.

“During the run I saw some planks washed up from the sea, and I stopped to pick them up”, lifeguard Meir Amshik said. “Suddenly, I saw part of the new cliff deteriorating. I made my way there and saw the intriguing candle lying there in its entirety. I thought it might be an antique, so I picked it up. I went back to the lifeguard’s tent and together with Avi Panzer, director of the lifeguard station, we contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).”

“The ancient oil lamp, which served as a light source, is dated to the 12th century AD (early Crusader period),” said Sa’ar Ganor, IAA archaeologist of the Ashkelon district. “You can really see the signs of wear and soot on the mouth. The candle was discovered as a result of receding coastal cliff, battered by the seasonal forces of nature.”

“The candle represents part of the cultural richness of the ancient city of Ashkelon, which was a city of commerce,” Ganor explained. “In Ashkelon, the port’s function is to import goods from the sea, as well as to export manufactured goods from all parts of southern Israel. In Ashkelon Coast National Park you can find evidence of preserved life starting from the Canaanite period 4000 years ago, until the modern era.”

Guy Fitoussi, of the IAA’s Robbery Prevention Unit, praised the lifeguard for reporting the ancient treasure.

“The lifeguards of NPA and lifeguards as a rule, are our eyes on the beach. They are not just saving people, but even antiques,” he said. “People must understand ancient fossils they find in the case, belong to the state and the general public. This finding could be very valuable for research and historical knowledge for all of us. Fortunately, more and more people report finding antiques “.

Amshik, for his part, is thrilled to be involved in this historic discovery.

“Finding such a treasure, it is very exciting,” he said. “Just to feel a part of history, It fulfills a sense of appreciation for what was here before. It feels like being a link in the chain.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Illegal Antiquities Trader Busted in Jerusalem Raid

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

by Michael Zeff

A souvenir shop in the Mamilla Mall near Jerusalem’s Old City was raided by officers of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s (IAA) Tuesday night after it was discovered that the store served as a front for illegal antiquities trading. The raid yielded a treasure trove of close to a thousand items of questionable provenance. Bronze arrowheads thousands of years old, coins minted 2,000 years ago during the days of King Herod, Hasmonean rulers, and even Alexander the Great, and special vessels for storing perfumes.

“The souvenir shop, which did not have an antiquities sales license, had been under surveillance for a while,” Dr. Eitan Klein, who supervises the antiquities trade for the IAA, told TPS, adding, “During the second stage of the investigation, our agents posed as collectors and tourists, and purchased undocumented ancient artifacts from the shop. Finally, last night we raided the place and seized all the illegal antiquities. This operation is part of a broader enforcement of new laws and regulations governing the Israeli antiquities trade.”

According to the IAA, these regulations and the subsequent law enforcement activities are designed to prevent antiquities dealers from laundering illegal artifacts that are the product of antiquities robbery, the illicit excavation for profit of archaeological sites.

“Laundering artifacts means taking antiquities obtained through robbery, and inserting them into merchants’ commercial inventory in order to pass them off as legal and sell them. We estimate that today about 90% of undocumented and unregulated artifacts originate in robbery and looting,” Klein explained.

A salesperson at the store in question, Mamilla Souvenir’s (sic), denied all the allegations, telling TPS that “all our goods are clean. I’m sure the matter will be cleared in the next few days.” However, according to the IAA, an indictment will soon be filed against the shop’s owner, who was unavailable to comment.

“Antiquities robbers and the unlicensed antiquities dealers will very quickly come to understand that they have no one to sell the stolen antiquities to and, in the absence of demand, the plundering of antiquities in Israel will be greatly reduced,” predicted the head of IAA’s Antiquities Robbery Prevention Unit, Amir Ganor.

The Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/illegal-antiquities-trader-busted-in-jerusalem-raid/2016/06/15/

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