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August 29, 2015 / 14 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Israel Antiquities Authority’

2,000 Year Old Mikvah Found Beneath Jerusalem Living Room

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Beneath a modern living room floor in the quaint and flowering Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Kerem lies Judaism’s ancient secret to family purity.

During recent renovations carried out in that living room, however, the family living in the home discovered the secret beneath their home and called the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The IAA archaeologists were amazed to find a pair of wood doors beneath the stylized rug in the pleasant family living room, concealing a 2,000 year old mikvah (Jewish ritual pool used for purification.)

Today (Wednesday, July 1) the owners of the home were awarded a certificate of appreciation by the Israel Antiquities Authority for reporting their discovery and contributing to the study of the Land of Israel.

The mikvah is complete and quite large, measuring 3.5 meters long x 2.4 meters wide x 1.8 meters deep. It is rock-hewn and meticulously plastered in accordance with halacha (Torah law), and includes stairs leading to the bottom of the immersion pool similar to the mikvahs of today.

The rock-hewn stairs discovered under the living room floor lead down into the mikvah, the pool of ritual waters, as today.

The rock-hewn stairs discovered under the living room floor lead down into the mikvah, the pool of ritual waters, as today.

Pottery vessels dating to the time of the Second Temple (1 CE) and traces of fire that might constitute evidence of the destruction of 66-70 CE were discovered within the pool.

In addition, fragments of stone vessels were also found, which were common during the Second Temple period because stone cannot be contaminated; it is known to remain pure.

According to Amit Re’em, Jerusalem District archaeologist, “Such instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel and Jerusalem in particular. Beyond the excitement and the unusual story of the discovery of the mikvah, its exposure is of archaeological importance.

“Ein Kerem is considered a place sacred to Christianity in light of its identification with “a city of Judah” – the place where, according to the New Testament, John the Baptist was born and where his pregnant mother Elisabeth met with Mary, mother of Jesus,” the archaeologist explained.

“Despite these identifications, the archaeological remains in Ein Kerem and the surrounding area, which are related to the time when these events transpired (the Second Temple period), are few and fragmented. The discovery of the ritual pool reinforces the hypothesis there was a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple located in the region of what is today ‘Ein Kerem.”

The owners of the place said, “Initially, we were uncertain regarding the importance of the find revealed below our house and we hesitated contacting the Israel Antiquities Authority because of the consequences we believed would be involved in doing so.

Gazing at this cozy living room one would never suspect that beneath the small throw rug lies the entrance to a 2,000 year old mikvah, a Jewish ritual pool of purification.

Gazing at this cozy living room one would never suspect that beneath the small throw rug lies the entrance to a 2,000 year old mikvah, a Jewish ritual pool of purification.

“At the same time, we had a strong feeling that what was situated beneath the floor of our house is a find of historical value and our sense of civic and public duty clinched it for us. We felt that this find deserves to be seen and properly documented. We contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority at our own initiative in order that they would complete the excavation and the task of documenting the discovery.

Rare Inscription from King David Discovered in Jerusalem Hills

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

This article has been updated.

A rare inscription from the time of King David was discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafain the Elah Valley, southwest of Jerusalem and near Beit Shemesh.

A ceramic jar approximately 3,000 years old that was broken into numerous shards was found in 2012 in excavations. Letters written in ancient Canaanite script could be discerned on several of the shards, sparking the curiosity of researchers, Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Its artifacts department glued together hundreds of pottery shards to form a whole jar and solved the riddle – the jar was incised with the inscription, ” Eshbaʽal Ben Bada.”

Professor Garfinkel and Ganor said:

This is the first time that the name Eshbaʽal has appeared on an ancient inscription in the country. Eshbaʽal Ben Shaul, who ruled over Israel at the same time as David, is known from the Bible.

It is interesting to note that the name Eshbaʽal appears in the Bible…only during the reign of King David, in the first half of the tenth century BCE. This name was not used later in the First Temple period.

[Editor’s note: The name “Eshbaʽal” only appears in Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 1-8:34 & 1-9:39 and he is generally identified as Ish Boshet, the son of King Saul.]

They added that the correlation between the biblical tradition and the archaeological finds indicates this was a common name only during that period. “The name Bedaʽ is unique and does not occur in ancient inscriptions or in the biblical tradition,” they added.

The fact that the name Eshbaʽal was incised on a jar suggests that he was an important person, according to the researchers. He apparently was the owner of a large agricultural estate, and the produce collected there was packed and transported in jars that bore his name.

The researchers stated:

This is clear evidence of social stratification and the creation of an established economic class that occurred at the time of the formation of the Kingdom of Judah.

Khirbet Qeiyafa is identified with the biblical city Shaʽarayim. During several seasons of excavation, a fortified city, two gates, a palace and storerooms, dwellings and cultic rooms were exposed.

The city dates from the time of David – the late 11th and early centuries BCE. Unique artifacts that were previously unknown were discovered at the site.

According to Garfinkel and Ganor:

In recent years four inscriptions have been published: two from Khirbet Qeiyafa, one from Jerusalem and one from Bet Shemesh. This completely changes our understanding of the distribution of writing in the Kingdom of Judah, and it is now clear that writing was far more widespread than previously thought.

It seems that the organization of the kingdom required a cadre of clerks and writers and their activity is also manifested in the appearance of inscriptions.

 

Church from 6th Century Discovered near Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Archaeological excavations near the Jerusalem–Tel Aviv Highway 1, at the entrance to Abu Gosh approximately eight miles west of the capital, have uncovered a large Byzantine-period road station that included a church.

The excavations were conducted while upgrading and widening the highway to six lanes.

The site lies next to a seep spring known as ‘Ain Naqa‘a, located on the outskirts of Moshav Bet Neqofa. The current excavation season uncovered a church measuring about 16 meters (52 feet) in length and which includes a side chapel 6.5 m long and 3.5 m wide and a white mosaic floor.

A baptismal font in the form of a four-leafed clover, symbolizing the cross, was installed in the chapel’s northeast corner.

Fragments of red-colored plaster found in the rubble strewn throughout the building showed that the church walls had been decorated with frescoes. To the west of the church were rooms that were probably used as dwelling quarters and for storage. One of them contained a large quantity of pottery tiles.

The excavations yielded numerous different finds, testifying to intensive activity at the site. These included oil lamps, coins, special glass vessels, marble fragments, and mother-of-pearl shells.

Annette Nagar, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said:

The road station and its church were built in the Byzantine period beside the ancient road leading between Jerusalem and the coastal plain. Along this road, which was apparently already established in the Roman period, other settlements and road stations have previously been discovered that served those traveling the route in ancient times.

Included in the services provided along the route were churches, such as the one recently uncovered at the entrance to Abu Gosh. Other churches have been recorded in the past in Abu Gosh, Qiryat Ye‘arim, and Emmaus. This road station ceased to be used at the end of the Byzantine period, although the road beside which it was built was renewed and continued to be in use until modern times.

The excavation site will be covered and preserved for future generations.

1,400-Year-Old Wine Press Mysteriously Appears in Jerusalem

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

By Michael Zeff

While jogging in a Jerusalem neighborhood park, a local Jerusalemite stumbled upon an ancient ruin which hadn’t previously been there.

The Jerusalem resident immediately reported the strange discovery to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), who confirmed that they had no archaeological excavations going on in that neighborhood or any knowledge of any ruins.

After arriving at the scene, IAA archaeologists were surprised to discover a 1,400 year old wine press fully and meticulously excavated and exposed to the world.

“Our team was shocked,” IAA spokesperson told the Tazpit News Agency, “They saw a carefully exposed ancient wine press where none existed before, where not a single archaeologist has ever even been digging”.

The mystery kept bothering IAA officials, until the IAA team who took over maintenance of the site discovered that the ancient wine press had been discovered and excavated by local children.

The neighborhood kids, it appears, are avid archaeology fans and at first were simply “playing pretend” in the forest surrounding the neighborhood, until their game turned into reality.

The children were commended by the IAA for their care of the ruin, and the gentle work they put into exposing the wine press while carefully preserving it at the same time.

Egyptian Culture Rife in Israel ‘For Years’ After Exodus

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Israeli archaeologists proved Wednesday there was a good reason for God sending the Jews on that 40-year stroll around the desert after all.

Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Amir Ganor told journalists at a briefing in Jerusalem Wednesday, “The Israelites left Egypt; however, it seems that even years after their return, Egypt did not leave the Israelites and their descendants.”

A collection of artifacts with characteristics of the Egyptian culture which were discovered in the southern Israel excavation.

A collection of artifacts with characteristics of the Egyptian culture which were discovered in the southern Israel excavation.

The briefing was held just two days before the start of the week-long holiday of Passover that commemorates the Exodus. Ganor used the opportunity to reveal unique archaeological finds attesting to the existence of an Egyptian administrative center in the region 3,400 years ago.

The archaeologist has spent the past year directing an excavation in a cave near Kibbutz Lahav in southern Israel, in the Tel Halif region.

While in the area, the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery identified an underground cave in which there were signs of plundering. Inspectors discovered that antiquities thieves had broken into the cave and stolen 3,000-year-old pottery vessels, disturbing ancient archaeological strata in the process.

The IAA officials thwarted further damage to the cave and carried out a salvage operation to save the remaining artifacts and other extremely valuable archaeological information.

The excavation revealed evidence dating back to the late Bronze Age (1500 BCE) and the Iron Age (1000 BCE), including more than 300 pottery vessels of different types – some of which were still intact.

An oil lamp and a ceramic jar that date to the Iron Age, which were discovered in the cave.

An oil lamp and a ceramic jar that date to the Iron Age, which were discovered in the cave.

Also found were dozens of pieces of jewelry made of bronze, shells and faience, unique vessels fashioned from yellowish alabaster, seals, seal impressions and cosmetic vessels – all of which had been placed in the cave and accumulated there for decades.

A ring that was discovered in the excavation which is inlaid with a seal depicting an Egyptian warrior holding a shield and sword.

A ring that was discovered in the excavation which is inlaid with a seal depicting an Egyptian
warrior holding a shield and sword.

“Among the many artifacts that were discovered, most of which are characteristic of the Judahite culture in the south of the country, we found dozens of stone seals, some of which are shaped in the form of a winged beetle (scarabs) and bear carved symbols and images typical of the Egyptian culture which prevailed in the country in the Late Bronze Age. Some of the seals were fashioned on semi-precious stones that come from Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula,” said Ganor, who heads the IAA’s unit for the prevention of antiquities robbery.

“It is true the Israelites left Egypt, but the evidence from the excavation in the cave shows the Egyptians did not leave the Israelites and their descendants. This has been attested to in archaeological excavations where we uncovered evidence from many years after the “Exodus” which reflects the influence of Egyptian culture on the Judahite residents of the country,” Ganor said.

Some of the objects were produced in Egypt itself, and were brought to Canaan by the Israelites or merchants. Others were made in the country using methods imitating Egyptian production techniques and copying Egyptian cultural motifs, while using indigenous raw materials, according to the IAA.

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 .

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/new-app-puts-dead-scrolls-on-iphone-and-ipad/2014/11/20/

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