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October 10, 2015 / 27 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Israel Antiquities Authority’

Arab MKs Warn Giving East Jerusalem Streets Hebrew Names Is ‘Pyromanic’ Decision

Monday, September 21st, 2015

(JNi.media) Arab Knesset members are outraged by the decision of the Jerusalem City Council which on Sunday night approved giving Hebrew names to streets in eastern Jerusalem, Walla reported.

The new names are, in the Silwan neighborhood: Shir La’Ma’a lot, Arugat Ha’Bossem, Malki Tzedek, and Pardes Rimonim; near Shechem Gate: Amir Drori; in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood: Na’hlat Shimon, and Nah’lat Yitzhak; in the Abu Tor neighborhood: Har Ha’Mishkha, and Me’arat Ha’Nevi’im; and in the Ras Al Amud neighborhood: Kidmat Zion.

Many of the names are Biblical; Amir Drori was an IDF general who at one point was on a fast track for chief of staff, then became the founder and the first director general of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Some of the names have a messianic connotation which was probably not missed by the Arab MKs (Har Ha’Mishkha is the Mount of Anointment, Me’arat Ha’Nevi’im is Cave of the Prophets, and Kidmat Zion means East to Zion.

MK Ahmad Tibi said that the new street names are part of the “ongoing attempts to Judaize Al-Quds and falsify history.” Referring to the recent riots in the capital, Tibi added: “Someone decided to add more fuel to the fire of tension in Jerusalem, this decision was pyromanic.”

Chairman of the Joint Arab List, MK Ayman Odeh, said: “We have recently seen aggressive attempts to change the status quo in East Jerusalem and deepen the occupation and dispossession. Choosing street names, while completely ignoring those who built and lived in these streets thousands of years is a lowly attempt to erase the Palestinian national identity.”

For the record, there is no reference anywhere to a Palestinian nation before the 1920s, and, in fact, Arabs are by and large unable to pronounce the name “Palestine,” because the consonant P does not exist in Arabic, which is why, for instance, the Roman name for Shechem, Naples, is pronounced by Arabs as Nablus.

“It seems that returning to the cycle of violence in Jerusalem is in the interests of those who do not want hope for change and a better life for both peoples be here,” Odeh added. “The timing of this unfortunate decision is just more evidence to that. The attempt to erase the Palestinian national identity will not succeed, the occupation will end inevitably.”

Jewish MKs expressed support for the decision. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) told Walla that the Council’s decision is an important step. “There’s a war on sovereignty in Jerusalem as well as on the historical identity of the city,” she said. “Every Action that strengthens Israel’s sovereignty in the capital of the Jewish people is welcome. The Palestinians have been trying all along to uproot the historical foundation of the Jewish people in general and particularly in the eastern neighborhoods. The municipality’s decision is an important step in the struggle over historical symbols of the Jewish nation belonging to its eternal capital.”

MK Yinon Magal (Bayit Yehudi) also expressed support for the decision. “I welcome the move. I’ve never heard from those who are opposed to it when would be a good time for the process of a Jewish connection to Jerusalem,” he said.

MK David Bitan (Likud) said: “At long last the Jerusalem City Council has recovered and made a decision which had to be made for some time, which is imposing our sovereignty in reality and not just on paper. It is clear that we may give streets Hebrew, Arabic or universal names in any neighborhood, regardless of the identify of the residents. Still, the City Council will be tested with the implementation of the resolution. We have seen many decisions that have been made and not implemented.”

The Council’s decision was made despite the severe security tensions in Jerusalem and against the recommendation of retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, who heads the advisory committee on naming the streets of the capital. A few weeks ago, the Turkel committee recommended “to reconsider whether it is proper at this time, given the complex and delicate situation in East Jerusalem, to give these names to these streets in the proposed locations.”

Where the Lost Ark Might Really be Hidden…

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

An Israeli antiquities authority worker walks inside the Israeli Antiquities Authority storage facility in Beit Shemesh.

Who knows what’s hidden in there.. The Lost Ark?

Israeli antiquities authority storage facility in Beit Shemesh

Israeli antiquities authority storage facility in Beit Shemesh

Unique 1,800-Year-Old Sarcophagus Found at Ashkelon Building Site

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

A unique and extremely impressive stone sarcophagus approximately 1,800 years old has been exposed at a building site in a new neighborhood being built in Ashkelon.

This occurred during an overnight operation between Tuesday and Wednesday carried out by inspectors of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, the Southern District of the IAA, and patrol officers and detectives from the Ashkelon police station.

The find is among the rarest sarcophagi ever discovered in Israel. The coffin, made of hard limestone, weighs approximately two tons, is 2.5 meters long, and is sculpted on all sides. A life-size figure of a person is carved on the lid of the sarcophagus.

A wreath coming out of the upper edge of the sarcophagus, which is decorated with bulls’ heads. The wreath consists of acanthus leaves together with pinecones and fruit. A grape cluster is in the center of the wreath, and a rose-like decoration is also displayed in it.

A wreath coming out of the upper edge of the sarcophagus, which is decorated with bulls’ heads. The wreath consists of acanthus leaves together with pinecones and fruit. A grape cluster is in the center of the wreath, and a rose-like decoration is also displayed in it.

The unique artifact was repeatedly struck by a tractor in different places, scarring the stone and damaging the decorations sculpted by an artist on its sides. The irreparable damage was caused by the contractors who encountered the impressive sarcophagus during the course of their work.

They decided to hide it, pulling it out of the ground with a tractor while aggressively damaging it, and then concealing it beneath a stack of sheet metal and boards. They poured a concrete floor in the lot so as to conceal any evidence of the existence of the antiquities site.

Information received by the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery about unlawful activities at the construction site led to a nighttime search being conducted in the area. A close examination of the area revealed the sarcophagus and the lid concealed there.

The sarcophagus lid and the sarcophagus during the initial cleaning.

The sarcophagus lid and the sarcophagus during the initial cleaning.

Five Palestinian Arab construction workers from the Hebron area were detained who were sleeping at the building site. During investigation of the laborers at the Ashkelon police station, it became clear that the sarcophagus was excavated last week. When questioned, they showed the investigators photos and videos taken at the time of the sarcophagus’ discovery and while removing it from the ground.

Later that night, two building contractors were detained who are residents of the city and were responsible for the construction work at the site. The contractors were questioned under caution on suspicion of not reporting an ancient discovery and on suspicion of damaging an antiquities site and its artifacts – an offense punishable by five years imprisonment.

“This is an extremely serious case of damage to a rare antiquity of unprecedented artistic, historical and cultural importance,” said Amir Ganor, head of the Inspection Department at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“The IAA is attentive to development needs and the needs of the public, but will strictly enforce the law against those who knowingly damage antiquities, which are assets belonging to us all.

“Out of consideration for the owners of the lots, we permitted building in the new neighborhood of villas, on condition they would report any discovery of antiquities in the area right away and immediately halt work until the arrival of our representative.

Second Temple-Era Podium May Be Discovery in City of David

Monday, August 31st, 2015

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has made an exciting announcement: A 2,000-year-old podium may have been found in the City of David section of the Old City of Jerusalem.

A unique stepped structure exposed on the street ascending from the ‘Siloam Pool’ to the Temple Mount is raising questions among the researchers at IAA.

The intriguing, impressive pyramid-shaped staircase is constructed of large ashlar stones. It was uncovered during a current IAA archaeological excavation in the Jerusalem Walls National Park in the City of David.

The area of the excavation is the site of ancient Jerusalem, and the dig is being carried out in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the City of David Foundation.

This structure is situated alongside the 2,000 year old Second Temple stepped street, which carried pilgrims on their way from the Shiloah (Siloam) Pool to the Temple, which stood atop the Temple Mount.

The street, a section of which was excavated in the past, is remarkably well-preserved and is built of enormous stone slabs. IAA archaeologists believe the street most likely runs above the 2,000 year old drainage channel, discovered a number of years ago, which carried rain water out of the city.

The street was constructed sometime in the fourth decade of the first century CE, and was one of the largest construction projects undertaken in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period.  Dozens of whole pottery vessels, stone vessels and glassware were found at the foot of the pyramid-shaped staircase.

Coin from the period of the Great Revolt against the Romans, discovered in the destruction layer atop the street from the Second Temple period.

Coin from the period of the Great Revolt against the Romans, discovered in the destruction layer atop the street from the Second Temple period.

“The structure exposed is unique. To date such a structure has yet to be found along the stepped street in the numerous excavations that have taken place in Jerusalem and to the best of our knowledge outside of it. For this reason, its exact use remains enigmatic,” said archaeologists Nahshon Szanton and Dr. Joe Uziel, who are heading the excavation on behalf of the IAA.

“The structure is built along the street in a place that is clearly visible from afar by passers-by making their way to the Temple. We believe the structure was a kind of monumental podium that attracted the public’s attention when walking on the city’s main street.

“It would be very interesting to know what was said there 2,000 years ago. Were messages announced here on behalf of the government? Perhaps news or gossip, or admonitions and street preaching – unfortunately we do not know.

“Bliss and Dickie, two British archaeologists who discovered a small portion of this structure about 100 years ago, mistakenly thought these were steps that led into a house that was destroyed. They would certainly be excited if they could come back today and see it completely revealed,” the archaeologists added.

It is known from rabbinic sources there were “stones” that were used for public purposes during the Second Temple period. For example, one source cites the “auction block” in connection with the street: “[a master] will not set up a market stand and put them (slaves) on the auction block” (Sifra, BeHar 6).

In the Mishnah and Talmud the “Stone of Claims” is mentioned as a place that existed in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period: “Our Rabbis taught: There was a Stone of Claims in Jerusalem: whoever lost an article repaired thither, and whoever found an article did likewise. The latter stood and proclaimed, and the former submitted his identification marks and received it back. And in reference to this we learnt: Go forth and see whether the Stone of Claims is covered” (Bava Metzia 28:B),” an IAA spokesperson added.

Old Meets New

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Back in July, while building two nursery schools in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona, the construction team found a cave.

The Israel Antiquities Authority just announced that inside the cave archaeologists found a wine press, benches and a 2000 year-old mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) from the Second Temple period.

But what was more interesting, was that on the walls of the Mikvah they found writing in Hebrew and Aramaic as well as paintings and inscriptions on the walls. All unusual for Mikvahs of that period, but even more unusual was the amount of writing and painting that were found there in one location.

Painting and inscriptions found on the wall of a 2000-year-old mikveh in Jerusalem.

Painting and inscriptions found on the wall of a 2000-year-old mikveh in Jerusalem.

Ancient Cave Mikveh found in Jerusalem

THe IAA plans to make the painting and inscriptions available for viewing in the future.

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.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rare-inscription-from-king-david-discovered-in-jerusalem-hills/2015/06/16/

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