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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Israel Antiquities Authority’

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.


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.


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

Rare Cache of Silver Coins From Hasmonean Period Found in Modi’in

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

More proof that Jews lived and prospered in the Land of Israel long before the so-called “Palestinian Arabs” ever walked this piece of real estate…

During the time of the Hasmoneans, a Jewish family of means owned an estate in Modi’in which had an olive grove and a press with which to produce olive oil, as well as vineyards and wine presses for the production of wine. And the family patriarch was a coin collector.

He was clearly a man of means: but something must have happened, and the family was forced to flee. Just before quitting their estate, he hid his coins between the massive stones in a wall, hoping to retrieve them later. But it was not to be, and it is only now, millennia later, his fellow Jews have discovered the treasure, and are learning his story.

* * *

The hoard of silver coins dating to the Hasmonean period (126 BCE) was exposed in April, in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority is currently conducting near Modi‘in, with the participation of local youth. The excavation is being carried out prior to the construction of a new neighborhood, at the initiative of the Modi‘in-Maccabim-Re‘ut municipality. The treasure was hidden in a rock crevice, up against a wall of an impressive agricultural estate that was discovered during the excavation there.

 IAA archaeologist Shahar Krispin during the discovery of the silver coin hoard that was found in the estate house in Modi'in.

IAA archaeologist Shahar Krispin during the discovery of the silver coin hoard that was found in the estate house in Modi’in.

Avraham Tendler, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said “This is a rare cache of silver coins from the Hasmonean period comprised of shekels and half-shekels (tetradrachms and didrachms) that were minted in the city of Tyre and bear the images of the king, Antiochus VII and his brother Demetrius II.

“The cache that we found is compelling evidence that one of the members of the estate who had saved his income for months needed to leave the house for some unknown reason. He buried his money in the hope of coming back and collecting it, but was apparently unfortunate and never returned.

“It is exciting to think that the coin hoard was waiting here 2,140 years until we exposed it,” Tendler said.

“The cache, which consists of 16 coins, contains one or two coins from every year between 135–126 BCE, and a total of nine consecutive years are represented, explained Dr. Donald Tzvi Ariel, head of the Coin Department at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“It seems that some thought went into collecting the coins, and it is possible that the person who buried the cache was a coin collector. He acted in just the same way as stamp and coin collectors manage collections today.”

“The findings from our excavation show that it was a Jewish family that established an agricultural estate on this hill during the Hasmonean period,” Tendler added.

Aerial photograph of the Hasmonean estate house in Modi'in.

Aerial photograph of the Hasmonean estate house in Modi’in.

“The family members planted olive trees and vineyards on the neighboring hills and grew grain in valleys. An industrial area that includes an olive press and storehouses where the olive oil was kept is currently being uncovered next to the estate.

“Dozens of rock-hewn winepresses that reflect the importance of viticulture and the wine industry in the area were exposed in the cultivation plots next to the estate. The estate house was built of massive walls in order to provide security from the attacks of marauding bandits.”

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu Issues Stop-Work Order against Waqf Temple Mount Bathrooms

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

On Tuesday the PM’s office instructed the City of Jerusalem to issue a stop-work order against a project that has been under construction for two years, converting an ancient Ottoman structure near the compound’s wall into bathroom stalls and showers for use strictly by Muslim worshipers.

According to Israel Radio, Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday assembled Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan, and Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev, to discuss the offensive Waqf project on the Temple Mount, because it endangers rare archaeological treasures.

The move was appropriate, especially since the Waqf had been constructing those bathrooms, as well as carrying out other projects for two years now without a license. The only question was how come the PM’s office waited for two years to act, after being bombarded with complaints by archaeologists, including the Israel Antiquities Authority, regarding the irreparable damage caused by the Waqf?

It was Yehuda Glick, now an MK, who in 2014 caught Waqf officials red-handed in the act of drilling through the ancient stones of the holy site, using heavy machinery. “They saw me coming and immediately tried to hide. It set off warning bells for me and I started filming straight away,” Glick related back in 2014. “They tried to hide, and then shouted to the policeman who was there that I could not take pictures without their permission. The policeman ignored them.”

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-issues-stop-work-order-against-waqf-temple-mount-bathrooms/2016/06/01/

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