web analytics
April 25, 2015 / 6 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Israel Antiquities Authority’

Stone Age, Canaanite, Arrowheads and Blades Found in Judean Foothills

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Archaeological excavations which were conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Judean foothills moshav (cooperative village) of Eshta’ol, before laying a sewer line, have unearthed evidence that the area where the moshav houses sprawl started attracting agricultural entrepreneurs as far back as 9,000 years ago.

Benjamin Storchen holding up a bronze period bowl.

Benjamin Storchen holding up a bronze period bowl.

According to Benjamin Storchen, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “the ancient findings we unveiled at the site indicate that there was a flourishing agricultural settlement in this place, and it lasted for as long as 4,000 years.”

The archaeological artifacts discovered in the excavation site indicate that the first settlers arrived here about 9,000 years ago. This period is called by archaeologists the Pre-Ceramic Neolithic period, which includes the earliest evidence of organized agriculture.

The site continued to flourish, and reached the peak of its development in the early Canaanite period, about 5000 years ago. This period is characterized by the consolidation of large rural communities, which were dispersed all across the country. The economy of these villages relied on field crops, on orchards and on livestock farming, which continue to characterize in today’s typical Mediterranean agriculture.

This period is credited with some technological innovations in agriculture which upgraded man’s ability to process extensive areas of crops more efficiently.

It appears that the Canaanite site being excavated at the moshav Eshta’ol was part of a large settlement bloc, which came to an end for reasons that are not sufficiently clear some 4,600 years ago.

Stortz’n explains that “these findings indicate a broad and well-developed settlement in the area of the Judean foothills, near the spot where two local rivers, the Kislon and the Ishwa, meet.”

He claims that “these two riverbeds, which today are dry, were alive with streaming water in ancient times, which provided the necessities of life for the local community and allow them to develop thriving agricultural systems alongside an economy based on hunting. The evidence to that are flint warheads, discovered in the same excavation.

These early farmers developed a rich culture, which was reflected, among other things, in the plan of the Canaanite residence exposed at the site, right next to one of the moshav homes. There’s also an abundance of findings: pottery and stone tools, flint tools, including those used to harvest wheat and for housework, and arrowheads used for hunting animals and as weapons, as well as beads and bone artifacts.

Detectives Arrest Man Who Stole 300-Year-Old Torah Parchment

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Detectives from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) acted on a tip and tracked down a thief who stole a 300-year-old parchment of two chapters from Deuteronomy, or Devarim in Hebrew, the fifth book of the Torah.

Amir Ginod, director of the IAA department that works to prevent thefts of artifacts, said that that the parchment might have eventually crumbled and disappeared for eternity if it had not been uncovered.

Stealing antiquities is a serious crime in Israel, a treasure chest of ancient hiustroy.

In a separate incident, four Bedouin thieves were caught in southern Israel while digging with a backhoe at an archaeological site near the Bedouin city of Rahat, several miles northwest of Be’er Sheva.

The thieves were caught in the act with metal detectors, and they caused heavy and irreversible damage to the site.

Rare Neolithic Well Discovered in Jezreel Valley

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of a rare well dating back to the Stone Age, used by the first firmers of the Jezreel Valley.

Two skeletons , believed to belong to a 19 year-old woman and an older man, were found at the bottom of the well,  at Enot Nisanit in the western Jezreel Valley near the YaYogev Junction (Highway 66), which is being excavated prior to a project to expand the area for travel.

The well is being dated at 8,500 years old, belonging to the Neolithic period.

According to the excavation director, the well was not used after the pair fell – or were pushed – into the well, due to contamination.

Additional finds include toothy sickle blades made from flint, animal bones, and charcoal.

The well will be preserved by the Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the National Roads Company, and will be open to the public as one of the archaeological exhibits around Tel Megiddo.

Stunning Synagogue Discovered in Huqoq

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

A monumental synagogue building dating to the Late Roman period (ca. 4th-5th centuries C.E.) has been uncovered in archaeological excavations at the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee.

Revealed in the excavations are a stunning mosaic floor decorating the interior of the building.  Made of small, high-quality colored stone cubes, the mosaic depicts a scene of the biblical judge/warrior Samson tying fiery torches between the tails of foxes, as described in the book of Judges 15.  In another section of the mosaic, two female faces border a circular medallion, with a Hebrew inscription praising those who perform Torah commandments.

 The excavations are being conducted by Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and David Amit and Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and sponsored by UNC, Brigham Young University in Utah, Trinity University in Texas, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Toronto in Canada. Students and staff from UNC and the consortium schools are also participating in the dig.

“This discovery is significant because only a small number of ancient (Late Roman) synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical scenes, and only two others have scenes with Samson (one is at another site just a couple of miles from Huqoq),” said Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor in the department of religious studies in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences in a press release issued by the Israel Antiquities Authority. “Our mosaics are also important because of their high artistic quality and the tiny size of the mosaic cubes. This, together with the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue’s walls, suggest a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly.”

Huqoq is located just  west of Capernaum and Migdal.  It was discovered in 2011 by Magness.

Artifact Found in Time for Shavuot Proves Bethlehem Existed During First Temple

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Ir David Foundation announced that a clay seal was discovered bearing the name of the city of Bethlehem, evidence that the city existed during the period of the First Temple in Jerusalem.  The find fortuitously coincides with the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, during which time Jews from around the world focus on the story of the biblical figure Ruth, set in the city of Bethlehem.

The 1.5cm seal – called a bulla – was discovered during sifting of soil removed from the archeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in the City of David, just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.  The sifting is underwritten by the Ir David Foundation, which treated The Jewish Press to a private tour.

The clay bulla was meant to seal a document or object, used as a way of showing that the private item had not been tampered with.

The new bulla bears the words:   בשבעת   Bishv’at    בת לים    Bat Lechem [למל[ך   [Lemel]ekh

Eli Shukron, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said “it seems that in the seventh year of the reign of a king (either Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah), a shipment was dispatched from Bethlehem to the king in Jerusalem.”

“The bulla we found belongs to the group of “fiscal” bullae – administrative bullae used to seal tax shipments remitted to the taxation system of the Kingdom of Judah in the late eighth and seventh centuries BCE,” Shukron said.  “The tax could have been paid in the form of silver or agricultural produce such as wine or wheat”.

According to Shukron, this is the first time the name Bethlehem has appeared in an inscription from the First Temple period, proving that Bethlehem was a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly in earlier periods.”

The first mention of Bethlehem in the Bible occurs in regard to the matriarch Rachel, wife of Jacob, sister of Leah, and mother of Joseph, who died while giving birth to Benjamin “in Ephrat, which is Bethlehem, and was buried there (Genesis 35:19; 48:7).

In later generations, when the region was settled by the descendants of Jacob and Leah’s son Judah, a man named Boaz made Ruth, a Moabite convert and daughter-in-law of Naomi, his wife (Book of Ruth).  The couple’s great-grandson, David, became the most celebrated king in Jewish history, and made his capital in Jerusalem, on the site of the modern day “Ir David” – City of David.

Hebrew Seal Dating Back to First Temple Period Discovered

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), in its continuing archaeological excavations of the drainage channel between the City of David and the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, has uncovered a Hebrew seal dating back to the First Temple period.

The seal was discovered on the floor of the remains of a building also dating to the end of the First Temple period; a building that IAA said was the closest one to the First Temple found thus far in excavations. According to a statement released by IAA, the seal “is made of a semi-precious stone and is engraved with the name of its owner: ‘Lematanyahu Ben Ho…’ (‘למתניהו בן הו…’ meaning: ‘Belonging to Matanyahu Ben Ho…’). The rest of the inscription is erased.”

At an early stage of the excavations, which is underwritten by the Ir David Foundation, the archaeologists involved recognized the potential for significant discoveries in the area, and thus decided that they would painstakingly sift through any soil removed from the site. This decision was vindicated, as the seal was discovered during the sifting process.

Seals were used by individuals in the First Temple period to sign letters and identify their owner, and were set in a signet ring for convenience.

Eli Shukron, the excavation director, said: “the name Matanyahu, like the name Netanyahu, means giving to God. These names are mentioned several times in the Bible. They are typical of the names in the Kingdom of Judah in latter part of the First Temple period – from the end of the eighth century BCE until the destruction of the Temple in 586 BCE.

“To find a seal from the First Temple period at the foot of the Temple Mount walls is rare and very exciting,” he added. “This is a tangible greeting of sorts from a man named Matanyahu who lived here more than 2,700 years ago.”

Israel Seizes Two Smuggled Egyptian Sarcophagi Covers Where Mummies Once Slept Eternally

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Inspectors of the Israel Antiquities Authority recently seized two covers of Egyptian sarcophagi that contained ancient mummies in the past. The covers were confiscated by inspectors of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery while checking shops in the market place of the Old City in Jerusalem. The ancient covers, which are made of wood and coated with a layer of plaster, are adorned with breathtaking decorations and paintings of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The coffins were taken for examination on the suspicion they might be stolen property.

After undergoing examination by experts, which included among other things a Carbon 14 analysis for the purpose of dating the wood, it was unequivocally determined that these items are authentic and thousands of years old: one of the covers is dated to the period between the 10th and 8th centuries BCE (Iron Age) and the other to between the 16th and 14th centuries BCE (Late Bronze Age). Because these are rare artifacts made of organic material, they are being held for the time being in custody, under climate-control conditions, in the laboratories of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem. Wooden sarcophagi of this kind have only been found in Egypt so far, and were preserved thanks to the dry desert climate that prevails there.

It is suspected that Egyptian antiquities robbers plundered ancient tombs in the region of the Western Desert in Egypt, and afterwards unknown persons smuggled the wooden covers from Egypt to Dubai, and from there they found their way to Israel by way of a third country in Europe. Evidence of their having been smuggled is indicated by the sawing of the covers into two parts, which caused irreparable damage to the ancient items. This was presumably done to reduce their dimensions and facilitate concealing and transporting them in a standard size suitcase. Covers of this kind usually enclosed a sarcophagus made of palm wood c. 2 meters long, which contained the embalmed remains of a person. It is unclear what happened to the mummy and the sarcophagus.

The Israel Antiquities Authority reports that until recently antiquities dealers and other entities have exploited loopholes in the law whereby they brought antiquities into the country for the purpose of “laundering” them. These antiquities, which are alleged to have been plundered in Middle Eastern countries and illegally exported from them, were imported to Israel by local antiquities dealers. In Israel the stolen ancient artifacts were provided documentation that allowed them to be exported and sold abroad to the highest bidder. During the marketing and sales process the dealers would report these antiquities as artifacts that were ostensibly of Israeli provenance.

Regulations regarding the importation of antiquities into Israel were recently amended. The new regulations, which will take effect toward the end of April 2012, require a customs declaration for the importation of antiquities and a preliminary inspection of the items by the Israel Antiquities Authority for the issuance of an import license.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Customs and Tax Authority, will prevent the importation of antiquities into the country without proper documentation that indicates they were legally exported from the country of origin, and thereby significantly reduce the process of “antiquities laundering” and the trade in stolen antiquities in the Middle East.

According to Shai Bar-Tura, inspector in charge of overseeing the antiquities trade on behalf of the IAA Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, “Beginning April 20 there will be a new reality in the antiquities trade in Israel. The new regulation will provide us with the tools in order to prevent the importation into the country of antiquities that were stolen or plundered in other countries, thus enabling us to thwart the international cycle of robbery and trade in stolen archaeological artifacts”.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is engaged in a continuing effort to preserve and protect the historical heritage values of the State of Israel, and to assist in the international struggle against the robbery of antiquities in the Middle East.

Recently Egyptian authorities submitted a request asking that the stolen sarcophagus covers be repatriated. The Egyptian request is being taken under advisement by the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Israel Police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the legalities are currently being examined in order to return the objects to their country of origin.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/israel-seizes-two-smuggled-egyptian-sarcophagi-covers-where-mummies-once-slept-eternally/2012/04/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: