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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Israel Antiquities Authority’

First Temple Era Document Mentioning ‘Jerusalem’ Revealed [video]

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

A rare and important find was exposed in an enforcement operation initiated by the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery: a document written on papyrus and dating to the time of the First Temple (seventh century BCE) in which the name of the city of Jerusalem is clearly indicated. This is the earliest extra-biblical source to mention Jerusalem in Hebrew writing.

The document, which was illicitly plundered from one of the Judaean Desert caves by a band of antiquities robbers and was seized in a complex operation by the IAA’s agents, was presented at a press conference Wednesday.

Two lines of ancient Hebrew script were preserved on the document that is made of papyrus (paper produced from the pith of the papyrus plant [Cyperus papyrus]). A paleographic examination of the letters and a C14 analysis determined that the artifact should be dated to the seventh century BCE – to the end of the First Temple period. Most of the letters are clearly legible, and the proposed reading of the text appears as follows:

Papyrus text

Papyrus text

This is a rare and original shipping document from the time of the First Temple, indicating the payment of taxes or transfer of goods to storehouses in Jerusalem, the capital city of the kingdom at this time. The document specifies the status of the sender of the shipment (the king’s maidservant), the name of the settlement from which the shipment was dispatched (Naʽarat), the contents of the vessels (wine), their number or amount (jars) and their destination (Jerusalem). Naʽartah, which is mentioned in the text, is the same Naʽarat that is referred to in the description of the border between Ephraim and Benjamin in Joshua 16:7: “And it went down from Janohah to Ataroth, and to Naʽarat, and came to Jericho, and went out at Jordan.”

The document is preserved in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls laboratories.

The document is preserved in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls laboratories.

According to Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy director of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, “the document represents extremely rare evidence of the existence of an organized administration in the Kingdom of Judah. It underscores the centrality of Jerusalem as the economic capital of the kingdom in the second half of the seventh century BCE. According to the Bible, the kings Menashe, Amon, or Josiah ruled in Jerusalem at this time; however, it is not possible to know for certain which of the kings of Jerusalem was the recipient of the shipment of wine”.

Israel Prize laureate and biblical scholar Prof. (Emeritus) Shmuel Ahituv attests to the scientific importance of the document, saying, “It’s not just that this papyrus is the earliest extra-biblical source to mention Jerusalem in Hebrew writing; it is the fact that to date no other documents written on papyrus dating to the First Temple period have been discovered in Israel, except one from Wadi Murabbaʽat. Also outstanding in the document is the unusual status of a woman in the administration of the Kingdom of Judah in the seventh century BCE.”

With the help of volunteers during the past year the Israel Antiquities Authority has been conducting an archaeological excavation in search of ancient artifacts in the Cave of the Skulls in the Judaean Desert.

With the help of volunteers during the past year the Israel Antiquities Authority has been conducting an archaeological excavation in search of ancient artifacts in the Cave of the Skulls in the Judaean Desert.

According to Israel Hasson, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “the discovery of the papyrus shows that there are other artifacts of tremendous importance to our heritage that are waiting to be found in the Judaean Desert caves. The world’s heritage assets are being plundered on a daily basis by antiquities robbers solely for greed. The state has to mobilize and allocate the necessary resources in order to embark upon a historic operation together with the public, and carry out systematic excavations in all of the Judaean Desert caves.”

Amir Ganor, director of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery explained that “organic material, such as documents, particularly delicate paper like papyrus, perish over time due to their sensitivity to moisture. The dry climate of the desert is exceptional in that it facilitates the preservation of documents that provide invaluable information regarding the way of life in antiquity and the early development of religions. The rarity of the finds and their importance are the reasons why the antiquities robbers risk their lives coming to dig in the caves in the desert cliffs. I am glad that we were fortunate to have a role in saving the papyrus, which is an important and special find that bears witness to the historical relationship between the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, and the Jewish people.”

According to Pnina Shor, curator and director of the Dead Sea Scrolls project at the IAA, “this unique papyrus joins the thousands of scroll fragments for which the Israel Antiquities Authority established dedicated conservation and photographic laboratories where the scrolls are treated using highly sophisticated means and the most advanced documentation and photographic technology available today. With a state-of-the-art camera that was developed based on technology used by NASA which records the Dead Sea Scrolls at a level that replicates the original, it is even possible to see the texture of the plant, skin or parchment on which the ancient documents were written.”

Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev said in a statement: “The discovery of the papyrus on which the name of our capital Jerusalem is written is further tangible evidence that Jerusalem was and will remain the eternal capital of the Jewish people. It is our duty to take care of the plundering of antiquities that occurs in the Judean Desert, and no less important than this is exposing the deceit of false propaganda as is once again happening today in UNESCO. The Temple Mount, the very heart of Jerusalem and Israel, will remain the holiest place for the Jewish people, even if UNESCO ratifies the false and unfortunate decision another ten times.”

JNi.Media

All About the Ancient ‘Jerusalem’ Papyrus [video]

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Read the article here.

Video of the Day

Earliest Ten Commandments Tablet On Auction in Beverly Hills

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

The earliest-known stone inscription of the Ten Commandments will be offered Nov. 16, 2016 by Heritage Auctions in the Living Torah Museum Auction in Beverly Hills, California, Art Daily reported Tuesday. The tablet is the centerpiece of an offering of Bible-related historical artifacts, researched and authenticated, property of the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn, NY. The opening bid on the Ten Commandments is $250,000.

David Michaels, Director of Antiquities for Heritage Auctions, suggested “there is nothing more fundamental to our shared heritage than the Ten Commandments.” The two-foot-square marble slab, inscribed in early Hebrew script, probably came from a synagogue destroyed by the Romans between 400 and 600 CE, or by the Crusaders in the 11th century, according to Michaels.

Weighing about 200 pounds, the slab of marble is chiseled with 20 lines of script, in Hebrew and Aramaic. After an introductory dedication and invocation, it lists nine of the ten commonly known Biblical Commandments from the Book of Exodus, omitting the “You will not take the name of God in vain,” and adding instead a commandment commonly cited by the Samaritan sect, calling on the worshippers to “raise up a temple” on Mount Gerizim, sacred to the Samaritans, near the city of Shechem.

Bidders are required to agree to place the object on public exhibition, as per a stipulation by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which designated the artifact a “National Treasure” of Israel.

Samaria was the home to of the Samaritan sect, known by Jewish tradition as the “converts by lions,” based on an account of their forced immigration under Assyrian rule from an unknown origin, and their embrace of the local Jewish God for protection from the lions that roamed their new habitat.

Scholars who studied the carved letters believe the stone was carved in the late Roman or Byzantine era, circa 300-500 CE, to adorn the entrance to a Samaritan synagogue.

The discovery of the Ten Commandments Stone was reported in 1947 by Y. Kaplan, the stone’s owner at the time, and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, later Israel’s second President (1952-1963). It was first uncovered in 1913 during excavations for a railroad station near Yavneh, Israel, and was acquired by an Arab who set it in the floor of his courtyard. Over many years, foot traffic wore down some of the letters at the center of the slab, although the forms are still discernible.

In 1943, the stone was acquired by Kaplan, who brought in Dr. Ben-Zvi and other scholars to study it. Antiquities dealer Robert Deutsch purchased it in the 1990s, and Rabbi Saul Deutsch obtained it for his Living Torah Museum in 2005. It has been the centerpiece of the Museum’s collection since then and was subsequently published in Biblical Archaeology Review magazine and other publications.

Although considered a “National Treasure” of Israel, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) approved its export the US in 2005 on condition that it be displayed in a public museum. “We seek either an institutional buyer or a private one who will agree to exhibit the 10 Commandments Stone so that all can see, enjoy and learn from it,” Michaels told Art Daily.

The Living Torah Museum auction will include at least 50 other artifacts from the museum’s collection, including a nine-spouted ceramic oil lamp dated to the first century CE that is regarded by some experts as the earliest known first Hanukkah menorah, Michaels said.

JNi.Media

Discovery: ‘Jerusalem’ on Hebrew Papyrus

Friday, October 21st, 2016

A unique, 2,700-year-old Papyrus which mentions the Hebrew word “Yerushalma” (possibly meaning “to Jerusalem”) will be revealed next week at a conference on Innovations in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Environs, at the Rabin Jewish Studies Building on the Mount Scopus Campus of the Hebrew University, Makor Rishon reported. Researchers say the papyrus may be the earliest evidence in Hebrew of the connection between the city of Jerusalem and the period of the Kings of Israel.

The papyrus is a document written on paper made from the pith of the papyrus plant, cyperus papyrus. Such documents were written on sheets of papyrus, joined together side by side and rolled up into a scroll, in an early form of a book. In a dry climate, like that of Egypt or the Judaean desert, the papyrus pages are stable, since they are made of highly rot-resistant cellulose; but storage in humid conditions can result in molds attacking and destroying the material.

To date, the only other archaeological find that mentions Jerusalem in Hebrew were carvings on a cave wall at the Beit Loya ruin near Amatzia in southern Judea (west of the green line). The cave, which has been dubbed the “Jerusalem Cave” was excavated in 1970, and the writing on the wall says, “The whole land and the Judaean mountains are His, the God of Yerushalaim.” Prof. Shmuel Achituv, a scholar of the history of the people of Israel in the ancient East, deciphered that text and has now also deciphered the papyrus with the word “Yerushalma.” He will lecture on his discovery at next week’s lecture.

According to Achituv, to date the name “Yerushalaim” has been discovered in archaeological finds in languages other than Hebrew, such as in the El-Amarna letters, written in cuneiform, which were sent by the kings of Canaan to the Pharaoh in the 14th century BCE. There is also an Assyrian documentation of the siege laid by King Sennacherib on Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah in 701 BCE.

The Hebrew papyrus was discovered recently in the Judaean desert and purchased from an antique dealer. It was examined by the Israel Antiquities Authority’s labs, and carbon dated. The results showed with certainty that the papyrus dates back to the 8th century BCE, near the end of the Kingdom of Judea, a short while before the destruction of the First Temple.

David Israel

Excavation Reveals Spot Where Romans Breached Jerusalem’s Wall 2,000 Years Ago

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Exciting evidence of the breaching of the third wall that surrounded Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period was uncovered last winter in the Russian Compound at the city center. The discovery was made in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted in the location where the new campus of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is slated to be built. In the course of the excavation, archaeologists discovered the remains of a tower jutting from the city wall. Opposite the tower’s western facade were scores of ballista and sling stones that the Romans had fired from catapults at the Jewish guards who were stationed at the top of the tower.

Dr. Rina Avner, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Dr. Rina Avner, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

According to Dr. Rina Avner and Kfir Arbib, excavation directors on behalf of the IAA, “This is a fascinating testimony of the intensive bombardment by the Roman army, led by Titus, on their way to conquering the city and destroying the Second Temple. The bombardment was intended to attack the sentries guarding the wall and provide cover for the Roman forces so they could approach the wall with battering rams and thereby breach the city’s defenses.”

The historian Josephus, an eyewitness to the war, provided many details about this wall. According to him, the wall was designed to protect the new quarter of the city that had developed outside its boundaries, north of the two existing city walls. This quarter was named Beit Zeita. The building of the Third Wall was begun by King Agrippa I; however, he suspended its construction so as not to incur the wrath of Emperor Claudius and to dispel any doubts regarding his loyalty. The construction of the Third Wall was resumed some two decades later by the defenders of Jerusalem, as part of fortifying the city and the Jewish rebels’ preparations for the Great Revolt against Rome.

A 2,000 year old jar as it was discovered in the field.

A 2,000 year old jar as it was discovered in the field.

Josephus described in detail the route of the wall that began at Hippicus Tower, which is now identified with David’s Citadel. From there the wall continued north to the enormous Psephinus Tower, which defended the northwestern corner of the city wall. At that point the wall turned east and descended toward the Tomb of Queen Helena, which is identified with the place known as the Tombs of the Kings.

A spearhead from the battle against Titus’ army.

A spearhead from the battle against Titus’ army.

It seems that the new discovery has resolved a debate among researchers reaching back to the early twentieth century, as to the location of the third wall and the question of Jerusalem’s boundaries on the eve of the Roman onslaught led by Titus. According to the dig in the Russian Compound, we now have proof of the wall’s existence in that area.

The excavation findings will be presented at a conference entitled “New Studies in the archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region,” Thursday, October 27, at the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

JNi.Media

National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel Taking Shape in Jerusalem [video]

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Finally, a building in Jerusalem where every visitor can see and feel the history and archaeology of the Land of Israel is taking shape right in front of our very eyes. The archaeology campus currently under construction will allow the general public access to Israel’s archaeological heritage by revealing the enormous variety of national treasures that were discovered in archaeological excavations, as well as the methods of exposing these national treasures in laboratories.

Israel Hasson, Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority, on Sunday unveiled the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, currently under construction on Museum Hill in Givʽat Ram, between the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum.

The campus will serve as an open, active house endeavoring to make the cultural heritage that belongs to all of us accessible to the general public: millions of archaeological treasures of the societies and religions that lived in Israel which were excavated and that will be excavated in the future. The campus will be home to visitors from Israel and abroad, and an educational center for students who will be able to see firsthand the exciting finds that were left for them by those who lived here hundreds and thousands of years ago.

The ceremony inaugurating the public wing of the campus will be attended by the Prime Minister and donors during the Sukkot holiday, and the building will be open to the public in about a year.

According to Hasson, “Just a small hop, skip and a jump over to the archaeology campus will allow every one of us to make a gigantic leap back in time, to the history of mankind and the country. The IAA is this generation’s guardian of the cultural assets of the past. The heritage belongs to all of the public, and it is our obligation to share with everyone the treasures that were safeguarded until now in the storerooms. On this campus, visitors will be able to take part for the very first time in the fascinating process of archaeological conservation that up till now was carried out behind-the-scenes, and experience firsthand the rich past of the country, as it takes shape before their eyes. The campus will be an attraction for tourists from Israel and abroad, and a home for anyone who wants to know where he comes from and where he is going.”

The total construction cost of of construction, about $105 million, comes from twenty-six donors as well as the State of Israel.

Display cabinet dedicated to new discoveries presents the story of the shipwreck in Caesarea harbor that was laden with a cargo of magnificent bronze statue fragments intended for recycling. Photographer: Ardon Bar-Hama

Display cabinet dedicated to new discoveries presents the story of the shipwreck in Caesarea harbor that was laden with a cargo of magnificent bronze statue fragments intended for recycling. Photographer: Ardon Bar-Hama

The campus, which covers an approximate area of 360 acres, is a unique gem designed by architect Moshe Safdie, symbolizing the archaeological excavation process – a tensile “transparent” roof that is the first of its kind in the country and simulates the tent-like canopies used to shade archaeological excavations, directing rainwater to a pool situated in a courtyard below, and creating a flowing cascade of water. Three levels descending like the strata in an archaeological excavation, contain courtyards, impressive display galleries, dedicated, climate controlled housing centers, and paths that overlook the laboratories and hundreds of thousands of artifacts housed in the campus, as well as the National Library for the Archaeology of Israel.

The inaugural exhibition in the campus will focus on and illuminate the diversity of the work of the professionals engaged in the worlds of archaeology and conservation.

Fascinating mosaics, many of which have never been displayed before, will be revealed for the first time within the framework of the archaeology campus. Photographer: Ardon Bar-Hama

Fascinating mosaics, many of which have never been displayed before, will be revealed for the first time within the framework of the archaeology campus. Photographer: Ardon Bar-Hama

The first exhibition in the display cabinet dedicated to new discoveries will present the story of the shipwreck in the Caesarea harbor, which was laden with a cargo of magnificent bronze statue fragments intended for recycling. From this exhibit one can learn a great deal about the world of marine archaeology, among other things, how the archaeologists excavated the artifacts underwater.

The exhibitions are spread throughout the building and deal with a variety of subjects.

In the huge housing center for the National Treasures visitors will walk on a suspended bridge while watching an audiovisual exhibit that will be projected on hundreds of thousands of artifacts.

The eastern rooftop of the campus is dedicated to mosaics, many of which have not been seen before and will be revealed to the public for the first time. The impressive el-Hammam mosaic from Bet Sheʽan was removed from the site in 1934, and only now, 82 years later, will visitors have an opportunity to see it. A magnificent mosaic depicting the biblical story of Samson carrying the gate of Gaza on his back after the Philistines tried to kill him (Judges 16:3) was exposed by Jody Magness at Huqoq and will also be presented on the rooftop. A large nave of a Byzantine church with a colorful mosaic in it that was excavated by Shlomo Kol-Yaʽakov east of Ramla was restored in its entirety in one of the open courtyards of the campus.

At the National Campus for Archaeology visitors will get a behind-the-scenes view of how the experts conserve antiquities in laboratories that will be visible to the public. Credit: Shai Halevi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

At the National Campus for Archaeology visitors will get a behind-the-scenes view of how the experts conserve antiquities in laboratories that will be visible to the public. Credit: Shai Halevi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Hundreds of 7,000-year-old artifacts are exhibited in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery, revealing the Chalcolithic culture, which is surprising in its complex social system, the development of new production technologies and its extensive trade relations. Prominent among the artifacts: a painstakingly restored wall painting from Ghassul that was probably situated in a cultic chamber, statuettes, sculpted stands, clubs and scepters as well as the rare wooden bow and sandal from the Cave of the Warrior.

A special gallery in the campus focuses on ancient glass, and lumps of raw glass and hundreds of vessels are on exhibition (from the furnace to the masterpieces), describing the glass industry in the country and the ancient world, and the extensive distribution of these vessels in tombs some two thousand years ago. The precious glass vessels were buried as funerary offerings together with the deceased, in the belief that they would accompany the deceased to the next world.

The National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel is home to the World Center for the Dead Sea Scrolls, including the conservation center where the scrolls undergo conservation, a climate-controlled housing center for more than 15,000 scroll fragments, a library dedicated to the subject, and a gallery for the exhibition of the complex methods used by the five IAA Dead Sea Scrolls conservators – the only people in the entire world that are officially authorized to touch these 2,000 year old scrolls.

At the National Campus for Archaeology visitors will get a behind-the-scenes view of how the experts conserve the Dead Sea Scrolls. Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

At the National Campus for Archaeology visitors will get a behind-the-scenes view of how the experts conserve the Dead Sea Scrolls. Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Other parts of the campus include the National Library for the Archaeology of Israel, which will be one of the largest in the Middle East, an auditorium where conferences, lectures, and movies in the field of archaeology can be held and shown, the administration offices of the IAA, a café and archaeological exhibits integrated on landscaped rooftops designed by landscape architect Barbara Aronson, which will enhance the area’s scenery.

The National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel will be inaugurated on October 19 in a ceremony attended by the Prime Minister. It will be streamed live on the IAA Facebook page. The historic inauguration event will mark the importance of preserving Israel’s archaeological, spiritual and cultural heritage and will express gratitude to the donors who through their generosity made possible the construction of the campus.

JNi.Media

Ein-Gedi Scroll Target of Hi-Tec Recovery Mission

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Prof. Brent Seales and his team from the University of Kentucky have further unlocked the text in the ancient Ein-Gedi scroll — the very first, severely damaged, ink-based scroll to be unrolled and identified noninvasively. Through virtual unwrapping, they have revealed it to be the earliest copy of a Torah book – Vayikra-Leviticus – ever found in a Holy Ark.

“This work opens a new window through which we can look back through time by reading materials that were thought lost through damage and decay,” said Seales, who is a professor and a chair of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Kentucky. “There are so many other unique and exciting materials that may yet give up their secrets — we are only beginning to discover what they may hold.”

Seales and his team have discovered and restored text on five complete wraps of the animal skin scroll, an object that likely will never be physically opened for inspection.

In a study published in Science Advances Seales and his co-authors, including researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, describe the process and present their findings, which include a master image of the virtually unrolled scroll containing 35 lines of text, of which 18 have been preserved and another 17 have been reconstructed.

“We are releasing all our data on the scroll from Ein-Gedi: the scans, our geometric analysis, the final texture,” said Prof. Seales, adding, “We think that the scholarly community will have interest in the data and the process as well as our results/”

The software pipeline, referred to as “virtual unwrapping,” reveals text within damaged objects by using data from high resolution scanning, which represents the internal structure of the 3-D object, to digitally segment, texture and flatten the scroll.

In 2015, Seales and his team revealed the first eight verses of the Book of Vayikra in the scroll, which is at least 1,500 years old and was badly burned at some point. Due to its charred condition, it was not possible to either preserve or decipher it. However, high resolution scanning and virtual unwrapping has allowed Seales to recover substantial ink-based text at such high quality that Jerusalem’s Hebrew University scholars can now conduct critical textual analysis on it.

“With the aid of the amazing tomography (imaging by sections) technology we are now able to zero in on the early history of the biblical text, as the Ein-Gedi scroll has been dated to the first centuries of the common era,” said Hebrew University’s Prof. Emanuel Tov, co-author and leading scholar on textual criticism of Hebrew and Greek bibles. Hebrew University’s Prof. Michael Segal also worked with Tov on the textual criticism. The text of the scroll and its analysis is published in Textus, the journal of the Hebrew University Bible Project.

The scroll was unearthed in 1970 in archaeological excavations in the synagogue at Ein Gedi in Israel, headed by the late Prof. Dan Barag and Prof. Ehud Netzer of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University and Yosef Porath of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). The IAA’s Lunder Family Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Center, which uses state of the art and advanced technologies to preserve and document the Dead Sea scrolls, enabled the discovery of this important find.

“The discovery of text in the Ein-Gedi scroll absolutely astonished us; we were certain it was a shot in the dark, but the most advanced technologies have brought this cultural treasure back to life,” said co-author Pnina Shor, curator and director of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls Project. “Now, in addition to preserving the Dead Sea Scrolls for future generations, we can bequeath part of the Bible from a Holy Ark of a 1,500-year old synagogue.”

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ein-gedi-scroll-target-of-hi-tec-recovery-mission/2016/09/22/

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