Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Whilst The Headline is Unfortunate, The Interview With Gershon Galil Is Very Good: More on the ‘Wine’ Inscription on the Jerusalem Ossuary

eilatmazar1Fox News offers this headline: Message decoded, again: 3,000-year-old text may prove biblical tale of King Solomon.

I wish they wouldn’t do that but I’m not surprised they did given their audience. ‘May prove…’? That’s such an unfortunate phrase in such cases. That aside, Gershon does a good job stating the evidence:

The Ophel inscription — 3,000-year-old characters found in Israel in July — is the earliest alphabetical written text ever found in Jerusalem. It proves the real basis behind the parables and stories in the world’s most famous book, said Gershon Galil, a professor of ancient history and biblical studies at the University of Haifa.  “We are dealing here with real kings, and the kingdom of David and Solomon was a real fact,” Galil told FoxNews.com, in a phone call from Israel.  But the world’s leading archaeologists are still hotly debating the meaning of the inscription. Gershon offers what he calls the “only reasonable translation,” noting at the same time that the very existence of the text is as important as its meaning.

Personally I don’t think other readings are very likely – but I am hesitant to accept the idea that the inscription proves anything other than that the jar contained wine. That’s it.  Indeed, the next quotation from Galil supports my position-

“The most important thing this tells us is that somebody during this time knew how to write something,” he said.


Three letters of the inscription are incomplete, and Galil translates them to read, “yah-yin chah-lak,” which is Hebrew for “inferior wine.” The first half of the text indicates the twentieth or thirtieth year of Solomon’s reign — making the entire inscription a label of sorts for the jug’s contents.  He explains that the text must be written in an early form of southern Hebrew because it is the only language of the time to use two yods(Hebrew letters) to spell the word wine. Galil also suggests that the “inferior wine” was probably given to laborers who were helping to build the burgeoning city of Jerusalem.

Give the rest a look.  And, to Gershon, well and nicely done.

Keith Whitelam on the Spate of Recent Archaeological ‘Discoveries’

Keith writes (on FB)

The discovery of an inscribed neck of a jar in Jerusalem (An Inscribed Pithos from the Ophel, Jerusalem”, by Dr. Eilat Mazar, David Ben-Shlomo, and Prof. Shmuel Ahituv (63 IEJ no. 1, 2013, pp. 39-49)) has again led to some interesting claims. Although most of those who have pronounced on the inscription believe that it is possibly written in Canaanite, it is still seen as evidence for the monarchy of David:

“The archaeologists suspect the inscription specifies the jar’s contents or the name of its owner. Because the inscription is not in Hebrew, it is likely to have been written by one of the non-Israeli (sic!) residents of Jerusalem, perhaps Jebusites, who were part of the city population in the time of Kings David and Solomon.”

This interpretation follows the same pattern as the interpretation of the inscription at Tel Zayit : “The discovery during excavations at Tel Zayit in 2005 of a limestone boulder inscribed with the letters of the alphabet provides a useful illustration of this point. This stone with a few inscribed letters was found embedded in the wall of a building at this relatively small rural site. It was so difficult to see that it was spotted by one of the volunteers at the excavations sometime after the wall of the building had been excavated. However, on the basis of these few inscribed letters, it has been claimed that this is evidence of widespread literacy and the development of a centralized bureaucracy and political organization controlled from Jerusalem at the time of David. The political implications are so important that even the smallest item discovered in excavations is enlisted in the struggle to establish ‘facts on the ground’.” (Rhythms of Time: Reconnecting Palestine’s Past, chapter 7)

Since the model imposed on the past is one of Jerusalem as the capital of a Davidic kingdom, the evidence has to be fitted into this pattern. It is not allowed to challenge the standard view or, heaven forbid, give succour to the view that Jerusalem in the tenth century was a small highland town and that we do not know the ethnic makeup of its inhabitants.

Gershon Galil claims that “the Ophel inscription should be dated to the second half of the 10th century (it was absolutely not written in the 11th century). In the mid-late 10th century the house of David controlled Jerusalem, and I agree with Athas that:
“The language of the inscription is difficult to ascertain from so few letters, but there is good reason to think it is probably Hebrew” (although it is well known that the roots ḤLQ and NTN are clearly also attested in other West Semitic Languages).

Since it has to fit the model, it seems now that “there is good reason to think it is probably Hebrew”. What is the good reason? Apart from circular argument?

Thanks to Jim West for the various links.


You’re welcome.

Pollen, Ramat Rachel, And Archaeology as Practiced By Professionals

ramat-rachelOded Lipschits and others have published a new essay titled Fossil pollen reveals the secrets of the Royal Persian Garden at Ramat Rahel, Jerusalem in Palynology (a journal, I confess, I have never so much as heard of before, but I sure am glad it isn’t spelled ‘Palin-ology’ because that would be very creepy indeed). This essay’s abstract:

The ancient tell (mound) of Ramat Rahel sits on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It features an impressive residency and palatial garden that flourished during the seventh to fourth centuries BCE, when biblical Judah was under the hegemony of the Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian empires. Until recently, the garden’s flora has been a mystery, as standard archaeological procedures were unable to retrieve secure archaeobotanical remains.

A unique method of extracting fossil pollen from ancient plaster has now enabled researchers to reconstruct the exact vegetation components of this royal Persian garden and for the first time to shed light on the cultural world of the inhabitants of the residence. The plaster layers and garden are dated archaeologically and by Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) methods to the Persian period (fifth to fourth centuries BCE), and produced evidence of importation by the ruling Persian authorities of special and highly valued trees to the garden from remote parts of the empire.

The most surprising find, and marking its earliest appearance in the southern Levant, was the citron (Citrus medica), which later acquired a symbolic-religious role in Judaism. Other imported trees found to have been grown in the garden are the cedar, birch and Persian walnut.

The pollen evidence of these exotic trees in the Ramat Rahel palatial garden suggests that they were probably brought to flaunt the power of the imperial Persian administration. Native fruit trees and ornamentals that were also grown there include the fig, grape, olive, willow, poplar, myrtle and water lily. The identification of the ancient garden’s plant life opens a course for future research into the symbolic role of flora in palatial gardens. It also offers new opportunities for studying the mechanism by which native flora was adopted in a particular geographical area and proliferated by humans across the world.

With thanks to the author for sending along a copy.

Yigal Levin’s Report on the ‘Fish Tomb’ Conference

Because accusations have been made that Kloner fled the conference (see the comments) at its conclusion without taking questions (implying that he didn’t wish to or was afraid to), I post this conference perspective by Yigal Levin (who was in attendance).

Yigal offers both a comment on the conference and the  abstract of Kloner’s paper- which too is below, for which I thank him-

The conference was not a press conference but a full-day academic conference on the history and archaeology of Jerusalem, of which I was one of the organizers. Kloner’s paper (presented together with Boaz Zissu) was given as part of a regular session on the Second Temple Period. The full text is available in Hebrew in the conference proceedings, with an abstract in English which I have copied below. There was no discussion time at the end of the session because the conference was behind schedule. Jacobovici tried to yell accusations at Kloner, but since the session chair announced that it was lunchtime, people just got up and walked out. As far as I know, Jacobovici then simply left.

From the perspective of most people in the profession in Israel, the Talpiot cave is really a dead issue – just another not-very-carefully excavated burial cave from that period, which does not add a whole lot to our overall knowledge. There were, however, quite a few interesting papers given, including a look at an Iron-Age underground cistern discovered by Eli Shukrun on the west side of the valley, adjacent the Temple Mount.

Burial Cave 1050 in East Talpiot, Jerusalem
Amos Kloner and Boaz Zissu

The East Talpiot burial cave was uncovered at a construction site and examined relatively quickly, within a short and clearly insufficient time, on 16 April 1981, as part of excavation permit no. 1050. The archaeological team found that the cave comprised of nine kokhim which contained primary burials (or inhumations – the skeletons lied supine) and eight ossuaries, inserted in antiquity into four of the kokhim. The kokhim which contained the ossuaries also contained some scattered bones of earlier burials. It was clear that the bone collection was not done properly and later generations did not take great care with their predecessors’ remains. The cave belonged to a Jerusalemite family during the second half of the first century BCE and the first century CE.

The cave contained the burials of at least 21 individuals of different ages and it can be assumed that the total number reached up to 26 individuals.

The human remains were badly damaged by the ultraorthodox and by the construction workers, and when the ossuaries were finally inserted back into the kokhim on top of the inhumations, they were placed without knowledge of their original locations.

In the opinion of the present authors, all of the hypotheses and proposals that were made recently, connecting the cave findings to early Christians, to Joseph of Arimathea, to Christian apostles, or to a community of Jewish-Christians – are unsubstantiated.

Further on the Tel Aviv ‘City of David’ Excavation

In consultation with experts ‘on the ground’ I have learned that-

1. The area of the Tel Aviv excavation is on the “City of David” ridge (and known as such for the last century): this ridge was excavated by the late Yigal Shiloh on behalf of the Hebrew University in the 1980s (Area E of his dig).

2. Calling this place Silwan, as Haaretz has done without explaining its exact location, is intentionally misleading political spin. The village of Silwan is located to the east of the Kidron ravine.

3. The dig is a cooperative effort of Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority and IS NOT connected with any other organization, will not be financed by any other organization, and will not receive orders or guidance from anyone, including Elad!

Location of Area E4. In this case, as in all other aspects of its teaching and research, Tel Aviv University is behaving properly and legally.

5. There is only one purpose for this dig: to better understand the history of Jerusalem through the ages.

6. The dig will, therefore, naturally be carried out in accordance with the highest professional standards which characterizes all of Tel Aviv’s field-research. It will be open to all visitors and will strive to cooperate with the people living in the area.

7. However it is essential to note that the area is not inhabited. The closest Palestinian houses are around 70 meters to the east (that is, all the way over on the other side of the ravine); others are about 200 meters to the north; and still others are far to the south (far enough, in fact, that they cannot even be seen from Area E). And, finally, there are still other homes around 150 meters to the west, on the top of the ridge (see the photo to the right, and click to enlarge).

Still further insight into Tel Aviv’s work at the location can be found in Israel Finkelstein’s essay in Forward Magazine titled In the Eye of Jerusalem’s Archaeological Storm.

All in all, then, not only is the petition floating around contra Tel Aviv University’s work at the City of David inappropriate, it is founded upon numerous egregious errors and misstatements of fact.

The Dog Who Fell into a Pit, and Discovered a First Temple Era Winepress

I guess if tv journalists can stumble into pits, so can dogs.

He never studied archeology and knows more about bones than about antiquities, but he is probably the first dog in history to uncover a major archeological site.  It all began five years ago when Zach, a mongrel, took a walk at Jerusalem’s Ramot Forest with his owner, Shaul Yona. As he was joyfully running around the forest, Zach suddenly fell into a hole in the ground.  Yona managed to get his dog out safe and sounds. As he took a deep breath following the drama, he peeked into the hole and realized that it was not just a random pit.  He alerted archeologists, who checked the hole and discovered that it had been used as a grape pressing area during the First Temple period.  The sensational discovery led to an extensive excavation, which exposed additional pits, pottery pieces and bronze coins from the Second Temple period. The dig was orchestrated by Prof. Amihai Mazar, who was awarded the Israel Prize in archaeology in 2009.

And more…

Critical Archaeology in Practice: An Essay by Raphael Greenberg

You can download it here.

Critical archaeology is founded in critical theory,and thus, at a primary level, refers to an intellectual approach that seeks to identify the social and political coordinates of the production and reproduction of cultures and institutions, and of knowledge, with particular reference to structures of domination andto the possibility of resistance. As such, critical archaeology is relevant to all facets of archaeological research and practice, and has a rich tradition.More specifically, however, critical archaeology sees itself as a de-colonizing emancipatory praxis,an ethical intervention directed at complacency and complicity in archaeological teaching and practice,and thus takes on a more prescriptive or proactive role in the specific circumstances where it is applied.In the following paragraphs, I consider mainly the latter aspect, with the implication that critical archaeology is what critical archaeologists actually do.

Click the link above to read it all.

More Jewish Anti-Christian Defacing of a Church in Jerusalem

This is so disgustingly reprehensible. It’s vile and sickening and those responsible should be arrested immediately. And receive more than a mere slap on the wrist and wink and a nod.

Vandals scribbled anti-Christian graffiti on the outer walls of one of Jerusalem’s best-known churches early Tuesday morning, Israeli police said. Extremist Jewish West Bank settlers are suspected.  Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the perpetrators defaced a wall leading to the Church of the Dormition. The century-old structure is built on the site where tradition says the Virgin Mary died.

The graffiti, which read “Jesus, son of a whore, price tag,” had already been removed by midmorning, said Rosenfeld.  He says police are still searching for the assailants, though suspicion has fallen on a fringe group of pro-settler Jewish extremists who have carried out similar vandalism on churches, mosques and Israeli army property. They say the acts are in response to what they consider pro-Palestinian policies by the Israeli government, a form of retribution they call a “price tag.”

Tuesday’s graffiti is the latest in a wave of vandalism on Christian holy sites in Israel. Israel has about 155,000 Christian citizens, less than 2 percent of its 7.9 million people, but the repeated defacing of their sacred sites has shocked the country and drawn official condemnation.  “Price tag actions go against the morals and values of Judaism and do great harm to the state of Israel,” said President Shimon Peres, speaking at a meeting with one of Israel’s chief rabbis during a celebration of the Jewish festival of Sukkoth. “It is forbidden to harm the holy sites of religions and faiths,” Peres said.  The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land condemned the vandalism and called on Israel to act to stop it.

The government hasn’t stopped it yet.  And it has been going on for a long time.  If Christians were smearing synagogues with vile anti-semitic slogans the entire world would rightly and justifiably be up in arms.  When the shoe is on the other foot, the silence from the government of the United States and those of Europe is deafening.  That’s the very definition of bias.

The Exodus, From Israel

Israel is becoming so right leaning that one columnist sees an exodus of sorts on the horizon- an exodus of the left:

The final moment before the liberal population leaves Israel. The moment the public comprehends the irreversible nature of the process, the outcome will be clear and enlightened population will leave Israel and move west, as was the case with Jerusalem. Nuli Omer and Noa Maiman have left the country. They informed their friends on the net as to the reasons. One moved to a place where there is a freer press; the other, because of the culture of “Bibi-brutishness.” Isolated incidents of emigration have often occurred. However, these are not isolated incidents.


In the early 1980’s, Jerusalem was more vibrant than Tel Aviv. However, the writing was on the wall. The Jerusalem weekly, Kol Ha’ir, used to publish for Rosh Hashanah the numbers of those beginning elementary school. In so doing, it recorded the growing young-religious-extremist majority. When people began to realize that the situation was irreversible, a trickle began that became a flood. The non-extremist-religious public left and headed west. Some of Tel Aviv’s current vitality stems from the collapse of liberal life elsewhere in the country, and the ensuing internal migration.

And again

The moment the public comprehends the irreversible nature of the process, the outcome will be clear. When this irreversibility joins daily pogroms in Israel; the racist atmosphere that has become the face of the country; the growing diplomatic boycott due to racism and the occupation – the trickle will become a flood. The enlightened population will leave Israel and move west, as was the case with Jerusalem.  The right-wing inciters to an Iranian war talk about the Iranian bomb as something that will bring about the emigration of liberals from Israel. But the bomb is already here. It’s the Israeli bomb. The racist-extremist-anti-liberal atmosphere that has replaced Israel will soon lead to the active emigration of liberals from Israel. The emigration need not be en masse in order to create irreversible change. At the start of Hitler’s regime about 1,000 Jewish scientists and socialists, including Albert Einstein, were forced to leave. In one fell swoop, the scientific center of the world moved from Weimar to America.

Is Israel about to be emptied of most of its thinkers?  The writing is on the wall.  Bibi-anity may spell the end of modern, Democratic Israel.

Judah in the Neo-Babylonian Period: The Archaeology of Desolation, by Avraham Faust

This one looks right interesting, doesn’t it?

The Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. was a watershed event in the history of Judah, the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the exilic period, during which many of the biblical texts were probably written. The conquest left clear archaeological marks on many sites in Judah, including Jerusalem, and the Bible records it as a traumatic event for the population.

Less clear is the situation in Judah following the conquest, that is, in the sixth century, a period with archaeological remains the nature and significance of which are disputed.

The traditional view is that the land was decimated and the population devastated. In the last two decades, archaeologists arguing that the land was not empty and that the exile had little impact on Judah’s rural sector have challenged this view.

This volume examines the archaeological reality of Judah in the sixth century in order to shed new light on the debate. By expanding research into new avenues and examining new data, as well as by applying new methods to older data, the author arrives at fresh insights that support the traditional view of sixth-century Judah as a land whose population, both urban and rural, was devastated and whose recovery took centuries.

A First Temple Cistern Discovered in Jerusalem

You read that right, First Temple period!

Photo: IAA

A large water reservoir dating to the First Temple period was uncovered during archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, near Robinson’s Arch in Jerusalem.

The excavation which exposed the reservoir is part of ongoing efforts to map ancient Jerusalem’s entire drainage channel. The findings, together with other discoveries from the past year, will be presented on Thursday at the 13th annual conference on the “City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem.”

The recently discovered reservoir, with an approximate capacity of 250 cubic meters, is one of the largest water reservoirs ever discovered from the First Temple period. Due to its size, archaeologists believe the reservoir was designed for and used by the general public.

According to Eli Shukron, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “the exposure of the current reservoir, as well as smaller cisterns that were revealed along the Tyropoeon Valley, unequivocally indicates that Jerusalem’s water consumption in the First Temple period was not solely based on the output of the Gihon Spring water works, but also on more available water resources such as the one we have just discovered.”

Dr. Tvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist of the Nature and Parks Authority and an expert on ancient water systems, presumed that “the large water reservoir, which is situated near the Temple Mount, was used for the everyday activities of the Temple Mount itself and also by the pilgrims who went up to the Temple and required water for bathing and drinking.”

Interesting that the assertion is that the water was used for pilgrims visiting the Temple and as yet there is no evidence of the Temple.  Perhaps a more cautious evaluation is in order.

Haredi Hatred of Christianity

The Jerusalem Post reports the despicable deed of right wing Jews-

Suspected right-wing extremists vandalized the Latrun monastery outside Jerusalem early on Tuesday morning in the first price-tag attack following the evacuation of Migron. The vandals spray painted “Jesus is a monkey” and the words “mutual responsibility” with a list of the illegal outposts of Upper Migron and Maoz Esther in large orange letters on the outside of the monastery.  The vandals also burned the wooden door at the entrance to the monastery. The attack happened at around 3:30 a.m. and was quickly discovered by monks, who notified police.

I wonder what excuse the government will make for either not arresting the criminals or not jailing them after they’re tried and convicted.  Meanwhile, the pretense of investigation is set-forth

Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby said that police immediately formed a special investigative unit to find the perpetrators. Eight policemen are assigned to the special unit, he said. Ben Ruby added that police are currently investigating a number of different areas in order to determine if more price-tag attacks are planned for the next few days.

Despicable.  With thanks to Antonio Lombatti for pointing it out on facebook.

The Racists of the West Bank

Ha’aretz reports

Graffiti found on the scene read ‘death to the enemy, vengeance against Arabs,’ as well as ‘price tag Migron,’ referring to a West Bank Jewish settlement which is set to be evacuated in the coming days.


Anonymous suspects set fire to a car overnight Wednesday, and left racist messages on a wall in a Palestinian neighborhood close to the West Bank settlement Beit El. The vandals attempted to set a second car on fire as well.

Cowards always hide behind the shield of anonymity.  Why don’t they do it without masks in broad daylight so that everyone knows who these ‘courageous freedom lovers’ are?

Members of the Soboch family, residents of a neighborhood in the southern part of a village called Dura el-Kara, were awakened around 2:30 A.M., by the sound of a car alarm, and the smell of a burning car. The family discovered that Nur a-Din Soboch’s car was on fire. Palestinian firefighters only arrived on the scene a half hour later, as they needed permission from the Israel Defense Forces to enter territory marked “Area C.” While the firefighters were waiting for clearance, family members and neighbors attempted to put out the flames, before they reached the car’s gas tank.  Flammable materials were also found, extinguished, next to Hatam Soboch’s car. Both cars were parked next to the family’s home, which houses some 20 people – four brothers with wives and children, and the mother of the family, in her eighties.  A message was found sprayed on one of the walls of the family’s house, which read “death to the enemy, freedom for the homeland, price tag Migron, vengeance against Arabs, regards from those banished.” The word Migron was also found sprayed on both cars.

Injustice in the land where ‘justice is supposed to roll down like waters…’  Jeremiah could search the halls of the Knesset in Jerusalem today and he’d have as much difficulty finding an upright man as he did when he tried the first time.

The School of Lynching

Ha’aretz has an Op-Ed that’s must reading.  Here’s the opening paragraph:

Dozens of Jewish teens attacked three Palestinian teens in Jerusalem’s Zion Square last weekend, seriously injuring one of them. The police at first treated the incident as a brawl; only on Sunday did they change their tune and begin treating it as an attempted lynching that failed only by chance to end in death. Now, we expect the police to know what it takes to indict everyone involved in this loathsome hate crime.

Read every brilliant phrase.  Here are the next two paragraphs- and they’re really shocking-

Eyewitnesses said the Jewish hooligans continued kicking the wounded youth, 17-year-old Jamal Julani, even after he was already crumpled up on the ground, while their comrades shouted racist, anti-Arab slogans. Dozens of Israelis watched this happen without lifting a finger. Their apathy is only slightly less grave than the behavior of those who perpetrated the lynching. Even the denunciations of the prime minister and other public figures can’t obscure the fact that this lunching has a deep-seated political and social context.

The suspected perpetrators are children and teens. They absorbed their hatred of Arabs from their environment: perhaps at home, certainly from the educational and political systems. When incitement against Arabs has become politically correct, when rabbis urge the public to treat Arabs in a racist manner and aren’t fired from their posts, when the Knesset passes legislation over which a nationalist and racist flag waves, when the education minister extols Jewish supremacy over the Palestinians in Hebron, it’s impossible to complain solely about those teens, who translated all this into the language of violence.

Racism is rampant in Israel.  Rampant.  And Israelis need to start speaking out.  Racism is no more acceptable when the victims are Palestinians than it is when Jews in Germany find themselves the victims of hate crimes.  Indeed, the victims of hate should be the very people who absolutely refuse to engage in it, since they know first hand what it can do.

Secular Values and Biblical Scholarship: A New Essay by Philip Davies

Vintage Philip.  A must read.  he commences

Myself and Philip, in Sheffield

I am a biblical scholar, I adhere to no religion, and I do not think supernatural beings exist, or if they do, that we have any mutual business. According to one often-voiced opinion, I can therefore have no moral values, no ethics. But I can and do, and these are in fact shared with most people, including those who are religious. They include individual human freedom under the rule of law, democracy, equality of race, colour, sex and religion, and freedom of speech. These values reject theft, murder, tyranny, discrimination, intimidation, colonization and slavery. None of these values can be shown to derive from religion, and certainly not from the Bible—on the contrary, many religions and their scriptures are opposed to them. Neither Yahweh nor Allah can be quoted as bestowing any of them on humans. From where do they come, then? Quoting the American Declaration of Independence, we might say that ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident.’ But we haven’t always seen them as such, so more likely they have partly been learned, by experience and through reflection. As a species, I think we have developed more refined moral codes, whether or not we live by them any more obediently. But whatever their source, the fact is that we have a consensus in most countries and societies (and articulated by the United Nations) that these are shared human values.

Why does he write such?

The values that the State of Israel are currently violating are shared by secular and religious people alike. But for me this is not just a political issue but one of professional ethics. I have already been drawn into the battle by being called ‘anti-Semitic’ for purely scholarly opinions, from those who bracket out Judaism and Israel from any general rule about academic freedom. Others have had their tenure threatened on such grounds (and in past times I might have been sacked because of pressure by the Church!) I believe that as human beings and as scholars, we should try to live and work by our shared values. I wonder whether other scholars who maintain these secular values feel the same way about visiting Jerusalem, or even travelling to Israel. If not, I would like to know why, and especially if they think their profession has had any influence on their attitude.

And he concludes

An open discussion is long overdue, partly in the context of the continuing debate about secular values and biblical studies, and partly because the Bible and politics have never stood apart from each other—and why should they? May I remind you that humanitarian values have usually won, even by somewhat paradoxically coopting the Bible to their cause. But with that I have no quarrel!

Read the entire piece, and think about what Philip is suggesting.

Honoring Flinders Petrie

Matti Friedman reports

More than a hundred people gathered in Jerusalem to remember Sir Flinders Petrie, one of the fathers of modern archaeology, in the lovely, little-known cemetery on Mt. Zion where most of him was buried 70 years ago this week.

A towering figure in the study of Egyptology and biblical history, the brilliant, driven and eccentric Briton is no longer a household name. But a memorial for Flinders organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Monday at the Protestant Cemetery, just outside the walled Old City, nonetheless drew a capacity crowd of local archaeologists, Bible scholars and aficionados of the ancient past.

Petrie’s modest grave — which houses all of his body except for his head — is marked simply with his name and an ankh, the Egyptian hieroglyph for “life.”

It’s a great essay. Read it all.

Have The Remains of Jews Killed by the Romans in Jerusalem in 70 a.d. Been Discovered?

Antonio writes

Veteran journalist Benny Liss releases movie he filmed of underground cave on Temple Mount where he found a mass grave. He believes the skeletons are the remains of Jews massacred by the Romans when they destroyed the Temple Mount, but urges the authorities to properly examine the area.

The report he cites continues

Remains of thousands of Jews massacred by the Romans on the Temple Mount at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple may have been uncovered in Jerusalem, according to a veteran archaeological journalist.

During a conference on Thursday at Megalim – the City of David Institute for Jerusalem Studies, journalist Benny Liss screened a movie recorded a few years ago that clearly shows thousands of skeletons and human bones in what appears to be a mass grave.

Liss, veteran archaeological correspondent for Israel’s Channel 1, told the amazed audience that the film had been shot in a spacious, underground cavern in the area of the Mercy Gate, near the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, but just outside it. Liss raised the possibility that the skeletons were the remains of 6,000 Jews, mostly women and children, killed on the Temple Mount when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple, as described in the writings of Flavius Josephus, who witnessed the destruction.

This may be an exceedingly important discovery.

Elie Wiesel Says ‘Jerusalem Has to Be Above Politics’, But He’s the Advisory Chair of Elad…

And Elad is all about politics and nothing but.  Which fact nicely illustrates the ambiguity of archaeology in Jerusalem.  It’s politically motivated in so many respects and the very people who should be unbiased quest-ers for the truth are oftentimes ‘in bed’ with funding organizations which don’t even attempt to hide their political goals.

The Christian Century has a very nicely written piece today on the politics of archaeology in Jerusalem.  The opening paragraph-

In Israel, archaeology is followed with the same passion that soccer excites in other countries. That’s because archaeological findings—especially ones that reveal Jews’ ancient attachment to the land—have political meaning. As Israelis see it, such findings show that this is their land and no one can take it from them.

Do enjoy.

Now That’s An Interesting Question: Why DID Amos go to Samaria?

Samaria from the Minaret of Mosque

Samaria – (Photo credit: OSU Special Collections & Archives)

A new contribution at Bible and Interpretation asks and then strives to answer it.

The bottom line:

The Book of Amos presents Amos as an emissary from the south occasionally prophesying in Samaria and Bethel, as if he represented Zion and Jerusalem, but with a self-understanding of being divinely called to attack the social politics of the northern kingdom and its illegitimate cult in Bethel.

See if you agree that his conclusion is correct.