New Discoveries

08 Mar

I will let each website speak for themselves:


The announcement of two Iron Age seals from Jerusalem is most welcome. These were found on scientific excavations that have been conducted in Jerusalem by Drs. Doron Ben-Ami, Yana Tchekhanovets, and Salome Doron. The photos of the seals that have been released are those of Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

In sum, these two seals are Old Hebrew. They are both well done, the work of a well-trained seal maker. The palaeographic date that I would assign to them is that of the chronological horizon that spans from the late 8th century to the early 7th century BCE. The Yahwistic theophorics are predictable, but still important. The fact that one of these seals is that of a woman demonstrates that she was a very prominent woman indeed, someone who must have engaged in business and legal activities that necessitated her owning a seal. This is most impressive and certainly the most important component of these new finds.


vast prehistoric necropolis some 4,200 years old has been found near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, proving for the first time that the city had existed and thrived in Canaanite times.

The burial ground, found by a team of Italian and Palestinian archaeologists, covers 3 hectares of the site called Khalet al-Jam’a. It was discovered to have more than 100 tombs dating from around 2200 BCE to 650 BCE.

Unfortunately, many of the 100-plus tombs have already been destroyed by modern construction, or looted in the past

“The finds confirm that there was a Canaanite town in Bethlehem. This had have never been proven before,” Lorenzo Nigro, head of the excavation and professor at Sapienza University of Rome, told Haaretz.

The site is located on the side of a hill, which often indicates that the hill opposite had been settled. (The hills around Jerusalem similarly abound with burials located to the north and west of the city.) Canaanite burial practices

The tombs at Khalet al-Jam´a were artificially carved into the soft limestone rock, a burial practice common in the Levant and described in the Bible.

The earliest tombs in Khalet al-Jam´a date to the Early-Intermediate Bronze Age, and show the community had consisted of farmers/pastoralists. The evidence shows that by the Middle Bronze Age, the town, located in a fertile valley watered by natural springs, had been large.

The evidence at Khalet al-Jam´a supports the biblical description in Genesis of the practice of maintaining a family tomb enabling generations to be buried together; Hence the frequent biblical expression ‘to lie down, or be buried, with his forefathers’.


seven-year-old boy on a trip with friends happened to move a rock while ambling around the Canaanite archaeological site of Tel Rehov in the Jordan Valley and found a beautifully preserved 3,400-year-old female figurine.

Cleaning off the mud coating the clay sculpture, which is about the size of two adult fingers, Ori Greenhut found the well-preserved carved form of a naked woman, featuring a narrow waist and apparently an ornate hairdo. He took it home, and the Greenhut family, which lives in the nearby communal settlement of Tel Te’omim, turned it over to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“We explained to him that it was an ancient object and that the Antiquities Authority would take care of it for everybody’s benefit,” says his mother, Moriya Greenhut. Archaeologists are mixed as to whether the figurine is an idol of a fertility goddess, such as Astarte, or depicts a living woman of the time. “It could be either one,” Yardenna Alexandre of the Israel Antiquities Authority told Haaretz.

The image has none of the hallmarks sometimes found with depictions of goddesses. “She has no crown, for instance. She looks completely natural, which is why she could be either one, a goddess or a picture of a real woman,” says Alexandre.

A great many figurines depicting females, some carved in stone and some in etched on bronze, have been found in the region, Alexandre explains: some are very clearly goddess idols but some could well be portraits of women that lived at the time. This one had been made of clay that was pressed into a mold, says the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Scuba divers have discovered a rare haul of gleaming 1,000-year-old gold coins inscribed in Arabic on the sea bed off Israel, a find archaeologists say may shed light on Muslim rule in that age.

Some 2,000 coins dated to the 11th century, a period when the Fatimid Islamic dynasty dominated the Middle East, have so far been raised from the depths.

The treasure, which was probably exposed during recent winter storms, is thought to have sunk in a shipwreck near the ancient Roman port of Caesarea in the eastern Mediterranean.

“(This is) a great treasure from a (vessel) that was probably taking the hoard, possibly tax revenue, to Cairo but sank in Caesarea harbor,” Jacob Sharvit of the Israel Antiquities Authority told Reuters during a visit to the site.

Sharvit said amateur divers chanced two weeks ago upon a number of coins. At first they thought they were a children’s toy, but a subsequent underwater search by experts netted about 1,000 coins, he said.

A second dive on Tuesday in the same spot yielded another, similar amount of coins and the total find weighed in at between five and a half to six kilograms (12-13 lbs) of gold. The bullion value in current terms is around $240,000.

Such coins have been found before in the region, but this batch was the largest hoard ever found in Israel, Sharvit said.

He said the coins showed Caesarea was a wealthy area at the time and may give insight into the Fatimid trading practices.

“The Fatimids were the first Muslims to have had a navy and they traded with all the Mediterranean cities, also with the Byzantines and the Christians, even though they were at war with them,” Sharvit said


A clay tablet has been discovered in Iraq, adding 20 new lines to the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, a work of poetry widely regarded as one of the earliest literary narratives in the world.

Dating back to the Neo-Babylonian period (2000-1500 BC), the tablet was identified along with 90 other pieces back in 2011 by Farouk El-Rawi, a professorial research associate at the department of Languages and Cultures of Near and Middle East at University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and Abdallah Hashim, a museum official.

It was found in possession of a smuggler, who sold it to El-Rawi for USD 800, and it now belongs to the Sulaymaniyah Museum in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, where it is on public display.

The new piece fits in the left half of a six-column tablet, which is 11 cm high, 9.5 cm wide, and 3 cm thick.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is about the king of Uruk’s journey to find eternal life. After an initial fight with Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods to stop Gilgamesh from oppressing the people, the two become close friends.

Together, they journey to the Cedar Mountain and defeat Humbaba, its monstrous guardian, and the Bull of Heaven, which the goddess Ishtar sends to punish Gilgamesh.

As a punishment for these actions, the gods sentence Enkidu to death, leaving Gilgmesh with much to learn about life in the second half of the epic.

The newly discovered tablet is part of chapter five of the epic written in Neo-Babylonian, and sheds light on some events in the story, while adding context and detail.

El-Rawi published a paper about the new find, co-authored by fellow SOAS professor Andrew George, which includes the original tablet text transliterated and translated into English.

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Posted by on March 8, 2016 in academics, archaeology, Bible, church, education, faith, history, leadership, science, theology


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