119 Blog

Archaeologists Find 3,200-Year-Old Cheese in an Egyptian Tomb

Mysterious substance found in ancient broken jar. By Niraj Chokshi August 16, 2018 A few years ago, a team of archaeologists cleaning sand from an ancient Egyptian tomb discovered a group of broken jars, one of them containing a mysterious white substance. The team had guesses as to what the material might be, but a new analysis published in the journal Analytical Chemistry offers an answer: What they found during that excavation was an approximately 3,200-year-old piece of cheese, one...

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How Was the Bible Written During and After the Exile?

Biblical Hebrew in a changing world Megan Sauter   •  07/27/2018 The Hebrew language has evolved over time. Even during the course of writing the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), Biblical Hebrew changed, which is apparent when you compare early Biblical texts with late ones. How was the Bible written during and after the Babylonian Exile? Did the Biblical authors continue to use the Hebrew language even though they were living in lands where Hebrew was no longer the common...

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Scribes in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Looking at scribal figures at Qumran Megan Sauter   •  07/23/2018  What’s in the Dead Sea Scrolls? The scrolls, which date from the third century B.C.E. to the first century C.E., mostly contain Jewish religious texts. About 40 percent of the manuscript fragments consist of texts from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Pseudepigraphal texts—that is, religious texts that did not make it into the Hebrew Bible—from the Second Temple period (c. 530...

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Daily Life in Ancient Israel

What was life like for the settlers of Canaan during the time of the Biblical Judges? What was life like for the tribes of Israel in the time of the Biblical Judges, the period archaeologists call Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C.E.)? The evidence for the early Israelite settlers of Canaan comes from two sources: archaeological survey and excavations. Much of the area of the central highlands, where most of the settlers of Canaan established their villages, was archaeologically surveyed in...

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Hezekiah’s Religious Reform—In the Bible and Archaeology

What was King Hezekiah’s reform like on the ground? One of the most significant changes in the religious life of ancient Israel occurred during the reign of the Judahite king Hezekiah, in the late eighth century B.C.E. The Hebrew Bible provides us with this image: “He removed the high places, broke down the pillars, and cut down the sacred pole (asherah). He broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to...

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What language(s) did the Philistines speak?

By: Dr. Brent Eric Davis, University of Melbourne The evidence that we have for the language(s) spoken by the Philistines is not plentiful, but what we do have is interesting (though far from conclusive). Two types of evidence predominate: (1) inscriptions that may have been produced by Philistines, and (2) Philistine words and names borrowed into other languages of the region and recorded (however imperfectly) in non-Philistine records. In terms of the first type of...

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Where Did Jesus Turn Water into Wine?

Finding Cana of Galilee, site of Jesus’ first miracle   On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” —John 2:1-4 Jesus’ first miracle was performed in Cana of...

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Ophel Excavations Uncover Jewish Revolt Coins in Rebel Hideout

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem recently announced that dozens of bronze Jewish revolt coins from the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66–70 C.E.) have been discovered in a cave just south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The coins were found during the renewed Ophel excavations led by Hebrew University archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar following a four-year hiatus.   Mazar believes that the coins, which measure 0.6 inches in diameter, were left by Jewish residents who had fled...

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The “Original” Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Can the scrolls help expose the original Bible language within the Masoretic Text and Septuagint?     Noah Wiener   •  03/08/2018   For centuries, Bible scholars examined two ancient texts to elucidate the original language of the Bible: the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint. The Masoretic Text is a traditional Hebrew text finalized by Jewish scholars around 1000 C.E. The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Torah created by the Jews of Alexandria in the...

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Searching for the Temple of King Solomon

How the ’Ain Dara temple in Syria sheds light on King Solomon in the Bible and his famous temple For centuries, scholars have searched in vain for any remnant of Solomon's Temple.  The fabled Jerusalem sanctuary, described in such exacting detail in 1 Kings 6, was no doubt one the most stunning achievements of King Solomon in the Bible, yet nothing of the building itself has been found because excavation on Jerusalem's Temple Mount site of the Temple of King Solomon, is...

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Isaiah’s Signature Uncovered in Jerusalem

Evidence of the Prophet Isaiah? Megan Sauter   •  02/22/2018 he Assyrian king Sennacherib responded to Hezekiah’s rebellion with force. He campaigned against Judah—destroying many Judahite cities, such as Lachish (depicted on the Lachish reliefs, panels from Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh, now on display at the British Museum in London), and ultimately besieging the capital city of Jerusalem in 701 B.C.E The prophet Isaiah said that Jerusalem would not fall...

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Miniature Writing on Ancient Amulets

Ketef Hinnom inscriptions reveal the power of hidden writing by Robin Ngo • 01/29/2018 The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.—Numbers 6:24–26When unrolled, the two ancient amulets from Ketef Hinnom revealed miniature writing that had been painstakingly inscribed on them. Researchers discovered that the inscriptions included blessings similar to Numbers...

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Taking Out the Trash in Ancient Jerusalem

Using the archaeology of garbage to reconstruct ancient life     From time immemorial, people have produced rubbish. Yet to an archaeologist, not even this discarded material is a waste! Just as archaeologists can glean information about the past by excavating ancient houses, streets, and temples, so too can they learn by studying ancient trash. What people discarded tells a lot about how they lived.  One of the world’s oldest landfills was recently uncovered in...

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Aerial Technology Directs Archaeologists to Idumean Structure

Bible and archaeology news Samuel Pfister   •  12/06/2017 The archaeologist’s toolbox of gadgets is always expanding. While excavations could previously rely on pickaxes, trowels, and buckets, now archaeologists are adopting the latest technologies, like ground-penetrating radar to detect buried architecture, CAT-scans to examine mummified remains, and aerial and satellite photography to survey patterns and data across broad landscapes. Use of digital technologies in the...

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Jews in Roman Turkey

Jewish presence uncovered at Limyra, Turkey     Megan Sauter   •  10/02/2017   Located on the coast of southwestern Turkey, Limyra has a long, rich history—although the site now lies in ruins. Occupied for more than a millennium, it served as the home for many different religious groups. A recent archaeological discovery at Limyra suggests that a Jewish community also lived there.   Martin Seyer of the Austrian Archaeological Institute explains the...

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Naboth’s Vineyard Unearthed at Tel Jezreel?

“Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. And Ahab said to Naboth, ‘Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.’ But Naboth said to Ahab, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.’ Ahab went home resentful and sullen because of...

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The Ancient Library of Alexandria

The West’s most important repository of learning J. Harold Ellens • 09/03/2017 In March of 415 C.E., on a sunny day in the holy season of Lent, Cyril of Alexandria, the most powerful Christian theologian in the world, murdered Hypatia, the most famous Greco-Roman philosopher of the time. Hypatia was slaughtered like an animal in the church of Caesarion, formerly a sanctuary of emperor worship.1 Cyril may not have been among the gang that pulled Hypatia from her chariot, tearing...

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Massive section of Western Wall and Roman theater uncovered after 1,700 years

Sought for 150 years, the remarkable discovery of the small theater changes archaeologists' perceptions of Roman-conquered Jerusalem after the fall of the Second Temple Sought for 150 years, the remarkable discovery of the small theater changes archaeologists' perceptions of Roman-conquered Jerusalem after the fall of the Second Temple. And in the course of their work, which has been quietly proceeding directly beneath Wilson’s Arch — the area immediately adjacent to the...

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Jonah and the Whale

Why the Book of Jonah Is Read on Yom Kippur   Nahum Sarna   •  09/23/2017  The Book of Jonah is read in the synagogue on the afternoon of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, the sacred Day of Atonement. Why, of all books in the Bible, this book this most holy day?  The answer is clear. The major themes of the book are singularly appropriate to the occasion—sin and divine judgment, repentance and divine forgiveness. What is remarkable is...

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Tarshish: Hacksilber Hoards Pinpoint Solomon’s Silver Source

Hacksilber isotope analysis associates Biblical Tarshish with Sardinia In the Bible, King Hiram of Tyre supplies King Solomon with timber, craftsmen and gold for the construction of the Jerusalem Temple, and the alliance with the Phoenician ruler undoubtedly helped Solomon amass his extraordinary wealth. Biblical and other ancient texts suggest that the seafaring Phoenicians brought silver and other precious metals from the western Mediterranean in the 10th century B.C.E., the time of Hiram...

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Discoveries in Mary Magdalene’s Hometown

Four ritual baths unearthed in the Magdala excavations Mary Magdalene is arguably the best known and most popular sinner of the New Testament. A great deal of the romantic portrayal of Mary, however, has no foundation in the Scripture, but is the product of a later Christian tradition, which ultimately inspired contemporary cinematic depictions of her. Take her name and her hometown as an example. The name Mary (Miryam, in Hebrew) was so common that the Gospels always had to specify which...

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The Palace of the Kings of Israel—in the Bible and Archaeology

Samaria’s Iron Age palace What did the palace of the kings of ancient Israel look like? In the Bible, King Ahab’s palace is called an “ivory house” (2 Kings 22:39). We know from other Biblical passages that Ahab—and successive kings of the northern kingdom of Israel—ruled from Samaria. Ahab’s father, King Omri, had established Samaria as his capital and built an elaborate palace there in the ninth century B.C.E. In his lifetime, King Ahab further...

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The 613 Mitzvot: 76-80

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The sixteenth install of The 613 Mitzvot blog series where we are briefly reviewing the 613 traditional rabbinical commandments and if the Torah applies to us today.

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The 613 Mitzvot: 71-75

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The fifteenth install of The 613 Mitzvot blog series where we are briefly reviewing the 613 traditional rabbinical commandments and if the Torah applies to us today.

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5,000-Year-Old Egyptian Billboard Discovered

Monumental inscription communicated royal authority and solar power     Nicola McCutcheon   •  07/20/2017 What do you call a team of Yale Egyptologists who just discovered the oldest known monumental Egyptian hieroglyphs? “Absolutely flabbergasted,” according to Professor John Coleman Darnell, codirector of the Elkab Desert Survey Project. As reported by YaleNews, Darnell and his team came across the hieroglyphs during their study of...

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The 613 Mitzvot: 66-70

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We are often asked to do teachings on the 613 commandments found in the Jewish faith.  Understandably, such a teaching or teaching series would be an immense undertaking.  However, we thought we may be able to go through it, at least in part, in our blogs.  This is an ongoing blog series that we will do at different times without any real schedule planned.  We will not be going into great depth in this series. The format for these blog posts will be simple.  We will...

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Cache of Roman letters discovered at Hadrian's Wall

A cache of 25 Roman letters has been found at Vindolanda, the fort below Hadrian’s Wall where the most famous documents from the Roman world were discovered in 1992, first-person accounts of cold feet, beer running short, and jolly birthday parties at the northernmost edge of the empire. The tablets are still being conserved, before being scanned with infrared light which should make the faint marks in black ink legible, but the cursive script is invariably a cryptic crossword puzzle...

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DNA Study of Mummies Indicates Ancient Egyptians Descended From Biblical Ham

In a scientific first, DNA taken from Egyptian mummies has been decoded, producing unexpected results about the true origins of the Egyptian people. These results confirm a controversial theory that traces the First Egyptian Dynasty back to Biblical Ham, as described in the Book of Genesis. Scientists have long been baffled by the origins of the Egyptian people. Until now, there was no empirical data to clarify the issue. The study of Egypt’s population history could only draw on...

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Was the Dead Sea Scroll Community Celibate?

    One of the many fascinating questions about the Dead Sea Scroll community living at Qumran is whether its members were celibate. Did they marry and have children or not? According to the ancient Jewish historian Josephus and the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, the Essenes were indeed celibate.1 The Roman philosopher and naturalist Pliny the Elder agrees and seems to locate an Essene community at Qumran. The question, of course, is whether the Qumran community was...

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The 613 Mitzvot: 61-65

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The thirteenth install of The 613 Mitzvot blog series where we are briefly reviewing the 613 traditional rabbinical commandments and if the Torah applies to us today.

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Site-Seeing: Petra’s Temple of the Winged Lions

Petra, the 2,000-year-old capital city and trade emporium of the ancient Nabateans nestled amid the rugged mountain landscape of southern Jordan, is a marvel to behold. Visitors to the expansive site meander through narrow passageways and hike up secluded trails to take in the spectacular rock-cut architecture and enigmatic monuments built during the time the city was flourishing, when the Nabateans controlled the lucrative Arabian incense trade and laid claim to a powerful kingdom...

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53 People in the Bible Confirmed Archaeologically

In “Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible” in the March/April 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Purdue University scholar Lawrence Mykytiuk lists 50 figures from the Hebrew Bible who have been confirmed archaeologically. His follow-up article, “Archaeology Confirms 3 More Bible People,” published in the May/June 2017 issue of BAR, adds another three people to the list. The identified persons include Israelite kings and Mesopotamian monarchs as well...

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Dead Sea Scroll Search

In 1946 or 1947, a Bedouin goatherd found a number of ancient texts in a cave overlooking the Dead Sea and the ruins of the town of Qumran in the West Bank. Searches over the next decade yielded around 900 mostly fragmentary ancient Jewish texts in 11 different caves. These texts, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, are among the greatest archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century. Written primarily on parchment and papyrus, they date from between the third century B.C. and the first...

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Discovery of High Priest's Rare Gold Bell

Amazing Discovery in Israel! Archaeologists have discovered a rare gold bell with a small loop at its end. The finding was made during an archaeological excavation in the City of David National Park (near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem) by the Israel Antiquities Authority in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Ir David Foundation. The directors of the excavation on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor Ronny Reich...

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The 613 Mitzvot: 56-60

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This is the relating to the 56th through 60th commandments of the traditional 613 commandments in the order and as found in the Aramic-English New Testament (AENT).

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Ancient Charred Hebrew Scroll Virtually Unwrapped

A new digital analysis of the extremely fragile Ein Gedi scroll — the oldest Pentateuchal scroll in Hebrew outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls — reveals the ink-based writing hidden on its untouchable, disintegrating sheets, without ever opening it. While prior research has successfully identified text within ancient artifacts, the Ein Gedi manuscript represents the first severely damaged, animal skin-based scroll to be virtually unrolled and non-invasively read line by line. The...

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The 613 Mitvot: 51-55

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We are often asked to do teachings on the 613 commandments found in the Jewish faith.  Understandably, such a teaching or teaching series would be an immense undertaking.  However, we thought we may be able to go through it, at least in part, in our blogs.  This is an ongoing blog series that we will do at different times without any real schedule planned.  We will not be going into great depth in this series. The format for these blog posts will be simple.  We will...

Continue reading…

Who Were the Essenes?

What social archaeology tells us about the Essenes of Qumran   A recent study has sought to determine by sophisticated methods whether Khirbet Qumran was home to a Qumran community of sectarian Jews, the Essenes of Qumran. The study by Eyal Regev of Bar-Ilan University examines the architectural plan of Qumran and applies so-called “access analysis” to map the site’s spatial organization in order to uncover the social ideology of the Essenes of Qumran.  Regev...

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DID SOLOMON'S TEMPLE TREASURE COME TO ENGLAND?

This is an interesting proposition that was first put forward by renowned archaeologist Yigael Yadin. In January 1850 Austen Henry Layard discovered, what he was to call, "The Room of the Bronzes". He found this small room in a palace built by King Ashurnasirpal II of Assyria (c.884-859BCE). In it were twelve bronze cauldrons, some of which contained a total of 170 metal bowls and vessels. These sets of bronze items seem to have made up some form of luxurious drinking services. Some of these...

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Qumran Phylacteries Reveal Nine New Dead Sea Scrolls

Bible and archaeology news After discovering a new Dead Sea Scroll text by conducting a CT scan on a phylactery from Qumran, Ariel University scholar Yonatan Adler began to look for additional tefillin texts. According to a Times of Israel article, Adler’s quest took him to the Dead Sea Scroll lab at the Israel Museum, where he discovered additional rolled up tefillin texts inside fragments of phylactery cases.   Noah Wiener   •  09/23/2016    The...

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The Tel Dan Inscription: The First Historical Evidence of King David from the Bible

Tel Dan inscription references the “House of David" Few modern Biblical archaeology discoveries have caused as much excitement as the Tel Dan inscription—writing on a ninth-century B.C. stone slab (or stela) that furnished the first historical evidence of King David from the Bible.  The Tel Dan inscription, or “House of David” inscription, was discovered in 1993 at the site of Tel Dan in northern Israel in an excavation directed by Israeli archaeologist Avraham...

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Divers find unexpected Roman inscription from the eve of Bar-Kochba Revolt

A statue base from 1,900 years ago found at Dor survived shellfish and seawater, and to the archaeologists' shock, revealed a previously unknown governor of Judea. An underwater survey conducted by divers off Tel Dor, on the Mediterranean Sea, yielded an astonishing find: a rare Roman inscription mentioning the province of Judea – and the name of a previously unknown Roman governor, who ruled the province shortly before the Bar-Kochba Revolt. Historians had thought that based on Roman...

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Alexander the Great in an Ancient Synagogue?

Stunning Huqoq mosaic unveiled Robin Ngo 09/14/2016 A 1,500-year-old mosaic that might depict a meeting between Alexander the Great and the Jewish high priest has been unveiled in full by National Geographic. The mosaic was unearthed during excavations of a fifth-century C.E. synagogue at Huqoq, a site in Israel’s Lower Galilee. Led by Jodi Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Huqoq...

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