Archive for June, 2012

Over at the Bible and Interpretation.

 

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From Generation Word:

I just finished putting together the “Israel Field Book” and it is available as a .pdf download here.

This 188 page book includes details and photos from 66 sites in Israel and 80 in Jerusalem. It is accompanied by 300+ photos plus maps, diagrams and charts at the back of the book. This is a great download on an iPhone and once it is downloaded just touch the screen for the option to put it into your iBooks library. Hope it is useful while in the field in Israel.

Galyn Wiemers Generation Word http://www.generationword.com

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Science Daily:

Archaeologists in the eastern Mediterranean region have been unearthing spherical jugs, used by the ancients for storing and trading oil, wine, and other valuable commodities. Because we’re used to the metric system, which defines units of volume based on the cube, modern archaeologists believed that the merchants of antiquity could only approximately assess the capacity of these round jugs, says Prof. Itzhak Benenson of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geography.

Now an interdisciplinary collaboration between Prof. Benensonand Prof. Israel Finkelstein of TAU’s Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures has revealed that, far from relying on approximations, merchants would have had precise measurements of their wares — and therefore known exactly what to charge their clients.

The researchers discovered that the ancients devised convenient mathematical systems in order to determine the volume of each jug. They theorize that the original owners and users of the jugs measured their contents through a system that linked units of length to units of volume, possibly by using a string to measure the circumference of the spherical container to determine the precise quantity of liquid within.

The system, which the researchers believe was developed by the ancient Egyptians and used in the Eastern Mediterranean from about 1,500 to 700 BCE, was recently reported in the journal PLoS ONE. Its discovery was part of the Reconstruction of Ancient Israel project supported by the European Union.

3D models unveil volume measurement system

The system of measurement was revealed when mathematician Elena Zapassky constructed 3D models of jugs from Tel Megiddo — an important Canaanite city-state and Israelite administration center — for a computer database. The jugs are associated with the Phoenicians, ancient seafaring merchants who had trading hubs along the coast of Lebanon. Using a statistical methodology, the team measured hundreds of vessels from the excavation, and discovered something surprising — large groups of these spherical or elliptic jugs had a similar circumference. This prompted the researchers to look more deeply into how the ancients measured volume.

The Egyptian unit of volume is called the hekat, and it equals 4.8 liters in today’s measurements, explains Dr. Yuval Gadot, a researcher on the project. A spherical jug that is 52 centimeters in circumference, which equals one Egyptian royal cubit, contains exactly half a hekat. “In a large percentage of the vessels we measured, the circumference is close to one cubit, and the merchant could know that the vessel’s volume is half a cubit by just measuring its circumference,” he says.

When the researchers adopted the Egyptian system of measurement themselves instead of thinking in metrical units, many things became clear. For example, the tall round “torpedo” jugs packed into Phoenician ships in the 8th century BCE were found to contain whole units of hekats. Dr. Gadot believes that the Egyptian system of measurement gradually disappeared when the Assyrians took over the region, bringing their own methods of measurement with them.

A measure of political power

According to Prof. Finkelstein, elements of standardization in the ancient world hold interest because they are indicative of bureaucratic systems and reflect political and cultural influences. “The use of the Egyptian method is a strong indicator of Egyptian power in this region during a specific period of time,” he explains.

“Working together with experts in mathematics and statistics, we have been able to provide new solutions for longstanding archaeological problems and debates.”

 

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From the Israel Antiquities Authority:

A spectacular 2,000 Year Old Gold and Silver Hoard was Uncovered in an Archaeological Excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority Conducted in the Qiryat Gat Region

The treasure trove comprising c. 140 gold and silver coins together with gold jewelry was probably hidden by a wealthy lady at a time of impending danger during the Bar Kokhba Revolt

A rich and extraordinary hoard that includes jewelry and silver and gold coins from the Roman period was recently exposed in a salvage excavation in the vicinity of Qiryat Gat. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was funded by Y. S. Gat Ltd., the Economic Development Corporation for the Management of the Qiryat Gat Industrial Park.

The rooms of a building dating to the Roman and Byzantine period were exposed during the course of the excavation. A pit that was dug in the earth and refilled was discerned in the building’s courtyard. To the archaeologist’s surprise, a spectacular treasure trove of exquisite quality was discovered in the pit wrapped in a cloth fabric, of which only several pieces remained on the artifacts.

According to archaeologist, Emil Aladjem, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The magnificent hoard includes gold jewelry, among them an earring crafted by a jeweler in the shape of a flower and a ring with a precious stone on which there is a seal of a winged-goddess, two sticks of silver that were probably kohl sticks, as well as some 140 gold and silver coins. The coins that were discovered date to the reigns of the Roman emperors Nero, Nerva and Trajan who ruled the Roman Empire from 54-117 CE. The coins are adorned with the images of the emperors and on their reverse are cultic portrayals of the emperor, symbols of the brotherhood of warriors and mythological gods such as Jupiter seated on a throne or Jupiter grasping a lightning bolt in his hand”.

Saʽar Ganor, District Archaeologist of Ashkelon and the Western Negev for the Israel Antiquities Authority, adds “the composition of the numismatic artifacts and their quality are consistent with treasure troves that were previously attributed to the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. During the uprising, between 132-135 CE, the Jews under Roman rule would re-strike coins of the emperor Trajan with symbols of the revolt. This hoard includes silver and gold coins of different denominations, most of which date to the reign of the emperor Trajan. This is probably an emergency cache that was concealed at the time of impending danger by a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry and money in a cloth and hid them deep in the ground prior to or during the Bar Kokhba Revolt. It is now clear that the owner of the hoard never returned to claim it.

The treasure trove was removed from the field and transferred for treatment to the laboratories of the Artifacts Treatment Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem.

Now this is a most interesting ring amongst the artefacts found:

I wonder what the image symbolises. Any ideas?

 

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Via the Bible Places blog:

Seven wonders of Israel were selected last year in an online vote sponsored by an Israeli television station. Stas Misezhnikov, the Israeli Minister of Tourism, declared the following winners according to the number of votes received:

1. Baha’i Gardens, Haifa

2. Dead Sea

3. Western Wall, Jerusalem

4. Masada

5. Coral Reef, Eilat

6. Stalactites Cave, Judean Hills

7. Caesarea

One obvious omission from this list are large erosional craters (machteshim) in southern Israel. I would also vote for the Sea of Galilee, surely a wonder in a land with limited fresh water supplies.

Machtesh Ramon from west (source)

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An interesting video from the Israel Antiquities Authority. The past is yet to come…

 

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Via the Bible Places blog:

Archaeologists excavating at Magdala have discovered a sword from the Roman period.

An exciting find!

Magdala, was the birthplace of Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9; Matthew 27:56, 61; 28:1), and was a prosperous fishing village during the time of Jesus. It’s about 6 km NNW of Tiberias.

 

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