Archive for June, 2013

In an archaeological excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority near the Western Wall:


The Antiquities Authority on Thursday unearthed for the first time a small  2,000-yearold cistern near the Western Wall that connects an archeological find  with the famine that occurred during the Roman siege of Jerusalem during that  era.

The cistern – found near Robinson’s Arch in a drainage channel from  the Shiloah Pool in the City of David – contained three intact cooking pots and  a small ceramic oil lamp.

According to Eli Shukron, the excavations  director for the Antiquities Authority, the discovery is  unprecedented.

“The complete cooking pots and ceramic oil lamp indicate  that the people went down into the cistern where they secretly ate the food that  was contained in the pots, without anyone seeing them,” he said. “This is  consistent with the account provided by Josephus.”

In his book The Jewish  War that describes the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the Jewish scholar  Josephus detailed the resulting hunger that ensued.

In his account,  Josephus, also known as Yosef ben Matityahu, wrote of Jewish rebels who sought  food in the homes of other starving Jews confined to the city. Fearing these  rebels would steal their food, many Jews used cisterns to conceal their meager  provisions, and later ate in hidden places within their homes.

“As the  famine grew worse, the frenzy of the partisans increased with it,” Josephus  wrote.

“For as nowhere was there corn to be seen, men broke into the  houses and ransacked them,” he continued.

“If they found some, they  maltreated the occupants for saying there was none; if they did not, they  suspected them of having hidden it more carefully and tortured  them.”

Josephus recounted that many Jews suffering from starvation would  barter their possessions for small quantities of food in order to stay  alive.

“Many secretly exchanged their possessions for one measure of  corn-wheat if they happened to be rich; barley if they were poor,” he  wrote.

“They shut themselves up in the darkest corners of their houses,  where some, through extreme hunger, ate their grain as it was; others made  bread, necessity and fear being their only guides. Nowhere was a table  laid.”

The artifacts will be on display during a July 4 conference on the  City of David, organized by the Megalim Institute.

Earlier in the week,  the Antiquities Authority uncovered in Beit Hanina a well-preserved section of  an 1,800- year-old road leading from Jerusalem to Jaffa during a routine  excavation prior to the installation of a drainage pipe in the northern  Jerusalem neighborhood.




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The road led from Joppa to Jerusalem. The Times of Israel reports:

Archaeologists in Jerusalem uncovered an especially well preserved section of an ancient Roman road that once ran all the way to Jaffa, the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed on Tuesday.

The road section was found by the IAA during a dig in Beit Hanina, an Arab section in northeast Jerusalem. The excavation was performed prior to the installation of a drainage pipe in the area.

Excavation director David Yeger said the road section was the finest preserved section yet discovered in Jerusalem of what was once a major artery running from the coast to the heart of Judean hill country.

The road itself was around 8 meters wide, constructed of well worn flat stones and bounded by a curb, also made of stone. The road section showed signs of heavy use and also of several repairs.

More here with a map.

The IAA press release proper, is available here.



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57-year-old man dies after being bitten by snake while on vacation with family in Sea of Galilee.

Ynet news:

A 57-year-old man from central Israel was bitten by a snake and died as a result during a camping trip to Lake Kinneret.

At first the man felts woozy and lost consciousness. After he received medical attention and multiple resuscitation attempts failed, medics were forced to declare him dead.

The man arrived at the Haklaim (Farmer’s) Beach on the Sea of Galilee near Kibbutz Hukok on the northwestern shore of the sea with his wife and daughter.

While vacationing at the beach, during the evening hours, near the family’s tent and with darkness already encroaching and making visibility problematic, the man was bitten on his right hand.

His daughter later told medical officials that immediately afterwards she saw an animal slithering away from the scene, leading her to assume her father was bitten by a snake, a fact corroborated by medial examination.

“When we arrived at the scene the man was unconscious,” Taleb Abdullah, an MDA paramedic, told Ynet.

“His right hand bore bite marks. We performed multiplies resuscitation attempts for close to an hour, but were eventually forced to declare the man dead,” he concluded.

Since the beginning of the summer, there have been numerous snake biting incidents in the north.

Thursday, a 28-year-old man from one of the Arab villages in the north was brought to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed in serious conditions after being bitten by a snake. He was hospitalized in the hospitals ICU where he still remains in serious but stable condition.

The Times of Israel adds:

… Local vipers, Vipera palaestinae, are the most common poisonous snakes found in Israel. They grow to an average length of 90 centimeters (36 inches) and are mainly nocturnal. Their venom contains a hematoxin that damages blood circulation and the lymphatic system. They generally feed on small rodents, toads, and birds.

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Click here.


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Using advanced augmented reality technology, Architip lets users visualize ancient sites in their original form.

This is fantastic! Times of Israel reports:

Visitors to Israel’s many archaeological sites are often told to come equipped with a camera, and an imagination. The camera is to take photos of themselves and their companions at these famous sites — and the imagination is supposed to help them visualize what many of the faded, ancient, and time-worn places looked like during their heyday.

There are loads of aids to help prompt those imaginations, from guidebooks to audio recordings to professional guides. But Architip, a new app created by a team of image and archaeology professionals, takes a decidedly high-tech approach to the issue. Using augmented reality (AR) technology, the app lets users see what sites actually looked like long ago, bringing to virtual life a view of the ancient world.

Augmented reality is a technology that uses mathematics, models, location services, camera technology, and advanced algorithms to impose a virtual image that melds into a real-life one. “For example, you might look at an ancient mosaic on the floor of a synagogue or church, and barely see the decorations on it because of the fading,” said Yaron Benevisti, CEO of Architip, which is located in Jerusalem and has been operating for about six months. “With Architip, you would see the mosaic in full color, with all its drawings intact.”

Because each site needs to be mapped and augmented separately, Architip is being marketed as a “white label” engine, which will be used at specific sites. As a pilot, the Architip R&D team, led by Israeli AR and computer vision pioneer Sagiv Philipp, has mapped and “virtualized” the Tel Lachish archaeological site in central Israel. Tel Lachish was a fortified city surrounded by towers, and had many stately buildings, but looking at the site today, it’s hard to visualize the city as it was. With Architip, users can see the site in all its ancient glory just by holding up their smartphone’s camera at the location and looking at the screen.

“With Architip, you can see Tel Lachish as it was,” Benevisti said, “walking through its streets and seeing the reconstruction through your device.” All a user has to do is point their device at a specific point, and Archtip’s technology does the rest.

AR technology, of course, has a million and one uses, and the engine developed by the team does as well. But Benevisti has a soft spot for archaeology — one of the reasons he convinced the team to gear their first commercial application to it. “Archaeology is my passion,” said Benevisti. “We wanted to help bridge the ‘imagination gap,’ between what you see and what’s behind the plain view. People want to experience more, and our technology is perfect for that.”

Archaeology — applied to sites that attract tourists — is also the basis of Architip’s business model. “Sites will want to use our technology to enhance the visitor experience. They can offer the download for a few dollars, or make it a part of the admission package, and give every visitor the experience of having a personal guide.” Adding voice to the app would also be possible, he said, so the Architip app could be used as a substitute for real-life tour guides.

Philipp has been working in the AR area for a decade, and on Architip’s technology, but the company started marketing the app only late last year. The company, so far self-funded, recently got its first customer, a tourist site in Jerusalem —  Benevisti declined to identify the site – and the app will be available in the summer…


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The Daily Star reports:

Sidon, Lebanon: Sidon  is set to have its own national museum on  site a leading archaeological dig, with donors and developers ready to sign a  contract for its construction Monday. The museum project will be built on land  owned by the Directorate General of Antiquities at the Frère site. The British Museum  has been conducting excavations at  the Frère site for the past 14 years, and it is considered one of the most  important archaeological digs in the region.

A 1,550-square-meter museum will be built at the site and a two-story, 19th  century building already at the location will also be rehabilitated.

Two thousand square meters of roofing will be built to protect the  archaeological finds.

The project includes the development of visitor walkways and gardens. The  museum is especially designed to connect with the old neighborhoods of the city,  to highlight the historical importance of the location.

A pedestrian bridge will also be built inside an on-site historic crypt to  give the visitors a unique perspective on the historical remains as they enter  the museum. Additionally, two strong thick walls will be constructed besides the  excavation site to protect it and support the existing historic wall.

The museum will house archaeological finds that demonstrate the contribution  of various civilizations to the city of Sidon. Excavations at the site have shed  light on the city’s history, and the remnants discovered date back as far as  4000 B.C., according to the head of the British Museum expedition, Claude Doumit  Sarhal.

“The artifacts provide insight into historical phases of the city and  highlight the importance of the Mediterranean civilizations and cities in  communicating with other civilizations,” she said.

“The number of the archaeological pieces excavated reaches almost 1,000,”  Doumit Sarhal said. “You can imagine what could be buried under the historical  site of the whole city, and under the 22 hectares of land that constituted the  ancient city-state”…


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Over at the ASOR blog.

… computing has well and truly begun to replace old fashioned pen and paper notebooks. Responses to this change range from nearly unbridled enthusiasm to concerns about how the technology actually works and how our current infrastructure will continue to adapt to rapidly growing digital archives.

Rest here.


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