Current Events Articles: February 2017

Roman-era Gateway Unearthed at Beit She'arim posted by Bryan Windle

Excavations at Beit She'arim in northern Israel have revealed a previously unknown Roman-era gate structure along an ancient road leading into the town. The gate system was built of limestone blocks, and included postholes for doors as well as a circular tower. Despite the fact that Beit She'arim literally means "House of Gates," the town was believed to have been too small to have been fortified. While Beit She'arim may have been insignificant in size, it was an important town in the second century AD, as it was the headquarters for the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, and was where the Mishna (Jewish oral law) was compiled.

Off-site Links:
- http://www.timesofisrael.com/archaeologists-shocked-to-find-ancient-gateway-at-house-of-gates/
- http://hamodia.com/2017/02/15/gate-remnant-discovered-beit-shearim/

New Dead Sea Scroll Cave Discovered posted by Bryan Windle

For the first time in over 60 years, a new Dead Sea Scroll cave has been discovered west of Qumran, near the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. If confirmed, this would be the 12th Dead Sea Scroll cave. A team of archaeologists from Hebrew University, along with Dr. Randall Price and students from Liberty University, recently excavated the cave and found the remains of six jars which were identical to the jars found in several other Qumran caves. The cave appears to have been looted, as the jars were broken, no scrolls were found, and two pick-axes from the 1950s were found, probably left by the looters. One jar did contain a rolled-up blank parchment. Scientific testing will determine if the ceramic and parchment share a similar origin to those discovered in other Dead Sea Scroll caves. Other finds include a leather strap for binding scrolls and a cloth for wrapping scrolls. Moreover, the mouth of a 13th cave, still sealed, may have been discovered nearby, providing the tantalizing possibility of more Dead Sea scrolls yet to be discovered.

Off-site Links:
- https://academic.logos.com/new-dead-sea-scroll-cave-discovered-after-60-years/
- http://www.timesofisrael.com/new-dead-sea-scroll-cave-found-near-qumran-but-scrolls-are-gone/
- http://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/1.770515

New Archaeological Dig at Masada posted by Bryan Windle

For the first time in 11 years, archaeologists will be excavating at Masada, the mountain fortress built by Herod the Great and the place where Jewish rebels made their last stand against Roman troops in 74 AD. Plans are underway to excavate areas that have not been studied in the past, including new sections of the rebels' dwellings, the gardens built by King Herod, and the underground structures detected in aerial photographs. According to Josephus, the sole historical source of the battle, 8000 Roman troops besieged the rebels who were at Masada (the siege ramp can still be seen today), and, when they finally broke through, discovered the bodies of 960 Jews, who chose to die rather than be captured. Scholars hope the new archaeological dig can answer questions about the final days of the Jewish rebels and Roman forces at Masada, as well as provide information about the fortress Herod built.

Off-site Link:
http://www.timesofisrael.com/archaeologists-get-set-to-dig-at-masada-after-11-year-hiatus/

Royal Scribe's Tomb Discovered in Egypt posted by Bryan Windle

A previously unknown Egyptian tomb was recently discovered in Luxor. Excavators who were cleaning the area around the tomb of Userhat, an official under Amenhotep III, stumbled upon a hole that led to the tomb of a royal scribe named Khonsu. The newly discovered tomb is decorated with paintings and frieze patterns depicting various Egyptian gods, including Ra-Atum, Osiris, and Isis. A hieroglyphic inscription describes Khonsu as a "true renowned scribe." The tomb has been preliminarily dated to the Ramesside period based on its style. According to biblical chronology, this would correspond to the time of the judges in the Old Testament.

Off-site Links:
- http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/257292/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Tomb-of-Ramessideera-royal-scribe-uncovered-in-Lux.aspx
- http://luxortimesmagazine.blogspot.ca/2017/01/royal-scribe-tomb-discovered-in-luxor.html

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