Current Events Articles: April 2019

Oldest Shipwreck Found in Mediterranean posted by Bryan Windle

A 3600-year-old shipwreck has been discovered off the shores of Turkey's Antalya province by archaeologists from Antalya University's Underwater Research Department. The 14-meter-long ship was found in 50 meters of water and contained 1.5 tons of copper bullion. Researchers dated the shipwreck using the typology of the copper ingots. A preliminary study suggests that the copper was mined in Cyprus and was being transported to Crete or to the Aegean coast when the ship sank. If further tests confirm the 1600 BC date of the shipwreck, this would become the oldest shipwreck ever discovered. The first mention of ships in the Bible comes in Genesis 49:13 when Jacob is blessing his sons at the end of his life (ca. 1859 BC): "Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon" (ESV).

Off-site Links:

- http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/worlds-oldest-shipwreck-found-in-mediterranean-say-officials-142544
- https://www.dailysabah.com/history/2019/04/08/turkish-archaeologists-discover-worlds-oldest-bronze-age-shipwreck-off-antalya-coast

Statue of Roman Emperor Trajan Discovered at Laodicea posted by Bryan Windle

Archaeologists excavating in Laodicea have discovered a 3-meter-tall statue of the Roman Emperor Trajan dating to 113 AD. It was unearthed in 356 pieces in the remains of a fountain which had been destroyed by an earthquake. A second, smaller statue standing on the same patio was also found, which likely depicts an enemy soldier, with his hands bound behind his back. The state of Trajan is incredibly detailed and depicts the emperor dressed in armor, wearing a short chiton. The images on the armor feature symbols from Roman mythology, including Jupiter's thunderbolt, the head of Medusa, and two griffins. A water can is visible between the two griffins, which scholars believe represents Trajan's influence on the city by bringing water to Laodicea. According to the early Christian writer, Ignatius, the apostle John lived to an old age in nearby Ephesus, surviving into the reign of Trajan (Against Heresies 2.33; 3.3)

Off-site Links:

- http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/unique-roman-emperor-statue-revealed-in-denizli-142263
- https://www.newsweek.com/ancient-rome-turkey-emperor-trajan-statue-archaeology-1386012

2000-Year-Old Settlement Discovered Near Beersheba posted by Bryan Windle

Excavations conducted before the construction of a new neighborhood at the northern entrance to Beersheba have unearthed a Jewish settlement dating to the first century AD. The remains of the settlement cover an area half an acre in size, and include the foundations of a watchtower, baking facilities, and hidden underground passageways that were likely used by Jewish rebels during the revolt. In addition to limestone vessels and bronze coins, archaeologists also discovered a fragment of a lamp decorated with a nine-branched menorah. Scholars believe this to be one of the earliest artistic depictions of a menorah. While the menorah at the Temple in Jerusalem had seven branches, the Babylonian Talmud decreed that Jewish people could not recreate the seven-branched holy menorah, and so lamps depicting eight to eleven-branched candelabras were used for domestic use. The site displays evidence of destruction by fire, which scholars believe occurred during the First Jewish Revolt around 70 AD. In the Old Testament, Beersheba was seen as the southern border of the area settled by the tribes of Israel, as evidenced by the frequent use of the phrase, "from Dan to Beersheba" (Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:10; 1 Kings 4:25; 2 Chronicles 30:5; etc.).

Off-site Links:

- https://www.friendsofiaa.org/news/2019/4/5/nine-branch-menorah-discovered-at-beer-sheba-one-of-the-earliest-of-its-kind
- https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Archaeologists-discover-earliest-appearances-of-a-menorah-in-art-585729
- https://www.timesofisrael.com/2000-year-old-image-of-9-stem-menorah-found-in-rare-jewish-site-in-beersheba/

Biblical Names Discovered on a Seal and Bulla in Jerusalem posted by Bryan Windle

Archaeologists digging in Jerusalem unearthed a 2600-year old bulla (clay seal impression) and an ancient seal which bear biblical names. The paleo-Hebrew inscription on the bulla reads, "[belonging] to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King." Both the title "Servant of the King" and the name are found in the Bible, with Nathan-Melech being an official in the court of King Josiah in 2 Kings 23:11. While scholars cannot be certain that this bulla belongs to the Nathan-Melech of the Bible, three things point towards this identification: the rarity of the name, the reign of King Josiah in the mid-seventh century BC is relatively close to the time of the destruction, and the title testifies to the importance of the individual. The object found was a blue agate stone seal with the inscription, "[belonging] to Ikkar son of Matanyahu." The name Matanyahu is also in the Bible (spelled Mattaniah in 2 Kings 24:17; 1 Chronicles 9:15, 25:4, 25:16) and has been previously found on other seals and bullae. Both artifacts were discovered in situ in the remains of a building that was destroyed in the sixth century BC, likely during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. Given the size of the building, the finely cut ashlar stones used in its construction and the remnants of a polished plaster floor, archaeologists have identified it as an administrative center. These finds attest to a highly organized administrative system in the Kingdom of Judah during the First Temple era.

Off-site Links:

- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium.MAGAZINE-seal-with-biblical-name-found-in-jerusalem-house-destroyed-by-babylonians-2-600y-ago-1.7068047
- https://www.timesofisrael.com/two-tiny-first-temple-inscriptions-vastly-enlarge-picture-of-ancient-jerusalem/
- https://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/jerusalem/seal-bearing-name-of-king-josiahs-court-official-uncovered-in-city-of-david/2019/03/31/

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