Current Events

Keep up to date on the latest developments in the world of Biblical Archaeology and related apologetic topics. In this section, you will find links to news reports, articles and staff commentary on the most recent discoveries, reports, and controversies in Biblical Archaeology. Enjoy!

Note: The views and comments made in materials from sources outside of the Associates for Biblical Research are not necessarily those of ABR. Such materials are included only insofar as they relate to the subject of archaeology and related apologetic subjects, and are provided for your information only.

2000-Year-Old Ring Discovered in Ancient Mikveh in Jerusalem posted by Bryan Windle

Israeli archaeologists at the City of David Sifting Project recently discovered a 2000-year-old ring in dirt that had been excavated from an ancient mikveh (ritual bath) along the Pilgrim Way. The ancient roadway runs from the Pool of Siloam up to the Temple Mount, and is thought to have been one of the main streets pilgrims took as they approached the Temple. Archaeologists have been excavating the ancient road in the City of David National Park for the past seven years. The recently-discovered ring is corroded, although its blue stone still shines. Archaeologists believe a worshiper on his way to the Temple likely lost the ring during his ritual purification in the mikveh. The ring then sat, undisturbed at the bottom of the bath, until its recent discovery.

Off-site Links:
- https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Culture/Two-thousand-year-old-ring-found-in-the-City-of-David-575179
- https://www.timesofisrael.com/misplaced-2000-year-old-ring-discovered-in-jerusalems-city-of-david/

Climbers and Archaeologists Survey Nabonidus Inscription in Sela, Jordan posted by Bryan Windle

A team consisting of elite climbers and archaeologists recently surveyed the ancient Edomite mountaintop fortress of Sela. Included in the mission was a 90-meter climb to measure and photograph a sixth-century BC relief and inscription, believed to have been commissioned by the Babylonian king, Nabonidus. The 30-line cuneiform inscription beside the image of Nabonidus has previously proved difficult to translate because of its worn state. Perhaps the new photographs of the relief will lead to a translation of the inscription. The team also surveyed the top of the promontory as well as the valley below and discovered 87 pottery sherds, including 43 rims, 23 handles and 17 body sherds, the earliest of which dated to the Iron Age IIc. In the Bible, Daniel lived through Nabonidus' reign in Babylon and read the writing on the wall for his son and co-regent Belshazzar (Dan. 5) on the night that the Babylonian empire fell to the Medes and Persians.

Off-site Links:
- http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/archaeologists-explore-history-mysterious-mountain-stronghold-%E2%80%98sela%E2%80%99-southwest-jordan
- https://elpais.com/ccaa/2019/01/01/catalunya/1546374933_558472.html

Top Ten Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2018 posted by Bryan Windle

Every year hundreds of archaeologists are involved in excavations in the lands of the Bible. Each year brings more knowledge about the background to the biblical text and a growing collection of artifacts that confirm the historicity of Scripture. Some of this year's discoveries, such as the "Governor of Jerusalem" seal, confirmed specific biblical details, while others, such as the discovery of a "Governor's residency" at Tel 'Eton more generally support the biblical narrative of a united monarchy. The discovery of a ceramic pomegranate during ABR's 2018 excavations at Shiloh made the top ten in both lists. Here are the top finds in biblical archaeology in 2018, as chosen by a couple of websites. Do you agree or disagree? What finds would be on your own top ten list?

Off-site Links:
- https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/december/biblical-archaeology-top-10-discoveries-2018-israel.html
- https://bryanwindle.wordpress.com/2018/12/26/top-ten-discoveries-in-biblical-archaeology-in-2018/

New Article Traces Provenance of "Nazareth Inscription" posted by Bryan Windle

In 1925 Wilhelm Froehner died, leaving behind a collection of more than 3400 ancient artifacts, the most famous of which was the "Nazareth Inscription." Froehner's inventory notes for this Inscription merely state: "This marble was sent from Nazareth in 1878." A new article traces the provenance of this artifact to provide an answer as to how it came into Froehner's possession. The "Nazareth Inscription" is a marble tablet with a Greek inscription, an edict of an unnamed Caesar, declaring the stealing of bodies from tombs to be a capital offense. Given the mid-first century AD date of the artifact, many scholars believe it is a response to the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and the rumour that had been deliberately started that the disciples had stolen his body (Matt. 28:13).

Off-site Link:
- https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-emperor-and-the-empty-tomb-an-ancient-inscription-an-eccentric-scholar-and-the-human-need-to-touch-the-past/

More about the Nazareth Inscription:
- http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/07/22/The-Nazareth-Inscription-Proof-of-the-Resurrection-of-Christ.aspx

Sealed, Unlooted Tomb of Egyptian High Priest Discovered posted by Bryan Windle

Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities has announced the discovery of a sealed, unlooted, 4400-year-old tomb belonging to an ancient high priest. The tomb dates to the Fifth Dynasty and belonged to an Egyptian Priest of Royal Purification named Wahtye, who also held the title of "Divine Inspector." Archaeologists discovered 55 statues inside, along with well-preserved paintings on the walls depicting the tomb's owner with various members of his family. The statues are arranged on two levels within the tomb – 24 on the upper level of the tomb and 24 on the lower level – and depict humans and deities. According to the hieroglyphs that accompany the statues and paintings, Wahtye's mother was named Merit Meen (meaning a lover of the fertility god Min), and his wife was named Nin Winit Ptuh (meaning the greatest of the Egyptian creator god Ptah). Archaeologists also found five hidden shafts in which they hope to find Wahtye's sarcophagus.

Off-site Links:
- https://www.livescience.com/64317-saqqara-tomb-hidden-shafts-discovered.html
- https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-46580264
- https://www.facebook.com/moantiquities/posts/2071110519601254

19 Roman-Era Tombs Uncovered in Antioch posted by Bryan Windle

Excavations in the necropolis of ancient Antioch, located in the Hatay province of Turkey, have unearthed 19 tombs dating to the Roman period. The project, which has been running since 2007 under the direction of the Hatay Archaeology Museum, has cleaned and examined the tombs. Numerous epitaphs have been deciphered, including ones that read, "lived and died shamelessly," and "keep the spirit." Antioch of Syria was the location of the Apostle Paul's "home" church, and is the place where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians (Acts 11:26)

Off-site Links:
- https://www.dailysabah.com/history/2018/11/27/19-roman-tombs-unearthed-in-southern-turkeys-antakya
- https://ahvalnews.com/turkish-tourism/roman-tombs-unearthed-turkeys-antakya-province

Roman Ring Inscribed with Pilate's Name Revealed posted by Bryan Windle

A copper ring unearthed during the 1968-69 excavations at the Herodium was recently cleaned, photographed and analyzed, revealing the name of Pilate. This discovery was announced in the latest issue of Israel Exploration Journal under the title, "An Inscribed Copper-Alloy Finger Ring from Herodium Depicting a Krater." The artifact itself is a simple stamping ring with the image of a Krater (a wine vessel) surrounded by Greek letters which translate to, "of Pilatus." It was found in a room at the Herodium with an archaeological layer dating no later than 71 AD. Given the rarity of the name Pilate in the first century, many are naturally asking whether this ring belonged to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect of Judea who sentenced Jesus of Nazareth to be crucified. The authors of the article write, "Simple all-metal rings like the Herodium ring were primarily the property of soldiers, Herodian and Roman officials, and middle-income folk of all trades and occupations. It is therefore unlikely that Pontius Pilatus, the powerful and rich prefect of Judaea, would have worn a thin, all copper-alloy sealing ring." They do allow that it may have belonged to someone under Pilate's command, a member of his family or one of his freed slaves. Another scholar has suggested that Pilate may have had a gold ring for official duties and a simple copper ring for his private, everyday affairs. This is only the second archaeological artifact discovered in Israel that bears the name of Pilate. The other is the famous "Pilate Stone," which was discovered in Caesarea Maritima in 1961 and refers to "Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea."

Off-site Links:

- https://www.timesofisrael.com/2000-year-old-ring-engraved-with-pilate-may-have-belonged-to-notorious-ruler/

- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium-ring-of-roman-governor-pontius-pilate-who-executed-jesus-found-in-herodion-site-1.6699353

First Temple-Era Stone Weight Unearthed in Jerusalem posted by Bryan Windle

A small stone weight which was once used to measure the half-shekel temple tax during the First Temple period has been unearthed in Jerusalem. The weight was found at the City of David's wet-sifting project in the Emek Tzurim National Park amidst the rubble taken from the 2013 excavations under Robinson's Arch. Exodus 38:26 mentions the "beka" in regard to the weight of silver brought by the Israelites for the maintenance of the temple: "A beka a head (that is, half a shekel, by the shekel of the sanctuary), for everyone who was listed in the records, from twenty years old and upward, for 603,550 men." Archaeologist Eli Shukron explained, "When the half-shekel tax was brought to the Temple during the First Temple period, there were no coins, so they used silver ingots. In order to calculate the weight of these silver pieces they would put them on one side of the scales and on the other side they placed the Beka weight. The Beka was equivalent to the half-shekel, which every person from the age of 20 years and up was required to bring to the Temple." This particular stone weight is extremely rare, as it is the only one yet discovered that has the word "beka" inscribed in ancient Hebrew script in reverse. Scholars hypothesize that it was inscribed by someone who was used to making seals, which are also inscribed in reverse. The fact that the "beka" was discovered in dirt taken from next to the foundations of the Temple Mount confirms what is known biblically and historically about payments at the Jewish Temple.

Off-site Links:

- https://www.timesofisrael.com/straight-from-the-bible-tiny-first-temple-stone-weight-unearthed-in-jerusalem/
- https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Half-shekel-from-First-Temple-era-unearthed-near-City-of-David-572423
- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/MAGAZINE-second-first-temple-weight-this-one-with-mirror-writing-found-in-jerusalem-sifting-1.6676037

Early Depiction of Jesus Discovered in Byzantine Church in Negev posted by Bryan Windle

In a recent article in the journal Antiquity, scholars revealed their discovery of what they believe is an early depiction of Jesus. The image was found in the baptistery apse of a sixth century AD church located in the ancient village of Shivta in the Negev Desert. While it is fragmented, the depiction is of a young man's face, with short, curly hair, large eyes, and an elongated nose. Art historians recognize it as an early style of short-haired pictures of Christ that were popular in Egypt and Syro-Palestine. Remains of paint found in the apse suggest that the face was part of a bigger scene which may have contained other images. The article's authors conclude: "Thus far, it is the only in situ baptism-of-Christ scene to date confidently to the pre-iconoclastic Holy Land. Therefore, it can illuminate Byzantine Shivta's Christian community and Early Christian art across the region."

Off-site Links:

- https://www.timesofisrael.com/jesus-image-hidden-in-plain-sight-at-negev-church-is-one-of-earliest-in-israel/
- https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/117035/earliest-depictions-jesus-byzantine/
- https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquity/article/christs-face-revealed-at-shivta-an-early-byzantine-wall-painting-in-the-desert-of-the-holy-land/1D3584D4866168E6764035D5DE740781/

Ramp Used to Move Quarry Stones Discovered in Egypt posted by Bryan Windle

Archaeologists working at the ancient Hatnub Quarry in the Eastern Desert of Egypt have discovered a ramp system that was used to move the large alabaster stone blocks. A central ramp was unearthed with a set of stairs on each side containing post holes. The Egyptians used a sled which was attached by ropes to the wooden poles to carry the quarried stones. These ropes would have acted as a "force multiplier" making it easier to pull the sled and stone blocks up the steep 20% slopes. Researchers have also been studying the multiple inscriptions at the site and have discovered at least two that mention Pharaoh Khufu. This has led them to date the ramp system to at least the Fourth Dynasty in Egyptian history, and suggest that it may have been used in the construction of the Great Pyramid in Giza. Comparing conventional Egyptian chronology with biblical chronology, Pharaoh Khufu's reign in Egypt predated Abraham.

Off-site Links:
- http://luxortimesmagazine.blogspot.com/2018/10/discovered-how-ancient-egyptians-moved.html
- https://www.livescience.com/63978-great-pyramid-ramp-discovered.html

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