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.

Drones Used to Discover Possible 2200-Year-Old Idumean Temple posted by Bryan Windle

Archaeologists excavating near Lachish recently discovered a 2200-year-old Idumean structure using drones. The aerial images led the team to the remains of a Hellenistic-era structure which they have identified as likely being a temple or a palace. Numerous cultic objects were found, including a stone incense burner in the shape of an altar with carvings of two bulls between temple pillars. Other artifacts, such as painted bowls, juglets and oil lamps, were also recovered. It appears the Idumean structure was deliberately destroyed, likely during the Hasmonean conquest of that area ca. 112 BC. The Idumeans were the descendants of the Edomites in the Old Testament. Perhaps the most famous Idumean in Scripture was Herod the Great.

Off-site Links:

- https://www.timesofisrael.com/drone-survey-reveals-ancient-temple-at-israeli-military-grounds/
- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/1.825907

New Test Results from Tomb of Jesus Confirm History of the Site posted by Bryan Windle

New test results from the purported tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre appear to confirm the traditional history of the site. Accounts describe Constantine's order to raze a Roman temple that had been built over the tomb of Jesus and to enshrine the limestone tomb discovered beneath. Until now, however, the earliest archaeological evidence found in the tomb complex dated from the Crusader period, only 1000 years ago. In October 2016, when the tomb was opened for the first time in centuries [linked here], mortar samples from different locations in the Edicule were sent away for testing. Mortar taken from between the limestone burial bed and the marble slab that covered it dated to approximately 345 AD, and a sample from the southern wall of the cave dated to 335 AD. This confirms historical accounts that the tomb was enshrined sometime in the first half of the 4th Century AD during Constantine's reign. Another mortar sample obtained from the tomb entrance dated to the 11th century, confirming the record of the Edicule being rebuilt after it was destroyed in 1009. A further sample taken from the wall of the cave dated to 1570, consistent with a known 16th-century restoration. The mortar was dated using a technique known as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) that calculates the last time the quartz sediment was exposed to light. The tests were conducted independently at two separate labs.

Off-site Links:

- https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/11/jesus-tomb-archaeology-jerusalem-christianity-rome/
- https://www.christianpost.com/news/tomb-of-christ-first-ever-testing-confirms-age-backs-belief-it-is-the-real-burial-site-of-jesus-208280/
- https://www.timesofisrael.com/new-tests-at-jesus-presumed-tomb-back-traditional-beliefs/

4000-Year-Old Tablets Used to Locate Bronze Age Cities posted by Bryan Windle

A team of researchers from Harvard University have analyzed the cuneiform inscriptions on tablets discovered in the ancient city of Kanesh (located in modern-day Turkey), and have built a model that they believe allows them to identify the location of Bronze Age cities in the region. Many of the 12,000 tablets discovered at Kanesh include contracts, shipment manifests and business letters detailing an intricate network of trade. By studying these, researchers discovered there were hundreds of trade interactions among 26 ancient cities from the Bronze Age, 11 of which still remain lost. They used a mathematical model, which they call a "structural gravity" model, to use information from the tablets, such as the price of goods in each city, the purpose and frequency of travel, and the distance between trading partners to estimate the location of the trade hubs. Their model accurately predicted the known location of some of the cities, while the coordinates of other cities lie hundreds of miles away from their suspected locations.

Off-site Links:

- https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.ca/2017/11/cuneiform-tablets-provide-clues-on.html
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/11/13/ancient-data-modern-math-and-the-hunt-for-11-lost-cities-of-the-bronze-age
- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/clay-tablets-bronze-age-assyrian-merchants-show-location-lost-cities-4000-years-a8056921.html
- http://www.newsweek.com/archaeology-assyria-cuneiform-lost-cities-map-trade-routes-711129

Roman-Era Tombs Uncovered in Corinth posted by Bryan Windle

Greek archaeologists recently unearthed numerous Roman-era tombs near the ancient city of Corinth. Fourteen graves had been organized in a circular fashion, as was the Roman custom, and contained gold and silver coins, vases and lamps. Another group of tombs included five that appear to have belonged to wealthy inhabitants. Their bodies were discovered beside gilded bronze leaves, a gold ring, jewels, and bronze and gold coins. Elena Korka, from the Greek Ministry of Culture, described how "Roman-period builders also repurposed the limestone foundations of earlier, Hellenic structures to build the tombs for wealthy, Roman-era occupants."

Off-site Links:

- https://greekcitytimes.com/ancient-artifacts-discovered-2000-year-old-tombs-corinth/
- http://www.newsweek.com/ancient-greece-haul-jewels-and-golden-coins-uncovered-2000-year-old-tombs-698275
- https://www.archaeology.org/news/6064-171101-greece-tenea-tombs

Free Shipping Offer in the ABR Bookstore! posted by Henry B Smith Jr MA MAR

Hurry! Offer ends December 31, 2017.

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The World’s Oldest Alphabet: Hebrew as the Language of the Proto-Consonantal Script

 

For 150 years, scholars have attempted to identify the language of the world's first alphabetic script, and to translate some of the inscriptions that use it. Until now, their attempts have accomplished little more than identifying most of the pictographic letters and translating a few of the Semitic words. With the publication of The World's Oldest Alphabet by ABR Associate Dr. Douglas Petrovich, a new day has dawned. The language has been identified conclusively as Hebrew, allowing for the translation of 16 inscriptions that date from 1842 to 1446 BC. These inscriptions expressly name three biblical figures (Asenath, Ahisamach, and Moses) and greatly illuminate the earliest Israelite history!

Order your copy of The World’s Oldest Alphabet directly from the publisher, today.

Note: This book is not presently for sale in the ABR bookstore and does not qualify for ABR's free shipping offer

 

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2000-Year-Old Galilean Caves Discovered Looted posted by Bryan Windle

A series of Roman-era caves was discovered beneath the modern Galilean village of Eilabun, which was a Jewish settlement 2000 years ago. The cave system, located 10 ft (3 m) below the current ground level, had been recently dug out and plundered. Archaeologists who were called in found a large, central cavern which was 13 x 20 ft (4 x 6 m) in size and 6.5 ft (2 m) in height, with several smaller chambers branching off of the main one. It is believed the caves once served as a stable and storage area in ancient times. The remains of a stone animal trough as well as fragments of various pots and other vessels were discovered; all other artifacts had since been removed, and presumably sold on the antiquities market. The IAA and local police worked together investigating the site, which led to the arrest of two village residents suspected of carrying out illegal excavations.

Off-site Links:

- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/1.818044
- http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Roman-era-cave-system-in-Lower-Galilee-plundered-by-thieves-507750

Assyrian Cuneiform Tablets Discovered in Northern Iraq posted by Bryan Windle

Archaeologists excavating at the site of the ancient city of Bassetki in the Kurdistan region of Iraq recently unearthed 93 cuneiform tablets dating to the Middle Assyrian Empire (ca. 1250 BC). Sixty of the tablets were discovered hidden in a ceramic pot in a building which had been destroyed. Many of them are unbaked and worn, which will make the process of deciphering them difficult. While it's not yet certain whether the tablets record business, legal or religious records, one fragment that was translated makes reference to a temple of the goddess Gula, which suggests they may be religious in nature. Researchers are hoping the texts will provide details about the history and culture of northern Mesopotamia in the second millennium BC.

Off-site Links:
- http://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/cache-assyrian-cuneiform-iraq-05350.html
- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171023180303.htm

ABR Digger Publishes New Book posted by Henry B Smith Jr MA MAR

Peggy Consolver, an ABR digger at Khirbet el-Maqatir and Shiloh, recently published a work of biblical fiction, Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer. ABR is delighted to carry her book in our online Bookstore (http://www.biblearchaeology.org/bookstore/product.aspx?id=349), as it brings to life the dusty stones wherein ABR seeks to gain insights into ancient biblical sites. In this story Keshub, a young shepherd boy, lives adventure every day as he defends his flock from predators and proves himself among older brothers. True to Scripture and authenticated by archaeological research, this tale of God's grace puts flesh and blood on the enigmatic Gibeonites who make a treaty with Joshua.

-- "Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer tells the story of the Hebrews' arrival in Canaan from a new point of view. A young Gibeonite shepherd's eyewitness account captures the tension in the ancient land of Canaan. Accurate descriptions of the terrain give the Bible student new insights into this historical event of the Late Bronze Age. The use of the archaeological artifact known as the Gezer Almanac adds credence to the timeline the author constructs." Bryant G. Wood, PhD, Director of Research, Associates for Biblical Research

-- "Here one will experience solid learning interwoven with joyful, sanctified 'filling of the gaps' that make the ancient text alive again in language of the heart." Eugene H. Merrill, PhD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

Roman Theater Discovered Under Wilson's Arch by the Western Wall posted by Bryan Windle

For the past two years, the Israel Antiquities Authority has quietly carried out excavations beneath Wilson's Arch near the Western Wall. They recently announced that they had unearthed eight stone courses of the wall that had remained buried for 1700 years and had discovered a Roman theater. Archaeologists discovered the curved, theater-like structure while they were searching for a known Second Temple road. The discovery of the theater, which contained 200 seats, confirms historical writers such as Josephus who described a Roman theater near the Temple Mount. The size of the structure and its location, under the roof of Wilson's Arch, has led researchers to suggest it was an odeon, for music or poetry presentations, or a bouleuterion - a place where the council of the Roman colony in Jerusalem met. The excavators believe the theater was never finished, as the stairs are not fully hewn and there are rocks with the guide marks inscribed on them for future stairs. The Israel Antiquities Authority plans to continue excavating for six more months in hopes of uncovering First Temple-era artifacts that are still buried beneath.

Off-site Links:
- https://www.timesofisrael.com/massive-section-of-western-wall-and-roman-theater-uncovered-after-1700-years/
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=231&v=29kVDSYA4hY

Purported Seal of Solomon Declared Medieval Fake posted by Bryan Windle

Despite numerous sensationalistic media reports that a seal from King Solomon has been found, experts have declared the seal in question a medieval fake. Turkish authorities recently seized a number of artifacts from a suspected smuggler, which included a bronze seal purported to have belonged to King Solomon, several metal codices, and a golden bull figurine. One of the codices recovered resembles the infamous Jordanian Lead Codices (see our previous post on the Lead Codices here: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2016/12/20/Jordanian-Lead-Books-in-the-News-Again.aspx). The items were taken to the Amasya Museum Directorate, where expert analysis revealed that all of the items date to the Middle Ages.

Off-site Links:
- http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/seal-of-solomon-may-be-found-in-amasya-120341
- http://paleojudaica.blogspot.ca/2017/10/metal-codices-seized-in-turkey.html
- https://www.dailysabah.com/history/2017/10/03/artifacts-hoped-to-include-seal-of-solomon-date-back-to-middle-ages-experts-say

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