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.

Statues and Coins Found at Ancient Shipwreck Off Israel's Coast posted by Bryan Windle

Divers recently discovered the remains of a 1600-year-old shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea harbor of Caesarea. The Israel Antiquities Authority called the find the biggest discovery of marine artifacts recovered in past 30 years. Numerous bronze statues and thousands of coins were brought to the surface, including a bronze lamp depicting the image of the Roman sun god Sol, a figurine of the moon goddess Luna, and fragments of three life-size bronze cast statues. The coins from the Byzantine era bear the images of the emperors Constantine and Licinius. "These are extremely exciting finds, which apart from their extraordinary beauty, are of historical significance," Jacob Sharvit, director of the IAA marine archaeology unit and Dror Planer, deputy director of the unit, said in a statement.
 
Off-site Links:
- http://news.discovery.com/history/archaeology/hoard-of-coins-and-bronze-statues-found-off-israel-160516.htm
- http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Culture/Ancient-Roman-treasure-trove-found-off-coast-of-Caesarea-454096

Second Temple-Era Site Suffers Damage posted by Bryan Windle

The outer wall of one of Solomon's Pools has collapsed, and visitors are asking the proper authorities to make repairs. The pools are a series of impressive 2000-year-old reservoirs that provided water to both Bethlehem and Jerusalem from ancient times until recently. The pools collected water from both the rain and two aqueducts and funnelled it to the towns and the temple. While the pools, as they are seen today, were largely constructed (or enlarged) by King Herod, some believe they are in the same location as the original ones built by King Solomon and mentioned in the Book of Ecclesiastes, where he says that he "made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees" (Eccl. 2:6).
 
Off-site Links:
- http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4801309,00.html
- http://www.christianpost.com/news/solomons-pool-in-bibles-second-temple-era-at-risk-of-collapsing-visitors-fear-163666/

Rare 3700-Year-Old Egyptian Scarab Seal Discovered posted by Bryan Windle

A man birdwatching near Tel Dor, the archaeological site of the ancient port city of Dor at the foot of Mt Carmel, recently discovered an Egyptian scarab seal dating to the 18th century BC. The seal is encircled with gold and is in exceptional condition. An initial study shows that the stone scarab is engraved with the name of its owner as well as his position. While the owner's name has not yet been deciphered, his title of "Overseer of the Treasury" suggests he was an important Egyptian official in the kingdom of the 13th Dynasty, possibly in a role similar to the one Joseph held in Egypt. 
 
Off-site Links:
- http://www.timesofisrael.com/3700-year-old-scarab-seal-found-by-birdwatcher-near-haifa/
- http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4795739,00.html

Dr. Bryant Wood Visits University of Pikeville posted by Bryan Windle

Dr. Bryant Wood, Research Director of Associates for Biblical Research, was the honored guest at the University of Pikeville's "Weekend of Discovery with a Biblical Archaeologist" on April 29-30.

Bryant and Tommy at Pikeville

Dr. Bryant Wood (right) and Exhibit Director Tommy Chamberlin at Pikeville.

Bryant Wood teaching religion class
Dr. Bryant Wood teaching religion
class at Pikeville.

Dr. Wood spoke to two college religion classes and a local high school class, as well as opened a preview exhibit at Pike County library of 35 artifacts from the biblical world. Dr. Wood also gave two public lectures. One was entitled "Digging Up the Truth at Jericho," which explained how a careful examination of the pottery and archaeology of the site support the biblical account.  The second was entitled "Discovery of the Lost Fortress of Ai," which demonstrated how the archaeology and geography of Khirbet el-Maqatir have led to its identification as the Old Testament site of Ai.

Dr. Wood's visit was one of the events leading up to the University of Pikeville hosting "Khirbet el-Maqatir—A Journey through Biblical History." You can learn more about this exhibit at the links below.

Links:
- http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2016/03/08/Khirbet-el-Maqatir-Exhibit-Preview-in-Pikeville-KY.aspx
- http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2016/04/26/View-Presentation-of-Biblical-Artifacts-From-Genesis-To-Jesus.aspx

Tomb of Christ Shrine to be Repaired posted by Bryan Windle

The 206-year-old shrine in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that many believe houses the tomb of Jesus Christ will be repaired. Fearing the risk of collapse, the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches reached an agreement on the $3.4 million dollar renovations to conserve the structure. These include plans to remove the marble slabs, repair the 12th-century Crusader shrine underneath, and fill the cracks in the rock-hewn tomb below that. The cost of the work was to have been split equally between the three Christian groups, but the King of Jordan has stepped forward to fund the repairs personally.
 
Off-site Links:
- http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/07/world/middleeast/jerusalem-christians-jesus-tomb.html
- http://www.christiantoday.com/article/why.jerusalems.church.of.the.holy.sepulchre.is.falling.down/83532.htm
- http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/210688#.Vyd123B8U0I

View Presentation of Biblical Artifacts: "From Genesis To Jesus" posted by Bryan Windle

The University of Pikeville will be hosting the "Khirbet el-Maqatir: A Journey Through Biblical History" exhibit from January to June 2017. Exhibit Director Tommy Chamberlin recently filmed a presentation for PikeTV entitled, "From Genesis To Jesus." In it he uses the exhibit's artifacts from the world of Abraham through to the time of Jesus to illuminate stories from the Bible. This exciting presentation highlights such stories as Abraham's 318 trained warriors rescuing Lot, featuring a Middle Bronze age axe head that was likely used as a weapon, and Jesus' parable of the 10 virgins, illustrated with a first-century oil lamp. You can view the one-hour presentation, and learn about 30 biblical artifacts from the exhibit, by following the link below.  
 
Off-site Link:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Guh9iEyp5_k

3200-Year-Old Egyptian Amulet Discovered in Jerusalem posted by Bryan Windle

A 12-year-old girl at the Temple Mount Sifting Project recently discovered an amulet bearing the name of the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III. The artifact is a small pendant, which is missing its bottom part and displays a partial cartouche (an oval frame around Egyptian hieroglyphics) bearing the name of the 15th century BC Egyptian ruler. Its inscription has been reconstructed based upon an identical pendant found in northern Israel in 1978. Thutmose III is known for his military conquests, referring to himself as "the one who has subdued a thousand cities." The amulet probably arrived in Jerusalem sometime during the 300 years it was under Egyptian control during the Late Bronze Age.
 
Off-site Links:
- https://templemount.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/rare-egyptian-amulet-bearing-name-of-ancient-pharaoh-found-in-earth-discarded-from-temple-mount/

- http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Culture/Rare-Egyptian-amulet-bearing-ancient-pharaohs-name-discovered-in-Jerusalem-451688
 
Comments:
 
I was just reading a story, from jewishpress.com, about the amulet bearing the name of Thutmose III discovered in sifted soil from the Temple Mount. I'm of the opinion that this adds to the evidence for the early date for Exodus. I was curious as to ABR's take on this, as I value the opinions and research of your worthy organization.

Yours in Christ,

Jeffrey E. Sams — "Jeff"


Greetings Jeff!

Thank you for contacting ABR with your question. The discovery of the Thutmose III amulet was another find of great interest, although, in terms of archaeological context, it has very limited value. I did share your question with Dr. Wood, and he provided this brief response: "Scarabs of T III are fairly common, as he was revered for centuries following his reign. Since we have no context for the scarab, it cannot help us to date the Exodus."

Some scarabs, like that of Nefertiti, are of much greater significance because of their rarity, and because efforts were made to eradicate her from Egyptian records and memory.  Also, when a scarab is found in situ — in its isolated, protected context at an archaeological site, we can determine dating with much greater certainty.  Unfortunately, Thutmose III was such an important figure his scarabs/amulets were continually produced well after his death, limiting their value for dating.

Thanks again for your important question!

Scott Lanser, ABR Director

Analysis of Inscriptions Suggests Widespread Literacy in Judah posted by Bryan Windle

A new analysis of 16 inscriptions on ancient pottery shards (called ostraca) previously unearthed at the Judahite military fortress of Tel Arad points to a widespread level of literacy in the Kingdom of Judah by 600 BC. The researchers from Tel Aviv University developed a computer software program to reconstruct and perform handwriting analysis on the ancient Hebrew inscriptions. The high-tech study suggests that the ostraca were written by at least six different authors, ranging in rank from a top military commander down to a subordinate who worked in the fortress warehouse. The authors of the report have concluded that this implies an education system that would have supported the composition of biblical texts before the destruction of the First Temple.
 
Off-site Links:
- http://www.timesofisrael.com/new-look-at-ancient-shards-suggests-bible-even-older-than-thought/
- http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/spring-2016/article/ancient-inscriptions-testify-to-widespread-literacy-in-judah-by-600-bce

Bronze Artifacts Found at Biblical Site posted by Bryan Windle

A bronze incense shovel and bronze jug were recently unearthed in archaeological excavations at Magdala, a 2000-year-old Jewish community on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and the site traditionally known as birthplace of Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus' followers. The Israel Antiquities Authority has been leading excavations at the site for several years and previously uncovered the remains of a first-century synagogue, along with the famous Magdala Stone, which depicts a carving of the Second Temple of Jerusalem and a menorah. These latest finds were discovered lying exposed on the floor of some ancient storehouses. The incense shovel fits the description given in Exodus 27:1-3: "You shall make the altar...you shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and fire pans; all its utensils you shall make of bronze." According to the chief archaeologist, "The incense shovel that was found is one of ten others that are known in the country from the Second Temple period."
 
Off-site Links:
- http://www.antiquities.org.il/Article_eng.aspx?sec_id=25&subj_id=240&id=4190
- http://www.timesofisrael.com/2200-year-old-bronze-artifacts-found-at-biblical-site/

ABR's Dig at Khirbet el-Maqatir is Proceeding posted by Bryan Windle

Join the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) in our archaeological excavation of Khirbet el-Maqatir – the probable remains of the city of Ai, which Joshua conquered (Joshua 7-8). Recent excavations at the site have also revealed the remains of a city from the time of Jesus – possibly the city of Ephraim mentioned in John 11:53-54.

ABR has monitored the situation in Israel carefully, and after prayerful consideration is planning to continue their excavations of the site from May 22 - June 11, 2016. In 2013, a rare 15th century BC Egyptian scarab was discovered (named Christianity Today's top biblical archaeological find of 2013). What will be unearthed this year?
 
The deadline for applications is April 30, 2016, and there is still room available. Contact Henry B. Smith Jr., Administrative Director, for questions and to sign up.
 
Links:
- http://www.biblearchaeology.org/page/Volunteer-to-Search-for-Joshuas-Ai.aspx
- http://www.Maqatir.com

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