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.

2800-Year-Old "Royal" Figurine Discovered at Tel Abel Beth Maacah posted by Bryan Windle

The head of an ancient figurine discovered at the archaeological site identified as the biblical city of Abel Beth Maacah was recently put on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The intricately carved head reveals a regal-looking man with a black beard and black hair encircled with a yellow crown. Scholars have suggested that it represents a king, although which king is unknown. Given that the head dates to the ninth century BC, a time when Abel Beth Maacah changed hands between several ancient kingdoms, researchers have suggested it could depict the face of King Ahab of Israel, King Hazael of Aram-Damascus, or King Ethbaal of Tyre – all biblical kings. It was discovered in a dirt clod located in a large building at the summit of the site, possibly an ancient citadel. Abel Beth Maacah is located in northern Israel, near the border of Lebanon. It is mentioned several times in the Old Testament, including 1 Kings 15:20, which mentions Able Beth Maacah as one of the cities Ben Hadad, King of Syria in Damascus, conquered from the kingdom of Israel.

Off-site Links:

- https://www.apu.edu/media/news/release/26193/
- https://www.livescience.com/62758-biblical-king-sculpture.html
- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/one-of-a-kind-royal-figurine-found-in-israel-1.6158138

"First-Century Mark" Manuscript Dated to 150-250 AD posted by Bryan Windle

A long-awaited early manuscript fragment of the Gospel of Mark has finally been published, ending six years of speculation. Known popularly as "First-Century Mark," from the rumour that it had tentatively been dated to the first century, the manuscript is officially designated P.Oxy. LXXXIII 5345 or P137. It was recently published by Oxford papyrologists Daniela Colomo and Dirk Obbink in the latest edition of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, vol. 83 (2018). The fragment of Mark is approximately 4.4 by 4 cm in size, and contains portions of Mark 1:7-9 on one side and Mark 1:16-18 on the other. Obbink and Colomon have dated the manuscript to 150-250 AD. While not the first-century manuscript biblical scholars were hoping for, it is still the earliest copy of Mark's Gospel to date. In addition to P137, two other manuscripts were published in the same volume: P138, a third-century papyrus of Luke 13:13–17 and 13:25–30, and P139, a fourth-century papyrus of Philemon 6–8 and 18–20.

Off-site Links:

- https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/may-web-only/mark-manuscript-earliest-not-first-century-fcm.html
- https://danielbwallace.com/2018/05/23/first-century-mark-fragment-update/
- http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2018/05/first-century-mark-published-at-last.html
- https://www.ees.ac.uk/news/poxy-lxxxiii-5345

ABR's 2018 Excavation Season Begins at Shiloh posted by Bryan Windle

The Associates for Biblical Research has begun its 2018 excavation season at biblical Shiloh. With over 140 volunteers and staff registered, it's the biggest ABR dig to date. This season ABR continues to be on the cutting edge of technological advances in the archaeological field, with a new, state-of-the-art wet-sifting station, fully digital iPad reporting, and 3-D photos of excavation squares. Teams of volunteers led by ABR's archaeologists opened or continued working in eleven squares during Week 1 and uncovered portions of the Middle Bronze fortification wall of the Amorite city. 81 objects were discovered and registered, including 22 coins, 5 sling stones, 2 beads and 1 seal. ABR will continue excavations through June 16, 2018 in order to learn more about the history of the site, and in particular to search for evidence of Israelite occupation and clues as to the location of the tabernacle. The Bible records that Shiloh was the center of Israelite worship for at least 300 years, and home to both Eli and Samuel.

Links:

- http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2018/05/28/Go-Now-To-Shiloh-The-2018-Excavations-Week-One.aspx
- http://www.biblearchaeology.org/page/Join-Us-In-Our-Excavations-at-Biblical-Shiloh.aspx

Test Results Show No Hidden Chamber in King Tut's Tomb posted by Bryan Windle

The Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt recently announced the results of tests inside the famous tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun. A team of scientists from Italy's University of Turin used ground penetrating radar to study the walls of the tomb, and have concluded that no hidden chambers exist. A British Egyptologist, Nicholas Reeves, had proposed a theory that the tomb of Nefertiti, the wife of Tutankhamun's father King Akhenaten, was in a secret chamber behind one of the walls in King Tut's tomb. The theory postulated that when Tutankhamun died at a young age, his burial was rushed and the tomb built for Nefertiti was used. Previous scans of the walls had suggested the possibility of a hidden chamber; however, the new scans have demonstrated conclusively that none exists. Tutankhamun was the Pharaoh of Egypt circa 1332–1323, according to standard Egyptian chronology, which places him during the time of the judges, according to biblical chronology.

Off-site Links:

- https://phys.org/news/2018-05-hidden-tutankhamun-chambers-ministry.html
- http://luxortimesmagazine.blogspot.ca/2018/05/fully-discovered-by-carter-no-more-to.html

Advanced Imaging Reveals Script on Previously Unreadable Dead Sea Scroll Fragments posted by Bryan Windle

Researchers at the conservation labs of the Israel Antiquities Authority have used advanced multispectral imaging to decipher Hebrew text on several Dead Sea Scroll fragments that had been invisible to the naked eye. In the 1950s archaeologists stored batches of smaller fragments from Cave 11 in cigar boxes. Some of these fragments were recently analysed as part of the digitalization project of the scrolls, resulting in three significant discoveries. One of the fragments seems to come from a previously unknown manuscript. Another belongs to the Temple Scroll, which deals with instructions for conducting services in the Temple. There had been some debate as to whether there were two or three copies of the Temple Scroll in Cave 11; the new portion indicates there were indeed three copies. The third fragment belonged to the Great Psalms scroll and fills in the missing portion that begins Ps. 147:1. It is estimated that there are 19 cigar boxes of Dead Sea Scroll fragments from Cave 11 still to be analyzed. The newly deciphered fragments were recently presented at an international conference in Jerusalem called, "The Dead Sea Scrolls at Seventy: Clear a Path in the Wilderness."

Off-site Links:

- https://www.timesofisrael.com/dead-sea-scroll-fragment-unveiled-in-israel-may-point-to-an-unknown-manuscript/
- https://www.jpost.om/Israel-News/Culture/Ancient-Hebrew-unearthed-using-space-age-technology-553260
- http://www.jewishpress.com/news/archaeology-news/hidden-script-uncovered-in-fragments-of-dead-sea-scrolls/2018/05/01/

Looted Cuneiform Tablets are from Lost Sumerian City of Irisagrig posted by Bryan Windle

U.S. law enforcement agents announced that hundreds of ancient cuneiform tablets looted in Iraq and sold on the antiquities market came from a Sumerian city called Irisagrig. The 4000-year-old tablets are part of a collection of tablets, bricks, clay bullae and cylinder seals that was originally purchased by Hobby Lobby. The collection was turned over to U.S. authorities once it was learned that the artifacts had been looted from Iraq. Irisagrig is an ancient Sumerian city whose exact location is unknown; the city come to light in recent years as numerous cuneiform tablets from Irisagrig have appeared on the antiquities market. The tablets that were confiscated from Hobby Lobby were turned over to Iraqi authorities on May 2, 2018 in a ceremony at the residence of the Iraqi ambassador in Washington D.C. While Irisiagrig is unknown in the Bible, the important Sumerian city of Ur was likely the birthplace of Abraham (Gn 11:27-28).

Off-site Link:

- https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/MAGAZINE-ancient-artifacts-seized-from-hobby-lobby-returned-to-iraq-1.6053308

Link to Original Story:

- http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2017/07/18/Hobby-Lobby-Returns-5000-Artifacts-Fined-243-Million.aspx

Evidence of United Monarchy Unearthed at Tel 'Eton...by Mole Rats posted by Bryan Windle

Archaeologists from Bar-Ilan University excavating at Tel 'Eton in the Hebron hills noticed that piles of dirt left by burrowing mole rats contained pottery sherds, indicating the area had once been inhabited. This led to the discovery of an ancient city at the site, including a monumental structure, which the researchers say is evidence of a United Monarchy during the time of King David and Solomon. The "governor's residency," as they have dubbed it, contains abundant evidence of destruction by the Assyrians around 701 BC, including arrowheads in the courtyard, obvious signs of conflagration, and 200 intact, abandoned pottery vessels. The structure itself was built using ashlar stones and deep foundations with quality building materials, which archaeologists suggest are evidence of a complex society and strong political administration during the construction phase. In addition, the excavators discovered a foundation deposit. Radiocarbon samples from this deposit, as well as from olive pits and coal found on the floor, indicate that the Tel 'Eton residence was first built in the late 11th or 10th century BC. This is the second such monumental structure dating to the Davidic and Solomonic eras discovered in the region (with Khirbet Qeiyafa being the first).

Off-site Links:

- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium.MAGAZINE-molerat-archaeology-supports-united-monarchy-theory-says-new-study-1.6007916
- https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/radiocarbon/article/governors-residency-at-tel-eton-the-united-monarchy-and-the-impact-of-the-oldhouse-effect-on-largescale-archaeological-reconstructions/5CE54AE6CEE838CC0D076186A2FBACE5

Traditional Tomb of the Prophet Nahum Saved from Collapse posted by Bryan Windle

The traditional tomb of the prophet Nahum, housed inside an 800-year-old synagogue in Al-Qosh, Iraq, has been saved from destruction. The structure has been deserted since the 1950s when the Jewish population in the area fled Iraqi persecution, and has been deteriorating ever since due to the elements. Recently a US organization called ARCH – the Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage – sent a team of engineers to temporarily secure the crumbling building with scaffolding, ropes and support beams. They hope this will hold the synagogue together for at least three years while they raise the funds needed for the planned restoration project. The prophet Nahum was from the town of Elkosh (Na 1:7), which some have identified as Al-Qosh, Iraq. Other scholars believe Elkosh was a town near Capernaum (lit. "village of Nahum") or a village called Elkesi near Ramah or Elcesei in the West Bank. Writing in the seventh century BC, Nahum prophesied the fall of Assyria, which occurred in 612 BC at the hands of the Babylonians.

Off-site Links:

- https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/03/nahums-tomb-in-iraq-restoration-begins.html
- http://patternsofevidence.com/blog/2018/04/13/prophet-nahums-tomb-peeks-above-ground/

Greco-Roman Temple Discovered in Egypt posted by Bryan Windle

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities recently announced the discovery of the remains of a Greco-Roman temple 50 km east of the Siwa Oasis at a site called Al-Salam. The front portion of the temple was uncovered, including parts of the main entrance and the enclosure wall. The temple's walls, upper lintels and corner pillars displayed common Greco-Roman images, such as the egg-and-dart pattern. Archaeologists also discovered pots, coins, the head of a male statue, as well as two limestone lions. Researchers are hoping to complete the excavation of the temple next year.

Off-site Links:

- https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/greco-roman-temple-egypt-spd/
- http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/41/295033/Heritage/GrecoRoman/Remains-of-GraecoRoman-temple-discovered-near-Egyp.aspx
- http://luxortimesmagazine.blogspot.ca/2018/04/egyptian-archaeologists-discover-greaco.html

Trove of Rare First-Century Coins Found in Jerusalem posted by Bryan Windle

A hoard of dozens of bronze coins, as well as pottery fragments from the first century, were recently discovered in a cave where residents of Jerusalem once sought shelter during the Jewish Revolt. The cave, measuring 23 x 46 ft (7 x 14 m), had lain undisturbed for 2000 years until unearthed by Dr. Eilat Mazar in the renewed Ophel excavations south of the Temple Mount. The majority of the coins are rare, dating to the final year of the revolt (known as Year Four – 69-70 AD), and are in excellent condition, appearing to have been used very little before being hidden in the cave. They bear the symbols associated with the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, including the four traditional plants – palm, myrtle, citron, and willow – as well as the image of a chalice. Because the cave has been undisturbed since the Second Temple era, it gives a glimpse into Jewish life during the rebellion against the Romans.

Off-site Links:

- http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Coins-symbolically-discovered-from-great-revolt-before-Passover-547128
- https://www.timesofisrael.com/rare-trove-of-bronze-jewish-revolt-coins-unearthed-near-temple-mount/

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