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.

Looted Babylonian Artifact Seized at Heathrow Airport posted by Bryan Windle

A 3000-year-old inscribed cuneiform tablet was confiscated at Heathrow Airport by an astute Border Force officer who became suspicious when the declaration described a "carved stone for decoration" worth "300" in an unspecified currency. The officer searched the object on Google before contacting the British Museum, which confirmed that it was an authentic Babylonian kudurru, a document recording a gift from a king to one of his subjects, often used as a boundary stone. The tablet includes depictions of the Babylonian gods Enlil and Marduk one side and dates to the reign of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar I (circa 1126-1103 BC). Little is known about this lesser known Nebuchadnezzar's reign; the more famous Nebuchadnezzar II (circa 605-562 BC) is the Babylonian king of the same name who is known in Scripture (ie. Jeremiah, Kings, Chronicles, Daniel, etc.). Officials believe the artifact was illegally looted during the Iraq War. The British Museum will be officially handing the kudurru over to the Iraqi government in an ceremony later this month.

Off-site Links:

- https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/mar/10/babylonian-treasure-seized-at-heathrow-to-be-returned-to-iraq
- http://time.com/5554732/iraq-war-tablet-looted-return-uk/
- http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/uk-returns-3-000-year-old-tablet-looted-during-iraq-war-142037

Ancient Nabateans Built Dams and Terrace Systems to Manage Water posted by Bryan Windle

A new study of the Qantara-Hremeyyeh catchment area located near Petra has revealed how the ancient Nabateans built a system of dams and terraces as part of their water management strategy. Soil samples and mortar were analyzed to learn about their surface management and intervention practices. Water from this catchment area flows from the mountains to the Treasury of Petra, which inundated the area with flooding in antiquity. To combat this, from the first century BC to the first century AD the Nabateans widened the wadies to slow the water and reduce erosion, as well as built dams to prevent flooding of the Treasury of Petra. The dams also helped collect water which was used for agricultural activities. Terraces were also built to improve soil quality, making it suitable for cultivation. The Nabatean king Aretas IV is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:32-33.

Off-site Link:

- http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/ancient-nabataeans-built-dams-terraces-mitigate-flooding-petra-%E2%80%94-jordanian-researcher

New Study of Phoenician Silver Traces Their Migration posted by Bryan Windle

A study in the scientific journal PNAS by scholars from Haifa University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem traces the migration of the Phoenicians. Scientists analyzed the lead isotopes in three Phoenician silver caches discovered in archaeological digs at Tel Dor, Acre and Ein Hofez, which allowed them to identify where the silver came from. The silver in the oldest cache unearthed at Tel Dor came from Anatolia, while the silver in the most recent cache discovered at Ein Hofez came from the Iberian Peninsula. The authors of the study suggest that silver was the motivating factor that drove Phoenician expansion in the Mediterranean and that "the quest for silver was a major trigger for a long 'precolonization' phase, during the 10th to 9th centuries B.C." While Phoenicians are never mentioned by that name in the Old Testament, their major cities of Tyre and Sidon are mentioned frequently. In Ezekiel 27:12, we read a lament for Tyre in which it says, "Tarshish did business with you because of your great wealth of every kind; silver, iron, tin, and lead they exchanged for your wares."

Off-site Links:

- https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/02/15/1817951116
- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/the-silver-rush-new-technologies-remap-phoenician-expansion-in-the-mediterranean-1.6975559
- https://popular-archaeology.com/article/silver-and-the-phoenician-expansion/

Ancient Shipyard Discovered in Egypt posted by Bryan Windle

An ancient shipyard was recently unearthed at Tell Abu Saifi, located just east of the Suez Canal in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. A limestone structure containing two dry docks for the construction and maintenance of ancient ships was excavated. The remains of wooden beams, bronze and iron nails, fish bones and clay pots were found inside the shipyard. Most of the structure's limestone blocks had been removed from their original positions for secondary use after the port was abandoned when the branch of the Nile that it was located on dried up. The shipyard was in use through the Ptolemaic and Roman eras. Egyptian ships are mentioned numerous times in the Bible (Is 18:2; 30:9), with perhaps the most famous being the Alexandrian ship that was transporting the apostle Paul to Rome when it sank near the island of Malta in Acts 27.

Off-site Links:
- http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/41/325517/Heritage/GrecoRoman/Ancient-workshop-for-construction-of-boats-uncover.aspx
- http://luxortimes.com/2019/02/roman-shipyard-discovered-in-egypt/
- https://www.apnews.com/a2ed0e843f0f4cf6b06e60139259feaa

ABR to Honor Dr. Bryant Wood at 2019 Friends of ABR Banquet posted by Bryan Windle

The Associates for Biblical Research are pleased to announce the details of this year's Friends of ABR Fundraising Banquet, to be held on Thursday, April 25, 2019 at Shady Maple Smorgasbord, 129 Toddy Dr., East Earl, PA. The doors open at 6pm and the banquet begins at 6:30pm. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Peter Teague, President of Lancaster Bible College. This year's banquet will have a very special focus as ABR honors the life and ministry of Dr. Bryant Wood, who has served with the Associates for Biblical Research since 1986. Dr. Wood's amazing career in archaeology, research, writing and teaching has profoundly impacted the Church, from the vaunted halls of academia to the pews of churches around the world.

So, mark your calendars now and join us for an evening full of encouragement and inspiration! The registration deadline is Tuesday, April 18, 2019 by 12:00 noon.

Link to Purchase Tickets:
https://www.biblearchaeology.org/support/banquettickets.aspx

More Details:
http://www.biblearchaeology.org/outreach/event.aspx?id=342

Coin of Herod Agrippa Discovered Near Shiloh posted by Bryan Windle

While on a class trip to the Shiloh Valley, an Israeli boy found a coin minted by King Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great. The 2000-year-old coin features three stalks of grain on one side, and the royal canopy along with Agrippa's name on the reverse side. In the book of Acts, it is Herod Agrippa who put James to death and imprisoned Peter.

ABR's Director of Excavations at Shiloh, Scott Stripling, released the following statement about the find:

Shiloh boasts a rich numismatic corpus, as evidenced by this find. The ABR excavation at Shiloh has yielded almost 200 coins, including this exact coin of Agrippa I. Dated to the sixth year of the reign of Agrippa I (AD 41/42), this coin provides a direct connection to the end of the Second Temple period. Agrippa I was close friends with Emperor Claudius, and this coin was minted in the first year of Claudius' reign. Agrippa's title on the obverse (front) of the coin is BASILEUS, the Greek word for "king." Three ears of barley adorn the coin's reverse. In AD 44 Agrippa I suffered a gruesome death as recorded in Acts 12:23 and Josephus (Antiquities 19.8.2).

Off-site Links:
- https://christiannews.net/2019/02/07/israeli-boy-on-school-trip-finds-ancient-coin-marked-with-inscription-king-agrippa-leader-who-killed-james-jailed-peter/
- https://www.timesofisrael.com/kid-on-school-trip-unearths-second-temple-era-coin-in-west-bank-stream/
- https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Rare-coin-from-Second-Temple-period-discovered-in-West-Bank-578791

New Trilingual Inscription from the Persian Period Found posted by Bryan Windle

A previously unknown inscription that had been covered by dirt and lichen for well over 2000 years was recently discovered at Naqsh-e Rustam in Iran. Naqsh-e Rustam is a necropolis near the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis that houses the tombs of Darius I (the Great), Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. The newly uncovered inscription is trilingual, written in the Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian languages. It was discovered on the hill around the tomb of King Darius, and seems to reference a high-ranking Achaemenid official who was unknown to history. The inscription is of great interest to linguists, as it adds new verbs to all three ancient languages. In the Bible, King Darius is the Persian ruler who, after searching the archives of King Cyrus, authorized the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem to proceed, providing the supplies and funds needed (Ezra 4:24-6:15).

Off-site Links:

- http://www.iran-daily.com/News/238115.html
- https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2019/01/new-trilingual-inscription-discovered.html

Over 40 Mummies Discovered in Egyptian Tombs posted by Bryan Windle

Egypt has announced the discovery of more than 40 mummies in a maze of four burial chambers in the Tuna El-Gebel necropolis near Minya, Egypt. The remains of men, women and 12 children were found, some wrapped in linen and others in stone or wooden sarcophagi. A few of them still had the remnants of colored cartonnage near them. Officials from the Supreme Council of Antiquities believe that the tombs are likely a familial grave for upper-class individuals based on the mummification method. Writing on papyri and ostraca discovered in the tombs suggests the earliest of these date to the Ptolemaic era. In the Bible, Daniel prophesied about the Egyptian Ptolemaic "Kings of the South" (Dn 11) hundreds of years before they came to power.

Off-site Links:

- http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/324859/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Egypts-first-antiquities-discovery-of--Mummyfilled.aspx
- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/MAGAZINE-in-photos-egypt-unveils-pharaonic-tomb-with-50-mummies-1.6898362
- https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-47103114

Iron-Age Horse Figurine Discovered Near Beit She'an posted by Bryan Windle

Heavy rains in northern Israel unearthed a clay figurine of a horse's head, which was discovered by a mother and her two daughters out searching for mushrooms. The lady just happened to work for the Israel Antiquities Authority, and immediately recognized its significance. The horse figurine was found in Kfar Ruppin in the Beit She'an Valley, and dates to the Iron Age II (ninth to seventh centuries BC). A broken hand can be seen on the horse's neck as well as the harness, and the remains of red paint on the mane can be detected. A second horse figurine dating to the Hellenistic era was also discovered near Tel Akko by another hiker. Biblically, Beit She'an is best known for being where the Philistines impaled the bodies of King Saul and his sons on the city wall. The Bible also describes horses in Iron Age Israel, with King Solomon importing them from Egypt and trading them to the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria (1 Kgs 10:29).

Off-site Links:
- https://www.timesofisrael.com/driving-rain-uncovers-2-rare-horse-statues-in-north-of-israel/
- https://www.jewishpress.com/news/archaeology-news/heavy-rains-unearth-ancient-horse-figurines-in-northern-israel/2019/01/22/
- http://thejewishvoice.com/2019/01/23/israels-heavy-rains-reveal-ancient-horse-figurines

Geological Study Confirms Earthquake Mentioned by Amos posted by Bryan Windle

A new article published in the journal Tectonophysics details evidence of a significant earthquake in Israel in the middle of the eighth century B.C., as described by the prophet Amos. Researchers took core samples from Ein Gedi, as well as layered sediment samples from Ein Feshkha and Nahal Tze’elim and used carbon-14 to date the organic matter in the deformed layers. Their analysis documented 11 earthquakes in Israel during the Bronze and Iron ages, including two in the eighth century B.C. While there is archaeological evidence for an earthquake in the days of Amos at numerous sites (Hazor, Deir 'Alla, Gezer, Lachish, Gath, Tell Judeideh, and 'En Haseva), this is the first time paleoseismic evidence dating to this period has been discovered. The book of Amos begins with the words, "The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake" (Am 1:1). The prophet Zechariah also refers to "the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah" (Zec 14:5). Amos and Zechariah were likely both referring to the larger of the two earthquakes in the eighth century.


Off-site Links:
- https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium.MAGAZINE-fact-checking-the-book-of-amos-there-was-a-huge-quake-in-eighth-century-b-c-e-1.6807298
- https://patternsofevidence.com/2019/01/20/biblical-quake-confirmed/

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