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.

University of Pikeville to Host Archaeology Symposium posted by Bryan Windle

symposium poster


Dr. Scott Stripling and Dr. Craig Evans headline the upcoming Text and Trowel symposium on archaeology and the Bible at the University of Pikeville on Oct. 20-21, 2017. The event will kick off with a dinner on Friday night that, while open to all, will also be a reunion for those who have participated in digs at Khirbet el-Maqatir and Shiloh in the past. ABR's Dr. Scott Stripling will be giving two lectures entitled, "Murder at Maqatir: The Grim Fate of Those Who Hid from the Romans" and "'Go Now to Shiloh': Have We Found the House of God?" Dr. Craig Evans will also be giving two lectures: "Were There Cynics at Sepphoris of Galilee? What Does Archaeology Tell Us About the World of Jesus?" and "'On This Rock...' Bethsaida and the Promise to Peter." In addition to these lectures, tours will also be given by visiting archaeologists of the "Khirbet el-Maqatir and A Journey Through Biblical History" exhibit currently being hosted by the University of Pikeville. Tickets are available at the link below.

Off-site Link:
- https://www.eventbrite.com/e/text-and-trowel-a-symposium-of-archaeology-and-the-bible-tickets-37879098403

Stadium at Ancient Laodicea Being Restored posted by Bryan Windle

A Turkish project to excavate and restore the ancient stadium of Laodicea has been approved. Archaeologists have begun the process of renewal focusing on recovering the columns that once lined Stadium Street. While excavations have been ongoing in ancient Laodicea for 13 years, the stadium has only begun to be unearthed. It was once the site of a variety of sporting events as well as gladiator battles, and is the largest stadium of its era in all of Asia Minor, being over 800 feet long. The structure, which dates to the first century, is attached to a massive bath complex, testimony to the wealth of those in Laodicea. The apostle John was given a message from God to the church at Laodicea near the end of the first century and wrote, "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked" (Rev. 3:17).

Off-site Links:
- http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ancient-stadium-in-denizli-under-restoration.aspx?pageID=238&nid=116945&NewsCatID=375
- https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.ca/2017/08/stadium-at-ancient-city-of-laodicea.html

Skeletal Remains Found at Khirbet el-Maqatir Recently Reburied posted by Bryan Windle

The bones of seven women and a boy discovered by ABR in 2013 and 2014 at Khirbet el-Maqatir were recently reburied. The remains of the Jewish residents were found in a cave, where they were hiding from the Romans during the Great Revolt of AD 69. The large cave was functioning as an olive press at the time and contained a secret cave for hiding off of the main cave. In addition to the bones, arrow heads and shoe studs from Roman soldiers, were also found in the cave, testimony to their violent deaths. The remains were quietly reburied in Ofra in January, and the residents erected a stone monument (pictured below) on the grave of the victims that tells their story and includes a reference to the vision of dry bones in Ezekiel.

Reburial site

Dr. Scott Stripling, who along with Dr. Bryant Wood headed up the dig at Khirbet el-Maqatir, will be giving a lecture on this story at the University of Pikeville on Oct. 21, 2017.
 
Off-site Links:
- http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/234892
- http://www.ritmeyer.com/2017/09/02/victims-of-great-revolt-against-the-romans-laid-to-rest-in-ofra/

New Gold Coin Exhibit Chronicles 300 Years of Roman Emperors posted by Bryan Windle

A donation of 75 gold coins from Giovanna Adda Coen to Jerusalem's Israel Museum has more than doubled the number of gold coins on display in Israel. The coins were part of Victor A. Adda's famed collection, which numbered over 1000 by the time of his death, and were left to his four daughters. The new exhibit at the Israel Museum, called "Faces of Power," includes the images of 40 Roman emperors as well as the portraits of 13 women who were part of the imperial family. The coins span 300 years of history, from the end of the first century AD to the beginning of the fourth century AD, and give a rare glimpse into the world of those who ruled the Roman Empire. The curators of the museum have grouped them both chronologically and thematically, with titles such as "Forever Young," "The Senator," "The Philosopher," and "Usurpers." The donated coins are insured for $7.5 million and are able to be seen by the general public for the first time.

Off-site Links:
- http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-museum-coin-exhibit-shows-a-daughters-love-is-worth-more-than-gold/
- http://www.imj.org.il/en/exhibitions/faces-power

Canaanite Cultic Artifacts Discovered at Libnah posted by Bryan Windle

Archaeologists excavating at Tel Burna, identified as biblical Libnah, have unearthed more artifacts that identify a large Canaanite-era building with cultic activities. The 50-foot-long building with a large courtyard was first uncovered in 2009. Since then, the discovered artifacts indicate that the site was used for pagan cultic activity. Discoveries this year include a massebah (a stone pillar used for worship and memorials) possibly representing a deity, as well as other objects associated with cultic practice such as goblets, chalices, figurines, zoomorphic vessels and two ceramic masks. Excavators are not yet calling the building a temple; they do, however, believe that the concentration of cultic objects indicates that the courtyard of the building was used for pagan worship and not daily activities. Libnah was one of the cities that Joshua conquered (Jos 10:29-30) and was later given to the descendants of Aaron (1 Chr 6:57).

Off-site Links:
- http://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/1.808353
- http://www.archaeology.org/news/5860-170822-israel-ritual-canaanite-site

Carchemish Excavations Unearth 250 Hittite Bullae posted by Bryan Windle

Excavations at Carchemish have uncovered 250 bullae (impression seals) from the Hittite kingdom. Archaeologists report that among the bullae, more than 110 of them have inscriptions that are decipherable, and that these identify more than 10 Hittite state officials. Excavations led by the Turks and Italians have been ongoing at the site since 2001, but the discovery of inscriptions dating to the second half of the early Bronze Age only began this year. Carchemish was one of the most important cities in the ancient Hittite empire and the site of an important battle between the Egyptians and Babylonians that is mentioned in the Bible (Jer. 46:2; 2 Chr. 35:20). Much of the confusion surrounding the biblical Hittites has been cleared up by Dr. Bryant Wood in his article examining Scriptures concerning the terms Hittite and Hethite (link below).

Off-site Links:
- http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/impression-seals-to-illuminate-hittite-administration.aspx?pageID=238&nID=116395&NewsCatID=375

Dr. Wood's article on Hittites/Hethites:
- http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2011/11/08/Hittites-and-Hethites-A-Proposed-Solution-to-an-Etymological-Conundrum.aspx

Excavators Suggest el-Araj was Bethsaida/Julias posted by Bryan Windle

For years the site of NT Bethsaida has been a matter of debate, with at least three different sites contending for the honor. Et-Tell has been the frontrunner despite the numerous problems with this identification, including its distance from the Sea of Galilee, its elevation from the ancient level of the lake, and the lack of remains from the first century. Excavators at a competing site, el-Araj, have just announced that they believe they have identified the ancient city of Julias. Josephus writes that Herod Philip expanded the village of Bethsaida to create the Roman polis of Julias. The site is on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve. Archaeologists found a layer of Roman-era remains beneath the Byzantine level, which contained pottery sherds and coins dating from the first to third centuries AD. In addition, the remains of a Roman-style bathhouse were uncovered. Evidence was also discovered that this site, previously thought to be under water during the NT era, was actually near the shore and that the ancient sea level was 6 ft lower than most had believed. If further excavations confirm these findings, it may be that the site of Bethsaida/Julias – home to Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44, 12:21) – may have finally been found.

Off-site Links about These Findings:
- http://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/1.805402
- http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/New-evidence-of-Lost-City-of-Julias-unearthed-near-Sea-of-Galilee-501701
- http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4999227,00.html
 
Links about the Identification of Bethsaida:
- http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2012/09/14/Text-and-Tell-The-Excavations-at-Bethsaida.aspx
- http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/08/15/Three-Woes!.aspx
- http://www.bibleplaces.com/bethsaida/

Evidence of Babylonian Destruction of Jerusalem Discovered posted by Bryan Windle

Excavations at the Jerusalem Walls National Park have uncovered evidence of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. Archaeologists discovered significant burn layers in the buildings that were outside the city walls on the eastern border of the city at that time. Numerous artifacts were unearthed within the collapsed rooms, including an ivory statue of a woman and several smashed pottery jars, one with a rosette seal dating to just before the fall of the First Temple. The rosette replaced the "For The King" seal used during previous administrations in Judea. The Fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian forces of King Nebuchadnezzar is described in the Bible in 2 Kings 25.

Off-site Links:
- http://www.antiquities.org.il/article_eng.aspx?sec_id=25&subj_id=240
- http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Evidence-of-Babylonian-destruction-of-Jerusalem-unearthed-in-City-of-David-500786
- http://www.timesofisrael.com/new-jerusalem-finds-shore-up-biblical-account-of-babylonian-conquest/

New Shroud of Turin Investigations posted by Bryan Windle

Two new investigations have been conducted to investigate the authenticity of the famed Shroud of Turin.

The first was an initiative begun by the Association of Scientists and Scholars International for the Shroud of Turin (ASSIST), which aims to determine if limestone particles found on the Shroud came from a Jerusalem tomb or from another location. Using detailed collection protocols from ASSIST, ABR's Dr. Wood and Dr. Scott Stripling, along with Abigail Leavitt and Kent Wegner, obtained limestone particles using acid-free tape from the walls, benches and floors of the tomb complex beneath
École Biblique in east Jerusalem. These tombs are less than one km away from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the body of Jesus was likely entombed. The specimens are currently beginning to be tested.

The second investigation was recently reported in the journal PLOS ONE, in which the authors conducted an atomic resolution study on a fiber from the Shroud of Turin using Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and Wide-Angle X-ray Scanning (WAXS). Their study showed that the fiber is covered by a "blood serum typical of a human organism" and not dye or paint. Moreover, the particles contained a high level of creatinine and ferritin, which is common in patients who have suffered trauma or torture. The researchers concluded, "the presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our TEM experiments point to a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin shroud."

Limestone Testing Links:
- http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2017/05/30/ABR-Researches-Jerusalem-Tombs-for-the-Shroud-of-Turin-Project.aspx
- http://tbts.info/episodes/1579
 
Blood Testing Links:
- http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0180487
- http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2017/july/new-evidence-blood-of-tortured-man-is-found-on-the-shroud-of-turin

Hobby Lobby Returns 5000 Artifacts, Fined $3 Million posted by Bryan Windle

Steve Green, billionaire president of the Hobby Lobby craft store chain, has returned more than 5000 ancient artifacts and paid a $3 million fine after federal investigators determined that the artifacts came from Iraq, and not from Turkey or Israel as declared on the customs forms. In 2010, Hobby Lobby paid $1.6 million for a collection of tablets, bricks, clay bullae and cylinder seals bearing cuneiform inscriptions. They purchased the collection from a dealer in the United Arab Emirates. Laws in both the United States and Iraq prohibit the purchase of ancient artifacts illegally removed from the country of origin. Hobby Lobby released a statement in which they stated, "At no time did Hobby Lobby ever purchase items from dealers in Iraq or from anyone who indicated that they acquired items from that country. Hobby Lobby condemns such conduct and has always acted with the intent to protect ancient items of cultural and historical importance." Many artifacts from the Green Collection have been donated to the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, which is scheduled to open in November. None of the artifacts in this settlement were from the Museum of the Bible. Steve Green has said that Hobby Lobby was "new to the world of acquiring items and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process." He admits that they made "regrettable mistakes" and that he should have "exercised more oversight."

Off-site Links:
- http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/july/hobby-lobby-steve-green-artifacts-smuggled-from-iraq.html
- https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/05/nyregion/hobby-lobby-artifacts-smuggle-iraq.html?mcubz=0

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