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July 8, 2010July 8, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

Conservation work on Jerusalem’s Old City walls turned up an intriguing find this week when a 100-year-old grenade was discovered in the wall near the Damascus Gate.

The Ottoman-era weapon was discovered on Monday by a conservation team of the Israel Antiquities Authority under the direction of conservator Fuad Abu Taa. The team was dismantling fragments of a crushed stone that needed replacement when they discovered a chunk of metal in the core of the wall.

“The stone was partially crushed and someone probably chose it as a place to hide the hand grenade,” said Yoram Saad, head of the Implementation Branch of the Israel Antiquities Authority Conservation Department.

The Ottoman Empire extended to what is now modern-day Israel from 1516 until the British Mandate took over in 1918.

Of course, in Israel, the discovery of a weapon, no matter how old, involves police and security experts. Police sappers summoned to the site deemed the grenade to contain up to 300 grams of explosives and carried out a controlled detonation of the weapon.

A section of the city wall near Damascus Gate is being treated as part of the Jerusalem Walls Conservation Project being carried out by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Jerusalem Municipality in order to restore the neglected and weathered Old City walls.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.

July 26, 2010July 26, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

Hebrew University announced today the discovery of a law code written on fragments of cuneiform tablets dating to the 17th or 18th century BC.

The code, which parallels portions of the famous Code of Hammurabi, was found on fragments discovered during Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeological excavations this summer at Tel Hazor in northern Israel.
The code was written in Akkadian and refers to issues of personal injury law relating to slaves and masters similar to the famous Babylonian Hammurabi Code of the 18th century BC. Hammurabi’s  Code, a set of ancient laws, created in 1790 BC in ancient Babylon and enacted by the sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, consists of 282 laws.

In the Hazor code, the laws also reflect Biblical principles such as “a tooth for tooth,” the researchers said. Prof. Wayne Horowitz of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology said that so far, words such as “master,” “slave,” and possibly the word for “tooth,” have been deciphered.

archaeology, hazor“At this stage, it is difficult to determine whether this document was actually written at Hazor, where a school for scribes was located, or brought from somewhere else,” said Prof. Horowitz.

Horowitz is heading a team preparing the fragments for publication. He noted that this discovery opens dialogue to see whether there is a connection between Biblical law and Hammurabi’s Code.
This is the largest batch of cuneiform texts found in Israel.

“These tablets point to Hazor’s importance as a major center for administration and scholarship in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages,” said Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor. 
The Hazor excavations, sponsored by the Hebrew University and the Israel Exploration Society, take place within the Hazor National Park. A monumental building dating to the Bronze Age is also on the site and may contain additional tablets.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.

June 21, 2011June 21, 2011  1 comments  Uncategorized

A new archaeological site revealing remnants of a city dating back to the time of King Solomon right outside the walls of the Old City was officially opened to the public on Tuesday.
Portions of this site could have been mentioned in scripture, dating back to the first temple period, according to archaeologists. The site includes an exhibit in the Archaeological Garden of the Davidson Center of the oldest known written document from Jerusalem found at the site.


ophel, old city, jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority and Mayor Nir Barkat opened the Ophel City Walls Site to the public revealing a complex of buildings dating back to between the 10th to 6th centuries BC, including what is believed to have been a gate house, a royal edifice, a section of a tower and the city wall itself. Hebrew University archaeologist Eilat Mazar suggested that the buildings could have been part of the fortifications that King Solomon built in Jerusalem.

“Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the LORD, and the wall around Jerusalem.” 1 Kings 3:1

Visitors will be able to touch the stones and walls at the site. Signs elaborate on the history and significance of the finds.


ophel, old city, jerusalem

Sections of a Byzantine city wall and two of its towers were and two rooms from the second temple period were also found.

The oldest known written document from Jerusalem is a 2 cm. fragment discovered in the area by archaeologists. It dates from the late Bronze Age and is written in Akkadian and appears to be a copy of a letter sent to an Egyptian King when Jerusalem was still called Salem.

The gate house is comprised of four rooms on both sides of a broad corridor and is characteristic of the first temple period similar to gates revealed at Megiddo, Beer Sheva and Ashdod.

ophel, old city, jerusalem

(Photos courtesy of IAA)

Mazar said the gate house could be the Water Gate mentioned in the Nehemiah 3:26: “…and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower.”

The structure could have been destroyed by the Babylonian conquest of the city in 586 BC, Mazar said. Also discovered on site were 12 large, clay jars, which probably contained wine or oil, one with a Hebrew inscription indicating that it belonged to one of the kingdom’s ministers.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

August 9, 2011August 9, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

Israeli archaeologists made two important discoveries during excavations of a drainage channel in the ancient City of David including a Roman sword from the time of the destruction of the second Jewish temple in 70 AD and an engraving of a Menorah on a piece of stone dating from 66 AD.

The finds, which were announced on Monday by the Israel Antiquities Authority, show that the drainage channel in the City of David served as a hiding place for the residents of Jerusalem during the Roman siege of the second temple, the IAA said in a statement.


archaeology, jerusalem, old city, city of david





(photos: Israel Antiquities Authority)


Excavation directors Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa noted that the sword likely belonged to a Roman infantryman.

"The sword’s fine state of preservation is surprising: not only its length (23.6 inches, 60 cm.), but also the preservation of the leather scabbard (a material that generally disintegrates quickly over time) and some of its decoration,” the IAA statement said.

The second temple, built by King Herod, was destroyed in 70 AD by the Roman.

A stone object engraved with a picture of a menorah was found next to the channel. Researchers believe that the etching of the golden seven-branched candelabrum may been carved by a visitor to the nearby temple, but later tossed aside. The carving confirms the original design of the menorah's base: a tripod shape, Shukron and Reich said.

The sword is the third Roman one found in Jerusalem.

The ancient drainage channel begins in the Siloam Pool and runs from the City of David to the archaeological garden near the Western Wall. The excavations are being conducted on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and underwritten by the City of David Foundation.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


November 20, 2011November 20, 2011  2 comments  Uncategorized

Archaeologists and researchers from Hebrew University have deciphered an inscription bearing the name of Frederick II written in Arabic, declaring him king of Jerusalem, right before he peacefully conquered the city through a treaty rather than a battle.

The discovery is unique because it is the only Crusader inscription in the Arabic language found in the Middle East. Frederick II was the Holy Roman Emperor. The inscription reads: “Frederick II, 1229 of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.” Professor Moshe Sharon and Ami Shrager of Hebrew University deciphered the inscription.



Researchers did not expect that a Christian king would have written his title in Arabic, the language of the Muslims who were the main combatants of the crusaders at the time. The Crusades, which stretched frmo 1095 to 1291, were religious wars designed to restore Christianity to the holy places in and near Jerusalem.

Frederick II led the Sixth Crusade – and won Jerusalem through diplomacy, not war.

“Frederick II led the Sixth Crusade of 1228 to 1229 and succeeded, without resorting to arms, in achieving major territorial gains for the Crusader kingdom,” Sharon said. “His most important feat was the handing over of Jerusalem to the Crusaders by the Egyptian sultan al-Malik al-Kamil as a result of an armistice agreement the two rulers signed in 1229.”

Before signing the agreement, Frederick fortified the castle of Jaffa, and apparently left in its walls two inscriptions, one in Latin and the other in Arabic. The small bit of the Latin inscription that remains was previously attributed to Frederick II, Sharon said.

Frederick had a colorful reign in Jerusale. Sharon said he opened a zoo and a university plus had a harem that included a Muslim woman.

The Latin portion of the inscription was partially preserved, enough to ascribe it since the end of the nineteenth century, to Frederick II. But the Arabic portion of the inscription baffled researchers for some time.

“It’s not so easy to read Arabic inscriptions, and particularly this one, which was written in an unusual script, and it is on stone and it is 800 years old,” Sharon told LiveScience. “It was written by an artist and this artist decided to create a special script for this royal inscription and it took us a very long time until we were able to find out that, in fact, we were reading a Christian inscription.”

The unique Arabic inscription is almost completely intact. It lists all of the titles of Frederick II. Even in Sicily, where Frederick’s main royal palace was located, no Arabic inscription has been found regarding his title.



Apparently, Frederick II, despite having been excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX, crowned himself king of Jerusalem in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. He knew Arabic and maintained a close relationship with the Egyptian royal family.

Sharon said that it was unheard of to find a Christian ruler in Jerusalem who knew Arabic, was interested in Islam and had Muslim scientists and ambassadors in his court.


By Nicole Jansezian

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


November 23, 2011November 23, 2011  1 comments  Uncategorized

Despite centuries of assumption that King Herod built the Western Wall of the temple in Jerusalem, recent archaeological findings could throw this accepted conventional premise on its head.



Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a news conference on Wednesday that a ritual bath exposed beneath the Western Wall of the Temple Mount contains proof that the construction of that wall was not completed during Herod’s lifetime but at least 20 years after his death around 4 BC.

israel, archaeolgy, jerusalem, western wall

















"The find changes the way we see the construction, and shows it lasted for longer than we originally thought,” Shukron said.

This confirm accounts by Josephus, the Jewish historian, who wrote that the work was only finished during the reign of King Agrippa II (Herod's great-grandson), not before that during Herod's time.

During recent excavations, archaeologists uncovered three clay oil lamps from the 1st century AD and 17 bronze coins, some dating to around 17 or 18 AD, approximately 20 years after Herod's death, the archaeologists said.


Donald Ariel, curator of the numismatic collection of the Israel Antiquities Authority, determined that the bronze coins were stamped by a Roman proconsul, Valerius Gratus, 20 years after Herod’s death, around 17 AD. That indicates that Herod did not build the wall and that construction was not close to being complete when he died. Valerius Gratus was the predecessor of Pontius Pilate, Reich said.

israel, archaeolgy, jerusalem, western wall

The coins were found inside the ritual bath. The find is the first archaeological evidence that supports Josephus' account.

"This bit of archaeological information illustrates the fact that the construction of the Temple Mount walls and Robinson's Arch was an enormous project that lasted decades and was not completed during Herod's lifetime," the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

Photos: Vladimir Naykhin

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


February 23, 2010February 23, 2010  1 comments  archaeology

Eilat Mazar, Old City, Jerusalem, ArchaeologyA section of ancient walls recently uncovered in Jerusalem dates back to the time of King Solomon and supports the existence of the first temple, according to Israeli archaeologists, who call it "the most significant" find from the era of the first temple.

"This is the first time that a structure from that time has been found that may correlate with written descriptions of Solomon's building in Jerusalem," said Eilat Mazar, director of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem excavation team. "The Bible tells us that Solomon built - with the assistance of the Phoenicians, who were outstanding builders - the temple and his new palace and surrounded them with a city, most probably connected to the more ancient wall of the City of David."

Mazar cited 1 Kings 3. The walls date back to the 10th century BC.

The section of the city wall that has been revealed is 70 meters long and 6 meters high and is located between the City of David and the southern wall of the Temple Mount. Within the city wall complex is an inner gatehouse for access into the royal quarter of the city, a royal structure adjacent to the gatehouse and a corner tower that overlooks a substantial section of the adjacent Kidron valley.

"The city wall that has been uncovered testifies to a ruling presence. Its strength and form of construction indicate a high level of engineering," Mazar said. "A comparison of this latest finding with city walls and gates from the period of the first temple, as well as pottery found at the site, enable us to postulate with a great degree of assurance that the wall that has been revealed is that which was built by King Solomon in Jerusalem in the latter part of the tenth century B.C."

Old City, Solomon, Temple, Jerusalem, ArchaeolgyThe first temple temple was destroyed by Babylonians. King Herod built another temple 2,000 years ago, and that was subsequently destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The compound became a pagan shrine and then eventually home to the Muslim Dome of the Rock shrine and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The dig also turned up pottery shards, which helped to date the wall, and jars, one with a Hebrew inscription.

"The inscription that was found on one of them shows that it belonged to a government official, apparently the person responsible for overseeing the provision of baked goods to the royal court," Mazar said.

Between the large tower at the city gate and the royal building the archaeologists uncovered a section of the corner tower that is eight meters in length and six meters high. The tower was built of carved stones. East of the royal building, another section of the city wall that extends for some 35 meters also was revealed. This section is five meters high, and is part of the wall that continues to the northeast and once enclosed the Ophel area.

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