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6 July, 20156 July, 2015 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

Beit Shearim was one of 19 sites worldwide that was added to the UNESCO World Heritage site list early this week. The site, located in the lower Galilee, about 20 miles southeast of Haifa (one hour north of Tel Aviv), was the ancient burial ground for the Sanhedrin. The site contains a necropolis filled with a series 2nd century CE period catacombs. Archaeologists believe that the site was the primary burial place outside of Jerusalem and rose to prominence after the destruction of the second Temple and the Jewish revolt against the Romans. Within the catacombs there are numerous artworks and insriptions in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. Its quite striking to notice the strong Roman influence that presided during the period following the revolt.


Menorah inscription inside Beit Shearim caves; Photo IAA


Menorah inscription inside cave. Photo courtesy: Israel Antiquities Authority


Israel now has nine sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. Other sites include Masada; the Old City of Acre; the White City of Tel Aviv; the biblical tels of Megiddo, Hatzor, and Beersheba; the Spice Route in the Negev ,; Baha'i holy places in Haifa and the Western Galilee; the Nahal Me

TagsTags: beit shearim unesco 
18 September, 201418 September, 2014 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

The Israel Antiquities Authority a Byzantine era compound in Ramat Bet Shemesh containing an oil press, wine press and mosaics.


Beit Shemesh dig site

Griffin Aerial Photography Company, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

According to Irina Zilberbod, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, "This was very likely a monastery".

Remarkable finds, including blocked cisterns, a cave opening and the tops of several walls were visible on the surface during an archaeological survey conducted on foot along the hills south of Bet Shemesh. The archaeological dig that ensued underground exposed numerous articacts indicating a prosperous lifestyle dating to the Byzantine period which was previously unknown.

The Israel Antiquities Authority press release described the findings as a compound continaining two regions - an industrial area and an activity and residential area. Within the industrial area a large and impressive olive press was exposed and a large winepress was revealed outside the compount containing two treading floors where the grape juices likely flowed to a collecting vat. The findings indicate that wine and oil production were important industries for the communities living in this area.


22 January, 201422 January, 2014 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

A 1,500 year old major church with a magnificent mosaic and five inscriptions were uncovered during Israel Antiquities Authority salvage excavations. The excavations were directed by archaeologists Dr. Daniel Varga and Dr. Davida Dagan, and funded by the Israel Land Authority.

According to archaeologist Dr. Daniel Varga, directing the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "An impressive basilica building was discovered at the site, 22 meters long and 12 meters wide. The building consists of a central hall with two side aisles divided by marble pillars. At the front of the building is a wide open courtyard (atrium) paved with a white mosaic floor, and with a cistern. Leading off the courtyard is a rectangular transverse hall (narthex) with a fine mosaic floor decorated with colored geometric designs; at its center, opposite the entrance to the main hall, is a twelve-row dedicatory inscription in Greek containing the names Mary and Jesus, and the name of the person who funded the mosaic's construction."

The main hall (the nave) has a colored mosaic floor adorned with vine tendrils to form forty medallions. The medallions contain depictions of different animals, including: zebra, leopard, turtle, wild boar, various winged birds and botanical and geometric designs. Three medallions contain dedicatory inscriptions in Greek commemorating senior church dignitaries: Demetrios and Herakles. The two were heads of the local regional church. On

9 September, 20139 September, 2013 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

The gold rush has begun at the foot of Jerusalem's Temple Mount. During summer excavations conducted by Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, two bundles of treasures were found. The treasure trove contained thirty-six gold coins, gold and silver jewelry, and a gold medallion with the menorah (Temple candelabrum) symbol etched into it. Also etched into the 10-cm medallion are a shofar (ram's horn) and a Torah scroll. The extraordinary find is known as the "Ophel Treasure".


The ancient menorah medallion, shown below, is most likely an ornament for a Torah scroll making it the earliest Torah scroll ornament found to date in archaeological excavations. Several other Torah scrollo ornaments including a smaller gold medallion, two pendants, a gold coil and a silver clasp, were found buried with the medallion.


Gold medalion found at Ophel park



Dr. Mazar is a third generation archaeologist and she currently directs the excavations on the City of David's summit and at the Temple Mount's southern wall. According to Dr. Mazar, "We have been making significant finds from the First Temple Period in this area, a much earlier time in Jerusalem's history, so discovering a go

TagsTags: ophel eilat mazur 
25 June, 201325 June, 2013 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

An 1800 year old Roman era road was exposed this week during road work in Beit Hanina, a neighborhood in Jerusalem. The road is part an ancient Imperial road network leading from Jaffa to Jerusalem, dating to the Roman period (second-fourth centuries CE).The wide road (c. 8 m) was bounded on both sides by curbstones and is built of large flat stones fitted to each other so as to create a comfortable surface for walking. Some of the pavers were very badly worn, indicating the extensive use that was made of the road, and over the years the road also underwent a series of repairs.


beit hanina

Roman road discovery in Beit Hanina, Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority


According to David Yeger, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which was overseeing the excavation that was being conducted during drainage work undersway in the area, "Several segments of the road were previously excavated by research expeditions of the IAA, but such a finely preserved section of the road has not been discovered in the city of Jerusalem until now".

"The Romans attached great importance to the roads in the empire. They invested large sums of money and utilized the most advanced technologi

12 March, 201312 March, 2013 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

With a rich history dating back thousands of years, its pretty incredible that some of the Holy Land’s most renowned sites can be traced to the lifetime of one individual, King Herod the Great, who reigned over the land over 2,000 years ago. Lifetime over 2,000 years ago! The 40-year building spree that defined Herod produced magnificent structures, many of which still stand today.

Examples of King Herod’s fortresses, palaces or water systems can be found throughout the region.



23 January, 201323 January, 2013 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

Ruins of Kathisma, an important Byzantine church and monastery, are located near Mar Elias Monastery, on the side of the ancient road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

Kathisma means in Greek: ‘seat’ or ‘place of rest’. According to the Proto-Gospel of James, the Holy Couple, while on their way from Nazareth, stopped to rest when already approaching Bethlehem, the place where Jesus shall be born.


A tradition says that the Blessed Virgin Mary seated there at the stone

23 September, 201223 September, 2012 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

A treasure of impressive prehistoric finds was uncovered in archaeological excavations along Highway 79, in the Galilee. The excavations encompass a large area covering a distance of c. 800 meters. The prehistoric remains date from between 10,000 to 5,000 years ago and are situated at Ein Tzippori.


According to Dr. Ianir Milevski and Nimrod Getzov, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "The excavation revealed remains of an extensive settlement from the end of the Neolithic period and beginning of the Chalcolithic period in the country belonging to the "Wadi Rabah" culture. This culture is named after the site where it was first discovered (in the region of Rosh Ha-Ayin), and is common in Israel from the end of the sixth millennium and beginning of the fifth millennium BCE". According to the excavators, "The presence of remains from the Wadi Rabah culture in most of our excavation areas and in surveys that were performed elsewhere at the site shows that ʽEin Zippori is an enormous site that stretched across c. 200 dunams. It turns out that this antiquities site is one of the largest, if not the largest, in the country where there are remains of this culture. The architecture is rectangular and the floors were made of crushed chalk or very small stones. The foundations were made of stone and the walls above them were built of mud bricks".


Numerous artifacts were exposed in the excavation, including

TagsTags: stone age tzippori 
27 August, 201227 August, 2012 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

Visitors to Israel are sometimes disappointed to discover that many souvenirs sold in the souq here are in fact made in China, India, Turkey or Egypt. But not all. If you're in the market for jewelry fit for royalty, drop by the City of David gift store where painstakingly exact replicas of a pair of earrings worn by Queen Helena of Adiabene 2,000 years ago - and discovered recently at the archaeological site - are now for sale.


The original earring - only one has been found to date - was made of gold and set with pearls and emeralds. The replicas are available in a variety of materials including 14 karat gold set with pearls and green agate. The latter costs NIS 2,449 ($625) - for both earrings. The exquisite piece of jewelry was discovered in nearly pristine condition in 2007 in an area at the northwest corner of the City of David national park known as the Givati Parking Lot Excavation. The original is now on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, along with the queen's elaborate royal sarcophagus.

sarcophagus of Queen Helena

Sarcophagus of Queen Helena of Adiabeme, photo courtesy

25 July, 201225 July, 2012 2 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

This season's excavations at Tel Hazor National Park in the Upper Galilee conducted by Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) uncovered 14 large pithoi-style storage jugs filled with 3,300-year-old burnt wheat. The jugs were located inside a storage room in a monumental, palace-like building from the Canaanite period (2,000-3,000 BCE), INPA said on Monday.


"Hatzor flourished during the Middle Canaanite period (1,750 BCE) and during the Israelite period, and generated the biggest fortified complex in Israel during this period," said Dr. Zvika Tsuk, chief archeologist of the INPA. Professor Amnon Ben-Tor of Hebrew University said the jugs were destroyed around the 13th century BCE, a period which coincided with the biblical account of Joshua's capture of Hazor. According to Joshua chapter 11, Hazor was the only city in the Land of Israel destroyed by fire during the conquest.

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