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2 July, 20122 July, 2012 1 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

A monumental synagogue building dating to the Late Roman period (ca. 4th-5thcenturies C.E.) has been discovered in archaeological excavations at Huqoq in Israel's Galilee.


The excavations are being conducted by Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and David Amit and Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority , under the sponsorship of UNC, Brigham Young University in Utah, Trinity University in Texas, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Toronto in Canada. Students and staff from UNC and the consortium schools are participating in the dig.


Huqoq is an ancient Jewish village located approximately two to three miles west of Capernaum and Migdal (Magdala). This second season of excavations has revealed portions of a stunning mosaic floor decorating the interior of the synagogue building. The mosaic, which is made of tiny colored stone cubes of the highest quality, includes a scene depicting Samson placing torches between the tails of foxes (as related in the book of Judges 15).


mosaic of Samson discovered at Huqoq

Mosaic of Samson excavated at Huqoq in the Galilee Photo credit: Jim Haberman


In anoth

30 June, 201230 June, 2012 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

....And during the time of King David, the biblical boundary of Israel extended from Dan until Beersheba...(Sam II 24:2)


Just outside the perimeter of the modern city of Beersheba, stands the ancient site of Tel Sheba, the remains of a biblical administration centre/fortress dating back to the early Israelite period It is strategically situated, overlooking the confluence of the Beersheba and Hebron Stream.  The  site was excavated in the 1970's, and it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. The site containus the remains of ancient walls, with parts of the gateway and an ancient well at the entrance. Inside the fortifications, one sees the foundations of the original residences, warehouses and a general layout of the former town. Extremely interesting, and impressive, is the ancient subterranean water system which was connected to the Hebron Stream and delivered water inside the fortress via tunnels and cisterns, erstwhile concealed on the outside to invading forces. 


Ancient walled entrance to Tel Sheba

5 June, 20125 June, 2012 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

The dream of every young boy, and not a few young girls, is to hunt down and discover a buried treasure. Archaeologists in Israel had the opportunity to realize that dream recently during a dig near the central town of Kiryat Gat.


During a routine dig at the Kiryat Gat industrial park (all major construction in Israel must be preceded by a full archaeological survey), archaeologists found the remains of several large dwellings and courtyards, not an uncommon occurrence. But before refilling the survey pit, the researchers did find something very unique - a hoard of hidden treasure.


Hidden Treasure discovery

The hidden treasure - Sharon Gal, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.


Specifically, archeologists uncovered 140 gold and silver coins and a considerable amount of gold jewelry. Researchers believe the treasure was hidden by a wealthy Jewish woman during the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt against Roman

21 May, 201221 May, 2012 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

Another significant archaeological discovery situated in a quarry located in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem is oddly reminiscent of the miracle  described by historian Procopius of Caesarea in his work, Of the Buildings of Justivian.  A miraculous supply of stone necessary for the construction of the Nea Ekklesia of the Theotokos Church is provided by God.

Similarly a large 20 ft (6 m) tall and 30 in (80 cm) wide red stone, chiseled into the shape of a column, was found within the upscale Jerusalem neighborhood and as a result, the Israel Antiquities Authority has ceased all construction work in order to proceed with the archaeological study. The stone appears to match the description of that described in the Procpoius mirracle  "God revealed a natural supply of stone perfectly suited to this purpose in the nearby hills, one which had either lain there in concealment previously, or was created at that moment..." and not the stone used to create the Temple Mount. The color of the stone columns suggest flames of fire and likely stood at the door of the church.

Other evidence suggests that the findings are likely Byzantine. The stone also bares the Arabic inscription, "Mizi Achmar," meaning red stone, corresponding to the "flames of fire

12 May, 201212 May, 2012 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology


After five seasons of excavating at Khirbet Qeiyafa - a fortified city in the Elah Valley 30 km southwest of Jerusalem near where the shepherd David felled the Philistine giant Goliath, Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University here has uncovered cultic artifacts from a 3,000-year-old Iron Age community which he claims revolutionize archaeologists' understanding of Solomon's Temple.


And if that weren't enough, the discoveries at Khirbet Qeiyafa also weigh in on a crucial argument between academic maximalists and minimalists concerning whether King David ruled over an empire, a small kingdom or a minor Bedouin fiefdom - or indeed if he was a mythological rather than a historic figure.


At a press conference here last week to mark the publication of the new book In The Footsteps of King David in the Ella Valley: Surprising Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology (Hebrew) co-authored by Garfinkel, Saar Ganor and Michael Hasel, followed by a tour of the site, Garfinkel displayed three u

2 May, 20122 May, 2012 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

Renovations in Israel are ever far from simple. No one figured that the Beersheva bus station redevelopment would uncover an ancient Byzantine city buried deep below.

Two well-preserved churches, a Roman camp and several other structures were exposed in the recent excavations and what was most surprising was that no signs of destruction were discovered. Rather, it seems that the ancient residents of the town appeared to have left on their own.

The city is extremely well preserved, and archaeologists attribute this to the fact that the area was abandoned in the seventh century. The site will be preserved by a conservation crew  after the public has an opportunity to view the site. The site will later be recovered adn protected while the artifacts will be put on display at the new bus station.

The redevelopment of the city's old bus station mandated that an archeological dig be performed in order to see what lay under the facility, passengers had an opportunity to see the uncovered remains with their own eyes. Just a foot or two below the surface archaeologicsts found remains of a bustling Byzantine city of Beersheba, thought to be home to several thousand people as well as a popular stopping place for Negev travelers.

Like today, Beersheva's Old City bus station was the city center of life for the ancient civilization residing there 1,500 years ago.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post:


5 March, 20125 March, 2012 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

There's a good reason why back in 2001 UNESCO selected Masada as the first historic venue in Israel to be bestowed with its coveted World Heritage Site status - the national park is simply a must visit for first-time visitors to the Holy Land. But with the recent opening of new amenities and a spectacular museum, Masada has also become one of Israel's premier tourist attractions for repeat visitors.



Herod's winter home, Masada; photo courtesy Travelujah.


While an underground parking lot, spotless bathrooms, elevators, souvenir stores and a modern food hall including McDonald's are nice upgrades for mass tourism, the true new draw is the interactive museum. Dedicated to the memory of Prof. Yigal Yadin who excavated the Second Temple Era site from 1963 to 1965, the museum houses more than 700 artifacts excavated at the 2,000-year-old Judean Desert palace and fortress by the Dead Sea. Among them are a piece of tallit (prayer shawl), and Roman arrowheads - some with their wooden shafts still attached.

To view the 12 ostraca - shards of pottery each bearing a single Hebrew name, which may have been used as the death lots in the final moments of the Jewish rebels' last act of defiance against the Roman army - is to feel a shive

TagsTags: masada judean desert 
18 September, 201118 September, 2011 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

On the slope of the City of David hill, where the Kidron and Ben Hinnom Valleys meet, the Ancient Shiloah Pool was discovered just a few years ago. This magnificent pool was constructed 2,000 years ago during the days of King Herod, in Jerusalem's glorious building tradition. This grand pool served as an important meeting point for Jerusalem's pilgrims, who would arrive in the city to visit the Temple Mount on the three major Jewish holidays: Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth), and the Festival of Weeks (Shavuot).


The pool is mentioned in the New Testament as the place where Jesus has performed a miracle, as he healed a blind man (John 9 7). An impressive road once connected the Shiloah Pool to the Temple Mount and served as the central axis for all of Jerusalem's pilgrims and visitors. Shops and businesses once lined the length of the Herodian Road and enjoyed the road's centrality and the wide exposure that they had to the many pilgrims who filled Jerusalem on the holidays. The way that leads from the Shiloah Pool in the direction of the Temple Mount reached 600 meters into the valley whose Greek name once was the "Tyropoeon" which means the valley of the cheese mongers.


During the Hellenistic Period the road was lined with the shops and factories of dairy product manufacturers, such that when the winter rains would come, the valley would be washed clean of the refuse and smells that were a by-product of the dairy i

31 August, 201131 August, 2011 1 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology



Of all the historic sites of ancient Palestine, ending with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Tamar is the most under-appreciated city in southern Israel. 


Biblical Tamar seems to have been forgotten by historians, most of whom barely remember where the southern tribal boundaries were set by Moses. The lack of Jewish and Islamic references describing its very existence should be a source of embarrassment in academic circles, not to mention archeological research.


The Roman Empire became officially Christian in 325 CE, but it, too, apparently had little reason to build more than a large fortress at Tamar without so much as a monastery or church.  Nearby Mamshit, used by Nabataeans and Romans as a stopover as a water source in the spice route from the East, was fully reconstructed, but the extraordinary Jewish city to the south remained buried under desert sands. 


There is little evidence that Christians lived and worshipped at Tamar or drank from the  refreshing artesian well outside Roman walls, but certainly King Solomon and subsequent Jewish kings knew of the city's strategic significance. Moses understood its importance and the Israelites camped at Tamar (Ovot) and drank from the cool

23 August, 201123 August, 2011 1 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology


The Old City of Jerusalem is famous for, among other things, its eight unique gates*, none of which are more impressive than the Damascus Gate.

Built by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538 as part of a total revamp of Jerusalem's walls, the Damascus Gate featured a majestic crown-shaped parapet. But during the heavy fighting in and around the Old City during the Six Day War in 1967 the Damascus Gate's "crown" suffered considerable damage.

With so many ancient and biblical sites on their plate, it took Israeli archaeologists over 40 years to get around to it, but this year the Damascus Gate was finally restored to its original glory.

Damascus Gate


"The Old City of Jerusalem is a focus of interest for people the world over and the number one tourist attraction in Israel," said Elad Kendel, director of the Old City Basin in the Jerusalem Development Authority."The city walls and the gates are the first thing that everyone sees when they arrive at the Old City, and it is therefore important to us that tourists, both domestic and foreign, see the city in all its glory," Kendel added.

The Jerusalem Development Aut

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