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Tags - archaeology
While working on Jerusalem’s present day water infrastructure, workers uncovered a section of the city’s ancient aqueduct and a 14th century bridge near Sultan’s Pool, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.
The aqueduct conveyed water to the Temple Mount during Solomon’s time.
“The bridge, which could still be seen at the end of the 19th century and appears in old photographs, was covered over during the 20th century,” said Yehiel Zelinger, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “We were thrilled when it suddenly reappeared in all its grandeur during the course of the archaeological excavations.”
Zelinger explained that the aqueduct actually began in Bethlehem at Solomon’s Pools and ended at the Temple Mount cutting through the neighborhood today known as Yemin Moshe, across from Mount Zion. Its route has been documented by scholars. The bridge, Zelinger said, was built in order “to maintain the elevation of the path along which the water flowed.”
“Two of the original nine arches that were in the bridge were currently excavated to their full height of about 3 meters,” Zelinger said.
The bridge, rebuilt in 1320 by Sultan Nasser al-Din Muhammed Ibn Qalawun according to an inscription on the bridge, was constructed in order to replace a bridge from the time of the Second Temple period.
The Israel Antiquities Authority and Nature and Parks Authority plans to expose the entire length of the bridge and integrate it in the framework of the overall development of the Sultan’s Pool, as part of underscoring the importance of the water supply to Jerusalem in ancient times.
The Gihon Corporation, name for Jerusalem’s ancient source of water, is assisting in funding the excavations.
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.
A first Temple-Era Bone Seal engraved with the name Shaul discovered in the excavations in the Walls around Jerusalem National Park in the City of David
During a visit to the City of David in Jerusalem, the Knesset presidium, headed by Speaker Reuben Rivlin, a Hebrew seal that dates to the time of the First Temple was displayed for the first time. The seal was found in an excavation that is being conducted in the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, under the direction of Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the IAA, and underwritten by the ‘Ir David Foundation'.
The seal, which is made of bone, was found broken and is missing a piece from its upper right side. Two parallel lines divide the surface of the seal into two registers in which Hebrew letters are engraved. A period followed by a floral image or a tiny fruit appear at the end of the bottom name. The name of the seal's owner was completely preserved and it is written in the shortened form of the name Shaul (or Saul). The name is known from both the Bible (Genesis 36:37; 1 Samuel 9:2; 1 Chronicles 4:24 and 6:9) and from other Hebrew seals.
According to Professor Reich, "This seal joins another Hebrew seal that was previously found and three Hebrew bullae (pieces of clay stamped with seal impressions) that were discovered nearby. These five items have great chronological importance regarding the study of the development of the use of seals. While the numerous bullae that were discovered in the adjacent rock-hewn pool were found together with pottery sherds from the end of the ninth and beginning of the eighth centuries BCE, they do not bear any Semitic letters. On the other hand, the five Hebrew epigraphic artifacts were recovered from the soil that was excavated outside the pool, which contained pottery sherds that date to the last part of the eighth century.
It seems that the development in the design of the seals occurred in Judah during the course of the eighth century BCE. At the same time as they engraved figures on the seal, at some point they also started to engrave them with the names of the seals' owners. This was apparently when they started to identify the owner of the seal by his name rather than by some sort of graphic representation."
It appears that the "office" which administered the correspondence and received the goods that were all sealed with bullae continued to exist and operate within a regular format even after a residential dwelling was constructed inside the same "rock-hewn pool" and the soil and the refuse that contained the many aforementioned bullae were trapped beneath its floor. This "office" continued to generate refuse that included bullae, which were opened and broken, as well as seals that were no longer used and were discarded into the heap of rubbish that continued to accumulate in the vicinity.
Ras El Amud Neighborhood - Jerusalem surroundings area
Settlement remains dating to different phases of the Middle Canaanite period (2200-1900 BCE) and the last years of the First Temple period (eighth-seventh centuries BCE), including an inscription in ancient Hebrew script that mentions the name Menachem, were recently exposed in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the Ras el-Amud neighborhood of Jerusalem, prior to the construction of a girls’ school.
Among the remains from the First Temple period is a handle on which the Hebrew name Menachem is engraved. According to archaeologist Dr. Ron Beeri, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This important find joins similar names that were found in archaeological excavations in the Ancient East and in Israel in particular. The names Menachem and Yinachem are expressions of condolence – possibly related to the death of family members”.
Dr. Beeri adds that such names already appeared earlier in the Canaanite period: the name Yinachem was found written on an Egyptian pottery shard that dates to the eighteenth dynasty and the name Yinachemu is mentioned in the El-Amarna letters (from the fourteenth century BCE) as the name of an Egyptian governor on the Lebanese coast.
This is the first time that a handle with this name has been found in Jerusalem. The name Menachem is known from the corpus of Hebrew or Phoenician names and seals that bear this name were found in Israel, Assyria, Cyprus and Egypt. The name Menachem Ben Gadi is mentioned in the Bible. He reigned as king of Israel for ten years in Samaria and was one of the last kings of the Kingdom of Israel. According to Kings 2 Menachem Ben Gadi ascended the throne in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah, king of Judah. Menachem, king of Israel, is also mentioned in the texts of the king of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser III, as Menachem of Samaria and as one of the kings from whom he received tribute.
Photograph: Mariana Salzberger, Israel Antiquities Authority
Archaeological discovery in the Holy Land
In an excavation that was recently conducted c. 100 meters north of the Old City wall of Akko, a unique find, according to Dr. Edna Stern, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority was discovered from the Crusader period (the thirteenth century CE) - a hoard of 350 marble items that were collected from buildings that had been destroyed.
The hoard was found within the framework of an archaeological excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority before the Akko Municipality began building a new structure to house classrooms in the Hilmi Shafi Educational Campus.
This find is the likes of which have never been discovered in the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the Crusader period (the capital of which was Akko).
During the archaeological excavations the Israeli Antiques Authority came upon a cellar that was sealed by collapse comprised of building stones and charred beams. Beneath the cellar floor a hoard of c. 350 marble items and colored stones was discovered, including two broken marble tombstones with Latin inscriptions (one belonging to a person by the name of Maratinus), flat marble slabs and marble tiles of various sizes and colors, etc.
Some more extraordinary items were found, such as a large stone cross and a large fragment of porphyry (a rare precious purple stone, which has been the color of royalty from Roman times). The quality of the marble is excellent and it was undoubtedly imported from abroad."
This discover confirm that at that time they used to integrate ancient architectural items from the Roman and Byzantine periods in their construction. And just like today, people at that time also yearned for the classic and the exotic. According to Dr. Edna Stern, it is known from written sources that the residents of AKKO bought and sold such stones, which were exceptionally valuable, to be reused in buildings. The owner of the hoard, was either a merchant or collected the stones for his own construction, and was aware of impending danger and therefore buried the valuable stones until such time as the tension abated.
However, the cache of stones was not sold in the end. According to Stern, "We can reasonably assume that the collapse that was found above the hoard is evidence of the building's destruction in 1291 CE, when Crusader Akko was conquered by the Mamluks and was completely devastated".
The marble hoard was removed from the field and transferred to the Israel Antiquities Authority for further study.
Participating as a volunteer in an archaeological digs generally comes with a nice price tag. But here's a deal that's really worth looking at. Magdala, the home of a 1st century synagague. This incredible archaeological site where several months ago the oldest known engraving of a seven branch menorah from the 1st temple period was discovered, is situated on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee just south of Ginosar, will soon be hosting its own on site dig and is looking for volunteers. And get this - its free. Read on.
According to the magdala dig blog - The dig will finance accommodations (meals and transportation) for volunteers for up to one month, if you wish to stay more, a special price will be made. The accommodations will be in Tiberias, a town 5km /3 mi from Migdal. According to our discussions with Father John Solana, director of the Pontifical Institute of Jerusalem, the entity that owns the project (which is being developed as a 120 plus rooms Christian guesthouse and multi media center, known as Magdala Center) -accommodations are being made for dig volunteers to reside in the center of town, within a home owned by the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. . The Insitute has rented the home and is now refurbishing the quarter to include guest rooms which will come equipped with air conditioning, internet and a couple of small kitchenettes.
Approximately 3 hectares of land are being excavated at Migdala and Marcella Zapata, is the Mexican archaeologist who is directing the program. Anáhuac México South University, located in Mexco, obtained the excavation license from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) which is providing local oversight. Thedig is being done in cooperation with the Archaeological Investigation Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and it represents the first project in which Mexico will be directing in the field of Biblical Archaeology in Israel.
Dig participants must be 18 years old and should be able to stay for at least one month. The dig is expected to be open for volunteers from July 2010 through the end of 2013, excepting Easter and Christmas holidays.
For more information on the dig - http://magdalaisrael.wordpress.com/author/magdalaisrael/;
For groups that might be interested in including one week of volunteer digging with a group tour - contact Travelujah.
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.
"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 Authority and the Israel Antiquities Authority have concluded a comprehensive cleaning of the gate's ancient stones and restoration of its famed parapet.
But getting the parapet just right was no easy task. Archaeologists had to consult photographs of the Damascus Gate taken during the early 20th Century when the British governed Jerusalem.
"Because of its beauty, Damascus Gate is also the most documented of Jerusalem's city gates and its historical material and numerous photographs facilitated an accurate restoration of its appearance," explained project architect Avi Mashiah. "Every single decoration, including all of its features, was studied and restored by us down to the smallest detail, in order to provide visitors to the gate as full and complete an experience as possible," Mashiah continued.
Damascus Gate lit up during the recent Jerusalem Light Festival. Credit: Allaboutjerusalem.com
To lessen the likelihood of the "crown" falling into disrepair any time soon, the archaeologists fixed them to the rest of the gate using special undetectable anchors.
The restoration team did not stop with the Damascus Gate, and is continuing their work along the length of the Old City's walls in a large-scale effort to enhance the impact of this holy city on visiting pilgrims.
* Including the closed Golden Gate. Jerusalem's Old City has seven open gates.
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Author: Ryan Jones, Travelujah
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:
"For Byzantine Beersheba, this was it," says Dr. Daniel Varga, excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), who conducted the dig. "This was the heart of the Byzantine city, right here. Two Byzantine churches were built within a radius of 300 meters from here, and right over there was the Roman military camp."
To read more about the Beersheva dig: read here.
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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.
Traveling with kids? Looking for an educational and fun way to entertain them? Head over to the Israel Museum on either a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday this month. The museum has constructed an archaeological tell where your kids can learn and participate in a minature archaeological dig. Let them learn about sifting and antiquities in this hands on activity. The cost is $50 per child and is recommedned for kids 7 years and up. By the way, the museum is offering free admission to kids for the entire month of August. While you're at it, you can enjoy breakfast in a prehistoric cave on Mon, Tues, and Wednesday at 11:30. No need to know hebrew to experience this museum.
A small ceramic stamp used to mark bakery produce may not seem like a significant archeological find, but Israeli archeologists are rather excited by such a discovery made near the northern coastal town of Akko.
In previous eras, Akko was known as Acre, and was a major Christian stronghold in the Holy Land. That is why interest has been piqued by the small ceramic stamp bearing an image of the seven-branched Temple Menorah, which was found in a controlled archeological dig at Horbat Uza just outside Akko. The stamp dates back to the 6th century AD, a time when Akko was a Christian-dominated city under the Byzantine Empire. Gilad Jaffe and Dr. Danny Syon, who are directing the dig on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, were pleased to be able to do definitely date the artifact:
Excavation site near Acre; courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority
"This is the first time such a stamp is discovered in a controlled archaeological excavation, thus making it possible to determine its provenance and date of manufacture."
The existence of the stamp is evidence that despite Christian control of that part of the Holy Land at that time, a Jewish presence remained. And, that presence must have been somewhat significant if it required its own dedicated bakeries to produce certified kosher goods.
Anient bread stamp with menorah caving Courtesy: Israel Antiquities Authority
"The stamp is important because it proves that a Jewish community existed in the settlement of Uza in the Christian-Byzantine period. The presence of a Jewish settlement so close to Akko - a region that was definitely Christian at this time - constitutes an innovation in archaeological research," stated Jaffe and Syon in an official press release. "Due to the geographical proximity of Horbat Uza to Akko, we can speculate that the settlement supplied kosher baked goods to the Jews of Akko in the Byzantine period."
The stamp itself is of similar design to other Jewish bread stamps found around the region, though which have not been as definitely dated as the Horbat Uza stamp. It is engraved on the flat end with a seven-branched menorah, "a Jewish symbol par excellence," noted Jaffe and Syon, which identified anything marked with the stamp as being undeniably of Jewish manufacture. Along the neck of the stamp's handle are carved Greek letters that experts believe spell out the name Launtius, a common Jewish name in Byzantine times.
This important discovery was only made because of plans to build a new railroad connecting Akko to the central Galilee town of Karmiel. So inundated is the Holy Land with historical remains that any simple construction project must be preceded by a painstaking archeological review and even a comprehensive dig to ensure that the past is not lost in making way for the future.