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February 23, 2009February 23, 2009  0 comments  Geography

With spring in full bloom in Israel, a leisurely stroll through Tzippori, nicknamed by Josephus as "the ornament of the Galilee" is a must see visit for all travelers this time of year. Located in the heart of the Galilee, Tzippori is situated on a hill in the western part of the region, situated between the Tzippori stream to the south (Nahal Tzippori - also happens to be a wonderful place for a hike) and the Beit Netofa Valley to the north. The site is one of Israel's National Parks and is extremely well maintained. A modern visitor center sits at the entrance of the park and English speaking tour guides who work for the park service are available for hire in advance for approximately $150 for an hour and a half tour.

 

Tzippori received its name because of its location on the top of a mountain "like a bird" as written in the Talmud. Visiting today, one can view the remains of a magnificent city with streets, buildings, bathhouse, complete with very well preserved mosaic floors as well as an ancient synagague. A large theatre was also uncovered as well as an ancient water reservoir. For over two thousand years, Tzippori has enjoyed a very colorful history.

 

During the Crusader period, Tzippori was known as La Saphorie, and it also seems to have been populated during both the first and second temple periods. The city rose to prominence during the period of 47BCE, when Herod the Great was the governor of the Galilee. He captured the city from the governor of Syria by force and after Herod's death in 4 BCE, the Jews revolted against the Romans and captured Tzippori only to lose it to the Roman army which successfully countered the rebellion. Later in 66 CE, the revolt against the Jews began and the local population made an agreement with the Romans, successfully portecting their city from being destroyed. Later during the 3rd centurty, the city was very prominent and Rabbi Judah Hanasi moved to the city bringing with him the highest institution of Jewish law, known as the Sanhedrin. It was in Tzippori that Hanasi began working on the Mishnah.

 

A church was built in Tzippori during the Byzantine period and the Christian community grew, though the Jewish population remained a majority. The Arab period that followed the decline of the Byzantine period brought with it an Arab population which remained through 1948, when the local cvillage, known as Saffuriyyeh, that had been established in the 18th century, The current Moshav Tzippori was established just after the War of Independence, adjacent to the village of Saffuriyyeh.


September 16, 2009September 16, 2009  0 comments  Books

Tourists to the Holy Land walk right past one of the most important sites in Christian history without realizing its significance.  Noted archaeologist and author Shimon Gibson claims that the place of the trial of Jesus is not near the Antonia fortress, as the route of the Via Dolorosa (the "Way of Suffering") marks, but rather in a completely different part of Jerusalem - now a small, unmarked park near the Jaffa Gate. 

 

In his newly published book, The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence, Gibson claims that the starting point of the Via Dolorosa, which has been walked for centuries, is incorrect and reflects "a tradition with no historical basis whatsover."

 

"It is amazing for me to think that thousands of Christian pilgrims pass by one of the most important, tangible sites of Christian history without realizing it. It is not known and there is no sign posted," Gibson said in a recent interview I conducted for Travelujah.

 

Gibson, who has spent the last 30 years excavating numerous sites which are relevant to the story of Jesus, admits that some of his conclusions may be controversial. He is convinced, nonetheless, that the ancient stones and ruins have an important role to play in unraveling many of the mysteries surrounding Jesus's final days and first-century Jerusalem.  "Books which deal with Jesus tend to be written by theologians and historians who might make use of archaeological data, but not always. They usually use archaeology as a garnish, for a bit of illustrative material but not more than that.  I decided to start with the archaeological context."

 

His other findings include a new interpretation of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and a proposed location for the tomb of Jesus.

 

What to see if you really want to walk in Jesus's footsteps

 

I asked Gibson what pilgrims should plan if they really want to "walk in Jesus's footsteps."  He suggested four sites, not always on the typical itineraries:

 

1.  The Bethesda and Siloam Pools

 

These massive pools were thought for many years to have been water reservoirs. Yet Gibson argues that they were not designed to conserve large quantities of rainwater but were actually built for ritual purification needs.

 

Jerusalem was packed with thousands of Jewish pilgrims during Jesus's time who came to celebrate the Passover festivities and attend the Temple. These pilgrims had to undergo ritual purification before ascending to the Temple. Gibson suggests that Jesus was trying to establish a new movement of baptism, with alternative purification and healing procedures centered at these pools. 

 

It was at these pools, Gibson believes, that the "main activities of Jesus took place while he was in Jerusalem."

 

2.  Flight of Steps south of the Temple Mount

 

The Temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world and more than twice the size of the Athenian Acropolis.  Gibson said that here "you can get a sense of the crowds that would have climbed up.  They story of the Jesus overturning the tables took place here too."

 

3.  Mt. Zion

 

Gibson is currently excavating in this area, known in the Byzantine tradition as the area of the "House of Caiaphas".  While the exact location of the first-century house of the High Priest is still unknown, there are many palatial homes from that period being uncovered. Gibson writes that it is "great fun to thread the soil through one's fingers, digging up fragments of cooking pots and storage jars, occasionally hitting upon a coin, but ultimately the main thrill is in being able to reveal the outline of the households, kitchens and installations, dining halls and bedrooms, dating back some 2,000 years."

 

4.  Park between Jaffa Gate and the southwest corner of the city (Trial location)

In this small park are the remains of a gateway system with a large expanse that Gibson believes was the site of Jesus's Trial. He doesn't believe the Trial would have been inside Herod's palace, as commonly believed, since the palace was a very private residence.  "It is inconceivable that Herod would have done business in his home."

 

In his book, Gibson makes the case for this location and uses recent archaeological finds to name the Trial's exact physical setting. He believes "the Trial was out in the open, conducted in front of the crowds."   

 

The Final Days of Jesus paints a picture of life in first-century Jerusalem that brings together the latest archaeological discoveries with the traditional sources. Author Shimon Gibson is currently a senior associate fellow at the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and an adjunct professor of archaeology at the University of North Carolina. He previously worked in the Israel Antiquities Authority.

 

Gibson wrote in his book, "There is magic in its stones.  Jerusalem is one of those special cities that many put on the list of places they most want to visit during their lifetime." We recommend this book as a must-read for anyone who wants to uncover a bit more of that magic.



To buy the book click here: The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence


 

The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence

HarperCollins 2009

____________________________________________________________________

 

Lori Kaufmann is Co-Founder of Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land.  Based in  Israel, www.Travelujah.com connects people to the Holy Land by allowing users to share their experiences, write blogs, upload their pictures, create profiles, Search the Bible, learn with experts , book tours, hotels and Christian guesthouses and journey into the Land of the Bible.

 


March 11, 2009March 11, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

An ancient Byzantine era church was discovered recently in the Jerusalem Hills at a construction site in Nes Harim, according to Ha'aretz Newspaper. Local residents unearthed the site which previously had been covered by pine trees and terraces.

The Israel Antiquities Authority exposed the excavated church, which  is paved with mosaics and decorated with an ancient inscription written in ancient Greek.
Dr. Leah Di Signi, a leading expert ifn ancient inscriptions at the  the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,  deciphered the inscription: "O Lord God of Saint Theodorus, protect Antonius and Theodosia the illustres [a title used to distinguish high nobility in the Byzantine period] - Theophylactus and John the priest [or priests]. [Remember o Lord] Mary and John who have offe[red - ] in the 6th indiction. Lord, have pity of Stephen."

As first reported in Ha'aretz,  the first excavation in the site in November 2008 revealed the church's narthex - the broad entrance at the front of the church's nave. A carpet of polychrome mosaics  adorned with geometric patterns of intertwined rhomboids separated by flower bud motifs was inside. Much of the mosaic was defaced and destroyed by vandalism.

The same excavation also revealed a complex wine press that was partly exposed consisting of at least two upper treading floors and and arched cells, likely designed to assist in the fermentation process.


According to archaeologist Daniel Ein Mor, "We know of other Byzantine churches and sites that are believed to be Byzantine monasteries, which are located in the surrounding region. The excavation at Nes Harim supplements our knowledge about the nature of the Christian-Byzantine settlement in the rural areas between the main cities in this part of the country during the Byzantine period, among them Bet Guvrin, Emmaus and Jerusalem."


May 17, 2009May 17, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

A document thought to be an ancient text written on papyrus was seized last week in an operation led by the Intelligence Office of the Zion Region and the Undercover Unit of the Border Police in Jerusalem, in cooperation with the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery and the Archaeological Staff Officer in the Civil Administration.

The document is written in ancient Hebrew script, which is characteristic of the Second Temple period and the first and second centuries CE. This style of the writing is primarily known from the Dead Sea scrolls and various inscriptions that occur on ossuaries and coffins. The document itself is written on papyrus. The papyrus is incomplete and was in all likelihood rolled up. It is apparent that pieces of it crumbled mainly along its bottom part. The holes along the left part of the document probably attest to the damage that was caused to it over time. The document measures 15 x 15 centimeters.

Fifteen lines of Hebrew text, written from right to left and one below the other, can be discerned in the document. In the upper line of the text one can clearly read the sentence "Year 4 to the destruction of Israel". This is likely to be the year 74 CE - in the event the author of the document is referring to the year when the Second Temple was destroyed during the Great Revolt. Another possibility is the year 139 CE - in the event the author is referring to the time when the rural settlement in Judah was devastated at the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

The name of a woman, "Miriam Barat Ya‘aqov", is also legible in the document followed by a name that is likely to be that of the settlement where she resided: Misalev. This is probably the settlement Salabim. The name Miriam Bat Ya‘aqov is a common name in the Second Temple period. Also mentioned in the document are the names of other people and families, the names of a number of ancient settlements from the Second Temple period and legal wording which deals with the property of a widow and her relinquishment of it.

According to Amir Ganor, director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery in the Israel Antiquities Authority, "Theoretically, based on the epigraphic style, the material the document is written on, the state of preservation and the text, which includes a historic date that can be deciphered, we are dealing with a document that appears to be ancient as defined by the Antiquities Law. Since this object was not discovered in a proper archaeological excavation, it still must undergo laboratory analyses in order to negate the possibility it is a modern forgery". Ganor adds, "The document is very important from the standpoint of historical and national research. Until now almost no historic scrolls or documents from this period have been discovered in proper archaeological excavations. A historic document that can be definitely dated based on a reference to a historical event such as the ‘destruction of Israel' has never been discovered. Much can be learned from this document about the names of people, their surnames names and the locations of settlements in Israel during this period. From an initial reading it seems that this document deals with the property of Miriam Bat Ya‘aqov, who was apparently a widow. The deciphering of the entire document by expert epigraphers and historians may shed light on how the people of the period managed their affairs and supplement our knowledge about their way of life. What we have here is rare historic evidence about the Jewish people in their country from more than 2,000 years ago, during the days following the destruction which sent the people of Israel into exile for a very long time - until the creation of the State of Israel".

A picture of the document can be downloaded from the Israel Antiquities Authority site via the following link: http://www.antiquities.org.il/about_eng.asp?Modul_id=14. Photograph: The Scroll Conservation Laboratory, Israel Antiquities Authority.

 

For further details, kindly contact: Yoli Shwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority spokesperson, 052-5991888, dovrut@israntique.org.il

 


June 22, 2009June 22, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

The discovery of an ancient aqueduct that served as the principal water supply to the Sultan''s Pool outside the Old City of Jerusalem was announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority. The aqueduct, which supplied pilgrims and residents with water for both drinking and purification, was discovered in a salvage excavation in the city's Mishkenot Sha'ananim neighborhood ahead of the planned construction of the Montefiore Museum at the site, the state-run archeological body said. The upscale district overlooking the Old City walls, which is now a top city attraction for artists and painters, was the first Jewish neighborhood outside the Old City.

Currently a popular venue for large outdoor cultural events in the city, Sultan's Pool, located at the foot of the neighborhood, was for hundreds of years one of the city's most important water reservoirs. The aqueduct was repeatedly used and repaired for about two thousand years, dating back to the Second Temple period, to supply the many pilgrims who flocked to Jerusalem with drinking water, said Dr. Ron Beeri, director of the excavation at the site.

The recent excavation focused on a section of the previously uncovered "low level" aqueduct, one of two ancient water conduits that originated in the Hebrib and Solomons Pools and terminated in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. He said that the location of the aqueduct was "extremely successful and efficient," noting that his team had uncovered aqueducts dating from four different periods at the site, ranging from the Byzantine to the Ottoman The impressive, three-meter high Ottoman-era aqueduct found during the dig included a tower and a ceramic pipe which diverted water to Sultan\'s Pool, as well as to a public fountain which was built for pilgrims. The low-level aqueduct is to be incorporated in the planned Montefiore Museum to be built by the Jerusalem Foundation at the site.

 Source: Jerusalem Post, June 16, 2009


July 8, 2009July 8, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

 

Sitting quietly off the main shuk road in the heart of Nazareth, less than one block away from the famous Church of the Annunciation (also known as the Church of All Nations), lies the quaint guesthouse owned and managed by the Religious Sisters of Nazareth, a Roman Catholic order of nuns who have had a presence in the Holy land since the late 1800's. The Sisters have owned the magnificent building for over 100 plus years and recently converted parts of their facility into a lovely little guest house. However, the comfortable yet simple accommodations are not all that meets the eye. Hidden several metres below the tiled terraces are significant ruins dating back to the 1st century or possibly earlier, an archaeological find discovered in the early 1900's .

Sister Stephana of Italy was our tour guide and accompanied us throughout our underground
exploration. The site consists of a series of caves including at least one large home as well as water cisterns hidden beneath the residence, a familial burial area as well as several other rooms. The large water cistern is known as the Cistern of the Great Church, and is a sizeable well that was apparently used to store water for the family and possibly others that lived above and nearby. The architecture is somewhat suggestive of 1st century, with Herodian stones displayed in several areas. The burial style suggests Jewish roots, which would be likely considering the early dating of this house and its location in Nazareth, originally a Jewish village and believed to be home home of Jesus during his youth. Beyond that, there is evidence of additional development during the Byzantine and possibly the Crusader period as well.

The Sisters of Nazareth provide complimentary group tours of the site with advance notice.


 


September 3, 2009September 3, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

 

Another fantastic archaeological gem will go on display soon in Israel. The largest wall to ever be discovered in the City of David is to be displayed to the public this coming week. According to archaeologists, the wall dates back 3,700 years to the time of biblical Abraham, during the Middle Bronze Age.  The site contains double walls, which reach over 26 feet high. It is believed that the double walls were intended to protect people walking from a location in Jerusalem to a spring some distance away.

The archaeological excavation is a joint project between the Israel Antiquities Authority and University of Haifa. To date, 24 meters of the massive wall have been discovered, the size of which further supports the theory that  Jerusalem was a very significant city during this time in history, much more than merely a small village. The massive double wall  structure  reinforces this theory.

Source: Arutz Sheva, Biblical Archaeology Review


December 7, 2009December 7, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

Megiddo prison, surrounded by prison guards on horseback supplemented by guard dogs, is not a place that many people would care to approach. But if a plan now in the final stages comes to fruition, it could become a tourist attraction drawing Israelis and tourists from around the world.

Behind the prison walls, the remains of the oldest Christian house of worship ever discovered were unearthed four years ago in the course of prison renovations. The plans that are coming together call for the relocation of the prison to a site a short distance away so that the archaeological site can be opened to the public.

Some prisoners, including both common criminals and security prisoners, were allowed to dig below the prison - jailbreak style - as part of the archaeological research. The ancient finds on the site have led to an agreement in principle involving the prison service, the Megiddo Regional Council and the Antiquities Authority for the relocation of the detention facility.


In 2005, work was undertaken to replace a tent encampment for prisoners with detention cells, and because the Megiddo area is known for its rich archaeological finds, the Antiquities Authority required a salvage dig be carried out.

At the edge of the site, a magnificent mosaic floor featuring important inscriptions, including a reference to Jesus, was found, along with the foundation of a building from the 3rd or 4th century C.E.

The finds were evidence that the site was used for Christian religious worship before Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire, and it is thought to contain the remains of the oldest church in the world.

Officials involved in the dig explained that the finds show a link between the Roman army that encamped there then and communal Christian activity. At the center of the site remains of an altar or prayer table were found.

The site is also identified with the Talmudic-era Jewish village of Kfar Otnai, mentioned in Hebrew sources. The headquarters of the sixth Roman legion was established there along with the town of Maximilianopolis, which is mentioned in historical sources.

According to Hanan Erez, head of the regional council, "the discovery of the finds created great excitement in the Christian world and among researchers of early Christianity. The discovery was even a main topic of a conference of researchers in Washington three years ago."

Shortly after the discovery at the site, the Antiquities Authority quickly recommended the relocation of the prison so the site could be opened to the public. An agreement to that effect is now being worked out.

Megiddo council head Erez said: "On the site, a tourism complex is to be built, the central focus of which will be the ancient house of worship, alongside, of course, the Tel Megiddo archaeological site, which is also a significant site for the Christian world."

He noted that the plans for the funding of the project have been presented to the Finance Ministry. The plan calls for the state to guarantee the financing package.

The construction of the new nearby prison is part of a larger plan to build new prison facilities around the country.

By: Eli Askenazi, Haaretz

 


December 21, 2009December 21, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

The remains of a Jesus-era residence in what may have been a small hamlet housing approximately 50 homes. Remains included a wall, hideout and a cistern as well as an old convent courtyard, explained Yardenna Alexandre, an archaeogolgist with the Israel Antiquities Authority. Other discoveries included clay and chalk vessels used by Galilean Jews of the time - considered evidence that the home was inhabited by a simple Jewish family.

Photo by: API

 

"It was likely Jesus and his childhood friends would have known the house," said Alexandre.

"From the little written evidence available we know that first century Nazareth AD was a small Jewish village located in a valley," Alexandre said, adding that "until now a few Jesus-era graves were revealed, but never have we unearthed the remains of contemporary residences .

A pit made in the rock was also found, along with contemporary clay work. The archaeologists believe the pit was created as part of the Jewish peoples preparations prior to the Great Rebellion against the Romans, in 67C.E.

 

 

Article republished from: Haaretz News Service, Dec. 21, 2009

 

 

 


April 6, 2010April 6, 2010  1 comments  Biblical Archaeology

You can't drive for five minutes in Israel without seeing a sign directing you to a "tel." Tel is Hebrew for an archaeological hill. When a civilization died off or deserted an area, the new inhabitants built their town right on top of the old one. This pattern continued over thousands of years, leaving us with an archaeological gold mine; keep digging, and you will remnants of older and older civilizations.

One of the most intriguing of these sites may not be a tel at all. Tel Arad, located west of the Dead Sea, is located near the modern-day city of Arad. "Arad" first appears in the Bible in Numbers 21, as the Israelites are ending their 40-year sojourn in the desert. The "King of Arad" hears that they are approaching and attacks them; the Israelites fight back and destroy Arad. Arad is mentioned later in Judges 1, as the place where the Kenites settled. However, some archaeologists that Tel Arad is not an authentic tel, because two separate settlements have been found at the site, rather than one atop the other.

The upper settlement was an ancient Canaanite settlement. First inhabited around 4,000 BCE, it was an important trading post, due to its strategic location at a crossroads. Much trade was conducted with Egypt, as attested to by the Egyptian pottery shards found at the site. Bitumen, a material found in abundance in the Dead Sea, was useful as a sealant for ships and storage jars, and many conjecture that it was also used in the mummification process. The bitumen brought in much business from Egypt, and Arad prospered. Remains of houses were found, all built in a similar style. A larger structure, believed to be the temple, was also discovered.

After the destruction of the Canaanite city, the area was deserted for a while. Then, during the time of Kings David and Solomon, Arad was rebuilt - not on top of the Canaanite city, but rather in the "lower city." Arad may have served as a military outpost needed to strengthen Israel's borders. Indeed, Israel faced the constant threat of incursion from nomadic tribes and from the neighboring Edom. Among the ostraca (pottery shards) found, one contains an explicit warning about an invasion from the Edomites.

The most fascinating discovery, however, is an Israelite sanctuary. It is the only known Israelite temple found outside of Jerusalem. Ostraca found at the site support the belief that this was an active temple during Israelite history - on some, names of priestly families are inscribed; on others is inscribed "the House of God." (The most ostraca ever found from the Biblical period were found in Tel Arad.) Scholars believe that during the time of the Divided Kingship, Israelites living outside of Jerusalem constructed their own place of worship. In fact, the temple is strikingly similar to the description in the Torah of the Mishkan, the tabernacle which accompanied the Israelites in the desert. And naturally, it bears a strong resemblance to the temple in Jerusalem. It functioned as a sanctuary until the time of King Hezekiah. According to Torah law, it is forbidden to create other houses of worship aside from the one in Jerusalem, and during his religious reformation of the land, King Hezekiah destroyed all sanctuaries outside of Jerusalem. However, even after its destruction, it was considered a sacred place by the local population.

The Arad sanctuary was divided into three parts, again, similar to the Jerusalem temple. Within the holy of holies, the innermost section, archaeologists discovered two incense altars and two slabs of stone (called stela, or stelae in the plural). The doubling is mysterious. Are they meant to represent the masculine and feminine aspects of God? Or was one meant to serve God, and the other Ashera - in other words, a corruption of the monotheistic theology of the Israelites?

The Jewish civilization of Arad was eventually razed during the Roman conquest, in 70 CE, when the Romans destroyed the Temple and exiled the Jews. Today, the modern city of Arad entices Dead Sea tourists - high above sea level, the air is relatively cooler and many tourists spend the night there after a day of Dead Sea treatments. There are many artists and galleries in the town, and nearby is the Yattir Forest, a lush oasis in this arid region. The forest even boasts vineyards and a nearby winery.

"Tel Arad" may not be on popular "Top 10 Sites in Israel" lists, but despite lacking the glamour of Masada, the Dead Sea, the Western Wall, or the Sea of Galilee, this little tel (or not-tel, as the case may be), boasts some fascinating archaeology and a unique glimpse into the history of the people who lived here before us.

 


July 25, 2011July 25, 2011  2 comments  Biblical Archaeology

A rare gold bell from the second temple period was discovered in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, adjacent to the Western Wall, last week. The bell was apparently sewn to the garment worn by a high official in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period, making it approximately 2000 years old. The excavations are being conducted at the site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and underwritten by Ir David Foundation.The drainage channel  begins in the Shiloah Pool and continues from the City of David to the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, near the Western Wall.

 

According to the excavation directors, archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University, "It seems the bell was sewn on the garment worn by a high official in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period (first century CE). The bell was exposed inside Jerusalem's main drainage channel at that time, among the layers of earth that had accumulated along the bottom of it. This drainage channel was built and hewn the length of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, on the bottom of the slope descending to the Tyropoeon Valley. This drainage channel conveyed rainwater from different parts of the city, by way of the City of David and the Shiloah Pool, to Nahal Kidron".

 

The main street of the Jerusalem is in the region of the excavation, above the drainage channel. This road ascended from the Shiloah Pool in the City of David and an interchange, known today as ‘Robinson's Arch', was built in it, by way of which people entered the Temple Mount. Apparently, the high official was walking in the Jerusalem street in the vicinity of Robinson's Arch and lost the gold bell that fell from his garment into the drainage channel beneath the road.

 

We know from biblical sources that the high priests, who served in the Temple, used to hang a gold bell from the fringes of their robe. Thus, for example, in the ‘Tetzaveh' Torah portion, in the Book of Exodus, there is a description of the high priest Aaron's robe: "All of blue...it shall have a binding of woven work ...And upon the skirts of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the skirts thereof; and bells of gold between them round about".

 

It is impossible to know for certain if the bell did indeed belong to one of the high priests; however, the possibility cannot be entirely discounted.

 

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September 18, 2011September 18, 2011  0 comments  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 industry. During Jerusalem's Herodian period the road was paved and at its foot, the Shiloah pool was formed in order to store water for drinking and for the bathing purposes of the visiting pilgrims.

 

The road became more central and important because of the increasing pilgrimage phenomenon and because of the importance of the Shiloah Pool in the culture of the pilgrims. Specifically, the Shiloah played a critical role in the Libation Ritual ceremony - during which the waters of the Shiloah Pool were brought as an offering at the Temple Mount itself.

 

Charles Warren in the shaft in 1873

Charles Warren in the shaft in 1873  Credit: City of David

 

In the drainage channels situated beneath the road, impressive artifacts were discovered from the time of the Great Revolt against Rome. The channels themselves and the rare artifacts discovered bear a striking resemblance to the description of Josephus in his book "Wars of the Jews," Volume 6, which tells the story of the Jews who hid "in the tunnels beneath the Shiloah." Thus, this new excavation was able to authenticate Josephus' moving historical description of the aftermath of the Revolt in Jerusalem.City of David is now offering a new tour to showcase this new "Pilgrims Route". The short version of the tour begins from the pool of Siloam and continues to the Givaty parking lot next to the City of David visitors center. The tour length is about 1 hour.

 

 

City of David Sidebar:

City of David is opened as follows:

 

Winter Schedule (Beginning on October 3, 2011):
City of David Tours (English): 10:00am, 2:00pm, Friday: 10:00am
City of David Tours (Hebrew): 10:00am, 2:00pm, Friday: 10:00am
Hasmonean Aqueduct Tour (Hebrew only): Friday only: 10:00am
Segway Tour (English): 1:00pm
Segway Tour (Hebrew): 10:00am, Friday: 9:00am, 11:30am

 

Summer Schedule (until Rosh Hashanah, September 28):
City of David Tours (Hebrew): 10:00am, 12:00pm, 4:00pm, Friday: 10:00am, 11:00am, 12:00pm
City of David Tours (English): 10:00am, 4:00pm, Friday: 10:00am
Hasmonean Aqueduct Tour (Hebrew): Friday only: 10:00am
Segway Tour (Hebrew): 10:00am, 4:00pm Friday: 9:00am, 11:30am
Segway Tour (English): 1:00pm

 

Entrance to Warren's Shaft and Hezekiah's Tunnel is permitted until one hour prior to site closing time. Tickets can be purchased up to two hours prior to site closing time.
A person who has bought a ticket for the last entrance time to Warren's Shaft cannot continue his tour through Hezekiah's tunnel.
Paid parking is available at the Givati parking lot.

 

Tours in English are available on site for visitors. For an up to date schedule please visit http://www.cityofdavid.org.il. Group tours are available by reservation in advance. For information and reservations call 02-626-8700 or - rcv@cod.org.il. For groups -shimi@cod.org.il

 

General admission pricing is 27 shekel for adults (about $8) and 14 shekel for children ($4). For those prefering a guided tour (highly recommended) the price is 60 shekel per adult and 45 shekel per child. Independent travelers that are members of Travelujah can receive a 15% discount in advance by contacting Travelujah.

 

Visit www.cityofdavid.org.il


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June 5, 2012June 5, 2012  0 comments  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 rule. The revolt ended in the destruction and exile of the Jewish community in Holy Land.

 

ancient gold ring

The ring;  photograph - Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

 

"This is probably an emergency cache that was concealed at the time of impending danger by a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry and money in a cloth and hid them deep in the ground prior to or during the Bar Kokhba Revolt. It is now clear that the owner of the hoard never returned to claim it," said Sa'ar Ganor, chief archeologist for the Ashkelon and Western Negev region.

 

The treasure has been transferred to a treatment facility in Jerusalem and is expected to go on display at one of Israel's historical museums in the future.

 

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Ryan Jones writes regularly for 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 experience on Travelujah.

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July 2, 2012July 2, 2012  1 comments  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 another part of the mosaic, two human (apparently female) faces flank a circular medallion with a Hebrew inscription that refers to rewards for
those who perform good deeds.

 

"This discovery is significant because only a small number of ancient (Late Roman) synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical
scenes, and only two others have scenes with Samson (one is at another sitejust a couple of miles from Huqoq)," said Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religious Studies in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences. "Our mosaics are also important because of their high artistic quality and the tiny size of the mosaic cubes. This, together with the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue's walls, suggest a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly."

 

Excavations are scheduled to continue in summer 2013.

 

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Travelujah is 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.


February 16, 2011February 16, 2011  0 comments  Historical Sites

A small Byzantine basilica that was in use between the 5th and 7th centuries c.e. was discovered southwest of Jerusalem last week. A beautifully preserved mosaic floor was uncovered at the site. According to the site leader the mosaic is very well preserved and is of a very high crafsmanship and depicts peacocks, lions, foxes, and fish.

 

Several months ago the IAA discovered that antiquity thieves were stealing from the ruins, known as Horbat Madras,  and in December the excavation began.  

 

Initially it was believed that the structure was  a synagogue but further excavation revealed stones carved with crosses. The church was constructed on top of another structure, some 500 years older. This structure is thought to be Jewish.

 

According to the Israel Antiquities Authorites press release "Hirbet Madras is known as the site of a large, important Jewish community from the Second Temple period until its destruction during the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE.
Among the remains at the site are buildings, caves, agricultural instillations and extensive underground hiding tunnels. The site was identified by a number of scholars as the location of a major community."


 

Funding for the site is being sought so that the church can be opened to the public.

 

For more information visit: Israel Antiquities Authority


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