Monthly Archives: November 2009

An aerial view of Tel Dor

Earlier we wrote about the excavation at Tel Dor here. Dr. Ayelet Gilboa, chair of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, and the co-director of the Tel Dor Excavation Project, was kind enough to provide us with one of the wonderful aerial photos of Tel Dor.

Aerial view of Tel Dor looking northeast. Photo courtesy: Dr. Ayelet Gilboa.

Aerial view of Tel Dor looking northeast. Photo courtesy: Dr. Ayelet Gilboa.

Click on the image for a photo suitable for use in a PowerPoint presentation.

Dor has a long history extending from the Canaanite period around the 20th century B.C. It was also controlled by the Phoenicians, the Sea People, the Israelites, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans. Dor was abandoned in the third century A.D. (Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov./Dec. 2002).

Dor is mentioned only a few times in the Old Testament Scriptures.

  • When Jabin, king of Hazor, heard of the victories of Joshua and the Israelites he put together a confederacy of armies including the king of the “heights of Dor on the west” (Joshua 11:2).
  • Joshua conquered “the king of Dor in the heights of Dor” (Joshua 12:32).
  • Dor was allotted to the tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 17:11). The writer of Joshua quickly acknowledges that Manasseh could not take possession of these cities, “because the Canaanites persisted in living in that land” (Joshua 17:12; see Judges 1:27).
  • Solomon appointed his son-in-law Ben-abinadad over the height of Dor (1 Kings 4:11).
  • Ephraim’s territory extended to the border of Manasseh, including “Dor with its towns” (1 Chronicles 7:29).

For more information about the 2010 excavation season at Tel Dor check the official web site here.

Moussaieff called “The genuine article”

The Jerusalem Post Online Edition Magazine ran a feature article November 12 here about Shlomo Moussaieff here. Moussaieff, 86, is known for many things. He is a billionaire, but he is also a collector of archaeological artifacts, Torah scrolls, cuneiform inscriptions, and other significant items.

Shlomo Moussaieff

Shlomo Moussaieff

Moussaieff has received renewed attention in connection with the recent law suit accusing antiquities experts of forgery. Here are a few comments by Lauren Gelfond Feldinger, author of the magazine feature.

His stories, like his collections, are often considered controversial. In the antiquities world, he is especially renowned for often turning his nose up at the accepted logic that artifacts should be documented in situ by archeologists to make the most of their historical meaning. Moussaieff bah-humbugs traditional thinking, arguing, like his old friend Moshe Dayan, that so-called looters are also salvaging history by bringing it into the light and keeping it out of the dusty cellars of antiquities authorities.

In court I showed them how to know if the clay is genuine – I lick it. I know the taste. After so many years in the business, just looking, you also know. Everyone who is jealous says that I have some fakes. I spend a lot of money to double-check, and so far in four years of court cases they haven’t been able to prove any one of them is a fake. I have been collecting for 65 years and have 60,000 items in my collection. It is possible I have made a mistake, but if I have made a mistake, nobody can prove it. (Laughs.)

When asked why he snubs Israel’s antiquities laws, Moussaieff said,

These are ridiculous laws from the time of the Turks. The Antiquities Authority should be teaching and not torturing. They should ignite history. Instead, they find Arab shepherds and beat them and take what they have. What do they have, broken clay pieces? Bravo. All day they sit with a telescope to see who is going in the field to look for something, it’s ridiculous. For a 500-millimeter piece of parchment, they will put a man in jail.

If you build a building, you have to stop work, you have to pay for the excavation – not them. This is torture. The laws don’t make any sense. This is what they do with their budget? The law should allow more freedom, let anybody display anything in his house, and not make a coin collection worth $10 illegal. They have 600,000 coins in storage, what do they display? A few pieces.

I have artifacts from the time of Abraham. I have artifacts from the second our people were born. They call me a looter. They call me an antiquities thief. Nobody wanted to publish my things [that were not found in situ]. But the museums could only pray to have such a collection as I have. Now that they realize that how much I have and that it is not fake, they all love me, they all want my collections.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Fisherman in Egypt

A fisherman brings in a large catch of fish in a lake on the outskirts of Alexandria, Egypt.

Fisherman Near Alexandria, Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Fisherman Near Alexandria, Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The wise writer of Ecclesiastes likened the unfortunate things that happen in life to fish being caught in a net.

Surely, no one knows his appointed time! Like fish that are caught in a deadly net, and like birds that are caught in a snare– just like them, all people are ensnared at an unfortunate time that falls upon them suddenly. (Ecclesiastes 9:12 NET)

This photo was made in the street fish market along the pier in Alexandria.

The Fish Market at Alexandria, Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Fish Market at Alexandria, Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The prophet Isaiah (about 725 B.C.) spoke of a time that was coming upon Egypt in these words.

The fishermen will mourn and lament, all those who cast a fishhook into the river, and those who spread out a net on the water’s surface will grieve. (Isaiah 19:8 NET)

Temple Mount coins exhibit

The Israel National News reports here on a new exhibit at the Davidson Center in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden in Jerusalem.

A very special exhibition opens next week in Jerusalem, revealing to the public for the first time all of the ancient coins uncovered in excavations at the foot of the Temple Mount.

Coin of Yehonatan - Alexander Jannaeus. Photo: IAI

Alexander Jannaeus coin. Photo: IAA

The article includes some nice photos of the exhibit and a couple of the coins. One is labeled Lily King Yehonatan. In most English sources I have used on the period between the Testaments this ruler is called Alexander Jannaeus. He was the Hasmonean ruler recognized as King of Judea from 103 to 76 B.C.

Hendin, Guide to Biblical Coins,  shows a similar coin with the obverse (head) showing a lily surrounded by a Hebrew inscription (Yehonatan the king). The reverse (tail) shows an anchor with the inscription “of Alexander the king.”

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Veterans Day – November 11, 2009

Flag of the United States of America

Flag of the United States of America. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The history of Veterans Day is available here.

The Ark at Kiriath-jearim

The first reference to Kiriath-jearim is in Joshua 9:17 where it is listed as one of the cities of the Hivites along with Gibeon, Chephirah, and Beeroth. These cities were located on the western side of the Judean hill country.

The name, Kiriath-jearim, means “city of forests” or wood, and is identified with Deir el-Azar. The Arab village at the site today is called Abu Ghosh and can be seen about nine miles west of Jerusalem to the right of the main highway to Tel Aviv. Several other names are given for the place. It is called Kiriath-baal (Joshua 15:60; 18:14), Baalah (Joshua 15:9), possibly Baalath (1 Kings 9:18), and Baale-judah (2 Samuel 6:2). Perhaps the simplest and correct explanation is that the Israelites changed the name from a place that honored Baal to a geographical one, the city of forests.

When the Danites moved from their allotted territory to the north they camped a little to the west of Kiriath-jearim at a place they called Mahaneh-dan (Camp of Dan; Judges 18:11-12).

Kiriath-jearim’s highest honor is in the association with the ark of the covenant. The Israelites took the ark from the tabernacle at Shiloh to the battle field at Ebenezer when they were fighting with the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). The ark was captured by the Philistines and taken to Ashdod, then to Gath, and finally to Ekron before they decided to get rid of it. The ark was returned to Beth-shemesh (1 Samuel 4-6).

The men of Beth-shemesh sent messengers to the residents of Kiriath-jearim asking them to come and take the ark to their town. The ark was brought into the house of Abinadad on the hill. His son, Eleazar, was consecrated by the men of the city to keep the ark of the LORD. The ark remained there for many years until David had it brought to Jerusalem (1 Samuel 6:21-7:2; 2 Samuel 6).

A prophet named Uriah, a contemporary with Jeremiah, lived at Kiriath-jearim. He preached a message similar to that of Jeremiah regarding Jerusalem in the days of the Babylonian threat. When he was threatened by King Jehoiakim he fled to Egypt, but was captured and brought back to Jerusalem and put to death (Jeremiah 26:20-24).

The ark of the covenant was here at Kiriath-jearim before David took it to Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The ark of the covenant was here at Kiriath-jearim before David took it to Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Our photograph shows the hill of Kiriath-jearim. Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant Church was built in 1911 on the ruins of a fifth century Byzantine church.

This article was published in Biblical Insights, June, 2007.

The fall of the Berlin Wall

Twenty years ago today the Berlin wall began to come down. The wall had been a vivid symbol of the Iron Curtain and of the Cold War.

The phrase Iron Curtain came into common use after the speech by Winston Churchill at Westminster College, Fulton College, March 5, 1946.

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.

My first visit to Berlin was March 25, 1978. I took a group there to be able to visit the fabulous Pergamum Museum. In my tour brochure I had included this statement from one of Arthur Frommer’s books. He says that the entire trip to East Berlin “is worthwhile just to see the Pergamon Altar…not even in Greece itself does one get a more solid idea of the glory of Greek civilization.”

I went back to Berlin several times prior to the fall of the Wall, and I have been back several times since then. This photo shows a small portion of the Wall that remains as a reminder of the previous division.

A remnant of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A remnant of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sunset at Hierapolis

This is a sunset view I made at Pamukkale (biblical Hierapolis; Colossians 4:13). Hierapolis is famous for hot mineral springs and terraced travertine formations. It is now a World Heritage site.

For I bear him witness that he [Epaphras] has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:13 ESV)

Sunset at Hierapolis in the Lycus River Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sunset at Hierapolis in the Lycus River Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

German Archaeologist: Beneath every footstep in Syria is an ancient civilization

The Global Arab Network reports on a statement made by German archaeologist Markus Gschwind, head of the Syrian-German Archaeology Expedition, here. The report says,

Syria, the land of civilizations and history, is rife with ancient monuments that tell the stories of the many peoples and civilizations that lived in it, whose stories endured in the face of time to tell humanity about their greatness.

“Beneath every footstep in Syria is an ancient civilization,” says Archaeologist Markus Gschwind, head of the Syrian-German Archaeology Expedition working at al-Rafina in Hama. He notes that this saying is repeated around Germany, as most Germans consider Syria the most historically deep-rooted country in the Mediterranean.

In a statement to SANA, Gschwind said that he has been living and excavating in Syria for six years, each day discovering many secrets from the history of mankind.

Gschwind is working at the ancient city of al-Rafina in Hama. Hama is at the site of Biblical Hamath  (2 Kings 14:25; 2 Chronicles 8:4).

My limited visits to Syria have convinced me that the statement by Gschwind is correct. Of course, the same could be said of Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, et al.

The Assyrian Empire ruled the ancient near east from the battle of Qarqar (853 B.C.) till the battle of Carchemish (605 B.C.) when they were defeated by the Babylonians. Nineveh had fallen seven years earlier. This was the time of the Divided Kingdom period in Israelite history, and Assyria had contact with a numerous biblical kings. Ahab, for example, fought against the Assyrians at Qarqar. Qarqar is north of Hammath. Both are on the Orontes River.

Qarqar on the Orontes. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.The tell of Qarqar in northern Syria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Biblical Paths

Archaeologist Gabriel Barkai discusses digging on the Temple Mount

Israel National News has posted a video featuring Dr. Gabriel Barkai.

In wake of the claims that Israel is excavating under the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount and undermining Muslim mosques in order to cause them to collapse, archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkai told IsraelNN TV the opposite is true.

He charged that it is the Arabs who have acted against the status quo and have “brutally” excavated land that contains many ancient artifacts from Jewish history.

Dr. Barkai spoke about the “Sifting Project,” in which countless archaeological finds are being discovered in the rubble dug up by the Muslims. He also discussed his most famous discovery: small silver plaques containing the Priestly Benediction from the Book of Numbers, which he found in 1979.

These plaques contain the oldest surviving Biblically-related inscription discovered to date, dating back to 600 B.C.E.

Some of the comments made by Dr. Barkai are controversial, but I think readers who are interested in the archaeology of Jerusalem will find this 10-minute video beneficial.

The link takes you to the report and the video with all of the associated ads.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer