Monthly Archives: June 2010

“I believe we have found Ai…”

“I believe we have found Ai…” These are the words of Dr. Bryant Wood regarding the excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir, a few miles east of the West Bank town of Ramallah.

You will be able to see this video clip and another one describing the activities of a day at a dig on the ABR blog here.

Many scholars have long said that the Bible is wrong in saying that Ai was destroyed by Joshua and the Israelites. Other scholars, associated with the Associates for Biblical Research have been suggesting for several decades that the current location of Ai is incorrect. Now Dr. Wood and his team are able to conduct excavations at an alternative site. Good reading. Take it seriously.

Read Joshua 8 for the biblical account of the capture of Ai.

Posted from AA 1086 over Wyoming.

Go Southeast, Old Man!

The mountains and lakes of the Northwest are a pleasure to behold. A friend took me for a cruise on Lake Washington where he pointed out the houses of the rich and famous of the business, sports, and entertainment world.

Seattle. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Seattle. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I enjoyed speaking to appreciative audiences at the Kirkland Church of Christ Sunday and Monday evenings. The illustrated lessons included discussions of Bible history, archaeology, and the Bible world. Quite a few friends from the past were present.

Thanks to those of you who check the blog regularly. Hopefully by the first of the week I can get back to posting some photos of the Bible world.

Moving on to the Northwest

Stop blogging? Not yet. We just had an extremely busy week in San Jose. Now I am on my way to the Seattle area where I will be speaking for a couple of days.

Excitement in Silcon Valley

This evening (Wednesday, June 23) at the Miller Avenue lectures in San Jose I saw three new iPhone 4’s. There may have been more. Living in the Silicon Valley has its advantages, you know. Some people get this new toys early.

iPhone 4 in San Jose - June 22, 2010

iPhone 4 in San Jose - June 23, 2010

You can see from the smudges that the phones have been handled by a group of admiring friends.

There is a lot of excitement at the Miller Avenue Church of Christ lectures this year, too. Don Truex is speaking twice each day on some practical bible themes. I am presenting illustrated lectures each morning on Exploring the Bible World. In the evening the presentation are on Bible History and Archaeology. There is an additional speaker each morning.

This is why the posts have been sparse this week. Add to the lectures, some social appointments, reviewing the lessons, a little nap in the afternoon, and there is not much time left to blog.

Radar Imaging Detects Hyksos Town in Nile Delta

Rossella Lorenzi reports on the use of radar imaging to discover a Hyksos town buried under the modern Egyptian town at the site of Tell el-Daba.

Radar imaging in Egypt’s Nile Delta has unveiled the outlines of a buried city that was the stronghold of foreign occupiers some 3,500 years ago, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities announced Monday.

Discovered by a team of Austrian archaeologists in Tell el-Daba in the northeastern Nile Delta, the ruins belong to the southern suburban quarters of Avaris, the capital of the Hyksos kings who formed Egypt’s 15th dynasty.

Known as the “rulers of foreign countries” (probably of Asiatic roots),  the Hyksos infiltrated Egypt and came to dominate the Nile valley for over a century during the Second Intermediate Period (1664-1569 B.C.).

The article continues to mention the importance of the Hyksos to the trade in the Ancient Near East and the Mediterranean world.

The technique used in this discovery is explained.

Using a combination of geophysical survey and excavation techniques, the Austrian archaeologists led by Irene Forstner-Müller investigated approximately 2.6 square kilometers (1 square mile) of the ancient buried city.

The resulting computer-generated images showed a very detailed layout, complete with houses, streets, cemeteries and palaces.

The team has also identified temples where the Hyksos worshipped the god Seth, a possible harbor area and a series of pits of different sizes whose function has not yet been determined.

Avaris was then captured by King Ahmose I (ruled about 1570-1546 B.C.), who ended the Hyksos rule and founded the glorious 18th dynasty, which included pharaohs such as Hatshepsut, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun.

Color satellite image with radar imaging in monochrome showing the outlines of streets, houses and temples buried under the modern town of Tel al-Daba. Courtesy of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).

The eastern portion of the Nile Delta is known as the Land of Goshen in the Bible. This was the home of the Israelites for many years.

Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” (Genesis 47:1 NAS)

The article may be read in its entirety here in Discovery News.

We have mentioned other discoveries at Tell el-Daba, and the work of the Austrian archaeologists here and other places which you may locate by placing the word Goshen in the search box.

HT: Brooks Cochran

Tel Kassis discovery featured in videos

A few days ago we reported on the discovery of a cache of pottery dating back to about 1500 B.C. here and here. The Media Line has made available an interesting 3:33 minute video about the discovery and the artifacts here.

Another shorter video has been made available at Euronews here.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Excavation begins today at Tel Rehov

Tel Rehov is located in the Jordan Valley a few miles south of Beth-Shean. The excavation web site describes the tell as one of the largest in the Holy Land. Previous excavations since 1997 reveal that the site was occupied during the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age I. The site is not named in the Bible. The suggestion has been made that it may have remained one of the cities not conquered by the Israelites — like the ones mentioned here:

Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out. (Joshua 17:12-13 ESV)

Rehov is mentioned in Egyptian writings from the time of Pharaoh Shishak, the ruler who invaded Israel during the reign of King Rehoboam about 925 B.C. (1 Kings 14:25).

Last month, while traveling in Israel, I saw that the tell had already been burned off. This is frequently done prior to a dig to help clear it of excess growth. There is always a lot of clean up work that goes on the first few days of a dig.

Tel Rehov. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tel Rehov with the Jordan Valley in the distance. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The most exciting discovery that has come from the excavation of Tel Rehov is “the industrial apiary — the only ancient beehives ever discovered in archaeological excavations.”

Tel Rehov. Beehives excavated in 2007.

Beehives Discovered at Tel Rehov in 2007. Archaeologist Amichai Mazar. Photo: Copyright - The Beth-Valley Archaeological Project, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Read more about the excavation, and hopefully keep up with the current dig, at the web site of the Beth-Shean Valley Archaeological Project here.

Walking through the sewers of first century Jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced September 10, 2007 the discovery of a channel that is thought to run from the Temple Mount to the Pool of Siloam, or further.

In excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the City of David in order to expose the main road of Jerusalem from the time of the Second Temple period, the city’s main drainage channel was discovered. According to the writings of Josephus Flavius, the residents of the city fled to this channel at the time of the revolt in order to hide from the Romans.

In excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is jointly carrying out with the Elad Association in the Walls around Jerusalem National Park, approximately 70 meters of Jerusalem’s main drainage channel from the time of the Second Temple period have been exposed so far. The channel is located along the route from the Temple Mount to the Shiloah Pool. The channel, which passes beneath the main road of the city and apparently continues to Nahal Kidron on its way to the Dead Sea, drained the rainfall of ancient Jerusalem; the Jewish quarter, the western region of the City of David and the Temple Mount.

The complete report may be read here.

Old news, you say. Here is what is new. My group had the opportunity May 7, 2010, to walk through the channel. Twice before I had walked along a portion of the steps leading uphill from the Pool of Siloam, but this was my first time to walk in through the channel (sewer). It was the first time my local guide had walked through the channel.

Ronnie Reich and Eli Shukron, the excavators, are quoted as saying,

“There is evidence in the writings of Josephus Flavius, the historian who described the revolt, the conquest and the destruction of Jerusalem, that numerous people took shelter in the channel and even lived in it for a period until they succeeded to flee the city through its southern end.”

In some of the media reports this comment includes a reference to The Jewish War. I admit to not being a great Josephus scholar, but I have been unable to locate a specific reference like this in Josephus. He does speak of the citizens of Jerusalem hiding in subterranean caverns of the temple (under the platform, I assume) (5:102), and he mentions secret passages (JW 5:497). If a reader has located the reference to the channel I would be pleased to have it. This does sound like a reasonable suggestion.

This first photo was made closer to the Pool of Siloam.

Roman Period Sewer in Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman Period Sewer in Jerusalem. Photo: F. Jenkins.

The next one is closer to the northern end of the current excavation. I would say this is a about half way from the Pool to the Temple Mount. At this point the  channel begins to have the smell of a sewer.

Roman Period Sewer in Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman Period Sewer in Jerusalem. Photo: F. Jenkins.

The current channel exits on the west side of the street.

This photo was made as I walked up toward the Temple Mount. You can see the southern wall of the Temple Mount. The building on the right, past the flags, is the entrance to the City of David operated by the Ir David Foundation.

View north toward Temple Mount. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View north toward Temple Mount. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo shows the view to the south toward the Pool of Siloam, and eventually the point at which the Tyropean, Hinnom, and Kidron valleys come together.

View south toward Pool of Siloam. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View south toward Pool of Siloam. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Update: Be sure to read the comment by Tom Powers in which he mentions other possible references from Josephus. You may also find Tom’s articles helpful. See his blog here.

How? When we were looking at the mural showing a reconstruction of the Pool of Siloam, our guide (Elie) started to go back the way we entered. An elderly gentlemen who was selling booklets said we could now go through the channel. Fortunately he was correct!

Samaritans want Mount Gerizim site opened to public

The Samaritians want the archaeological site at the peak of Mount Gerizim opened to the public.

At the peak of Mount Gerizim in the West Bank is a fenced-off archeological site, where a dig conducted under the auspices of the Israel Defense Forces Civil Administration recently uncovered a well-preserved 2,000-year-old city, once home to 10,000 people.

Although the site is off-limits to the public, the dig has revealed streets flanked by houses as well as a city center, all of which make it a potentially important tourist destination. The Civil Administration made a decision in May to keep the site closed to visitors, for the time being.

Mount Gerizim is a holy site to the Samaritan community, an ancient sect closely related to Judaism. According to Samaritan tradition, the mountain is the site of the ancient Tabernacle. The archaeological excavations at the site were undertaken in 1982, and continued for 22 years at an investment of tens of millions of shekels, revealing new finds on a daily basis.

Benny Katzover, who served for many years as head of the Samaria Regional Council, said the excavations began in an effort to find what the Samarians regard as their Holy Temple. Katzover said the ancient historian Joseph Flavius [Josephus] explained that, following disputes with the Jews, the Samaritans moved their spiritual center to Mount Gerizim, near what is now the West Bank city of Nablus, and built their temple on a scope identical to the one in Jerusalem.

“The finds,” he said, “reveal a high standard of living, including baths and ceramic tile and heating and mosaics… You can see that it was the capital of a whole kingdom.”

The article, in its entirety, may be read here.

Last December I visited Mount Gerizim. A fence surrounds the archaeological site and makes it impossible to get photos of specific areas. Here is a photo I made from the fence.

Archaeological Excavations on Mount Gerizim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Archaeological Excavations on Mount Gerizim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

From another point it is possible to see Nablus below in the valley between Gerizim and Ebal. Click for a larger image.

View of Nablus from Mount Gerizim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View of Nablus from Mount Gerizim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The blessings of the Law of Moses were read from the slopes of Mount Gerizim as the Israelites assembled in the valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.

33 And all Israel, sojourner as well as native born, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded at the first, to bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them. (Joshua 8:33-35 ESV)

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Tel Kassis (Qassis or Qashish) slideshow

Discovery News has posted a nice slide show with narration by Edwin van den Brink here. He comments on the items found in the recent emergency dig at Tel Kassis and speaks of the end of the Canaanite culture in a fierce conflagration.

Dr. Edwin van der Brink show an incense stand. Photo: Assaf Peretz, IAA.

Edwin van den Brink shows an incense stand. Photo: Assaf Peretz, IAA.

The commentary in Discovery News says,

Most likely, the priests buried the temple’s furniture in order to protect the items from destruction during an incursion of the ancient Egyptians.

That is not a bad idea. Several Canaanite cities were burned by fire when the Israelites came into the country under the leadership of Joshua (Joshua 6:24; 7:15; 7:25; 8:8; 8:19; 11:11). We are not able with the info available to say that Israel destroyed Tel Kassis (Helkath), but I am pointing out that this would cause a cultural break.

Many cities were not destroyed at the time. In fact, the LORD told Israel that he would give them “great and good cities” which they did not build (Deuteronomy 6:10).

HT: Joseph I. Lauer