Category Archives: Archaeology

Resources for days you must be inside

Some folks on social media are writing about being bored because of staying in during the Covid-19 pandemic. Not so with me. I love being in my study, but I do have limited time to do so due to other family considerations.

Yesterday we participated in some church streaming sites. Enjoyed all of Leon Mauldin’s lesson on YouTube from the Hanceville Church of Christ.

Also enjoyed the first of two lessons by Dr. Charles Savelle on Mark 15 under the title But Sunday’s Coming here.

Also enjoyed watching some of Searching for a King from AppianMedia.org. Enjoyed the interview with Dr. Scott Stripling at Shiloh and seeing Barry Britnell and Jeremy DeHut at work. This material may be available to you on Amazon Prime.

The brook of Elah during the dry season. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

I got separated from Elizabeth while exploring the brook of Elah during the dry season in August 2008, but we came up with a plan and have been back together ever since. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We also watched the lesson by Dr. Carl Rasmussen dealing with the United and Divided Kingdom periods in the Encountering the Holy Land series of videos. This morning a newsletter from Carl says that the complete set of these videos are available for 50% off through April 3rd. To access the DVD check Zondervan. To access the streaming resource see here. Atlases are also on sale at Zondervan. If you would like to sign up for Carl’s Holy Land Photos newsletter go here. The deep discount did not show on Amazon when I checked.

We have recently mentioned on Facebook that Dr. Wayne Stiles is offering three videos on The Week That Changed the World free of charge. Go to the Walking the Bible Lands web site here.

Capernaum follow up – from the air

The first photo today shows that Caperanum is located on the [north] shore of the Sea of Galilee. The enclosed area belongs to the Franciscan Fathers who bought the property already thought to be Capernaum in 1894. The site was fenced to prevent removal of the materials.

In our photo you see the property as it has been edited by various archaeological digs. Two structures stand out among the ruins – the synagogue and the new memorial church we wrote about in the previous post. Click on the photo for a larger image suitable for use in teaching.

Capernaum from the air. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Viewing Capernaum from the air. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

With our view to the north, the property on the right of the Franciscan property belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church. You will see their little red-domed church near the middle of our image. The property between that church and the Franciscan property was excavated after 1978 under the direction of Vassilios Tzaferis but is not open to the public.

Further east a dock extending into the water provides a place for boats to dock and allow passengers to meet their bus to continue touring.

Capernaum from the air. Fransciscian property on left (west) and the Orthodox property on the right (east). Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Capernaum from the air. Fransciscian property on left (west) and the Orthodox property on the right (east). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Much of the earthly ministry of Jesus was conducted in this little plot of land. Imagine such a small beginning here and in the surrounding towns. By the early 60s of the first century the preaching that Jesus is the Christ had reached the capital of the Roman empire (Acts 28).

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #37 – Now and Then at Capernaum

In 2015 we posted here about some changes that we noticed when we visited Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. These changes were more like refurbishing the site to make it easier and more pleasant to visit.

Today we will show you a significant change brought about by a new building. Having visited Capernaum many times since 1967 I have been able to see many changes. This church that some have described as looking like a space craft is built over the excavation of a Byzantine church that covered some of the first century houses. One of these house is said to have been designated as a place for Christians to meet. The Franciscans who own the property have designated this as the house of Peter. We know from Scripture that Peter lived here with his wife and mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14).

Capernaum was located on the frontier between the territory of Herod Antipas and that of Herod Philip. The city became important in the earthly ministry of Jesus. Notice just a few events that make it so significant.

  • Jesus settled here, making Capernaum His “own city” (Mark 1:232-34).
  • Many of the miracles of Jesus were performed here (Mark 1:21-28).
  • Matthew worked as a tax collector at Capernaum (Matthew 9:9).
  • Peter lived here (Matthew 8:14).

Capernaum was one of three cities of the area denounced by Jesus  on account of their failure to believe (Matthew 11:20-22 ESV).

If you visit Capernaum you will see the building pictured below that some have described as looking like a space craft. It was built about 1990. The entrance with steps leading up to the glass floor is on the west side of the building (to our left). Our photo shows the south side; we have our back to the Sea of Galilee. The building is located 84 feet south of the synagogue (*Strange).

Capernaum. The modern church erected in 1990 by the Franciscians. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

This modern building was erected in 1990. It covers the excavated ruins of the octagonal Byzantine church and what some have said is the house of the apostle Peter. This view is to the north, with the Sea of Galilee to my back.The entrance steps are on the left, and the synagogue is on the other side of this building. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

James F. Strange says,

Friar Orfali had done some work on the octagonal building in the 1920s. His plan showed the building as consisting of three concentric octagons.

When the excavations were renewed by Corbo and Loffreda in 1968 they discovered a baptistry and an apse providing evidence that this was indeed an ancient church (Strange).

Strange says,

It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that this octagonal church at Capernaum was a memorial church. Some scholars believed that the octagonal church was built to memorialize Jesus’s temporary residence in Capernaum and may well have been connected with ancient memories or traditions regarding the location of St. Peter’s house, also called “the house of Simon and Andrew” in Mark 1:29.

Below is today’s Favorite Foto that I made in 1978. The floor of the new “memorial church” has a glass floor so that one can look below at the ancient structure. It is now difficult to make photos with ordinary photographic equipment because of the glare from the glass. Visitors to the site may also walk under the new church, but it is difficult to make sense of what is there.

Capernaum. The octagonal Byzantine church which is said to cover the house of the apostle Peter. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

This is the way the excavated area of Capernaum looked in 1978. We see ruins of the octagonal Byzantine church which is said to have been built over the house of the apostle Peter. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Strange says, “According to the excavators, the central hall of this church was originally built as part of a house about the beginning of the Early Roman period, around 63 B.C.”

I will leave it to you to investigate more about this structure and the possibility that Jesus visited this home during His personal ministry in Capernaum.

* Source: When you see the name *Strange in one of my comments it indicates that the information was quoted directly or gleaned from the following source:

Strange, James F., and Hershel Shanks. “Has the House Where Jesus Stayed in Capernaum Been Found?” Biblical Archaeology Review, vol. 8, no. 6, Oct. 1982. Biblical Archaeology Review. BAR.

If you are interested in a recent scholarly essay on the excavations at Capernaum see he following:

Mattila, Sharon L. Galilee in the Late Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods. Vol. 2, edited by David A. Fiensy and James R. Strange, First ed., Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2015, 2 vols, pp. 217-57.

Special Note about the Fiensy-Strange Volumes: The two volumes by David A. Fiensy and James R. Strange, Galilee in the Late Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods…, are currently available in Kindle Format as follows: Vol. 1, 352 pages, for $4.99 (pb is $50.33). Vol. 2, 502 pages, for $6.99 (pb is $26.00). James R. Strange is the son of the late James F. Strange quoted in my post. I am pleased with the quality of the diagram and photos display.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 36 – Egyptian brick making

Normally I make multiple photos of any scene when possible, especially if there is a good chance I will not get a second opportunity. Our photo today is literally one of a kind. It is from the tomb of Rekhmire in the Valley of the Nobles in Egypt. While my group visited the Valley of the Kings our guide arranged transportation for me to visit this unique tomb which shows the process of brick-making in ancient Egypt.

A guard at the tomb allowed me to enter and make ONE photo. I gave him a tip of $5.00. I asked to make another photo, but he showed no interest in a second payment. This is my only photo and I was pleased with it.

Brick Making from the Tomb of Rekhmire in the Valley of the Nobles. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Brick-making scene in the tomb of Rekhmire, Valley of the Nobles in lower Egypt..

In preparation for my tour I had enjoyed studying the Fall 2004 issue of Bible and Spade (Vol. 17 No. 4). Gary A. Byers wrote an article titled “The Bible According to Karnak.” I had become acquainted with Gary at the annual Near East Archaeological Society meetings and appreciated his work. Notice this paragraph which includes a mention of the scene above.

Also on the Nile’s west bank were the tombs of the nobles. Not being royally. they could not be buried within the Valley of Kings, the resting place of the Pharaohs they served. Within these tombs are colorful paintings of significant events in their lives. From Mena’s tomb (ca. 1385 RC) was a grain harvest scene that helps us imagine the seven years of plenty from Joseph’s time (Gn 41:47-49). The Tomb of Userhat (ca. 1280 BC) shows barbers cutting hair, also reminiscent of the Joseph story (Gn 4 1:14). From the Tomb of the Vizier Rekhmire (ca. 1470- 1445 BC) is a brickmaking and building scene depicting Asiatics from the actual period of the Israelites bondage (Ex 1:11 – 14; 5:7- 19).

We are not saying that these are Israelites, but that they are Asiatics from the same period that, according to the Bible, made brick and did other slave labor in Egypt.

These additional photos show more examples of brick making in Egypt.

Egyptian Brick Makers Model in the British Museum. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Model of brick making in ancient Egypt now displayed in the British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The text mentioned in Byers’ article says,

11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.
12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.
13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves
14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. (Exodus 1:11-14 ESV)

Exodus 5:7-19 specifically says that the Israelites were using straw to make brick. Our photo below, also from the British Museum, shows a brick with straw in it.

Brick with straw from ancient Egypt. British Museum. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

This brick from ancient Egypt was made with straw. Displayed in the British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Bible and Spade article may be located online here. There you will find a drawing showing the brick making scene as well as other types of labor.

Bible and Spade is published four times a year by Associates for Biblical Research.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 35 – Roman Milestone

In the IVP Bible Background Commentary Craig Keener says,

Roman soldiers had the legal right to impress the labor, work animal or substance of local residents (cf. Mk 15:21). Although impressment may not have happened often in Galilee, it happened elsewhere, and the fact that it could happen would be enough to raise the eyebrows of Jesus’ hearers at this example of nonresistance and even loving service to the oppressor. (Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. Print.)

Though the milestone pictured below has been moved to the current location at Bethany Beyond (or across) the Jordan (in Jordan, John 1:28), it provided a beautiful setting. Our picture looks west to the Jordan Valley. The various buildings you see in the left part of the photo are mostly church buildings on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River. On the other side we see the eastern slopes of the Judean Wilderness. Jericho is in that general vicinity.

Milestone at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Roman period milestone at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the sermon recorded in Matthew 5-7 Jesus taught His disciples about the attitude they should have toward the Roman authorities.

And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Matthew 5:41 ESV)

New Testament writers gave distances in their descriptions of travel from one city to another. Luke says that Emmaus was about seven miles from Jerusalem (Luke 24:13). John says that Bethany [not Beyond the Jordan] was about two miles from Jerusalem (John 11:18).

Milestones were common in Roman times and numerous ones have been found throughout the land of Israel. Most of them have now been moved to some of the small museums found throughout the land. The same is true of some in Jordan.

Most of the Roman roads for which we have remnants were built in the second half of the first century A.D. and in the second century. Certainly in many cases it is reasonable to think that these roads were built over dirt paths that already existed.

For documentation about the Roman Road System in Galilee see James F. Strange, “The Galilean Road System,” in Galilee in the Late Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods, vol. 1, Life, Culture, and Society (ed. David A. Fiensy and James Riley Strange; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014), 263-71 . Maps of the major and minor roads of Galilee are found in the front of the same volume.

David Graves has imposed known Roman roads in the vicinity of Bethany Beyond the Jordan on a Google Earth map here.

See one of our earlier post about Roman Roads and Milestones here.

Megiddo, Har Mageddon, Armageddon?

This morning’s Twitter feed brought a notice from Prof. Carl Rasmussen about a review of Eric Cline’s most recent book, Digging up Archaeology: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon by Andrew Robinson in Nature.

This is an interesting review about an important city in biblical history. I, too, think you will find it helpful, and you might decide you want to read Cline’s book. It is available at Amazon in print and Kindle format.

Here is one of my aerial photographs of Megiddo with a view of the Jezreel Valley and the hills of lower Galilee to the north. Perhaps you can use it in some of your teaching.

Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

View north of Tel Megiddo, the Jezreel Valley, and lower Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We have several posts about Megiddo which you may locate by using the Search box. Perhaps the most general one which includes labeled panoramas of the Jezreel Valley may be found here.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 34 – “I will make your enemies your footstool”

A monarch with his foot on the neck of a subdued enemy is a common motif in the ancient near east. An illustration such as this helps us visualize certain Biblical texts.

Here I wish to use an illustration from the Roman world shortly after New Testament times. In the statue below we see the Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-138) with his foot on the neck of a subdued enemy.

Roman Emperor Hadrian with foot on an enemy. Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian with his foot on an enemy. Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

This statue is displayed in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. It is made of marble and is said to have come from Hierapitna, Crete.

The photo below is a closeup of the captive with the Emperor’s foot on his neck.

Closeup of an enemy with the foot of Hadrian on his back. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian has his foot on the back of an enemy that has been subdued. Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

In the New Testament, Peter quotes Psalm 110:1 to show that Jesus is now seated on the throne of David at the right hand of God (Acts 2:35).

The apostle Paul understood this. He said of Jesus,

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25 ESV)

The last enemy is death (1 Corinthians 15:26).

The illustrations here and in other posts are suitable for use in PowerPoint presentations for sermons and Bible classes. We only ask that you leave our credit line intact so others will know how to reach our material.

For examples from the Old Testament see here.