Tag Archives: Alexander the Great

Coins, silver and bronze objects from time of Alexander found in northern Galilee

The following report comes from the Israel Antiquities Authority. Rather than indent it, I am leaving it full width for ease of reading.

Thanks to alert spelunkers exploring a cave in the north of the country:

 A Cache of Rare Coins and Silver and Bronze Objects from 2,300 Years Ago was Exposed

According to Amir Ganor, director of the IAA Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, “the reporting of the treasure by honest citizens will contribute to our understanding of the history of the Land of Israel”

A month after the discovery of the gold treasure by divers off the coast of Caesarea, another report has reached the Israel Antiquities Authority of a find involving a cache of rare coins and silver and bronze objects 2,300 years old, in a cave in northern Israel. Officials in the Israel Antiquities Authority believe this is one of the important discoveries to come to light in the north of the country in recent years, and will require much time to study in order to crack the secrets of the cave.

Two weeks ago Reuven Zakai, his son Hen Zakai and their friend Lior Halony, members of the Israeli Caving Club, set out to make preliminary preparations for a visit by the club in one of the largest and well-hidden stalactite caves in the north.

The three lowered themselves down in the ground, into the stalactite cave, and wriggled through a narrow passage in front of the cave. They wandered and crawled between the different parts of the cave for several hours.

The youngest member of the group, Hen, 21 years old, says he forced his way into one of the narrow niches when he suddenly caught sight of a shining object. There he discovered two ancient silver coins which it later turned out had been minted during the reign of Alexander the Great who conquered the Land of Israel at the beginning of the Hellenistic period (late fourth century BCE). Several pieces of silver jewelry were found alongside the coins, among them rings, bracelets and earrings, which were apparently concealed in the cave, together inside a cloth pouch some 2,300 years ago.

A coin of Alexander of Macedon that was part of the silver cache. Photographic credit: Shmuel Magal, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

A coin of Alexander of Macedon that was part of the silver cache. Photographic credit: Shmuel Magal, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

In the opinion of archaeologists at the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander, a time when the Wars of the Diadochi broke out in Israel between Alexander’s heirs following his death. Presumably the cache was hidden in the hope of better days, but today we know that whoever buried the treasure never returned to collect it”.

The spelunkers realized they found an important archaeological discovery and reported it to inspectors of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery in the Israel Antiquities Authority. This weekend officials of the Israel Antiquities Authority entered the cave together with members of the Israeli Caving Club. The IAA inspectors were excited to discover evidence of human habitation that occurred in the cave over extended periods.

A general picture of the cache of silver objects: two coins of Alexander of Macedon, three rings, four bracelets, two decorated earrings, three other earrings (probably made of silver) and a small stone weight. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

A general picture of the cache of silver objects: two coins of Alexander of Macedon, three rings, four bracelets, two decorated earrings, three other earrings (probably made of silver) and a small stone weight. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

At this point they believe they have found artifacts in the cave that first date to the Chalcolithic period c. 6,000 years ago; from the Early Bronze Age c. 5,000 years ago, the Biblical period 3,000 years ago and the Hellenistic period approximately 2,300 years ago. Numerous pottery vessels were also discovered in the cave. In some regions of the cave ancient pottery vessels were found on which stalagmites had developed. Some of the pottery vessels had bonded with the limestone sediments and cannot be separated. The Israel Antiquities Authority reports that the combination of a stalactite cave and archaeological finds is both fascinating and rare. The finds in the cave will allow the researchers – archaeologists and geologists alike – to accurately date both the archaeological finds and the process of stalactite development.

Amir Ganor, director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery in the Israel Antiquities Authority wants to commend the three members of the caving club, “They understood the importance of the archaeological discovery and exhibited exemplary civic behavior by immediately bringing these impressive archaeological finds to the attention of the IAA. After the gold treasure from Caesarea, this is the second time in the past month that citizens have reported significant archeological finds and we welcome this important trend. Thanks to these citizens’ awareness, researchers at the Israel Antiquities Authority will be able to expand the existing archaeological knowledge about the development of society and culture in the Land of Israel in antiquity “.

The Israel Antiquities Authority wishes to emphasize that the Law of Antiquities states that all antiquities belong to the state, and that failure to report or removing antiquities from their location, or selling or trading them is an offense punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Officials in the Israel Antiquities Authority want the location of the cave to remain secret because of the many hazards inside it. Apart from the concern that the archaeological strata and stalactites might be damaged, there is a real danger to visitors to the cave because there are hidden and extremely deep underground cavities in it through which one might fall. In addition, the Israel Antiquities Authority wishes to stress that crawling in caves is dangerous and requires appropriate training and safety equipment.

You may locate a copy of this release, along with some other photos, here. More photos have been published in the Daily Mail here.

I have seen articles about this in several Israeli papers yesterday and today. Thanks to Joseph I. Lauer for the IAA press release.

New discoveries at Amphipolis

A new excavation at Amphipolis has revealed what the excavator and others think is a Macedonian tomb from the about 300 B.C. I have been following Carl Rasmussen’s HolyLandPhotos’Blog. He now has combined them into one here. In addition, he has called attention to the possibility of this tomb being similar to the one found at Vergina.

Drawing showing progress of the excavation. Source: Greek Reporter.

Drawing showing progress of the excavation. Source: Greek Reporter.

Here is a list of interesting articles, mostly with photos and drawings, to give you some idea of the exciting potential at Amphipolis.

The obvious answer is that it was most likely to have been built for Alexander, and either left empty when he was buried in Alexandria, or re-used for another Macedonian monarch – eg it could have become the tomb of Antigonus I Monophthalmus and the mausoleum of the Antigonids, for example.

Professor Rasmussen includes photos of jewelry and a golden oak wreath found in the area of Amphipolis.

Map showing Amphipolis. Credit: Bible Atlas.

Map showing Amphipolis. Credit: Bible Atlas.

Our photo below show the entrance to the Royal tombs at Vergina, a city located just a few miles from Berea, a city visited by Paul, Silas and Timothy (Acts 17:10-14). After the tumulus at Vergina was excavated a museum was built and then covered over to have the natural appearance. Notice the tumulus behind the ornamental fence.

Entrance to the Ancient Cemetery of the Royal Tombs at Vergina. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Ancient Cemetery of the Royal Tombs at Vergina. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Without the sign and ticket office one might pass this museum as just another rolling hill. In the photo below you see a sign on the left pointing to the entrance. The exit is near the center of the photo. The museum is filled with items of silver and gold and photography was not allowed when I was there. I am pleased to have a copy of Vergina The Royal Tombs, by Manolis Andronicos, given to me by a Greek guide and friend nearly 30 years ago. The book includes photos of the artifacts that are displayed in the museum. A popular theory says that this is the tomb of Phillip II of Macedon. One may only imagine the glory of the tomb of Phillip of Macedon, or Alexander.

Tumulus covering the Royal Tombs at Vergina. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tumulus covering the Royal Tombs at Vergina. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo by Sarah C. Murray shows a golden wreath suspended over a golden larnax.

Golden wreath suspended over a golden larnax. Photo by Sarah Murray.

Golden wreath suspended over a golden larnax. Photo by Sarah Murray.

 

Visualizing Isaiah 23: Tyre is laid waste

Isaiah 23 is an oracle concerning the famous Phoenician port city of Tyre. The Mediterranean world of Egypt, Tarshish, Cyprus, and the neighboring city of Sidon, would be affected by the fall of Tyre.

More details about the prophecy concerning Tyre are given in Ezekiel 26-28. Nebuchadnezzar is named as one of the kings who will bring about the fall of Tyre. He besieged Tyre for 13 years (585-572 B.C.), immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem. The people of Tyre fled from their mainland city to the island about ½ mile offshore. But Tyre was to be destroyed by many nations. Alexander the Great came to Tyre in 332 B.C. Most of the cities in his path surrendered, but the people of Tyre prepared to resist him. The more powerful Greeks used the debris of the desolate mainland city to build a causeway to the island. Alexander’s army captured the island city in seven months.

Ezekiel says the city “will be built no more” (Ezekiel 26:14). The mainland city has never been rebuilt. From my first visit to Tyre in 1967, I continued to visit the city until 1975, and then again in 2002. Political and military conditions have made it impossible to visit more times.

The diagram below hopefully will help to explain what we have briefly explained here. It was prepared by my friend Steven Sebree of Moonlight Graphic Works for one of my books which is currently out of print.

The mainland has not been rebuilt since the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (585-572 B.C.).

The mainland city has not been rebuilt since the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (585-572 B.C.). The causeway to the island was built by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.

By 315 B.C. the island city was rebuilt, but was populated by Carians from SW Asia Minor. The present city of Tyre occupied the island and the causeway. The photo below shows a view to the west of a Roman arch built over the causeway built by the Greeks. The island city is visible beyond the arch.

A Roman arch built on the causeway built by Alexander the Great. View West. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A Roman arch on the causeway built by Alexander the Great. The view is to the west and the modern island city. There is no city on the mainland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Alexander the Great and the Book of Daniel

Josephus, the late first century Jewish historian, records the visit of Alexander the Great to the city of Jerusalem in the 4th century B.C. He recounts how Alexander “went up into the temple” and “offered sacrifice to God.” He says that the Book of Daniel was shown to Alexander. Alexander assumed, as have many commentators since that time, that Daniel was prophesying of Alexander.

Bust of Alexander in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bust of Alexander in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Here is a portion of the account from the Antiquities of the Jews. Notice especially section 337.

336 And when he had said this to Parmenion, and had given the high priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city. And when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest’s direction, and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests.
337 And when the Book of Daniel was showed to him {a} wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present; but the next day he called them to him, and bade them ask what favours they pleased of him;
338 whereupon the high priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all they desired; and when they entreated him that he would permit the Jews in Babylon and Media to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to do hereafter what they desired:  (Ant 11:336-338)

Read Daniel 8 for more details of the conflict between Alexander, who is compared to a male goat, and the Persian king who is likened to a ram.

As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. (Daniel 8:5 ESV)

Visual illustrations for Daniel 8

In Daniel’s vision of a ram and a male goat we are given a glimpse of the two world empires following Babylon — the Medo-Persian Empire and the Alexandrian (or Hellenistic/Grecian) Empire.

Daniel sees a ram.

I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. (Daniel 8:3 ESV)

Ram at Socoh. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A ram. With horns like that it is easy to see who is boss. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In apocalyptic literature the visions take liberty with reality. It would require an artist to draw the ram and the male goat exactly as Daniel saw them.

Then Daniel sees a male goat.

As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. (Daniel 8:5 ESV)

A male goat in Gilead (modern Jordan). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A male goat in Gilead (modern Jordan). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The interpretation is easier for us than it was for Daniel before Gabriel gave him an understanding of the vision (vs. 15-16).

As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia.  And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king.  (Daniel 8:20-21 ESV)

It will not be difficult to find other uses for photos of the ram and the male goat in Bible lessons (e.g., Genesis 15:9; Leviticus 23:19; 16:5)

Luxor in Egypt has a long history

Luxor was known as Thebes in Old Testament times. Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied the Lord’s judgment of the city. Jeremiah says,

The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says, ‘Behold, I am going to punish Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh, and Egypt along with her gods and her kings, even Pharaoh and those who trust in him’” (Jeremiah 46:25; see also Ezekiel 30:14-16 NET).

A visit to the ruined and unoccupied temples of Karnak and Luxor, where Amon (or Amun) was worshiped as a great god, certainly convinces us of the fulfillment of this prophecy. Shortly after the time of Jeremiah (about 586 B.C.), Egypt and Thebes began to decline as a world power.

Luxor Temple facade at night. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Luxor Temple facade at night. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In 663 B.C. the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal had already conquered Thebes (Hebrew, No Amon). The prophet Nahum, in prophesying the fall of Nineveh, calls attention to this event (3:8ff.).

Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied during the Babylonian period of world dominance. Darius the Great (521-486 BC), who befriended the Judeans, helping them rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, depicted himself as a Pharaoh on a shrine door now displayed in the British Museum.

The young Alexander of Macedon came to Thebes in 336 BC and left reliefs of himself portrayed as a Pharaoh making offerings to the god Amon. Cassander rebuilt the city in 315 B.C. The later Ptolemaic kings who succeeded Alexander built temples to the gods at Edfu and Kom Ombo and regularly pictured themselves as worshiping the gods of Egypt. Likewise, the Roman emperors built temples beside the ancient temples of the Pharaoh. The temple of Philae has a small temple to the Roman Emperor Augustus ( 30 B.C. to A.D. 14) and another to Emperor Trajan (A.D. 98-117).

The photo below is from the chapel of Alexander the Great in the Karnak Temple. It was originally built by Thutmose III, and later decorated with these reliefs by Philip Arrhidaeus, the brother of Alexander the Great.

Relief of Alexander making an offering at Karnak. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Relief of Alexander making an offering at Karnak. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

If a reader can provide more specific information about this relief, I would appreciate it.

Alexander coins found in northern Syria

The Global Arab Network, in an article by H. Sabbagh, reports here on the discovery of a collection of Hellenistic coins in northern Syria. The photo shows the coins dating back to the time of Alexander the Great. They were found in the Aleppo district.

Hellenistic coins from discovered in northern Syria.

The coins were found by a local man as he was preparing his land for construction, uncovering a bronze box that contained around 250 coins. He promptly delivered the coins to the authorities who in turn delivered them to Aleppo Department of Archaeology and Museum.

Director of archaeological excavations at Aleppo Department of Archaeology and Museum Yousef Kanjo said the box contained two groups of silver Hellenistic coins: 137 tetra drachma (four drachmas) coins and 115 drachma coins.

One side of the tetra drachma coins depicts Alexander the Great, while the other side depicts the Greek god Zeus sitting on a throne with an eagle on his outstretched right arm. 34 of these coins bear the inscription “King Alexander” in Greek, while 81 coins bear the inscription “Alexander” and 22 coins bear “King Phillip.”

The drachma coins bear the same images as the tetra drachma, with “Alexander” inscribed on 100 of them and “Philip” on 15 of them.

HT: Dr. Claude Mariottini