Tag Archives: Iraq

Visiting Ctesiphon in Iraq

Ctesiphon was a favorite camping ground of the Parthian kings during the last centuries before Christ. The surviving building probably dates from about the 3rd century A.D. This great Sassanian hall is the widest single-span vault of unreinforced brickwork in the world. The width is over 80 feet and the height from the pavement is 118 feet.

The ruins are located on the East bank of the Tigris River a few miles south of Baghdad, Iraq.

Here is a photo of my 1970 Bible Land group at Ctesiphon. In the event that any publisher should wish a photo of the structure I have one of the same view without people.

Ctesiphon, Iraq. Ferrell Jenkins tour group. 1970.

Ferrell Jenkins Bible Land Group at Ctesiphon, near Baghdad, Iraq, May 15, 1970. There were 16 in the group. I made the photo. Three of our group are totally hidden. My son, Ferrell Jr., is in the foreground. The man over his left shoulder was our guide, an Iraqi named George. Several of these tour members are now deceased. This photo was made before I learned how to line up a group for a photo.

The Parthians are mentioned only once in the Bible. In the account of the events of the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus we are informed that Parthians were among those present in Jerusalem.

Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia,… (Acts 2:9a ESV)

The Parthians were the dreaded enemy of Rome in the east. They lived east of the Euphrates. Some prominent scholars on the book of Revelation see a reference to the Parthians in Revelation 9:13-14.

Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” (Revelation 9:13-14 ESV)

Beale says, “In John’s time the Parthian threat from beyond the Euphrates was identified with the OT tradition…” (The Book of Revelation in the NIGTC, p. 507). In such an event, Asia Minor, including the seven churches, would be caught in the middle and suffer from this invasion.

A ceramic plaque of a mounted archer from Parthia. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A ceramic plaque of a mounted archer from Parthia. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Earlier this week I received a note via the Agade list about a conference on Ctesiphon. Here is the complete notice:

Washington D.C. – Conference
Ctesiphon: An Ancient Royal Capital in Context

Saturday, September 15, 2018, 2 pm
Freer, Meyer Auditorium; Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Smithsonian

Located on the eastern bank of the Tigris River near present-day Baghdad, Iraq, the city of Ctesiphon served as a royal capital of the Persian Empire in the Parthian and Sasanian eras for over eight hundred years. The city’s most iconic structure was the Taq Kasra (Arch of Khosrow) palace, one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Built by the Sasanian ruler Khosrow I (reigned 531–79), the palace’s vaulted brick throne room measures eighty-four feet across, making it the largest of its kind.

To celebrate this exceptional monument, Touraj Daryaee, Matthew Canepa, Katharyn Hanson, and Richard Kurin discuss the site’s importance and recent preservation efforts. Then, watch the first documentary on this unique monument, Taq Kasra: Wonder of Architecture, directed by Pejman Akbarzadeh, produced by Persian Dutch Network, and funded by the Soudavar Memorial and Toos Foundations. Watch the trailer.

This event was organized with support from the Tina and Hamid Moghadam Endowment for Iran and the Ancient Near East and the Ancient Near East Fund.

Free and open to the public.
Independence Avenue at 12th Street SW Washington, DC

HT: Antonietta Catanzariti  via Agade

Parrot: It is necessary to see in order to understand

When I began to learn of and appreciate the work of André Parrot, Curator-in-Chief of the French National Museums, Professor at the School of the Louvre, and Director of the Mari Archaeological Expedition, I purchased most of those masterful little books he wrote about Biblical cities. In connection with the recent post about Nineveh I took down my well-marked copy of Nineveh and the Old Testament (1955) and began to read again.

André Parrot writes of his April 1950 arrival at Mosul.

During the twenty years spent in Iraq or in Syria, we had never had an opportunity to cross the ‘Assyrian triangle’ Once again we realized how necessary it is to see in order to understand, and especially to hold in the memory. Knowledge gained from books is certainly not enough, for names which are not attached to any reality are nothing more than ghosts. Ghosts of cities, shadows of men, vague floating shapes, without solidity, though one tries to capture it with the aid of a drawing, a photograph or a vivid description. All students of archaeology know this by experience: nothing can replace actual contact with the object. That is why museums are so important; because there one can recognize the long chain of human history stretching out continuously from its beginning, but in which, instinctively we have a special interest in detecting and observing the first links. But the object is a prisoner in its glass case. Tom from its natural surroundings it has lost its true speech. Nevertheless it exerts a pull, it beckons one to take the road. It is impossible to contemplate the Assyrian reliefs in the Louvre or the British Museum without calling up the image of Nineveh.

Parrot points out that a visit to Nineveh can be disappointing “if one expects to see murals or palaces.” These things, he says, have been destroyed or crumbled away.

No kingdom endures forever, as the prophet Daniel reminded us long ago. Parrot says that he had only four days to visit the Assyrian Triangle (Nineveh, Nimrud, Khorsabad, and Asshur). In the evenings during his visit, he stayed with the Dominican Fathers. He says his memory of Nineveh,

is bound up with that of Mosul and the white cell in the monastery where, every evening of that short stay, we were able to meditate only a few yards from the Assyrian capital, on the vanity of empires and the fate which awaits all of them.

For the same reasons I have spent many years encouraging Bible students to visit the Bible lands.

The British Museum displays many reliefs from Nineveh. Information posted with the relief below says that it dates to about 700-692 BC. It comes from the SW Palace, Rm. 14, panels 13-15. After the capture of Alammu, a town of uncertain location, the prisoners are brough before the Assyrian king. Some carry heads of the dead. The king, Sennacherib, was shown in his chariot, but this part is now lost (WA 124786-7). Click on the photo for a larger image.

This Assyrian relief from Nineveh shows Prisoners from the town of Alammu. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This Assyrian relief from Nineveh shows Prisoners from the town of Alammu. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

 

Visualizing Isaiah 13:19-22 – Babylon, never inhabited

Edward Chiera, of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, excavated at Nuzi in 1927 and at Khorsabad in 1928, 29. On one of his visits in Mesopotamia he wrote a letter to his wife in which he described Babylon. This letter is included in his book They Wrote on Clay, xi-xv. The following excerpts describe vividly the fulfillment of the prophecies.

“On all sides is desert…. The large network of canals…is now represented by a series of small mounds of dirt, running in all directions. Even the Euphrates has abandoned this land by changing its course… The sun has just now disappeared and a purple sky smiles, unmindful of this scene of desolation…

“A dead city. I have visited Pompeii and Ostia, and I have taken walks along the empty corridors of the Palatine. But those cities are not dead; they are only temporarily abandoned… Here only is real death. Not a column or an arch still stands to demonstrate the permanency of human work. Everything has crumbled into dust…

“Under my feet are some holes which have been burrowed by foxes and jackals… It is beginning to be really dark, and the plaintive song of the Arab has ceased. Nothing breaks the deathly silence…”

Now read the prophecy of Isaiah regarding Babylon.

And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there. But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance. Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged. (Isaiah 13:19-22 ESV)

In 1970, eight years before Saddam Hussein began his rule, I had the opportunity to take a group of Christians to Iraq. The photo below is my favorite one of the mound of ancient Babylon. I sometimes show it with a caption from Jeremiah 51:27 – “Babylon shall become a heap of ruins.”

The mound of ancient Babylon in 1970. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The mound of ancient Babylon in 1970. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

As a little flash from the past I thought I would share this 1970 photo made in front of a small Ishtar gate replica that served as the entry to the ruins of Babylon.

Ferrell Jenkins and Ferrell Jenkins, Jr. at the entry to ancient Babylon.

Ferrell Jenkins and Ferrell Jenkins, Jr. at the entry to ancient Babylon.

Notice that the tour was 21 days long. We visited Rome, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, London, and Lisbon. The cost from New York, including all meals was — drum roll — $1,198!

Looting and vandalism in Petra

Looting and vandalism of historic or archaeological sites is nothing new. We have reported on vandalism in Israel, but especially in the war-torn countries of Syria and Iraq.

Heritage Daily has an article here on looting and vandalism at Petra. Petra was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Archaeologists from Brown University have been working in Petra since 2009. They have been able to photograph excavated area each year. Now they report on signs of recent vandalism. The article says,

The damage caused by looting is nothing new and some of the more iconic buildings at Petra bear witness to this. A giant urn carved above the entrance to the Monastery bears the marks of hundreds of gunshots. The local Bedouin tribesmen living in and among the ancient ruins say the damage was caused when local men would open fire with rifles, seeking the loot thought to be inside the urn which is actually made of solid stone.

Heritage Daily has established from sources at Brown University that they are lobbing for additional security at the site and robust investigation to target the individuals concerned. However lack of funds for the Petra Archaeological Park and the isolated rugged area is hindering this work.

There is a considerable amount of natural wear over the centuries. In some cases we must imagine how the stones looked when they were carved by the Nabateans who lived in the area.

Nabatean Djinn blocks at Petra. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Nabatean Djinn blocks at Petra. Some sources refer to these as god-blocks.Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I have noticed erosion in the structures cut from the beautiful sandstone at Petra since my first visit in 1967. Some of this may have been caused by those who fill little bottles with the various colors of sand to sell to the tourists.

Natural erosion is evidence in these structures cut from the beautiful sandstone structures of Petra. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Natural erosion is evidenced in these structures cut from the beautiful sandstone structures of Petra. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This territory was once inhabited by the Biblical Edomites, but the structures we see today were carved from stone by the Nabateans who inhabited the area from about the fourth century B.C. to the early second century A.D.

One of the most famous Nabatean rulers was Aretas IV (about 9 B.C. to A.D. 40). It was during his reign, which extended at far north as Damascus, when Paul escaped Damascus (2 Corinthians 11:32-33). See here.

HT: Jack Sasson

Following the news in the Bible World

Beginning with the Six Day War (June 5-10, 1967) I have tried to keep alert to the situation in the countries that are often called the Bible lands or the Bible World. This phrase is given to the countries of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Greece, et al. where the events of the Bible transpired. Over the past 47 years I have traveled in all of these countries, some extensively, except Iran.

The current news coming out of Egypt is not good, and it is sad to see the conditions there. I wish for peace and justice for the people of Egypt, and the other countries mentioned above. I wish it also for those who would like to travel to these ancient lands to better learn the history, both secular and biblical.

A scene on the Nile River in Upper Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A scene on the Nile River in Upper Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo above was made from the Nile River in Upper Egypt, near the ancient town of Edfu. When I look at it I am reminded of the Genesis account of the seven lean cows and seven plump cows that Joseph saw coming up out of the Nile (Genesis 41).

Ancient Sumerian site excavated

Mike Addelman, Press Officer of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Manchester, has been kind enough to provide us with some photos of the recent excavation of Tell Kahiber.

Some of us might easily drive past the ancient mound without realizing that it was an ancient archaeological site. Prof. Stuart Campbell and Dr. Jane Moore, both of Manchester University, and independent archaeologist Robert Killick, first recognized important features of the tell on satellite images.

Early stages of excavation at ancient settlement mound of Tel Khaiber. Photo by Prof. Stuart Campbell, University of Manchester.

Early stages of excavation at ancient settlement mound of Tel Khaiber. Photo by Prof. Stuart Campbell, University of Manchester.

Tell Kahiber is located close to Tell Mugheir, thought by some scholars to be the biblical Ur of the Chaldeans, the home of Abraham (Genesis 11:28-31; 15:7). Historically we know this area to be Sumer. The following map from Bible Atlas shows the general area.

Area of ancient Sumer. BibleAtlas.org

Area of ancient Sumer. BibleAtlas.org

The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology points out,

There are no direct references to Sumer in the Bible, although it corresponds to the “land of Shinar” mentioned eight times in the OT.

Amraphel is designated as the king of Shinar (Genesus 14:1). Notice a couple of other references.

The beginning of his [Nimrod] kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. (Genesis 10:10 ESV)

And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. (Genesis 11:2 ESV)

One of the most striking finds thus far is a plaque, about 3½ inches high, showing a worshiper approaching a sacred place. He is depicted as wearing a long robe with fringe down the front opening. Images such as this one help us to think of the clothing that may have been worn by Abraham and his family.

One of the most striking finds to date is a clay plaque, 9cm high, showing a worshiper approaching a sacred place. Photo by Prof. Stuart Campbell, University of Manchester.

One of the most striking finds to date is a clay plaque showing a worshiper approaching a sacred place. Photo by Prof. Stuart Campbell, University of Manchester.

This information is being broadcast via several news outlets. You may read the press release from Manchester University here.

Clarence Stanley Fisher — Armageddon

Clarence Stanley Fisher was trained as an architect at the University of Pennsylvania in his hometown of Philadelphia. He became involved in archaeology at Nippur, Iraq (the region of ancient Sumer). Later he worked with George Andrew Reisner at Giza, Egypt, and then at Samaria from 1908 to 1910. This expedition, sponsored by Harvard, was the first American excavation in Palestine. After a short time back at Giza, he excavated at Beth Shan (Beit She’an), a dig sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania.

Fisher received an invitation from the University of Chicago to work at Megiddo, a work funded by the Rockefeller family. This excavation continued from 1933 to 1939, but fisher stopped working at the site after two years because of bad health.

The Megiddo excavations were recounted by Fisher under the title The Excavation of Armageddon, a work published by the University of Chicago Press with a foreword written by James Henry Breasted. This work is available at Google Books.

From 1936 to the time of his unexpected death in 1941, Fisher served as Professor of Archaeology at the American Schools of Oriental Research in Jerusalem (now the Albright Institute).

Fisher is buried at the Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

Grave marker for Clarence Stanley Fisher. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Grave marker for Clarence Stanley Fisher. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The brief information I have included here is summarized from a brief article by Milton C. Fisher in Bible and Spade 6:2 (Spring 1993). I get the impression that Milton is not related to Clarence. Milton Fisher cites two comments about C. S. Fisher that I wish to quote here.

W. F. Albright described Fisher as “an archaeological genius of no mean quality.”

Nelson Glueck wrote the following at the time of his death:

“The company of his friends misses him sorely. The host of those who loved him for his goodness of heart and humility of spirit will cherish the memory of this gentle man, whose last pilgrimage was to Nazareth, and whose final resting place is in Jerusalem.”

I find it fascinating to see so many well-known names associated with Fisher when Americans and American institutions were actively working in the Middle East.