Monday, June 25, 2018

Gold Cardo coin minted in Israel

NUMISMATICS: Israel: Latest legal tender gold bullion coin focuses on the ancient cardo roadway in Jerusalem (Michael Alexander, Coin Update).
The Bank of Israel has issued (10th June) the eighth coin design within their current bullion coin series entitled “Jerusalem of Gold.” Featured on this year’s coin is the cardo, which was the main street in the heart of the city and a significant trade centre that ran from north to south during the time when Jerusalem was governed by Rome. The cardo was a feature of most Roman cities.

[...]
The image on the reverse side of the coin is the Madaba Map. Other past posts on the Cardo are here and links.

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A female Torah-scribe in Hamilton, Ontario

SOFERET WATCH: An ancient text message. Hamiltonian Yonah Lavery-Yisraeli, a rabbi and scribe, spent two years handwriting a Torah scroll (Emma Reilly, The Hamilton Spectator).
Yonah Lavery-Yisraeli is a modern-day woman with an ancient calling.

Lavery-Yisraeli, 33, is a Hamiltonian, a rabbi, and a scribe. Her work involves writing documents in Hebrew in tiny, uniform script — labour that is both painstaking and prayerful.

In the past several years, Lavery-Yisraeli has written dozens of mezuzah scrolls (called klafs), which are placed in decorative and protective cases and hung on the doorposts in Jewish homes, as well as her biggest accomplishment: a Torah scroll.

[...]
Female scribes are still a rarity, as they have been back to antiquity. But there have always been some. For more on modern sofrot, see here and links. Jen Taylor Friedman, mentioned in the article above, also appears there. And that post also collects past posts on female scribes from antiquity to the present.

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Albertz, Pentateuchstudien

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Rainer Albertz. Pentateuchstudien. Hrsg. v. Jakob Wöhrle, unter Mitarb. v. Friederike Neumann. [Pentateuch Studies.] 2018. IX, 533 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 117. 129,00 € cloth. ISBN 978-3-16-153705-9
Published in German.
Twenty-one studies dedicated to the composition and redaction of the Pentateuch and the Hexateuch, written over ten years as part of the Münster Old Testament scholar Rainer Albertz's work on his Exodus Commentary, are gathered in this volume. Five of them were previously unpublished, while a further eight were revised and translated for their first appearance in German. The problem-orientated approach taken reveals a model for the emergence of the Pentateuch that could replace the classical three-source theory. A concluding overview makes it easier to gauge the model's effectiveness by assigning the texts dealt with to the identifiable tradition- and redaction-historical development stages of the Pentateuch.

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Review of Fredriksen, Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Paula Fredriksen, Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. Pp. xii, 319. ISBN 9780300225884. $35.00. Reviewed by Olivia Stewart Lester, University of Oxford (olivia.stewartlester@oriel.ox.ac.uk).
Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle radically recontextualizes Paul within the diversity of Judaism in the ancient Mediterranean and within a compelling history of anti-Judaism in ancient and modern readings of his letters. Against such readings, Fredriksen transforms essential questions in Pauline studies—on gentile inclusion, the Law, christology, and the imminent end of time—with an historically robust portrayal of Paul as a first-century Jewish thinker. This book offers a new paradigm for Pauline scholarship and requires an ethical reckoning for the devastating legacies of anti-Jewish readings of Paul.

[...]

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Sunday, June 24, 2018

More on the latest Waqf archaeological damage to the Temple Mount

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Muslim cleanup project ‘illegally disturbed, removed’ ancient soil on Temple Mt. Ramadan 'beautification' effort was deliberately provocative, part of bid to erase traces of pre-Muslim era heritage, claims activist-archaeologist; Israeli authorities checking (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
Prof. Ronny Reich, a prominent archaeologist of ancient Jerusalem who has excavated extensively in the Old City and its surroundings, told The Times of Israel on Thursday that because the mixed pile of dirt has been taken out of its original context, it has “limited value” as an archaeological site. He noted, however, that its artifacts offer an important statistical analysis of the periods of human settlement on the mount, quite apart from any rare inscriptions or art that may be found in the pile.

“It is impossible to just leave it lying [in the Aqsa compound]. It needs to be treated [properly], and the head of the IAA needs to speak up on its behalf,” said Reich, who was among the founding management of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Last week, Muslim volunteers of all ages were filmed on the Temple Mount raking earth and carving out an improvised staircase leading to the top of one of the two dirt mounds on the eastern side of the compound. There, they used stone planks they found inside the mound to build benches and tables.
This long and thoroughly researched article follows up the two blog posts on the subject by archaeologist Zachi Dvira at the Temple Mount Sifting Project Blog. I noted those here and here. This article gives lots of background and additional details. You should read it all.

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Justnes on those dubious DSS-like fragments (in new Marginalia Forum)

MARGINALIA: Fragments for Sale: Dead Sea Scrolls. Årstein Justnes on selling scripture.
The so-called post-2002 fragments are all non-provenanced, but they bear impressive stories, often crafted and told by scholars, and used as a means to authenticate them. In this piece, I recount some of these stories and discuss their hidden message. Let me, however, start with two snapshots from the time when our story was just about to begin, in 2002 ...
Professor Justnes offers a revision of the narrative. There is good reason to think that at least some of the new fragments are forgeries, so the narrative bears re-examination.

Background on the dubious post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like fragments is here and links.

UPDATE: I had finished this post when I discovered that the article by Justness is just one in Marginalia Forum on Origin Stories: A Forum on the “Discovery” and Interpretation of First-Millennium Manuscripts. So far, there is an introduction and two other articles. More is promised.

Introduction – Jennifer Barry (University of Mary Washington) and Eva Mroczek (UC Davis)
This forum is sponsored by the First Millennium Network in connection with The Lying Pen of Scribes: Manuscript Forgeries and Counterfeiting Scripture in the Twenty-First Century, the Norwegian project on forgery and provenance. Throughout the course of the forum, contributors will address the scholarship and the politics behind the discovery, interpretation, and diffusion of such “new” texts. Panelists, experts in a range of fields within manuscript studies, will seek to answer questions such as: How can scholars actually tell if a manuscript is authentically ancient or forged in the new age of greater scientific possibilities? What are the ethical issues surrounding collecting, owning, and publishing items that hold religious/cultural value for a wider, non-academic audience? How much do these new finds really challenge our understanding of our own origin stories?
Kipp Davis (Trinity Western University) – Gleaning from the Cave of Wonders? Fragments, Forgeries and “Biblicism” in the Dead Sea Scrolls
There are undoubtedly authentic artefacts of extremely high importance in both The Schøyen Collection, the MOTB, and in other private collections, which have a tremendous role to play in achieving this objective. But my own experience should sound a cautionary alarm: we would be naive to imagine that biblical datasets are free from pollution. Scholars would be remiss in their failure to exercise due diligence and ensure that they remain in service of the common good, and not as a repository for the wares of profiteers hoping to capitalize on the misplaced zeal of well-meaning Evangelical biblicists.
Eva Mroczek (UC Davis) – Batshit Stories: New Tales of Discovering Ancient Texts
More deeply, I want to highlight that whether these stories are factual, fictional, or somewhere in between, it is sometimes their very telling, rather than the actual manuscript finds themselves, that capture our imagination. Find stories reveal our own patterns of thinking about how a long-lost past might come into view and what might stand in the way of its recovery.

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Benyamin Storchan

PROFILE IN ARCHAEOLOGY: Former Detroiter follows his passion to an archaeology post in Israel. Much of Storchan’s work has focused on ancient oil burning lamps. These lamps help archaeologists identify what happened to Jews after the Bar Kokhba revolt in the 2nd century. During this time, Romans pushed Jews out of Judea, but Storchan’s work with lamps has shown that the Jewish population was not totally displaced. (Rob Streit, Detroit Jewish News).
Benyamin Storchan says he feels like an Israeli who was mistakenly born in America. The 34-year-old Michigan native realized this during his first visit to Israel at age 16 while he was on a Jewish Federation teen mission.

“I felt a great inner peace from both the people and the land,” Storchan says. “After that trip, I got the bug and said, ‘That’s it; I want to live in Israel.’”

And that’s where he finds himself today. Storchan works for the Israel Antiquities Authority as a research excavation archaeologist in the Judean Hills region. In that role, he conducts excavations and catalogues any artifacts his team finds.

[...]
The article tells more about his background. Also something about his specializations, starting here:
Much of Storchan’s work has focused on ancient oil burning lamps. These lamps help archaeologists identify what happened to Jews after the Bar Kokhba revolt in the 2nd century. During this time, Romans pushed Jews out of Judea, but Storchan’s work with lamps has shown that the Jewish population was not totally displaced.
An inspirational story. Congratulations to Mr. Storchan.

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On doves

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Enduring Symbolism of Doves. From ancient icon to Biblical mainstay (Dorothy Willette).
Few symbols have a tradition as long and as rich as the dove. A particular favorite in art and iconography, the dove often represents some aspect of the divine, and its use has been shared, adapted and reinterpreted across cultures and millennia to suit changing belief systems. From the ancient world to modern times, this simple bird developed layer upon layer of meaning and interpretive significance, making it a complex and powerful addition to religious texts and visual representations.

[...]
There are many doves in the Bible. And they show up often in other ancient literature.

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Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Museum of the Bible, Operation Scroll, etc.

AN UNHELPFUL HEADLINE: An Illegal Archeological Dig in the West Bank Raises Questions About the Museum of the Bible The Museum of the Bible has been funding a number of scholarly projects, including an illegal excavation in the West Bank that will certainly influence how the public understands the Bible and the ancient world (Michael Press, Hyperallegic). This article raises some genuine issues, notably the questions still surrounding the handling of the the formerly-first-century Mark fragment from Oxyrhynchus. More on that here and links.

It also flags a financial connection between the Museum of the Bible and the study of unprovenanced Aramaic incantation bowls. But there are plenty of scholars unconnected with the Museum of the Bible who are working on this material. Indeed, the funded project is based at Exeter University, so it is mainstream scholarship. It is a real problem how to handle such unprovenanced artifacts. I don't pretend to have a fully satisfying solution. I have discussed such concerns and given you my own view here.

But the bulk of the article concerns the Dead Sea Scrolls. The "illegal dig in the West Bank" is Operation Scroll, the recent attempt by the Israeli Goverment to explore the caves in the Judean Desert more fully. The objective is (so far with very little success) to recover any remaining Dead Sea Scrolls. The project was also sponsored by the Hebrew University and the IAA. Past posts on Operation Scroll are here and links.

Beyond that, the author has concerns about the international legality of the handling of the Dead Sea Scrolls from at least the 1967 war on. These do not bear very directly on anything to do with the Museum of the Bible. And in general the author seems to have serious reservations about funding of archaeological projects by Evangelical Christian organizations.

The author has his views. Readers may agree or disagree. None of the issues are new, with the possible exception of the specifics about the Mark fragment. We're still waiting for full information on that.

I do criticize Hyperalleric for the headline of this piece. One can debates the issues surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls and international law, but to call — without qualification — a project co-sponsored by the Hebrew University and the Israel Antiquities Authority "an illegal archaeological dig in the West Bank" is misleading clickbait.

For other past posts on the Museum of the Bible, start here and follow the links. (Dead link now fixed!)

UPDATE (24 June): Over at the Variant Readings Blog, Brent Nongbri has comments on this article.

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HUCA 88 (2017)

H-JUDAIC: TOC - Hebrew Union College Annual Volume 88. Some of the articles are on ancient and medieval Judaism.

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More on the Denver DSS exhibition

EXHIBITION REVIEW: DEAD SEA SCROLLS TRAVELLING EXHIBIT LANDS IN DENVER (Sandy Bornstein, Canadian Jewish News). The Scrolls actually landed in Denver some time ago. One lot of them has even been rotated out and replaced with another. But the author has just seen the exhibition and she gives it a good recommendation.

Background on the Denver Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition is here and follow the links.

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Was Luke one-upping Euripides?

THE ANXIOUS BENCH: Goads and Gods (Philip Jenkins).
Today we have a guest column. Some time ago, I referred to the Book of Acts, and began an intriguing correspondence with Mr. Jesse Elison. Focusing especially on one key phrase, Mr. Elison made a strong case for showing how Luke was drawing directly on secular Greek literature, and moreover that he might even have been using the work of Euripides as a model for the story he was trying to tell. After all, did not his play The Bacchae describe the introduction of a new religious system into Greece? Invoking that play in this context was surprising to me, and I invited Mr. Elison to expand his provocative comments into a blog post.

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Friday, June 22, 2018

On the Yavneh Yam ostracon

THE PAPYRUS STORIES BLOG: A Harvester’s Plea (guest post by Gareth Wearne).
What legal rights did a farm labourer have in ancient Israel? A rare glimpse is offered by an ostracon (inscribed pot-sherd), which was discovered in 1960 in the guardroom of a small Iron Age fortress, approximately 17 km south of Tel Aviv.

[...]
This essay gives a good, quick overview, but there is more to be said about the inscription, notably concerning the details of the biblical law behind the plea. Past PaleoJudaica posts involving the Yavneh Yam (Mesad Hashavyahu) ostracon are here, here, and here.

Also, welcome to the Papyrus Stories Blog, which first came to my attention through AJR. This new blog highlights stories from ancient inscriptions. Cross-file under Assimilated to the Blogosphere.

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Dhont, Style and Context of Old Greek Job

THE LXX STUDIES BLOG: New Book: Style and Context of Old Greek Job by Marieke Dhont (John Meade).
Below is a guest post from Dr. Marieke Dhont describing her new book Style and Context of Old Greek Job (Brill, 2018). Enjoy.

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Nyström, The Apology of Justin Martyr

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: David E. Nyström. The Apology of Justin Martyr. Literary Strategies and the Defence of Christianity. [Die Apologie Justins des Märtyrers. Literarische Strategien und die Verteidigung des Christentums.] 2018. XIV, 182 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 462. 69,00 € sewn paper. ISBN 978-3-16-155761-3.
Published in English.
In his Apologia pro Christianis, Justin Martyr uses some major apologetic strategies to defend and promote Christianity. These are here identified as the 'logos doctrine', the 'theft theory', the 'proof from prophecy' and the demonological arguments. David E. Nyström analyses each strategy on its own terms as well as in relation to the others in order for them to yield a picture of how they work, rhetorically and literarily, in Justin's grand argument. He also explores possible literary models as well as the purpose and function of the literary form Justin chose for his work.
For more on Justin Martyr and why he is of interest to PaleoJudaica, see here.

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A bibliography of those dubious DSS fragments

THE LYING PEN OF SCRIBES BLOG: A Lightly Annotated Chronological Bibliography of the Post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like Fragments (Årstein Justnes).

Background on the dubious new Dead Sea Scrolls-like fragments is here and links.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Review of Rosenblum, The Jewish Dietary Laws in the Ancient World

H-JUDAIC: Garroway on Rosenblum, 'The Jewish Dietary Laws in the Ancient World.'
Author: Jordan Rosenblum
Reviewer: Joshua Garroway

Jordan Rosenblum. The Jewish Dietary Laws in the Ancient World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. xiii + 193 pp. $99.99 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-107-09034-7.

Reviewed by Joshua Garroway (Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles) Published on H-Judaic (June, 2018) Commissioned by Katja Vehlow (University of South Carolina)

Jordan Rosenblum’s second book-length treatment of Jewish food culture in antiquity comes on the heels of his successful 2010 offering, Food and Identity in Early Rabbinic Judaism. The present volume is less triumphant, in my view, but nonetheless will prove valuable in certain settings.

[...]
I noted a review of Jordan Rosenblum's earlier book, Food and Identity in Early Rabbinic Judaism, here. This is the first time I've specifically noted his 2016 book, but I did link to an essay by him here which was inspired by the book.

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How many bronze platings on the altar?

SOME MORE REDACTION CRITICISM: The Bronze Plating of the Altar: Numbers Versus Exodus (Dr. Rabbi David Frankel, TheTorah.com).
After Korah’s failed rebellion, God commands Elazar to plate the altar with the bronze firepans of the two hundred and fifty tribal leaders (Num 17). But didn’t Bezalel already plate the altar in bronze as God commanded when it was first built (Exod 27 and 38)?
One interesting thing about this essay is that it finds a redactional seam within one of the traditional Pentateuchal sources (P), not just between the sources.

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Paris Philo codex online

VARIANT READINGS: Paris Philo Codex (sort of?) Online (Brent Nongbri).The link to the images were down, but they are now back up. This codex is one of our earliest sources for works of Philo of Alexandria

Background here.

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Bible Animals

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Bible Animals: From Hyenas to Hippos Lions and crocodiles and monkeys, oh my! (Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin).
If you were asked to name a book that mentions lions, cheetahs, crocodiles, hippos and hyenas, your thoughts might turn to Tarzan or some other such exotic tale. Bears, jackals, monkeys and panthers are the domain of The Jungle Book. Yet all these animals are also found in the Bible.

[...]
You'd be surprised what's in the Bible.

Rabbi Dr. Slifkin, a.k.a. "the Zoo Rabbi," is curator of the Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh, Israel. Past PaleoJudaica posts on him and the Museum are here and links.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Report on CJH event on Goodman's A History of Judaism

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: A History of Judaism: Goodman, Reed, and Magid at the Center for Jewish History (Erez DeGolan).
On April 18, 2018, the Center for Jewish History (CJH) in New York hosted a public event in celebration of the A History of Judaism. About 40 people, academics and not, came to hear Goodman discussing his work, with a response from Annette Yoshiko Reed and Shaul Magid. The thoughtful remarks of the three and the unusual character of A History of Judaism more broadly, stimulated contemplations on the spacious, if seldom thought of, gap between academic knowledge production and its ‘public’ dissemination. In what follows I discuss the highlights of the CJH’s event and the questions it raised.
With thoughtful commentary.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on Martin Goodman's book A History of Judaism are here, here, and here.

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Review of Tugendhaft, Baal and the Politics of Poetry

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Aaron Tugendhaft, Baal and the Politics of Poetry. The Ancient Word 1. London; New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. 166. ISBN 9781138063624. $140.00. Reviewed by Aren M. Wilson-Wright, Universität Zürich​ (aren.wilson-wright@uzh.ch).
Baal and the Politics of Poetry is a revised version of Aaron Tugendhaft’s 2012 New York University dissertation. In it, Tugendhaft argues that the Baal Cycle—an epic poem from Ugarit depicting Baal’s struggle for political dominance against Yamm (sea) and Mot (death)—represents a meditation on kingship and its limitations, rather than an unabashed celebration of royal power as usually assumed. Tugendhaft develops this argument over the course of six chapters as well as the introduction and conclusion.

[...]

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More on that tiny royal (?) head

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: An Iron Age Royal at Abel Beth Maacah? Highly crafted figurine may depict a dignitary, elite person, or even a king (Robin Ngo).

Background here.

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Barthélemy's Critique textuelle de l’ancien Testament online

THE ETC BLOG: Critique textuelle de l’ancien Testament for Free Download (John Meade). For you, special deal!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Virtual archaeology in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Archaeology Without Ruins. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ ancient Talmudic rabbis look for the First and Second Temples without stones or relics to guide them.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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More on the latest archaeological destruction on the Temple Mount

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG: Update: Waqf Uses Ramadan to Violate Antiquities Law. Excerpt:
In 2018, this should not be a problem. Taking advantage of the limited police, and ban of all non-Muslims from the Temple Mount because of Ramadan, these archaeologically rich mounds of earth have been irreconcilably damaged. This is a clear violation of the law, a violation of basic morality and respect, and an absolute destruction of the heritage of Jews as well as Christians and Muslims. This constitutes a decade’s worth of regression in the level of enforcement of the antiquities law on the Temple Mount and needs to go viral so that the world can see what the real status quo is on the Temple Mount.

Please share this information and communicate it to the media and government officials. Make this story go viral.
You should read it all.

Background here.

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Review of Kiel, Sexuality in the Babylonian Talmud

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Sexuality in the Babylonian Talmud (Noah Bickart).
Yishai Kiel’s new book Sexuality in the Babylonian Talmud analyzes Talmudic texts that deal explicitly with sex in order to situate rabbinic society at the crossroads of a number of late-antique cultures. Through convincing close readings of Jewish material alongside compelling parallels in Greek, Syriac, and Pahlavi texts, Kiel illustrates how Babylonian rabbis used the language of sexuality to negotiate their Iranian context, their Palestinian heritage, and the myriad of concomitant challenges posed by western and eastern Christian thought. This book is highly recommended for scholars and students of rabbinics, early Christianity, and Iranology, especially for those who are interested in the history of sexuality.

[...]
I noted the publication of the book here and an article by the author on the same topic here.

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The Gamla synagogue

ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY: The 2,000-year-old synagogue at Gamla, the oldest yet found in Israel (Ticia Verveer, Times of Israel Blogs).
Archaeological excavations proved that Josephus was very precise in his description, which is remarkable, seldom do literary sources and archaeological data complement each other in such a way. The more than 2,000 basalt ballista stones and 1,600 iron arrowheads that were found are a sorrowful reminder of the aggression off the Romans. Within the settlement a concentration of several dozen ballista stones was discovered. Probably, the defenders gathered the ballista stones that had fallen on the city and hurled them back at the Romans the following day.

The most exciting discovery of the excavation, and the reason why I am here, is a large public building, with benches intended for public gatherings, the amazing remains of an ancient synagogue, the oldest yet found in Israel.
An impressive photo essay by an archaeologist working at the site.

Some past PaleoJudaica posts on the site of Gamla, its archaeology, and its history, are collected here.

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