Saturday, June 03, 2006

Union Station to host Dead Sea Scrolls
By: Rick Hellman, Editor June 02, 2006

The caves at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. (Rick Hellman photo)
For the first time ever, fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls will be displayed in the Kansas City area Feb. 2-May 5, 2007, as part of a special exhibition that is expected to draw 150,000 people to Science City at Union Station.


The Israel Antiquities Authority says the Kansas City Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition will be one of four in the United States in 2006-07. "Discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls" closed May 29 in Charlotte, N.C., and opens in September at Seattle's Pacific Science Center. After Kansas City, the San Diego Natural History Museum will host the scrolls.
Udris said the Kansas City exhibition would be unique, created in cooperation with the IAA, and will feature some scroll fragments never seen before outside of Israel. ...
And here is the seemingly obligatory media howler:
"When the scrolls are all released," Rabbi [Morris B.] Margolies said, "and that's still in the future, we will have a much better idea of the origins of rabbinic Judaism; not of Judaism - Judaism already existed since Moses - but of rabbinic Judaism."
All of the Dead Sea Scrolls were released in 1991. Rabbi Margolies has a weekly column in the Jewish Chronicle and is acting as the "scholar/curator" of the exhibition. I suspect he was misquoted here.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Ancient scroll may yield religious secrets

By NICHOLAS PAPHITIS, Associated Press Writer Thu Jun 1, 9:16 AM ET

ATHENS, Greece - A collection of charred scraps kept in a Greek museum's storerooms are all that remains of what archaeologists say is Europe's oldest surviving book — which may hold a key to understanding early monotheistic beliefs.

More than four decades after the Derveni papyrus was found in a 2,400-year-old nobleman's grave in northern Greece, researchers said Thursday they are close to uncovering new text — through high-tech digital analysis — from the blackened fragments left after the manuscript was burnt on its owner's funeral pyre.

(Via Archaeology Magazine News.)

Also Jim Aitken e-mails:
Let me try and clarify the issue of the Derveni papyri for Plaeojudaica. The original composition is late 5th century BCE, but the papyrus itself is probably 4th or early 3rd century BCE (precise dating is not possible of course). This places it amongst one of the oldest Greek papyri there are, since we have two from the end of the fourth century and then many appearing in the third century. As you say, certainly not the oldest papyrus, but one of the oldest Greek papyri, although maybe only c. 350-300 BCE rather than the implied 5th century.
PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA now has an impressive Wikipedia presence, as noted by Torrey Seland in his Philo of Alexandria blog.
THE EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT'S CRACKDOWN ON BLOGGERS has been covered recently by Time Magazine and the Washington Post. And in the Christian Science Monitor the Sandmonkey is calling for an economic boycott of Egypt, which makes rather more sense than NATFHE's boycott of Israeli academics. It's something of a moot point for me, since, as I've said repeatedly to the Egyptian Embassy, I will not travel to Egypt at present because I would be in doubt of my personal safety in light of my criticisms the Mubarak Government. That said, I would have no hesitation in collaborating on projects with Egyptian academics if the opportunity arose. They need all the support we can give them.
SEPTUAGINT RESEARCH, a new collection of essays on the Septuagint, is noted on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog.
BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL VI has been posted by Benjamin Myers on his Faith and Theology blog.
SOME DEAD SEA SCROLLS will be coming to Union Station in Kansas City according to an A.P. Article ("Union Station cuts 59 jobs in effort to stanch losses"):
Station officials are prepared to announce in a few days that a traveling exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls will arrive next year, made possible by a more than $1 million grant from the Hall Family Foundation.
"Vin Diesel has hired the expert who translated "The Passion of the Christ" into Aramaic for Mel Gibson for his biopic project about the life of Carthagian general Hannibal. The thesp is apparently attempting to work out a script in Greek, Latin and Punic for the film and is currently scouting locations on the Iberian Peninsula..."
This is a Dark Horizons excerpt from a Variety article. You can access the latter here, but it is subscription only (and I don't subscribe).

Father William Fulco, a professor at Loyal Marymount University, did the Aramaic translations for Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, and presumably he is the expert mentioned here.
HAPPY SHAVUOT to those celebrating. It started yesterday at sundown. More here.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

AN MOTP BLEG: The More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project is trying to track down an Ethiopic manuscript and we need a copy of the following article:
F. A. Terefu, 'The study of Geez Manuscripts in the Tegre Province', Journal of Ethiopian Studies 9 (1971), pp. 21-5
So far we've had no luck with any British library. If a reader of PaleoJudaica chances to be near a major research library and can find this article and send me a copy in the post, I would be very grateful. Please drop me an e-mail at the above address if you can help us.

UPDATE: Three offers came in right away. Many thanks, all!
UPDATES: I've just updated some posts from the last ten days. See here (oldest Greek papyrus), here (supposed James Ossuary photo), and here (Da Vinci Code review). [The last now has another update that answers the question and poses a new one.]
US lobby group enters Israeli academic boycott row

Benjamin Joffe-Walt
Wednesday May 31, 2006 (The Guardian)

A powerful American civil liberties group has called on US academics to boycott British lecturers who boycott Israeli universities.

In a backlash following this week's vote by the lecturers' union Natfhe to boycott Israeli academia, the Anti-Defamation League urged American universities and grant-giving bodies to "cut funding, support and contact with any academic who advocates a boycott of Israel."

I don't think that upping the ante in the boycott department is constructive. What is really going on with the NATFHE boycott vote is clear from this:
Tomorrow Nafthe will merge with the smaller Association of University Teachers (AUT), forming the University and College Union, the world's largest post-16 education union with over 110,000 members. The boycott resolution is only advisory to the new union, and it remains unclear how its leadership plans to deal with the issue.

Last year the AUT voted for a boycott on two Israeli universities, but after extensive international protest and a revolt by its membership, the smaller union convened a special conference and reversed the decision. Following Monday's boycott vote by Natfhe, the AUT has announced to its members that the Natfhe motion was "fraught with difficulties and dangers and should not be followed by AUT members."

Anthony Julius [who is "acting as solicitor for the boycott's opponents in Britain"] plans to write to the new union tomorrow for confirmation that Natfhe's boycott has not survived the merger.
The NATFHE leadership knew perfectly well that this was coming and they slipped in this motion knowing it would be overturned in a few days. That way they got in their little political statement without any expectation that it would become union policy. I think the proper response is not a boycott, but to heap international ridicule and scorn on the union for picking leaders who are more interested in making a cheap and cowardly political statement than in doing their actual job of representing the interests of British academics. In fact, those interests have been notably set back by this move. It's a pity, because there is a real need for such representation. But this isn't it.
Egypt bans 'The Da Vinci Code'
Joseph Mayton
Middle East Times
May 31, 2006

CAIRO -- On May 19 The Da Vinci Code, with all its controversy, was released to theaters worldwide. Middle Eastern countries, however, have been quick to pull the plug on the film. In Egypt, the film based on Dan Brown's international bestseller did not make it to its planned release on May 23, as censors did not give the go ahead.
I have already commented on this here.

Incidentally, the article includes the following:
The film is a fictional portrayal that speculates that Jesus did not die on the cross, but instead married Mary Magdalene and that their descendants exist in secret up to this day. Following a murder in the Louvre, the story takes the viewer on a whirlwind tour through ancient secrets that unfold to reveal that Christ's heirs still survive. It is a fictitious account of what could have been.
Actually neither the film nor the book deny that Jesus died on the cross. The Qur'an, by the way, teaches that he didn't die on the cross and in fact was not crucified (Surah 4.157), although it doesn't teach any of the rest regarding Mary Magdalene.

UPDATE (3 June): Correction: it's not official yet. See here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

OLDEST PAPYRUS? Nowhere near.
Oldest’ papyrus is decoded


Greek and foreign experts have used cutting-edge technology to decode the Greek text of the world’s oldest literary papyrus more than four decades after its discovery, it was revealed yesterday.

The Derveni Papyrus — which has been in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki since its charred fragments were found among the remains of a funeral pyre in 1962 — is described as a “philosophical treatise based on a poem in the Orphic tradition and dating to the second half of the 5th century BC.”

”It is particularly important to us as it is the oldest (papyrus) bearing Greek text,” Apostolos Pierris, director of the Patras Institute of Philosophical Research, told Kathimerini.

Both the headline and the first paragraph of this article are misleading. The third paragraph may be correct that this is the oldest papyrus written in Greek; I don't know. But certainly there are many earlier literary papyri in other languages. The Aramaic text of Ahiqar comes from the fifth century as well. And there are plenty of earlier Egyptian literary papyri, such as the Story of Sinuhe, of which papyrus fragments survive from across much of the second millennium B.C.E.

Still, I'm glad this Greek text is getting the benefit of some new technology for its decipherment.

Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

(Via Archaeologica News.)

UPDATE (1 June): New blogger Random Colin comments:
Preach it brother. I think that a lot of people fail to understand the incredibly painstaking work involved in getting an ancient document from wherever it got left 2000 years ago to a bookshelf near you. For some reason I found this comment kind of encouraging and inspiring today...nothing like a long day reading ancient literary theory while trying to make some kind of sense of your thesis in your head to make you get a little twitchy.

Remember, this world is a product of the world that was.
Amen. I had hoped that my little comment would inspire that kind of reaction in readers.

UPDATE (2 June): More here.
JOSEPH CATHEY will be blogging from the Tel Gezer excavation, starting tomorrow, 1 June.
ARAMAIC WATCH: The Monastery of the Syrians in Egypt is a vast repository of manuscripts in Syriac and other languages. Lubna Abdel-Aziz reports on it in "Desert Fathers" (Al-Ahram):
Several monasteries were established in the vast Egyptian desert, especially between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea coast during the fourth century. Dozens of active monasteries are scattered all over Egypt from Alexandria to Cairo, Fayoum, Minya, Assiut, Edfu, Luxor and Aswan. Most famous of all is the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St Catherine in the Sinai, a popular tourist destination, as are several others. The most intriguing however, is the Monastery of the Syrians, (Deir Al-Surian) that houses the richest library, including the earliest Biblical texts and writings of the fathers of the desert. Most of the manuscripts are in Syriac, a branch of Aramaic, and the language of Jesus, as well as Pharaonic, Coptic, Arabic and Ethiopic.

The Monastery of the Syrians was established by the monks of St Bishoi, who were opposed to the then popular Julianist monophysitism doctrines -- belief in one "divine" nature for Jesus not two, the "divine" and the "human". With the evaporation of the Julianists, the monastery was sold to a group of wealthy Syrian merchants and renamed the Monastery of the Holy Virgin of the Syrians. Syrian monks had always frequented Wadi Al-Natrun ever since the fourth century. By the 17th century, only Coptic monks inhabited the monastery, caring for the library, the paintings, and the invaluable manuscripts. Forty of these ancient texts were acquired by Pope Clement IX between 1715-1735. These documents are safely kept today in the Vatican Library. A century later, (1839-1851), the British Museum of London procured 500 Syrian manuscripts of religious, philosophical and literary context. Lord Curzon and other Britons purchased a considerable quantity of these documents which inspired intense research in the Syriac language and culture.

Despite the numerous losses, the monastery of the Syrians still retains rare works in art and history, and religious manuscripts of "inestimable scholarly value". Now they are threatened by decay. After 1,500 years, time has ravaged the priceless treasures. They need a serious rejuvenating process to bring them back to their original status. To study, survey, restore and preserve this unique heritage for future generations, time, effort dedication, and above all, funds are needed.
Fortunately, some efforts are being made for their preservations by Syriac specialists associated with the Levantine Foundation.

(Via the Egyptology News blog.)
ARAMAIC WATCH: Lebanon is full of churches with medieval frescoes, some of which have inscriptions in Greek, Syriac, and Arabic. But effort has not been put into their restoration and preservation until recently.
Lebanon may never pull in the same volume of tourists as Italy or Greece, but it does have the historical artifacts and relics to compete. The areas of Byblos, Batroun, Koura and the Qadisha Valley in particular are full of old chapels and churches. Some date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, and many are covered from floor to ceiling with frescoes.

The significance of these decorative paintings extends to several disciplines, from religious scholarship and theological debate to the rather more secular study of art history. Many are inscribed in three languages - Greek, Syriac and Arabic. Some look as if they had been sprung from the surrealist imagination of Andre Breton, with elaborate systems of symbols, including seraphim wings that open to reveal an allover pattern of watching eyes. The problem, however, is that little to no attention has been paid to their proper preservation.

In September 2005, Mouawad, who is a professor at the Lebanese American University and a researcher at St. Joseph University, formed an association with four of her colleagues in the field - Suad Slim, chairman of Antioch studies at Balamand University; Levon Nordiguian, director of the prehistory museum at St. Joseph University and co-author of "Chateaux et Eglises du Moyen Age au Liban," the book Mouawad is presently using as a reference; Nada Helou, an art historian and Byzantine specialist at the Lebanese University; and economist and fund manager Bernard Jabre.

The idea for the Association for the Restoration and Study of Lebanon's Medieval Frescoes was born a year before that, when Mouawad was one of a number of specialists to host a delegation of 100 visitors to an academic conference.
ARAMAIC WATCH -- Some interesting epigraphic material has been excavated in Turkey:
Ancient stone tablets could shed light on Surtepe excavations

Wednesday, May 31, 2006
(Turkish Daily News)

Results are being presented this week at the 28th International Congress on Excavations, Surveys and Research in Turkey, which started on Monday in Çanakkale, a western province that is also home to the ruins of ancient Troy

ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Ancient stone tablets and seals unearthed during archaeological excavations at the Surtepe tumulus, seven kilometers north of Birecik in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, could shed light on other ancient structures discovered in the area.

A team of experts headed by project director Jesus Gil Fuensanta of Spain who have been working in the area as part of the Tilbes salvage project, discovered a monumental building -- believed to belong to the Persian-Achaemenid period prior to the conquest by Alexander the Great -- at the Surtepe mound during excavations in 2005.


Another impression on a jar shows a typical iconograph of royal worship. Experts say the excavations provided evidence of ostraca (ceramic fragments with inscriptions). According to Herbert Sauren, a German specialist in ancient Semitic languages, one of the seals has official Aramaic (the administrative language of the Achaemenids) writing and refers to the capacity of a vessel.

Fuensanta believes that an enigmatic finding from the same archaeological season, a stone tablet with an inscription, could be associated with the Persian building. According to a preliminary study by Sauren the inscription on the find was made in Semitic, in use around the middle of first millennium B.C. The language has the main elements of usual big groups of Semitic languages. After Sauren's translation and interpretation, it was discovered that the stone document was issued by the leader of this city (Surtepe, the ancient name of which is not yet clear) to thank a deity for his assumption of power.

That last bit is rather odd. If it's that decipherable it should be possible to classify the language of the inscription more precisely than just "Semitic." I suspect the reporter is confused here.

The excavation results will be presented in a conference in Turkey which starts started on Monday.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

ANOTHER REPORT on the Syriac conference held recently in Aleppo:
From mecc <>
Date Tue, 30 May 2006 11:38:19 -0700

The Centre of Oriental Studies & Research of the Syriac Patrimony (Lebanon) in cooperation with the Council of Churches in Aleppo, held the XIth Syriac Patrimony Conference in Aleppo, Syria, from May 11 to 14, 2006. The Conference theme was "St Ephrem the Syriac, a Poet of our Times² in remembrance of the 1700 year of the poet¹s birth (306 ­ 2006). It was organized within the celebrations of Aleppo as a Capital of Islamic Culture 2006.

From the Worldwide Faith News archives
LEAVES FROM THE ST. JOHN'S BIBLE are on display in Tyler, Texas:
St. John's Bible on Show at the Tyler Museum of Art

(Art Daily)

TYLER.- The Tyler Museum of Art presents the exhibit Illuminating the Word: The Saint John's Bible. The show presents what has been called "the most significant handwritten and illuminated Bible" commissioned since the advent of the printing press. The Saint John’s Bible, a richly ornamented masterwork hand-illustrated with gold leaf on oversized vellum, is an unprecedented undertaking in contemporary book arts and a major cultural and interfaith endeavor.

The Saint John's Bible is the first illuminated, handwritten Bible of monumental size to be commissioned by a Benedictine Monastery in 500 years. Each page is 24.5 x 15.875 inches, making an open volume almost three feet wide. The completed works will contain 160 illuminations and marginalia (small decorative illustrations appearing in the margins, often created with gold leaf and other gilding) among the approximately 1,150 pages which comprise all 73 books of the Bible (New Revised Standard Version).

METATRON WATCH: Somehow I missed the 1999 film Dogma, in which the angel Metatron is a character. But Channel 4 News, UK, has a review, I guess of the DVD:

avg. user rating (1-10): 9.39

(96 votes)
128 minutes
USA (1999)

starring Ben Affleck , George Carlin , Matt Damon , Linda Fiorentino , Salma Hayek , Jason Lee , Alanis Morissette , Kevin Smith , Jason Mewes

directed by Kevin Smith

The apocalypse as anticipated by high Catholicism comes to 90s New Jersey mall culture. And makes a few fundamentalists bridle

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck star as unlikely fallen angels Loki and Bartleby. Bored of Earth, they are trying to trick their way back into heaven on a theological technicality - the only problem with their plan is that if they succeed, all creation will end.

It's up to lapsed Catholic abortion clinic worker Bethany (Fiorentino) to save the world - being a distant descendent of Jesus it's her destiny, according to the angel Metatron (Rickman). She's aided in her mission by the forgotten thirteenth apostle, Rufus (Rock), muse-turned-stripper Seredipity (Hayek) and Smith's regulars Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (the writer-director himself).


Monday, May 29, 2006

NATFHE HAS PASSED THE MOTION calling on its membership to boycott Israeli academics and academic institutions. YNet News reports:
UK educators shun Israeli academics

One of Britain’s biggest teachers’ unions votes to shun Israeli academic institutions that don't renounce 'apartheid policies'

Hagit Klaiman

LONDON - Britain's National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) Monday approved an academic boycott on Israeli higher education institutions that do not condemn Israel’s “apartheid policy.” NAFTHE, which with a membership of 67,000 educators is one of the UK’s largest teachers' unions, voted 106 to 71, with 21 abstentions, in favor of the boycott during a Blackpool convention.

As I said before, the unions for British academics have clearly been taken over by hardliners with an anti-Israel (and, apparently, pro-Hamas) agenda.
Meanwhile, union members heard an urgent recommendation to condemn a decision by the EU and the US to end the flow of funds to Palestinian institutions following the rise of Hamas to power, and called on the restrictions to end.
They don't care what damage they do to the international reputation of British academics as long as they can make their own political statements. I doubt that this will do any serious harm to Israeli academics, but it will make those in Britain the object of much ridicule, and I have to say they have it coming. The membership of NAFTHE should be ashamed of their leadership.

UPDATE: Scholars for Peace in the Middle East has issued a press release condemning the decision.
Egypt democracy activist blogs from cell

By LAUREN FRAYER, Associated Press Writer
Sun May 28, 5:40 PM ET

CAIRO, Egypt - Even from his cell in an Egyptian prison, Alaa Abdel-Fattah is blogging — scribbling messages on slips of paper that make their way to the Internet and spread around the world.

The 24-year-old Abdel-Fattah's blog, which he does with his wife Manal Hassan, has become one of the most popular pro-democracy voices in Egypt. He has continued writing despite being arrested in early May during a street demonstration in Cairo — part of a crackdown on reform activists by Egyptian security forces.

"We covered the walls of our cell with graffiti of our names and slogans and Web site addresses," Abdel-Fattah wrote one time, referring to himself and fellow imprisoned activists. "We chanted and sang and the mood was great."

But another posting was very different. "I'm sitting here terrified they'll move me to a worse cell or cut off my visits. What should I tell you — that the day will come for them (the regime)? I'm afraid our grandchildren won't see that day, much less us."

Another detained Egyptian blogger, Ahmed El Droubi, was released a few days ago, so there continues to be progress. Keep up the pressure!
THE BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY SOCIETY reports that Oded Golan has a photo of the James Ossuary from the 1970s. In the context of a report on the trial testimony of epigrapher Ada Yardeni (who still thinks the inscription is genuine) we read:
The questioning by [defense attorney] Mr. Bringer also discloses that defendant Oded Golan, who is the only defendant charged with forgery in connection with the ossuary inscription, has a photograph of the ossuary from the 1970s. If that is so, and if the inscription is already there (and it must surely be there or Mr. Bringer would not refer to it), then for the inscription to be a forgery, it must have been forged more than a quarter century ago.
Let's see the photo please. And why wasn't it produced long before all this went to trial?

(Also via Deinde.)

UPDATE (1 June): Danny Zacharias reminds me that this picture has been mentioned before. I had forgotten. This is interesting, but I'm not going to get excited about the picture until it's been authenticated and I see it.
LARRY HURTADO eviscerates The Da Vinci Code over at Slate:
Ungodly Errors
Scholarly gripes about The Da Vinci Code's Jesus.

By Larry Hurtado
Posted Monday, May 22, 2006, at 5:19 PM ET

In a climactic scene in the movie The Da Vinci Code, the supposed Holy Grail expert, Sir Leigh Teabing, lays out the conspiracy theory at the heart of the movie and the novel: "Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false," he declares. Actually, just about everything author Dan Brown puts in the mouth of Teabing is ludicrously false history. ...

In fact, in pretty much the entire body of early Christian writings from the first three centuries, Jesus' divinity is taken for granted. Christians differed not over that basic assumption but rather over how to understand his divine nature. At the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, the crucial question was how to reconcile Jesus' divinity with Christian monotheism.

Curiously, The Da Vinci Code presents the so-called Gnostics, who regarded other Christians as lesser beings than they and were in turn treated as heretics, as the heroic defenders of a thoroughly human Jesus. But actually the historic Gnostics and the gospels often linked with their circles did not emphasize Jesus' human nature at all—quite the opposite. Typically, Gnostic Christians portrayed Christ as a heavenly being who came down to earth to awaken them from their spiritual slumber by disclosing their own divine inner nature. Regarding the physical world as a source of delusion and place of confinement, Gnostics were deeply negative about bodily existence, including their own. ...

Read it all.

(Via Deinde.)
A BIOGRAPHY OF NELSON GLUECK has been published by his nephew:
Signing Features Book on Biblical Archeologist

By Val Van Meter
The Winchester Star

Are you willing to get up at 5:30 a.m. for the next five years?

That was the question Lawrence Kutler asked Rabbi Jonathan Brown as Brown began his quest to write the biography of his uncle, Nelson Glueck.

And the answer is his recently published book whose title bears his uncle’s name.

Glueck, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, lived an extraordinary life in tumultuous times, according to Alfred Gottschalk, chancellor emeritus of the Hebrew Union College, in Cincinnati, where Glueck studied and became president.

Glueck spent the first 18 years of his working life as an archaeologist in Israel, Brown noted, where he dressed like an Arab.

His next 24 years were spent heading Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and writing about the archeology of his younger days.

Requires a fairly intrusive, but free registration to access.

Coincidentally, Glueck was mentor to America's first female rabbi, who is just now retiring:
Although [Rabbi Sally] Priesand could not find a female role model, she was mentored by a male rabbi, Nelson Glueck, who was also the president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIC).

"He very much wanted to ordain a woman. He fulfilled one of his life's goals by ordaining me," she said.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

THAT ANCIENT EGYPTIAN "TOMB" discovered recently may not be a tomb, but it's not clear what exactly it is. MSNBC has a long, informative article that interviews the expedition head, Otto Schaden:
Mysteries still surround Egyptian chamber
Is it a tomb? A supply room? Ancient coffins may tell a complex tale

By Alan Boyle

Science editor
Updated: 6:41 p.m. ET May 26, 2006

Is it a royal Egyptian tomb, a glorified supply room for ancient embalmers, or something in between? A year after the discovery of a chamber that had lain hidden in the Valley of the Kings for millennia, archaeologists are still asking themselves exactly what they've found.

When the find was announced in February, it was portrayed as the first tomb to be uncovered in the pharaonic city of the dead since the discovery of King Tutankhamun's treasures in 1922. But a month later, top Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said the chamber was merely a "room for mummification" rather than a royal resting place.

Now it looks as if neither of those claims was true. One scenario is that the chamber, known as KV-63, was originally created as a tomb, then ended up as a cache for sacred supplies. However, the head of the KV-63 expedition is still holding out the possibility that at least one mummy will be found among the chamber's seven coffins.

(Via Archaeologica News.)
THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS EXHIBIT AT CHARLOTTE is concluding on Monday, having well exceeded its ticket sales goal. The Charlotte Observer reports:
Monday last day for Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit

The best-attended exhibit in the 25-year history of Discovery Place ends its 102-day run on Monday -- and still some folks haven't quite gotten the name right.

So many people called for information on the Dead Sea Squirrels exhibit that the uptown Charlotte museum made a squirrel the official mascot of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Discovery Place, at 301 N. Tryon St., surpassed its goal by selling some 220,000 tickets since the exhibit of ancient scroll fragments and other artifacts opened Feb. 17. ...