Saturday, September 29, 2007

A NEW BOOK on inscriptions (real and fake) from the Moussaieff collection is coming out with Sheffield Phoenix:
New Seals and Inscriptions, Hebrew, Idumean, and Cuneiform
Edited by Meir Lubetski

This collection of 15 papers is a significant addition to our textual evidence for the world of the Bible: it presents over 50 inscriptions, tablets and seals from the collections of Shlomo Moussaieff, in Hebrew, Idumean, and cuneiform. Most of these texts are being published here for the first time.

David Noel Freedman, The Almost Perfect Fake and/or the Real Thing
Ada Yardeni, A Note on a Qumran Scribe
Peter van der Veen, Gedaliah ben Ahiqam in the Light of Epigraphic Evidence
Martin Heide, Impressions from a New Alphabet Ostracon in the Context of (Un)provenanced Inscriptions: Idiosycrasy of a Genius Forger or a Master Scribe?
Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni, The House of Baalrim in the Idumean Ostraca
Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni, Why the Unprovenenced Idumean Ostraca Should be Published
Edward Lipinski, Silver of Ishtar of Arbela and of Hadad
Richard Hess, Aspects of Israelite Personal Names and Pre-exilic Israelite Religion
André Lemaire, New Inscribed Hebrew Seals and Seal Impressions
W.G. Lambert, A Document from a Community of Exiles in Babylonia
Meir Lubetski, Two Egypto-Israelite Seals
Chaim Cohen, The Yehoash Tablet
Kathleen Abraham, An Inheritance Division among Judeans in Babylonia from the Early Persian Period
Meir Lubetski, The Seal of a Royal Servant of the Judahite Monarchy
Meir Lubetski, A Personal Seal: Shrhr ben Zephaniah

xxiii + 325 pp.

£27.50 / $55 / €40
Scholar's Price

£55 / $110 / €80
List Price

Meir Lubetski is Professor of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature, Baruch College, City University of New York.

Series: Hebrew Bible Monographs, 8
1-905048-35-1, 978-1-905048-35-9 hardback
Publication September 2007 (not yet published)
Royal Committee for Temple Mount Begins Work
Written by Yaniv Berman
Published Friday, September 28, 2007
(The Media Line)

The Hashemite Fund for the Renovation of Al-Aq'sa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock’s Board of Trustees conducted their first meeting on September 23. The meeting was attended by Jordan’s King 'Abdallah II, who announced a personal donation of over $1.5 million.

As always, when it concerns the Al-Aq'sa Mosque compound (also known as Temple Mount or Al-Haram A-Sharif), the issue is far more delicate then meets the eye. A simple renovation work in the mosque or in the surrounding compound is often deliberated and argued over by the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian sides. Nothing is “simple” when it comes to the world's holiest site for Judaism and the third holiest site for Islam.

The new fund is headed by a member of the royal family, Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad – another sign of the importance Jordan attributes to its activity.

Under the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace accord Jordan enjoys a special status as the party in charge of the holy Islamic sites in Jerusalem. The Jordanian Ministry of Islamic Endowments is administratively in charge of the Al-Aq'sa compound and pays the salaries of its workers.

The fund has announced it will work to achieve two important goals: renovating the Al-Aq'sa Mosque and its surrounding compound, and supporting the Arab citizens of Jerusalem in order to "enable them to resist Israeli attempts to evict them from their city," according to Prince Ghazi.

"Looking after Jerusalem’s holy sites and supporting the steadfastness of its people are at the center of our attention and are a duty for all Muslims," King 'Abdallah II said during the meeting.

Clearly, Jordan is attributing much importance to the new fund. The question is whether it will be effective in achieving its goals, and if so – will it upset the Israeli authorities?

Background here.
Historic fun at city's archeological sites
By JJ LEVINE (Jerusalem Post)

If you think visiting archeological sites means standing around, looking at dusty ruins, Jerusalem is offering a whole new way of experiencing its ancient past.

Sunday through Tuesday of Hol Hamoed Succot, the archeological sites of Jerusalem will be filled with fun activities right in the midst of excavations in three capital locales: Armon Hanatziv, Ir David (The City of David), and the Mount of Olives.

A POPULAR EXCAVATION REPORT for the third season at Ramat Rahel:
Digging through the Bible
By WILL KING (Jerusalem Post)

The third season of renewed excavations at Ramat Rahel in Jerusalem has come to a close, with several exceptional finds that have increased archeologists' understanding of the site.

The excavations are the result of a joint project between Tel Aviv University and the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and are scheduled for another three seasons, with the next to begin in the summer of 2009.

Dig director Dr. Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University said that the goals of this year's dig were to expand the area around a Byzantine (fourth-seventh centuries CE) church previously excavated by Yohanan Aharoni of the Hebrew University in the 1950s, and to further expose a garden and a profound water system from a palace or administrative building that was in use from the late Iron Age (seventh-sixth centuries BCE) until the beginning of the Hasmonean period in the 2nd century BCE.

These goals were met, he said. "We understand much better the time and the extent of the garden."

Read on for a debate between Lipschits and Gabriel Barkay over aspects of the site.
TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH - more on that quarry:
Jerusalem Affairs: Hard evidence
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS (Jerusalem Post)

For years, it was a Jerusalem archeological mystery. Where did the immense limestones used to build the Second Temple come from and how did they get there?

Some archeologists originally presumed that the quarry must have been located in close proximity to the Temple Mount, while others said it had to be located outside the built-up Old City.

But nobody knew for sure.

Then a group of archeologists from the state-run Antiquities Authority suddenly stumbled upon the quarry during a routine salvage excavation in an outlying neighborhood ahead of the planned construction of a new school.

The quarry is located in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, four kilometers northwest of the Old City, on a ridge that rises about 80 meters above the height of the Temple Mount.

"This is the first time stones which were used to build the Temple Mount walls were found," said Yuval Baruch, of the Antiquities Authority, who was involved in the dig. He said the site was used 2,000 years ago by dozens of King Herod's workers during the construction of the Mount's retaining walls.

I don't think there's anything new in this article, but it summarizes the current state of play.

Friday, September 28, 2007

TWO PHD STUDENTSHIPS IN ANCIENT JEWISH LITERATURE are available from the University of Manchester:
Typology of Anonymous and Pseudepigraphic Jewish Literature in Antiquity, c. 200 BCE to c. 700 CE - Two AHRC PhD studentships
Get 'em while they're hot, folks! The closing date is imminent, but I have it on good authority that they have some flexibility on the deadline for application (and on the entry date), so get them an application as soon as you can.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

REVIEW OF NADIA ABU EL-HAJ, FACTS ON THE GROUND: Archaeological Practice and Terriorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001)

I've been following the media coverage of this book for some time, and have even been selectively quoted on it. A couple of people have encouraged me to comment on it, so now that I've read it I may as well post some thoughts. Much that has occurred to me as I read it has already been said elsewhere, but I will try not to be too repetitive. For background, see here and follow the links back.

Abu El-Haj outlines her basic assumptions in a number of places in the book, starting with the first chapter. She offers a post-structuralist and post-colonial critique of archaeology, in which facts are determined contextually by class and other interests. Reality is largely conditioned by what we do in and to it and not by what we think. Archaeology has a peculiar authority since it tends to be taken as providing given facts. In Israel, archaeology emerged as a principal site for the reenactment of Jewish presence with the objective of colonizing Palestine to turn it into Eretz Yisrael (pp. 9, 11, 13,18, 21). Israeli archaeologists do not recognize their own complicity in this "settlement project," whether or not they support it (p. 236). In response to these issues she advocates a "post-Zionist archaeology." And she concludes, with Edward Said, that objective knowledge and its supposed universalism is "Eurocentric in the extreme" and these disciplines (the case in question being Israeli archaeology) gelled within particular colonial contexts (p. 278).

I am paraphrasing here, but I believe accurately. On the one hand, the point is well taken that archaeology, especially when we attempt to correlate it with ancient texts, requires a good deal of interpretation and cannot be regarded as a body of raw, objective facts. But on the other hand, I would say that her philosophical framework crosses the line into anti-realism, a position for which I have little sympathy.

Much of the book deals with matters outside my expertise and on which I have no comment. These include, for example, the Ordinance Survey of Western Palestine and the excavation work of Sir Flinders Petrie in Palestine (chapter 2); the first Yedia'at Ha'aretz conference in 1943 (chapter 3); the early projects of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society and the Governmental Names Committee to recover or assign Hebrew names to geographical locations in Palestine (chapter 4); and various museums in Jerusalem (chapter 8). I leave these matters to others who have expertise on them. I will focus my comments on matters about which I do know something, along with some more general observations on method and presentation.

Chapter 5, "Positive Facts of Nationhood," looks at the archaeological work of Yigael Yadin (who advocated a "violent conquest" model for ancient Israelite origins) and Yohanan Aharoni (who held to a "peaceful infiltration" model), and offers a facile psychologizing of both men (Yadin was a military leader and Aharoni was much involved in the Kibbutz movement). Abu El-Haj then argues that their work traced the record by means of archaeology and the Bible, but was heavily influenced by their nationalism. Despite their infamous falling out, they agreed much more than they disagreed and ultimately the argument was over historical details, with the agreed terms of the argument involving texts, dates, and pots. In particular, the data from Hazor Area A (excavated by Yadin) was furnished by the texts with a potential narrative that could not have been gotten from the excavated remains themselves. She says that the earliest of these texts "were composed in the Hellenistic period" (p. 123), an extreme late dating that would be rejected by almost all specialists. No hint of the extremity of this view is given in her discussion. She seems to have doubts about the validity of speaking of 'Israelite" pottery, although she does not (and as far as I know does not have the training to) argue for another interpretation.

I think it is fair to say that the interpretation of remains found at places like Hazor in light of the biblical texts produced an apparently empirical historical narrative of Israelite origins that had a certain Israeli nationalist propaganda value. It is also fair to say that this historical narrative now at best requires extensive rethinking and at worst was simply wrong. This is a legitimate cautionary tale about the use of archaeology for political purposes.

That said, two points are worth adding. The first is that much of the critique of these earlier archaeological reconstructions has come from Israeli archaeologists. This is no nationalist orthodoxy twisting the outcome of the archaeology of the region. The second point is that the fundamental scientific integrity of Israeli archaeologists in following standard methods and subjecting their work to rigorous peer scrutiny forms the starkest contrast to the ahistorical propaganda disseminated by the Palestinian leadership at all levels and by their supporters in the Arab world and beyond. The obvious example is the routine denial that a Jewish Temple ever stood on the Temple Mount (to pick just a few examples, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here -- and note my responses here and here). The Israeli archaeologists are at least trying, even though they sometimes get it wrong and even though their biases may sometimes color their conclusions.

Chapter 6, "Excavating Jerusalem," contains the now infamous accusation that David Ussishkin's excavation at Jezreel used bulldozers. (For his response, see here). Without going into that again for the moment, I note as an aside her statement in the same context on the same page (148):
Among Palestinian officials at the Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount - JRD] and the Awqaf as well as many other archaeologists--Palestinian and European or American (trained)--the use of bulldozers has become the ultimate sign of "bad science" and of nationalist politics guiding research agendas. Critics situate this practice squarely within (a specific understanding of) the politics of a nationalist tradition of archaeological research.
Current events on the Temple Mount involving excavation by bulldozer cast some serious doubt on the commitment of the Palestinian officials and the Awqaf to this principle, although, to be fair, the IAA doesn't come out looking all that well either.

As has already been noted by Alan Segal, Abu El-Haj makes the odd claim on p. 132 that the Hebrew word bayit, "house," is a secularizing term that avoids the term "temple." This is a striking error, since anyone with a basic grasp of either Biblical or Modern Hebrew would be well aware that in contexts relating to the Temple, bayit is the word one would normally use.

Abu El-Haj has been criticized quite a lot for floating the idea a couple of times (pp. 144-46, plus pp. 212-13 in chapter 8) that ash layers excavated in Jerusalem which clearly date around 70 CE need not be from the Roman destruction of the city, but could come from other causes including conflicts among Jewish groups as noted by Josephus. I think this is actually interesting out-of-the-box thinking of the type that can be quite useful for helping us to question our assumptions and ask new questions of our data. But here she is just using the suggestion for its propaganda value (or, as she could perhaps legitimately argue, its counter-propaganda value), rather than developing it as a serious attempt to explain the excavation evidence. Her additional speculation that the fire could have been accidental is theoretically possible, but strains credulity. Her point is valid that we should not interpret the archaeological remains in light of the texts and then simplistically claim those remains as verification of the texts. But, that granted, we must also not fall into a hyper-skepticism that keeps us from analyzing all our evidence and formulating hypotheses based on the balance of probability.

In chapter 8, "Historical Legacies," she shows that tour guides can be good or bad, not just in terms of perspective and nuance, but even in terms of getting basic facts right. But this hardly applies only to Israeli tour guides. Museum displays and films sometimes also have problems (see, e.g., this display in the Oriental Institute), and the claim in the Burnt House Museum film that the ash layer can be dated to a particular day is indeed ridiculous, as Abu El-Haj indicates. Josephus gives this date for the destruction of the Upper City of Jerusalem and it appears that, once the connection between that ash layer and that destruction was made, someone inferred the date based on his comment. If the transcription of the film's sound track is accurate, the script-writer clearly misunderstood the process of inference.

Two other specific passages in the book struck me as also requiring comment. Chapter 9, "Archaeology and Its Aftermath," looks at Israeli archaeology in relation to both Palestinians and Ultra-Orthodox Jews. While discussing the problem of looting in an anti-colonial politicial context Abu El-Haj writes (p. 255):
Although never argued by [Palestinian archaeologist Nazmi] Ju'beh, looting could well be analyzed as a form of resistance to the Israeli state and an archaeological project, understood by many Palestinians, to stand at the very heart of Zionist historical claims to the land. In James Scott's words, looting is perhaps "a weapon of the weak."
I can't think of any other way to read this than as a -- granted, tentatively, but still unambiguously phrased -- political justification of the looting of archaeological sites. I think this is one of the most disturbing passages in the book and I am surprised not to have encountered any other comments on it so far.

The other passage is on the last pages (280-81) of chapter 10, "Conclusions."
In producing the material signs of national history that became visible and were witnessed across the contemporary landscape, archaeology repeatedly remade the colony into an ever-expanding national terrain. It substantiated the nation in history and produced Eretz Yisrael as the national home. It is within the context of that distinctive history of archaeological practice and settler nationhood that one can understand why it was that "thousands of Palestinians stormed the site" of Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus, looting it and setting it alight during the renewed intifada that rocked Palestine and Israel in the fall of 2000 ... Joseph's tomb was not destroyed simply because of its status as a Jewish religious shrine. The symbolic resonance of its destruction reaches far deeper than that. It needs to be understood in relation to a colonial-national history in which modern political rights have been substantiated in and expanded through the material signs of historic presence. In destroying the tomb, Palestinian demonstrators eradicated one "fact on the ground."
It is possible that Abu El-Haj is simply offering a explanation of the mentality behind the actions of the marauders here and perhaps we should assume this more charitable interpretation. But I was struck by the fact that there is no condemnation of the desecration of this site and it is equally possible to read the passage as a justification of the actions of the mob (especially given her quoted statement from p. 255 above). I wish she had helped us out a little more to read what she says in the more charitable light.

Now some general observations. Whatever the specific facts, the way Abu El-Haj presents her arguments sometimes fall into patterns that raise concerns.

She has been widely criticized for her use of anonymous sources, and she does cite these an awful lot. In many cases she is telling an anecdote or relating that someone expressed an opinion and it makes little difference who said it (e.g., pp. 199, 211, 212, 236, 251, 252). But other cases involve testimony about important matters and serious accusations and it does seem inappropriate that these should be anonymous. Examples are the eyewitness testimony to details of the Israeli demolition of the Maghariba Quarter (p. 165); the accusation by an archaeologist that a "right-wing colleague" "was constantly labeling Christian sites Jewish" (p. 233); an archaeologist reporting on encounters with haredim at certain archaeological digs (p. 258); archaeologists giving contrasting views of the situation regarding the haredim and archaeology (pp. 260-62, 263); the anonymous accusation concerning the use of the bulldozer at Jezreel (p. 306 n. 12); and the accusation that at an unnamed excavation bones were excavated from a Muslim cemetery and not recorded and that anonymous volunteers reported that this had also happened in the previous season (p. 318 n. 17). Note also the claim of the author that clearly non-Jewish human remains were hidden on an excavation on which she participated, but she does not not say which excavation (p. 268).

There is also some argument by insinuation. Conclusions by others are presented in such a way that we seem to be expected to assume they are wrong, but the reasons for rejecting them are never spelled out, nor are corrections and better readings of the evidence offered. These include the skeptical references to "Israelite" pottery and architecture on p. 118; to Herodian architecture on pp. 134-35; to "Israelite" Jerusalem in the late Iron Age on pp. 138-39; and references to the comments of Amnon Ben Tor and others about the logic of Jewish interest in ancient Israel and the perceived Arab lack of interest in their past on pp. 252-53. This is really a matter of tone, but the tone in these passages is unhelpful.

To conclude, Facts on the Ground makes some interesting observations about how nationalism and politics have fed into and fed off of Israeli archaeology. But these observations are offered in the context of an extreme perception of Israel as a colonial state, and I suspect that, whatever readers think of this viewpoint, the book's tendenz is so transparent that no one's mind will be changed one way or another by reading it. When it talks about things I know about, it consistently slants the presentation of the evidence according to this tendenz so that the conclusions are predictable and not very interesting. This book makes no contribution to the archaeology of ancient Palestine or what it can tell us about the history of ancient Israel. Others can decide whether the book makes a contribution in some other area.

UPDATE (15 October): More here and here.
A RARE BOOKS EXPERT, who curated the Dead Sea Scrolls while they were in the United States, is profiled by the Baptist Press:
Rare books benefit from her rare talent

Posted on Sep 26, 2007 | by Gary D. Myers

NEW ORLEANS (BP)--For nearly four months last spring, Chicago-based rare books expert Ellen Middlebrook Herron combed through the rare books collection at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's John T. Christian Library.

Herron discovered and cataloged a number of important early books and Bibles in the NOBTS library, including several 15th-century works from the earliest days of the printing press.

But in many ways, Herron's expertise is as rare as the books she investigates. These skills include the ability to read Latin and French as well as decipher titles and phrases in languages such as Greek, Hebrew, Italian and Spanish. She also has the uncanny talent for dating handwriting by century. Extensive knowledge of binding procedures and early book construction techniques are other tools Herron uses to identify and date books.

Her training and experience with ancient documents led to Herron's involvement with two important collections -– the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Scriptorium: Center for Christian Antiquity.

JAMES KUGEL'S HOW TO READ THE BIBLE is reviewed in the New York Jewish Week. Excerpt:
In "How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now" (Free Press) Kugel's interest is not only in what the text says, but in what a modern reader is to make of it. The book is particularly timely reading, as the cycle of weekly Torah readings begins again next week, with Genesis and the creation story.

Kugel's approach is compelling and original: A professor emeritus at Harvard and professor at Bar Ilan University in Israel, he looks at two different ways of studying and understanding the Bible - the approaches of the ancient interpreters and those of modern biblical scholars - in tandem. The former was a largely anonymous group of scholars, living from 300 BCE to 200 CE, who set about to explain the meaning of the texts; their stories, prophecies and laws have been passed on for generations. As Kugel, who speaks 10 languages, explains, "For most of our history, what the Bible meant was what the ancient interpreters had said it meant."

The latter, scholars at work for the last 150 years or so, integrate the work of archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists and historians, trying to find the original meaning of these texts, before the ancient interpreters added their own meaning. They study the Bible the same way they would approach any literary text, and theorize that the texts are from different sources and by different authors.
SECOND ENOCH GRADUATE SEMINAR (JUNE 16-18, 2008) - Gabriele Boccaccini e-mails:
Dear Members and Friends of the Enoch Seminar:

The Second Enoch Graduate Seminar will be held at Princeton (June 16-18, 2008) [please, notice the change of date]. The conference is organized by Princeton Theological Seminary in collaboration with Princeton University. Chairs: Prof. James Charlesworth, Martha Himmelfarb, and Gabriele Boccaccini; secr. Prof. Shane Berg).

Graduate students, PhD candidates and post-doc researches are invited to apply.

Abstracts, not to exceed two (2) pages, should be submitted that relate to any aspect of Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins. Preference will be given to topics that cross the border lines of established literary and religious canons. Twenty four (24) papers will be selected for discussion at Princeton, and eight (8) among them for publication in the Journals Henoch and JSP.

Send abstract to Prof. Shane Berg

Please, invite your students and... spread the news !

Gabriele Boccaccini

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

IAN WERRETT, my former doctoral student, is publishing his thesis with Brill:
Ritual Purity and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Ian C. Werrett


Series: Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, 72
ISBN-13 (i): 978 90 04 15623 4
ISBN-10: 90 04 15623 2
ISSN: 0169-9962

Cover: Cloth with dustjacket
Number of pages: x, 350 pp.

List price: € 119.00 / US$ 170.00

Those who are interested in Second Temple Judaism, ritual purity, the Dead Sea Scrolls, biblical interpretation, and contemporary methodological issues in Qumran scholarship.

About the author(s)
Ian C. Werrett, Ph.D. (2006) in Biblical Studies, University of St Andrews, is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Saint Martin's University.

This book represents the first comprehensive study on the concept of ritual purity in the Dead Sea Scrolls since the full publication of the legal material from Qumran. Utilizing an independent approach to the relevant documents from Qumran, this study discusses the primary and secondary literature on the five major categories of impurity in the scrolls (i.e., diseases, clean/unclean animals, corpses, bodily discharges, and sexual misdeeds). This examination is supported by a comparison between the scrolls’ purity legislations and their biblical counterparts. The book culminates with a comparison between the purity rulings in the scrolls and a diachronic reading of the explicit agreements and disagreements found therein. The result is a far more comprehensive and nuanced interpretation than has been previous offered.
Should be out by the San Diego SBL meetings in November. Well done, Ian!
TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH - These political rumours fly and I don't like to make a lot of them, but here's a dose for you:
Palestinians: Olmert agreed to surrender Jerusalem
(Israel Today

Palestinian Authority sources said at the weekend that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has privately agreed to surrender the eastern half of Jerusalem - including the Old City and Temple Mount - to the Arabs as part of any final status peace agreement.

Speaking to the official Palestinian Authority newspaper Al Hayat Al Jadeeda, one official said that Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week that Olmert had assured him Israel would ultimately meet the long-standing Arab demand on control of Jerusalem.

Olmert reportedly made the promise during a recent preparatory meeting with Abbas ahead of a major US-hosted Middle East peace summit scheduled to take place in Washington in November.

FROM THE PHOENICIANS TO THE MAMELUKES -- the Jerusalem Post has a Tourism piece on the ancient city of Apollonia (Arshuf):
In the blink of an eye...

Silently overlooking the Mediterranean, a mere 15 kilometers north of bustling Tel Aviv, stand the ruins of an ancient city. The broken fragments of centuries-old walls seem to hang almost desperately to the tops of fossilized sandstone cliffs in what is now an empty, windblown stretch of the coast in Herzliya.

Known as Apollonia, the name it was given early in its history by the ancient Greeks, this lonely spot perched high above the pounding ocean waves is little known and seldom visited. The place is nonetheless a national treasure.

Archaeological excavations revealing the remains of more than 1,800 years of continuous occupation were begun by Tel Aviv University (TAU) in 1996, and a national archaeological park was established by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in 2002. According to what we know so far - archaeological work continues periodically - the first people to call this starkly beautiful place home were the Phoenicians, who established a settlement in the sixth century B.C.E.

Who were these Phoenicians? Related culturally and linguistically to the ancient Canaanites, these maritime people built boats and took to the sea from the coast of Lebanon, sailing and trading throughout the Mediterranean, and even establishing a colony on the coast of North Africa which they called, in their Hebrew-related West Semitic language, Karta Hadasht ("New City"), or Carthage. This was the Carthage that later challenged Rome for supremacy of the Mediterranean, and whose great general Hannibal led a mighty army equipped with elephants across the Alps.

Back here, meanwhile, the Phoenicians named their settlement on the coast of today's Herzliya Arshuf, in honor of Resheph, the Canaanite god of war, plague and the underworld. The Phoenician town grew rich, fishing for murex mollusks in the nearby coastal waters and producing from those aquatic snails a rare purple dye. This dye, which could be produced in only very small quantities, was prized by royalty throughout the Aegean and mentioned in both the Bible and the Talmud. Superior to plant-based dyes which were then most common, the purple mollusk dye was permanent. It was also precious: As one mollusk secreted only a few drops of the dye, thousands were thus needed to dye one single garment - or Tabernacle cloth.

THE ANCHOR BIBLE SERIES has moved to Yale University Press:
Yale Acquires Anchor Bible Series
September 25, 2007
By Kimberly Maul (The Book Standard)

Yale University Press has acquired the Anchor Bible series from Doubleday for undisclosed terms. The series, which was started in 1956 with guidance from biblical scholar William Foxwell Albright, is a collection of more than 115 volumes of biblical scholarship. The overall series is divided into the Anchor Bible Commentary Series, a book-by-book translation and exegesis of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Apocrypha; the six-volume Anchor Bible Dictionary set; and the open-ended Anchor Bible Reference Library series.

UPDATE (27 September): Iyov is happy.

UPDATE: Charles Halton is unhappy.
MOBILE PHONES WITH AN AMHARIC DISPLAY are now available in Ethiopia.
FISHING TACKLE has been recovered from a seventh-century CE shipwreck off the coast of Tel Dor:
Ancient Fishermen Lured Fish With Fire
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Sept. 25, 2007 — Fishermen around areas mentioned in the New Testament worked the night shift, suggests fishing gear found in a 7th century shipwreck off the coast of Dor, Israel, west of Galilee, where Jesus is said to have preached.

The standout item among the found gear is a fire basket, the first evidence for "fire fishing" in the ancient eastern Mediterranean. Early images and writings indicate fires were lit in such baskets, which were suspended in giant lantern devices from the end of fishing boats.

Light emitted from the fire both attracted and illuminated fish, as well as other sea creatures, like octopus, which men then speared or captured in nets.

"Striking at night is classified as fire hunting," explained archaeologists Ehud Galili and Baruch Rosen, who excavated the shipwreck.

Their findings have been accepted for publication in The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

The researchers, from the Israel Antiquities Authority, added that the ancient Greek philosopher Plato (approximately 428-348 B.C.) wrote about the practice, which involved striking fish forcefully from above or below the water.

SUKKOT (the seven-day Festival of Booths or Tabernacles) begins tonight at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Richard Caring acquires London’s Gilgamesh restaurant
(24 September 2007 23:06)

London restaurant Gilgamesh has reportedly been acquired by fashion mogul Richard Caring after a dispute over unpaid rent.

The restaurant, at the heart of Camden Market, is understood to have been seized by landlord Stables Market, of which Caring is a stakeholder.

The move follows a financial dispute with the former Israeli owners, who allegedly failed to make rental payments of £700,000.


Monday, September 24, 2007

From: Adam Mendelsohn
List Editor: Adam Mendelsohn
Editor's Subject: JOB: Distinguished Professorship, Jewish History, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Author's Subject: JOB: Distinguished Professorship, Jewish History, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Date Written: Sun, 23 Sep 2007 00:00:53 -0400
Date Posted: Sun, 23 Sep 2007 00:00:53 -0400

Distinguished Professorship/Jewish History. The University of North Carolina Wilmington's Department of History announces a new endowed professorship in Jewish History beginning Fall 2008. The holder of the Charles and Hannah Block Distinguished Professorship in Jewish History will be a senior scholar with a notable record of scholarly publication and teaching in any period of Jewish History. Ph.D. in history or related discipline required. Responsibilities include: teaching four courses per year, including undergraduate courses in Jewish History from antiquity to the present as well as upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses in specialty; active research; and outreach to area educators. Funds from the Rhine Family Endowment for Jewish History will be available to support research, outreach, and related programs for the region. Salary will be competitive based on experience and publications. A comprehensive university situated in the historic port city of Wilmington, UNCW enrolls nearly 12,000 students and offers graduate fields in European, U.S., Global, and Public History at the M.A. level. To apply, please complete the online application process available on the Web at A letter of application, curriculum vitae, and contact information for three professional references should be addressed to the Dr. Michael Seidman, Search Committee Chair and attached to the online application - not emailed, mailed or faxed. Attachments must be either Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF documents. For questions regarding the online application process, contact Ms. Tammie Grady at (910) 962-3307. Under North Carolina law, applications and related materials are confidential personnel documents and not subject to public release. Priority consideration will be given to online applications received by December 1, 2007, but will be accepted until the position is filled.

UNCW is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. Women and minorities are especially encouraged to apply.
Contact Info:
Applications accepted online only at

From the H-Judaic list.
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2007 23:58:25 -0400
From: Adam Mendelsohn
Subject: JOB: Assistant Professor, Jewish History, Brooklyn College

Jewish History (ancient/medieval). The History Department at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professorship in Jewish history to begin in fall 2008. Ph.D. required. Research specialization in the ancient or medieval period, but the successful candidate will be able to offer courses ranging from ancient to modern as well as the college's core course on the shaping of the modern world. Send letter of application describing both research and teaching interests, c.v., three letters of recommendation, a representative sample of scholarship (article or dissertation chapter), and evidence of teaching experience to: Professor David G. Troyansky, Chair, Department of History, Brooklyn College/CUNY, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210. Review of applications will begin on October 15, 2007, and will continue until position is filled. EO/AA/IRCA/ADA. Women and members of underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Contact Info:
Professor David G. Troyansky
Chair, Department of History
Brooklyn College/CUNY
2900 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11210
Also from the H-Judaic list.
Jordan allocates $1.5m to rebuild Temple Mount
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

Jordan will allocate 1.113 million Jordanian Dinars ($1.5 million dollars) to the Jordan Hashemite Fund for the Reconstruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, King Abdullah II announced Sunday during a meeting of the trustees of the new fund.

The king also instructed a bonus salary to be given to employees of the Waqf, as a gesture of thanks for their commitment and work.


he fund will pay for a new fire detection system that will be installed in the complex of mosques, as well as a modern fire suppression system.

In addition, the fund will acquire a fire truck that will be stationed near the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

A team in charge of preserving mosaics and antiquities will also undergo further training at the expense of the new fund.

UPDATE (29 September): More here.
TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH (indirectly):
Quarry used for Jewish temple unearthed in Israel
Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:21am EDT
By Rebecca Harrison

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Archaeologists have found an ancient quarry where King Herod's workers may have chiselled the giant stones used to rebuild the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago.

The Israel Antiquities Authority said on Sunday experts believe stones as long as 8 meters (24 feet) were extracted from the quarry and then dragged by oxen to building sites in Jerusalem for major projects such as the temple.

"This construction most likely included the walls of the Temple Mount and other monumental buildings," the authority said in a statement.

Some of the blocks discovered at the site resemble stones used in the lower parts of the Temple Mount compound, the site of two biblical Jewish temples, the statement said.

Jews believe King Solomon built the first Jerusalem temple 3,000 years ago. In 1 BC, King Herod rebuilt and expanded a second temple on the same site, which was razed by the Romans during the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD.


Archaeologists also discovered coins and shards of pottery which confirm the quarry was operating during the Second Temple period, when rulers of the city under King Herod embarked on major construction projects.

Note the seemingly obligatory mistake: King Herod died in 4 B.C.E., so he could hardly have started work on the Temple three years later.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

THE CAVERNS OF THE SERONI ON MALACANDRA? The geography seems about right. Tell them to keep an eye out for the Tower of Augray.
ED COOK is defending the reputation of the Gibeonites.