Saturday, December 20, 2008

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT is seeking donations in order to be able to continue its work. Joseph I. Lauer has circulated a letter from Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Zweig, which I take the liberty of posting here:

The Project of Sifting the Debris from the Temple Mount


When we began the Temple Mount Sifting Project almost five years ago we had no idea what was ahead of us. We did not understand the great amount of work that would be necessary to extract archaeological information from tons of haphazardly dumped material, and we were also completely unaware of the great interest that the public would take in the project and the scores of people who would be willing to volunteer. We also did not even begin to understand the educational impact of our work, and that we had embarked on a lifetime project with great national significance. We initially thought that after a couple of months of sifting the project will be over.

After eight months of work the project nearly closed down, but the Ir-David Foundation adopted the project with the intention of funding it until all the debris would be sifted, and we have continued to operate for nearly five years. Over the course of the past year, over 20,000 people came to volunteer, funding was abundant and we even began to make plans for permanent facilities.

Unfortunately, because of the current economic situation we are once again faced with the potential of having to end our important work. Though the Ir David Foundation found emergency funding at the last minute which will enable us to keep the project going, we have reduced our staff to a minimum and will not be able to sift or to offer educational programming at the same volume as we have been for the past five years.

Just as these words were written, we found a rare half-shekel silver coin, minted by the Temple authorities during the First Revolt in 66/67 C.E. This type of coin was used as a contribution to the Temple at the end of the Second Temple Period, as it says in Exodus (30:12-13). "When you take the sum of the children of Israel. . .This they shall give, everyone who goes through the counting: half a shekel according to the holy shekel.”

The Temple Mount Sifting Operation is not a project for an elite group of archaeologists. It is now the property of the entire Jewish people, including the tens of thousands of volunteers who have helped us sift through the rubble over the years. Many times throughout history the most important projects are adopted by private donors who have the privilege to make a significant difference well before the state steps in to help. The Temple Mount Sifting Project is just such an opportunity. Please take part in this effort to save the Temple Mount Antiquities and help us to continue the educational programming which is having an immeasurable impact on thousands of visitors from all walks of Jewish life.

Gabriel Barkay, PhD.
Zachi Zweig

[Sorry, can't get the photo to upload - JRD]

Silver Half-Shekel coin. Obverse: A chalice from the Temple topped by the letter aleph, which means "First year". Around the perimeter is inscribed “Half a Shekel”. Reverse: A stem with three pomegranates surrounded by the words “Holy Jerusalem”.

Contributions to the Ir David Foundation

Contributions to the Ir David Foundation and the many initiatives it supports are tax-deductible in the United States.

Checks should be made payable to:“Friends of Ir David”
Please specify that the donation is designated to the Temple Mount Sifting Project, or give us a notice about it at: .

Mailing Address:

"Friends of Ir David”
1300 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11210, USA

Tax ID Number: 11-346-6176
Tax exempt status: 501 (c) (3)

Electronic Bank Transfer:

Bank: Chase Manhattan-1501 Avenue M, Brooklyn, NY
Account name: “Friends of Ir David”
Account Number: 845500431365
Routing number: 021000021

Contributions via Ir-David website
Most recent background here, with plenty of earlier background if you follow the links back.
TEN IMPORTANT ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES in 2008 Related to the Bible, courtesy of Claude Marriottini. It isn't presented as a top-ten list, but it doesn't make a half bad one.

(Via the BiblePlaces blog.)
Where the Story of Hanukkah Comes to Life

By Linda Gradstein
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, December 21, 2008; Page P01

"I am the old Mattathias, and I have seen a lot in my life," he says in a booming voice. "The Greeks have forbidden us from reading the Torah and observing the Sabbath. . . . We are Jews, and we will always be Jews. Whoever is for God, follow me!"

What follows is a tale of military triumph and a miraculous supply of oil, a story told the world over that gains magic when recounted in the land where it took place. The reenactment of the Hanukkah story, which commemorates the time when a small band of Jews, the Hasmoneans, fought the Greeks for the right to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem, is only part of a visit to Baram's Hasmonean village, which tries to re-create life during that period, more than 2,000 years ago.

At the village, about halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, children can participate in several activities appropriate to Hanukkah. In one area they harvest olives from a tree and crush them into oil using an ancient olive press. In another they make mosaics, and in a third they make copies of ancient coins.

Baram says old coins were found here, less than a mile from the traditional site of the grave of the Maccabees, the leaders of the group that eventually won independence from the Greeks. He says understanding the Hanukkah story is one way to deepen Israeli children's Jewish identity.

Did I mention that Hanukkah starts tomorrow night at sundown?

Judging by the date of this article, the Washington Post also seems to be celebrating Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day a little late.

UPDATE (21 December): Dead link fixed. Sorry!
ED COOK has posted his Fifth Annual Ralphies awards. I'm working on mine and plan to put up the post on New Year's Eve, as usual.
LATIN is alive and well in Columbia Missouri:
The Latin Revival
Friday, December 19, 2008 | 1:18 p.m. CST
BY Morven McCulloch (Columbia Missourian)

COLUMBIA — It seems Latin isn’t dead anymore. It’s in the spells of Harry Potter books and on the screens in movies such as "Gladiator" and "300." In Columbia and nationwide, the language is drawing new breath.

Renewed interest in the language is evident in the fairly steady Latin class numbers at Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools and Columbia Independent School. Instructors and students say it's worth taking Latin because of the language's culture and history as well as for the academic benefits.

And there's this interesting tidbit:
Latin and test scores

Research shows a strong positive correlation between a student’s academic achievement and enrollment in Latin. Ginny Lindzey, Latin teacher at Dripping Springs High School in Texas, is the webmaster for the National Committee for Latin and Greek's Web site. She said research based on the SAT II and language test scores showed students who take Latin generally do significantly better on the verbal section than students who take any other language.

According to the Web site for Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers Inc., students who take Latin not only have a higher grade point average than students who take any other language, but in 2007, the average SAT verbal score for Latin students was 678 — about 40 to 50 points higher than students enrolled in French, Spanish, Hebrew and German. The verbal score for students who did not take a language at all was 502. The same correlations have been evident since 2000.
It's possible that part of this results from self-selection: the brighter and more highly motivated students take Latin. But students who take Hebrew are generally bright and highly motivated too, so perhaps the Latin language itself gives students a better grasp of English.

That said, I see that in 2003 the opposite result was reported: Latin students did better on the SAT than everyone but Hebrew students. Unfortunately, the link has rotted. But it seems that taking any language helps one's SAT scores, with Latin and Hebrew as the most helpful.

I have more on Latin as a healthy dead language here and here, and Latin in Columbia also made the headlines a few years ago.
THE BABYLON EXHIBITION at the British Museum gets a detailed and thoughtful review in The National (UAE):
Building Babylon

* Last Updated: December 19. 2008 9:30AM UAE / December 19. 2008 5:30AM GMT

An exhibition at the British Museum explores the multiple ways in which the legendary city of Babylon has been imagined and re-imaged – mostly by Westerners. Kanishk Tharoor visits in search of a city.

Among his many sins, Saddam Hussein sought to defy history. The ruthless dictator milked all the resources of his country, making no exception for its past. While waging war with Iran, he visited the site of Babylon, about 50 miles south of Baghdad. Unimpressed by the stubbly remains of the once great city, Saddam rebuilt a version of the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II – Babylon’s most famous ruler – over the ruins. He even styled himself as Nebuchadnezzar’s heir, mimicking the Babylonian monarch’s inscriptions on bricks that were time-stamped, “in the era of Saddam Hussein, protector of Iraq, who rebuilt civilisation and rebuilt Babylon.” Saddam’s posturing was meant to remind Iraqis of their glorious heritage, their abiding link to a vigorous and sophisticated empire that held sway over the Middle East nearly three millennia ago.

But if there is one lesson to be drawn from the Babylon of history and myth, it is that hubris begets decline and doom. Folklore, the Bible and countless artists and writers tell the story of Babylon as that of demise. Blind to these cautionary tales, Saddam forgot that Nebuchadnezzar’s city was eventually conquered (and his dynasty severed) by the Persians, a footnote equally ominous and inconvenient in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war. Stuttering from bloody war to bloody peace to bloody war again, Saddam was finally toppled by the Americans. The writing, as King Belshazzar realised too late in the Book of Daniel, was already on the wall. And like the tower of Babel, Saddam was bound to come crashing down.

Saddam followed, perhaps unknowingly, in the footsteps of countless Westerners who sought to build real arguments upon Babylon’s mythological foundations. Babylon: Myth and Reality, a brilliant exhibition on at the British Museum in London, explores the multiple ways in which Babylon has been imagined and re-imagined, measuring the reveries against what is known about the real city. ...
Background here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: A half-shekel coin has been found in the Temple Mount dirt that was illicitly excavated and discarded by the Waqf:
Rare first century half shekel coin found in Temple Mount dirt
By Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: Shekel, Israel news, Temple

A rare half shekel coin, first minted in 66 or 67 C.E., was discovered by 14 year-old Omri Ya'ari as volunteers sifted through mounds of dirt from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The coin is the first one found to originate from the Temple Mount.

For the fourth year, archaeologists and volunteers have been sifting through dirt dug by the Waqf, the Muslim authority in charge of the Temple Mount compound, in an unauthorized project in 1999. The dig caused extensive and irreversible archaeological damage to the ancient layers of the mountain. The Waqf transported the dug up dirt in trucks to another location, where it was taken to Emek Tzurim. 40,000 volunteers have so far participated in the sifting project, in search of archaeological artifacts, under the guidance of Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Yitzhak Zweig.


The coin that was found in the sifting project, though it was well preserved, showed some damage from a fire. Experts believe it was the same fire that destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E.

Dr. Gabriel Barkay explained that "the half shekel coin was used to pay the temple taxes... The coins were apparently minted at Temple Mount itself by the Temple authorities."


An additional important archaeological discovery in the sifting project was another well preserved coin, minted between 175 and 163 B.C.E. by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, against whom the Hasmoneans revolted. This revolt brought about the re-dedication of the Temple after Antiochus seized the Temple's treasures and conducted idol worship in it. The coin depicts a portrait of Antiochus the Seleucid King.
Background on the sifting of the Temple Mount rubble is here, and keep following the links back. Also a full shekel coin was found in Jerusalem earlier this year.

UPDATE (20 December): The Jerusalem Post also has an article here on the discovery, which has a picture of the Antiochus coin.

UPDATE: Also, still more on the Temple Mount Sifting Project here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

DOROTHY KING shares her The 10 Greatest Archaeology Movies Ever list with us. I haven't seen all of them, but of those I have seen I would put Raiders at the top of the list. And I would put The Mummy and The Mummy Returns in the top ten as well. (Mummy 3 was dire and should never have seen the light of day, so to speak.) As for The Body, I liked the book better than the movie, although the book was cheesier. Maybe that's why, but the book did have (comparatively!) more and better archaeology and history. If the execrable fourth Indiana Jones movie belongs in the also-rans (I would take it out), then I suppose The Da Vinci Code movie does too. I briefly reviewed Indy 4 here and was much too nice to it. I really tried to like it, but upon reflection, one star. My review of Da Vinci is here (and of the book here).

Dorothy's #4 sounds promising and I hope someday she'll lend me the DVD.
AN ANGEL named Apocrypha.

(Slow news day, in case you hadn't guessed. I'll see if I can come up with more later on.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

RECENT ARTICLES in the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures:
Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 8: Article 25 (2008)

Ian Young,

Late Biblical Hebrew And The Qumran Pesher Habakkuk


The most widely held scholarly view argues that Early Biblical Hebrew (EBH) developed into Late Biblical Hebrew (LBH) during the sixth-fifth centuries BCE. It is claimed that on this basis scholars are able to date the composition of biblical books by analysis of their language. In contrast, we argue that EBH and LBH represent not successive chronological periods, but rather co-existing styles of Hebrew. This is demonstrated by the language of the Qumran Pesher-commentary on the biblical book of Habakkuk. Despite dating to the first century BCE and thus long after the period when LBH is said to dominate, Pesher Habakkuk is in EBH. It does not share the accumulation of LBH forms which characterises the core LBH books like Ezra, and exhibits a large number of cases where it prefers EBH linguistic forms against their LBH equivalents.

click here for the pdf version of the article

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 8: Article 24 (2008)

Nadav Na'aman,

Shaaraim – The Gateway To The Kingdom Of Judah


The article discusses the location of the city of Shaaraim mentioned in Josh 15:36 and 1 Sam 17:52. It first argues that its proposed identification with Khirbet Qeiyafa, north of the Elah Valley is mistaken. Then it argues that Shaaraim is located on the main road that led from the Valley of Elah to the city of Gath. This article proposes that the place-name Shaaraim means “gate" and that the city was named so because it was located on the western border of Judah with Philistia, a place that was seen as the gateway to the kingdom of Judah.

click here for the pdf version of the article

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 8: Article 23 (2008)

Andrew E. Steinmann,

Letters of Kings about Votive Offerings, The God of Israel and the Aramaic Document in Ezra 4:8–6:18


Building on Bill’s Arnold’s thesis that the presence of Aramaic in Ezra presents a shift in perspective to an external point of view, Joshua Berman has theorized that Ezra 4:8—6:18 presents a narrator who is speaking from a gentile point of view as opposed to a Judean voice for the Hebrew that precedes and follows this Aramaic section. However, Berman’s thesis does not account for all of the narration in this Aramaic text. The narrative verses that link the individual letters in this section indicate that the controlling voice for the overall narration is pro-Judean. These verses employ the Judeo-centric language and demonstrate that the author had a Judean source for much of the information he presents. Moreover, the narrative that connects the letters demonstrates the narrator’s knowledge of the Judean prophets, their names, patronymics and office as prophets (5:1; 6:14), revealing his Judean perspective. Ultimately, this narrator reveals his viewpoint by placing the command of God next to the decrees of Persian kings (6:14). Thus, Ezra 4:8—6:18 is a single literary creation, a document that is the result of an archival search and is designed to persuade the reader that the Judeans ought to be allowed to build in Jerusalem. The inclusion of this Aramaic document in Ezra is the author/editor’s way of demonstrating that even under foreign dominance, the Judeans will ultimately prosper because their God controls the events of the narrative and speaks through pro-Judean narrators even in a foreign tongue.

click here for the pdf version of the article

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 8: Article 22 (2008)

Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor,

Khirbet Qeiyafa: Sha`arayimn


Khirbet Qeiyafa is a 2.3 hectare fortified early 10th century BCE site, located in the Judean Shephelah, atop a hill that bordered the Elah Valley from the north. This is a key strategic location in the biblical kingdom of Judah, on the main road from Philistia and the Coastal Plain to Jerusalem and Hebron in the hill country. It is the only site in the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel with two gates. This unique feature provides a clear indication of the site's identity as biblical Sha`arayim, a place name that means “two gates” in Hebrew. Sha`arayim is mentioned three times in the Bible (Jos 15:36; 1 Sam 17:52 and 1 Ch 4:31-32). It is located near the Elah valley, associated with King David twice, and not mentioned in conjunction with any other later First Temple period tradition. This accords with the archaeological and radiometric data that indicate a single-phase settlement in the early 10th century BCE at Khirbet Qeiyafa.

click here for the pdf version of the article

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ANOTHER JEWISH (?) TOWN from the Second Temple period has been located:
Remains of Second Temple Era Jewish Town Revealed

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

( Archaeological evidence of a Jewish town located on the edge of the Samaria desert during the Second Temple Period (516 BCE to 70 CE) will be made public later this month. The recently-discovered artifacts include the remains of a mikveh (ritual bath), stone tools and hidden chambers.

The town was located in the Akraba district, a frontier region northeast of Jerusalem. The poorly-developed district served as a natural division between the Samarians, who distanced themselves from Jerusalem as the political and spiritual center of Judea, and the Jews. The geographical and ethnic make-up of the region also gave rise to militant rebel sects, such as the Sicarii faction led by Shimon Bar-Giora during the First Jewish-Roman War (1st century CE).

Eitan Klein, a researcher from Bar-Ilan University, explained that "until recently, historical sources, dated from the Second Temple Period until the Bar Kochva Rebellion, testified to Jewish settlement existing in the Akraba district. As opposed to the wealth of relevant historical sources, there were few archaeological findings that supported the presence of such a settlement." The current findings, Klein said, support historical references to the Jewish presence in the Akraba region in ancient documentation.

Presumably the town is taken to be Jewish because of the ritual bath and perhaps the stone "tools" (= vessels?? - כלים?). But I'd like to see a pretty thorough case made if the excavators want to identify the ethnicity of the whole site. We'll see.

Other villages from roughly the same period have been found in recent years (see here, here, and here).

Tomorrow is shaping up to be as busy as today and yesterday, but I'll squeeze in some blogging if I can.

UPDATE (17 December): Perhaps I should have explicitly noted the obvious point that the location of the site and its time frame in themselves support its Jewishness. But methodologically it's helpful to separate such circumstantial evidence from positive evidence from excavated architecture and artifacts. I would like to hear more about those, and presumably the excavator will be addressing them in his upcoming presentation.

I'm off to the School of Divinity's Christmas lunch, then I have an afternoon of meetings around today's release of the British Research Assessment Exercise data. But I'll try to check in again at some point.

Monday, December 15, 2008

HAPPY HANUKKAH (started this evening at sundown) to all those celebrating.

Sorry for the light blogging. I had nearly back-to-back meetings all day, followed by a couple of Christmas receptions and then things to do at home. The pace is likely to stay the same through Wednesday, and blogging will be a low priority.

UPDATE: Yes, yes, sorry! Wrong date! Way wrong date! Apologies to all those whom I panicked. I have no idea what I was thinking, but obviously all the meetings in the last week have thoroughly addled me. The above is not the only evidence, but let's not go into that.

Then again, I suppose I could always claim that I was celebrating Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day late ...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

JACOB NEUSNER'S The Theology of the Oral Torah has been reviewed at length by Kevin Edgecomb in a series of posts at Biblicalia. I've noted earlier posts here and here. The final installment is here and contains links to all the others.
BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL XXXVI has been published this month by Jim West.
UPDATES: I've just added updates to posts below from the 10th and 11th of December.
THE LOST HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY by Philip Jenkins is getting some media attention. First, Beliefnet has an article that blurbs the book as follows:
Now, Jenkins is arguing that the Christian past isn't as Western as we think, either. The Lost History of Christianity is a fascinating study of the first thousand-plus years of the Church--a Church rooted in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. We have much to learn from the tale of its reach, its particular way of being Christian, and its eventual decomposition.
Then there's an e-mail interview with the author. Excerpt:
Give us a sense of the scope of the Eastern Christianity that, as you explain, dominated the first half of Christian history.

Its sheer scale is astonishing. Already by the seventh century, the Church of the East - the Nestorian church - is pushing deep into Central Asia. Nestorian monks were operating in China before 550, and nobody knows when the first Christian actually saw the Pacific - that would be a great historical novel for someone to write!

As I write in the book, "Before Saint Benedict formed his first monastery, before the probable date of the British King Arthur, Nestorian bishops functioned at Nishapur and Tus in north-eastern Persia. Before England had its first Archbishop of Canterbury, the Nestorian church already had metropolitans at Merv in Turkmenistan and Herat in Afghanistan, and churches were operating in Sri Lanka and Malabar. Before Good King Wenceslas ruled a Christian Bohemia, before Poland was Catholic, the Nestorian sees of Bukhara and Samarkand achieved metropolitan status. So did Patna on the Ganges, in India." What I find fascinating about that is how that history violates our usual assumptions about what Christianity looked like in the so-called Dark Ages - about what it was, and where it happened.

Also, this Eastern world has a solid claim to be the direct lineal heir of the earliest New Testament Christianity. Throughout their history, the Eastern churches used Syriac, which is close to Jesus's own language of Aramaic, and they followed Yeshua, not Jesus. Everything about these churches runs so contrary to what we think we know. They are too ancient, in the sense of looking like the original Jerusalem church; and they are too modern, in being so globalized and multi-cultural.

Just a suggestion. Perhaps we should think of these eastern communities - the Nestorians and Jacobites - as the real survivors of ancient Christianity. In that case, the great Western churches we know, the Catholic and Orthodox, are the "alternative Christianities."
I think the last couple of paragraphs stretch the point. It's true that the Syriac-speaking church spoke a dialect of Aramaic, but it was the dialect of Edessa in Asia Minor from (if memory serves) the second century CE, so it was some distance linguistically and considerable distance culturally from first-century Galilee and Judea. And keep in mind that although Syriac Christianity has an Aramaic New Testament, it's just the Greek New Testament translated into Syriac. So I don't see that Syriac Christianity has any greater claim to primacy than other traditions. With this sort of reasoning one could argue that Orthodox Christianity has the primacy (and Orthodox Christians sometimes do). The language of the Orthodox Church is indeed the Greek language of the New Testament but, again, the tradition is suffiently remote from the Aramaic-speaking world of first-century Palestine that such claims of primacy are not very interesting to the historian.

Jenkins also has an article in the Boston Globe: When Jesus met Buddha. Excerpt:
The most stunningly successful of these eastern Christian bodies was the Church of the East, often called the Nestorian church. While the Western churches were expanding their influence within the framework of the Roman Empire, the Syriac-speaking churches colonized the vast Persian kingdom that ruled from Syria to Pakistan and the borders of China. From their bases in Mesopotamia - modern Iraq - Nestorian Christians carried out their vast missionary efforts along the Silk Route that crossed Central Asia. By the eighth century, the Church of the East had an extensive structure across most of central Asia and China, and in southern India. The church had senior clergy - metropolitans - in Samarkand and Bokhara, in Herat in Afghanistan. A bishop had his seat in Chang'an, the imperial capital of China, which was then the world's greatest superpower.

When Nestorian Christians were pressing across Central Asia during the sixth and seventh centuries, they met the missionaries and saints of an equally confident and expansionist religion: Mahayana Buddhism. Buddhists too wanted to take their saving message to the world, and launched great missions from India's monasteries and temples. In this diverse world, Buddhist and Christian monasteries were likely to stand side by side, as neighbors and even, sometimes, as collaborators. Some historians believe that Nestorian missionaries influenced the religious practices of the Buddhist religion then developing in Tibet. Monks spoke to monks.

In presenting their faith, Christians naturally used the cultural forms that would be familiar to Asians. They told their stories in the forms of sutras, verse patterns already made famous by Buddhist missionaries and teachers. A stunning collection of Jesus Sutras was found in caves at Dunhuang, in northwest China. Some Nestorian writings draw heavily on Buddhist ideas, as they translate prayers and Christian services in ways that would make sense to Asian readers. In some texts, the Christian phrase "angels and archangels and hosts of heaven" is translated into the language of buddhas and devas.

One story in particular suggests an almost shocking degree of collaboration between the faiths. In 782, the Indian Buddhist missionary Prajna arrived in Chang'an, bearing rich treasures of sutras and other scriptures. Unfortunately, these were written in Indian languages. He consulted the local Nestorian bishop, Adam, who had already translated parts of the Bible into Chinese. Together, Buddhist and Christian scholars worked amiably together for some years to translate seven copious volumes of Buddhist wisdom. Probably, Adam did this as much from intellectual curiosity as from ecumenical good will, and we can only guess about the conversations that would have ensued: Do you really care more about relieving suffering than atoning for sin? And your monks meditate like ours do?

These efforts bore fruit far beyond China. Other residents of Chang'an at this very time included Japanese monks, who took these very translations back with them to their homeland. In Japan, these works became the founding texts of the great Buddhist schools of the Middle Ages. All the famous movements of later Japanese history, including Zen, can be traced to one of those ancient schools and, ultimately - incredibly - to the work of a Christian bishop.
That's an interesting story, and one that I didn't know.
VISION OF GABRIEL WATCH: The stone bearing the Vision of Gabriel inscription is on display in Houston. April DeConick has the story here and promises more. I'm envious! I've already noted the Birth of Christianity exhibition here. A more recent (yesterday), very thin, article on the exhibition is here.

There's background to the Vision of Gabriel inscription here and here and keep following the links back.