Saturday, March 14, 2015


FREE ELECTRONIC JOURNAL: BABELAO: Electronic Journal for Ancient and Oriental Studies.
Le nom BABELAO signifie « Bulletin de l’ABELAO », plus précisément « Bulletin de l’Académie Belge pour l’Etude des Langues Anciennes et Orientales ». L’ABELAO est une association sans but lucratif qui veut promouvoir l’enseignement et la recherche dans le domaine des cultures et des langues anciennes et orientales, notamment par l’organisation de sessions de cours d’été sur le site de l’Université de Louvain, à Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgique).

Son bulletin, le BABELAO, est conçu comme une revue à vocation scientifique. La revue couvre le domaine de l’Orientalisme sous ses différentes facettes : philologie, paléographie, histoire du monde ancien et oriental, histoire des langues et des littératures comparées, édition des textes, etc. Son Comité de rédaction dont le recrutement est international regroupe des chercheurs qui sont à même d’assurer une expertise dans tous les domaines requis. ...
Follow the link for instructions for submission of articles etc.

HT Jean-Claude Haelewyck.

More on Hatra

ASOR BLOG: Hatra, The Lesser Known Splendors of a Parthian Frontier Town (Lucinda Dirven). Excerpt:
The combination of spectacular architectural remains, about 300 sculptures, over 500 Aramaic inscriptions, and numerous graffiti and small finds dating from the fairly short period between 100-240 CE, provide a truly exceptional insight in daily life in a Parthian city in northern Mesopotamia during the first three centuries of the Common Era. The Parthian period is a fairly unknown era in the history of Mesopotamia and material from Hatra provides unique possibilities for a better understanding of Parthian society, culture, art and religion. Culturally, Hatra is closest to other famous cities in the Syrian-Mesopotamian desert, such as Palmyra, Edessa and Dura-Europos. But whereas these were at some point in their history incorporated in the Roman Empire, Hatrene rulers were allies of the Parthian king of kings until the Sasanians replaced the Arsacid rulers in the East.
Background here and links.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lombatti on CNN on the Shroud of Turin

The CNN Shroud of Turin

See Also:Relics Still Potent: The Shroud of Turin

Scholars, Frauds, the Media and the Public

By Antonio Lombatti
Università Popolare
Parma, Italia
March 2015
In short, not a single (professional) physicist who performs C14 has ever doubted the medieval date of the Turin Shroud. Not a single (professional) Biblical Archaeologist, who has dug Second Temple tombs in Israel, is convinced that the Turin Shroud is a Jewish funerary cloth from the time of Jesus. Such scholars didn’t, unfortunately, find a place in the CNN documentary.
See also Mark Goodacre's comments at the end of the essay.

Daniel Boyarin profiled

JWEEKLY.COM: Daniel Boyarin — the Talmudist, feminist, anti-Zionist, only-in-Berkeley Orthodox Jew (Alix Wall). Excerpt:
Today Boyarin, 68, is a world-class authority in his field — one of the true giants, in this country as well as in Israel. But he’s far from the typical Talmud scholar. He has a kippah on his head, yes, and is shomer Shabbos, but he’s also a confirmed anti-Zionist, a serious collector of fine kosher wines, and has an abiding interest in feminism and queer theory.

Daniel Boyarin is, in short, quite the iconoclast, even in a city that prides itself on defying the mainstream.

Boyarin has been on the U.C. Berkeley faculty since 1990 and is the Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture in the departments of Near Eastern studies and rhetoric. He has written 12 books, ranging from rabbinic ideas about sexuality to the relationship between psychoanalysis and Judaism; he has another book in the works and two more in contract; and he has co-edited five others, including one with his brother Jonathan, a professor of Jewish studies at Cornell University.

His scholarship is so vast that practically every graduate student in his field encounters it at some point, and he is so well-known in academia that a discussion about his views on a particular talmudic point was a running joke in the 2011 Israeli film “Footnote.”
A long and interesting article. More on Professor Boyarin's work is here and links.

Docherty on the Pseudepigrapha

ASOR BLOG: Introducing the Pseudepigrapha (Susan Docherty).
In my recent book The Jewish Pseudepigrapha: An Introduction to the Literature of the Second Temple Period I introduce the general reader to the world of the pseudepigrapha, a collection of early Jewish religious writings which have links with the scriptures but which are not included in the canon of the bible. The name “pseudepigrapha” indicates that the authors generally used a pseudonym, attributing their work to some revered figure from Israel’s past, like Abraham, Moses or Ezra.
I noted the book last year here.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

ISIS bulldozing Khorsabad?

RECENT REPORTS indicate that ISIS is now destroying Khorsabad: Isis attacks on ancient sites erasing history of humanity, says Iraq. Antiquities ministry reiterates calls for international community to intervene after reports of new attack on ancient city of Dur Sharrukin (Kareem Shaheen, The Guardian).
The Iraqi antiquities ministry has acknowledged reports of a new attack by Islamic State militants on an ancient Assyrian city north-east of Mosul, reiterated calls for the international community to intervene and condemned the jihadi group for “erasing the history of humanity”.

There have been reports that Isis bulldozed landmarks in the ancient city of Dur Sharrukin, now called Khorsabad. The ministry said it was in keeping with the militant group’s “criminal ideology and persistence in destroying and stealing Iraq’s antiquities”.

Dur Sharrukin is a former capital of the Assyrian empire in Nineveh that dates back to the 8th century BC.

And some analysis by Aziz Abu Sarah in Haaretz: Why is ISIS destroying Iraq's historical heritage? No ethnic cleansing is complete without the removal of the historical roots from which a people emerged. In order to dictate the future, ISIS is destroying the past. Excerpt:
Yet, for ISIS, destroying Assyrian archaeology represents more than an attack on idolatry. In order to remain the only ruling religious body in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is going beyond ethnically and religiously cleansing the population to erasing any historical traces of the displaced people.

The archaeological sites it destroys are from the Babylonian, Persian and Roman Empires. These eras represent a pluralistic past that legitimizes the presence of Chaldeans, Yazidis and other minorities in the region, with whom ISIS does not share a human heritage. ISIS' interpretation of history maintains that there are two historical eras: Jahiliyah (the time of ignorance) and, the later era, Islam (the time of enlightenment). The presence of sites from the Babylonian, Persian and Roman Empires harks back to a golden age before Islam. ISIS is thus working to erase any trace of those eras, for it thinks it cannot control the future until it controls the past.

What ISIS is doing is not a new strategy; conquering dynasties throughout history have employed similar tactics. ...
Background here and links.

Exhibition: 'Judaea in the Age of Nero'

MERCER UNIVERSITY: Jack Tarver Library to Host Exhibit of Ancient Artifacts from 'Judaea in the Age of Nero'.
MACON – Mercer University's Jack Tarver Library will open its fifth Holmes Holy Land Ancient Artifact Collection on March 16. The exhibit, titled "Judaea in the Age of Nero," will be available to the public for viewing through spring 2016.

Four days of events are planned to celebrate the debut of the exhibit, which provides a look at the Roman province of Judaea during a time when Rome was ruled by perhaps its most infamous emperor, Nero Claudius Caesar, from 54 A.D. until his death by suicide in 68 A.D. Dr. Eric Klingelhofer, professor of history, serves as curator of the exhibit.


Review of Bryce, Ancient Syria

Trevor Bryce, Ancient Syria: A Three Thousand Year History. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Pp. xiv, 379. ISBN 9780199646678. £25,00.

Reviewed by Matteo Vigo, University of Copenhagen (


Trevor Bryce’s book under review structurally conforms to his previous books on the civilizations of the ancient Near East.1 The book is divided into five sections, each of which mostly covers the traditional historical periods.


Part 3 is the richest of the whole volume. Thanks to the abundance of sources, Bryce gives a detailed outline of the history of the Seleucid Empire, one of the greatest of the ancient Near East, from the rise of the Seleucids, soon after the death of Alexander to the advent of the Roman control over Syria with Pompey the Great.

Part 4 concerns Syria under Roman rule. Chapter 13 explores the Roman campaigns against the Parthians, in which Syria actually played a crucial role, being the solid Roman outpost from which military operations were led. Chapter 14 briefly sketches the world of the Nabateans and their involvement in Syrian trade and policies. Chapter 15 focuses on the great Syrian Emperors namely Septimius Severus, Caracalla, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus II, alias Elagabalus, and Severus Alexander. Chapter 16 introduces the Sasanians, who invaded the Roman territories in Mesopotamia and upheld the end of Roman supremacy in the Near Eastern territories (3rd century AD).

Part 5 is an excursus on the reign of Palmyra and the half-legendary figure of Queen Zenobia. The book ends with the Muslim occupation of Damascus in 661 AD.


C14 dating of The Gospel of Judas

ETC: Radiometric Dating of the Gospel of Judas (Christian Askeland).
My estimation following Peter Head’s thesis leaves a radiometric result in the late third through the end of the fourth century. ...
Background on The Gospel of Judas is here and links.

Ancient Galilean tombs

ASOR BLOG: Tomb Tracking: A New Burial Survey of Roman Galilee (1st-6th cent. CE) (Jessica Dello Russo). Requires free registration to access the full essay.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

SBL paper 2015

MY PAPER PROPOSAL for the 2015 Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting in Atlanta has been accepted by the Mysticism, Esotericism, and Gnosticism in Antiquity Section. This is welcome news, but not a surprise, because the paper is part of a planned session on shamanism to be held jointly with the Religious Experience in Antiquity Group. Here is the abstract:
Hekhalot Mysticism and Jewish Shamanism: Where Do We Stand Now?

In 2001 my monograph Descenders to the Chariot: The People Behind the Hekhalot Literature was publish by Brill. The Hekhalot literature is a corpus of Jewish mystical texts composed mainly in Babylonia and Palestine in the Geonic era, but which drew on traditions from late antiquity and perhaps earlier, and which continued to be shaped when transmitted to Europe in the Middle Ages. The texts present Tannaitic rabbis as practitioners of a form of mysticism (“Merkavah mysticism”) in which they undertook ritual and ascetic practices that led them into visionary states in which they could ascend to heaven to see and participate in the angelic liturgy around God’s throne-chariot (the Merkavah) or call down angels from heaven who could reveal the secrets of Torah and other mysteries to the practitioners. The meaning of this literature was and is debated, with some taking it as entirely fictional exercises in scriptural exegesis and others arguing that it (also) described an actual visionary praxis. Descenders to the Chariot presented a case for the latter viewpoint. In this volume I drew on anthropological data concerning Siberian, Inuit, Native American, and Japanese shamans, as well as the anthropological theoretical literature on shamanism, to argue that the descenders to the chariot — the practitioners described in the Hekhalot literature — displayed significant parallels to the shamans of other cultures and could be profitably compared to them. I argued that like shamans, the descenders to the chariot (1) were elected at least partly through their heredity; (2) engaged in a recognizable complex of ascetic and ritual techniques that promoted altered states of consciousness; (3) endured an experience of initiatory disintegration and reintegration; (4) traveled to a multi-tiered otherworld via a world tree or world ladder; (5) focused much of their efforts on the control of helping spirits; and (6) served their human community by various means. I found an especially useful typology of practitioners in the work of Michael Winkelman and concluded that the descenders to the chariot were very similar to his “shaman/healer,” a type of shamanic practitioner found in complex agricultural and pastoral societies. My central conclusion was that the instructions and rituals in the Hekhalot literature were recognizably of the type used by shamans to generate visionary experiences and that the visions described in the Hekhalot literature were of the type reported by shamans. Although the literature is pseudepigraphic and the illustrative stories it tells are fictional, it is a literature of instruction that preserves rituals that were used by actual magico-religious practitioners.

In the fourteen years since the publication of this volume a number of scholars have engaged with the arguments and conclusions of Descenders to the Chariot. The purpose of this paper is to review the responses, along with my own reflections, and evaluate where the case for the Hekhalot literature as the literary residue of a quasi-shamanic intermediary movement stands today.

Temple Institute builds Temple altar

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH (SORT OF): Jewish Temple Altar Rebuilt, Ready for Use (Ahuva Balofsky, BreakingIsraelNews).
The Temple Institute in Jerusalem has announced that it has finished building an altar suitable for the Temple service. The altar, which took several years to build, can be operational at little more than a moment’s notice, reported Matzav Haruach magazine.

For background on the Temple Institute (and why no one should go digging up the Temple Mount for the foreseeable future), see here and links.

Jerusalem 3D

DOCUMENTARY: 'Jerusalem 3D' zooms in on power of ancient city with Imax intensity (Susan King, L.A. Times). Excerpt:
The story of Jerusalem is seen through the eyes of three teenage girls — one Christian, one Jewish and one Muslim — and their families. Archaeologist Jodi Magness guides viewers through the rich history of the city. The 45-minute documentary also visits such religious sites as the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Shot over three years, producer Davies said, "Jerusalem 3D" is a film "that shouldn't have happened by all accounts. In the land of miracles, it was a miracle."

Writer-director Daniel Ferguson called it "an epic production."

"I was initially terrified of cramming 5,000 years of human attachment to this place in 45 minutes, and, obviously, the political minefield of this place," Ferguson said. "It was sheer folly. I made my first trip in 2009. I made 14 trips, and 11 of those were just to get permission and gain trust. I ended up being enamored of the city."
The film opened yesterday at the California Science Center in Los Angeles along with with the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition.

Storm unearths more Ashkelon relics

I HOPE SOMEONE COMES: Ancient artifacts found on Ashkelon beach. Man finds rare mosaic and pottery fragments while running on beach; says that despite reporting it, the Antiquities Authority sent no one to collect artifacts (Itay Blumenthal, Ynet News).

For that statue of a woman found at Ashkelon in 2010 (mentioned in the article), see here.

Le Donne on The Lost Gospel

LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS: Anthony Le Donne on The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene. Gronking Jesus.
The Lost Gospel by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson is not the worst book ever written. After all, I have heard remarkable accolades for A Gronking to Remember. But The Lost Gospel is perhaps the worst book ever written about Jesus.
I dunno, that's raising the bar awfully high.

Background here and links.

The Talmud on double jeopardy (sort of)

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Incestuous Rapists Get What They Deserve. Talmudic rabbis believe ‘the hand of Heaven’ makes sure that the punishment fits the crime.
Tractate Ketubot, which Daf Yomi readers have been exploring over the last month, is traditionally known as the Shas katan, the “little Talmud,” because it touches on such a wide range of legal subjects that it seems to encapsulate the whole Talmud. This week’s reading, in chapter 3, offered a good example of that comprehensiveness. The main subject of the chapter is the law regarding compensation for rape: In which cases does a rapist have to pay restitution to his victim, and when is he punished with the death penalty? But in the Gemara, the rabbis use these particular laws to explore much more general principles of punishment, in cases ranging from Shabbat desecration to the eating of consecrated produce by a non-priest.

At the center of these discussions is the question of whether it is permitted to punish someone twice for the same crime. ...


Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

NYU conference on ancient Judaism and Christianity

LAWRENCE H. SCHIFFMAN: Integrating Judaism and Christianity into the Study of the Ancient World
The NYU Center for Ancient Studies in conjunction with the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, the Global Network for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies, the Religious Studies Program, the Department of Classics, the Department of History, the Dean of the College of Arts and Science, and the Dean for the Humanities announces the

Ranieri Colloquium on Ancient Studies


Thursday and Friday, March 26-27, 2015
Hemmerdinger Hall
Silver Center for Arts and Science
32 Waverly Place or 31 Washington Place (wheelchair accessible)
Follow the link for the schedule.

Yadin-Israel replies to Gvaryahu

THE TALMUD BLOG: Right of Reply: Azzan Yadin-Israel Responds to Amit Gvaryahu’s review.
My thanks to The Talmud Blog for inviting me to respond to Amit Gvaryahu’s review of Scripture and Tradition: Rabbi Akiva and the Triumph of Midrash. I find myself in the odd position of responding to a review that is generally positive and in certain passages very generous in its praise. Nonetheless, in what follows I will address some of the points Gvaryahu raises in his review, and, more importantly, those that he does not. ...
I noted the original review here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


THE NEW TELEVISION SERIES DIG has been getting some attention in the media. Here are a couple of recent reviews.

Review: On USA’s ‘Dig,’ a Murder Investigation Takes an Apocalyptic Turn. (Mike Hale, NYT).
A red calf is born in Norway, an eerie 12-year-old boy is raised in captivity in New Mexico and a young American archaeologist is murdered in Jerusalem. The connection? Too early to tell, but all signs point to the world being saved 10 weeks from now.

“Dig,” a new series starting Thursday night on USA, is the latest post-“Da Vinci Code” thriller that combines a murder mystery with an ancient-history primer. Conspiracies are afoot, and prophecies are finally coming true. The show, an American-Israeli coproduction, kicks off with a quote from the Torah (“Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer without defect”) and encompasses squads of rabbis, a desert Christian cult, Essenes (kind of like biblical ninjas), tunnels under the Temple Mount and the breastplate of a high priest.

Apocalypse, Now: Dig's Surprisingly Relevant Doomsday Drama. USA's new outlandish murder-mystery miniseries offers a smart portrayal of religious fanaticism that has real-world resonance. (Katie Kilkenny, The Atlantic). Excerpt:
The question remains whether a conspiracy-theory show airing on a network best-known for its “blue skies” comedies can actually prompt viewers to both enjoy and do their research. I found Dig equally addictive before and after knowing that the Essenes were an apocalyptic, survivalist cult whose numbers have dwindled considerably, or that the Urim and Tummim is an actual, sacred object. And though it engages with the relevant larger themes of fanaticism, the End of Times, and land ownership that are spurring international turmoil at the moment, Dig is cautious when it comes to political commentary. It makes no mention of the Palestinian territories aside from its thinly-sketched villain—nor does it touch on Iran or ISIS.
The URL header to the Atlantic review refers to "the not entirely stupid escapism of Dig," which sounds about right. Although Essenes who are "kind of like biblical ninjas" take us into the realm of the entirely stupid.

Porten on Textbook of Aramaic Ostraca from Idumea

ASOR BLOG: Presenting a Textbook of Aramaic Ostraca from Idumea (TAO) Bezalel Porten's 2014 SBL presentation.

Garber, "Teaching Jewish Studies"

Teaching Jewish Studies, Hebrew Scriptures, and the Historical Jesus in the Context of Jewish Studies at a Two-Year Public College

Rationale, Objectives, Evaluation

Article from Teaching the Historical Jesus (Routledge, 2015).

By Zev Garber
Professor Emeritus and Chair of Jewish Studies
Los Angeles Valley College
March 2015

Los Angeles DSS exhibition

OPENS TODAY AT THE CALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTER: The Dead Sea Scrolls: An Exhibition of Biblical Proportions. The largest exhibition of its kind outside of Israel features over 600 artifacts and the stunning IMAX film 'Jerusalem 3D' (Mike Ciriaco, Frontiers Media).

Background here and links.

Monday, March 09, 2015


LIV INGEBORG LIED: Trolls at my door: reflections on the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2015 (8 March). Unfortunately there are a lot of losers online who do such things.

Anothe cache of ancient coins found in Israel

Hikers Find Cache of Rare Coins from 2,300 Years Ago. Three Israeli Caving Club hikers found the cache in a stalactite cave in northern Israel. (The Jewish Press).
Three hikers have discovered a cache of rare coins and silver and bronze objects 2,300 years old in a cave in one of the important discoveries in northern Israel in recent years, according to Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).


The youngest member of the group, Hen, 21, says he forced his way into one of the narrow niches when he suddenly caught sight of a shining object. He discovered two ancient silver coins, which it later turned out had been minted during the reign of Alexander the Great who conquered the Land of Israel at the beginning of the Hellenistic period (late fourth century BCE).

Several pieces of silver jewelry were found alongside the coins, among them rings, bracelets and earrings, which were apparently concealed in the cave, together inside a cloth pouch some 2,300 years ago.

“The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander, a time when the Wars of the Diadochi broke out in Israel between Alexander’s heirs following his death,” IAA archaeologists said.

This would be not long after, and perhaps even in the same general region as when the Samaria Papyri were left in a large cave — but in that case because their owners were also in the cave and were suffocated when Alexander's army lit a fire in front of the cave mouth.

UPDATE (10 March): You can read the IAA press release here (HT Joseph Lauer).

ISIS continues its desecration of the past

THE ANTIQUITIES DEPREDATIONS OF ISIS IN IRAQ are coming so fast now that they are hard to keep up with. Here are some recent articles.

ISIS' destruction of biblical Iraq: A bitter irony of history. Nineveh has come full circle: After 2,700 years, the gleeful destroyer was itself destroyed. And now Hatra and Nimrud are gone too (Julia Fridman, Haaretz).
Within days, militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria destroyed three extraordinary cultural heritage sites in Iraq going back thousands of years: Nineveh, Hatra and Nimrud. For the ancient Assyrian capitals, their wanton destruction was a tragically ironic turn of events, given that their rulers, some 2,700 years ago, had been among the most brutal and destructive the region had known.

The destruction of cultural heritage by an occupier is nothing new. There is even a term for it: Urbicide, the destruction of an urban center in order to erase its memory for future generations.

The rulers of Nineveh, which fell first, then Nimrud and now, Hatra had done their share of destruction – records of which they proudly left behind, including in the form of wall art.

Though while ISIS seems to be following the Assyrians' rule book, whether in ignorance, irony or specifically to mimic long-gone great rulers, they do not cavil at selling antiquities they loot. In fact this is apparently a major source of funding for the group.

UNESCO: ISIS Antiquities Destruction in Iraq a 'War Crime.' UNESCO calls on ICC, UN Security Council to prosecute ISIS over destruction of antiquities in Nimrud, Iraq as 'war crime' (Arutz Sheva).
The head of UNESCO condemned on Friday the destruction of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq by the Islamic State group, saying it amounted to a "war crime."

"I condemn with the strongest force the destruction of the site at Nimrud," Irina Bokova said in a statement.

Islamic State militants bulldoze ancient Nimrud ruins as idolatrous (Reuters).
Islamic State fighters have looted and bulldozed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, the Iraqi government said, in their latest assault on some of the world’s greatest archaeological and cultural treasures.

A tribal source from the nearby city of Mosul told Reuters the ultra-radical Sunni Islamists, who dismiss Iraq’s pre-Islamic heritage as idolatrous, had pillaged the 3,000-year-old site on the banks of the Tigris river, once capital of the world’s most powerful empire.

Hatra, city featured in The Exorcist, destroyed by ISIS (Leslie Eastman, Legal Insurrection Blog). I didn't know about the connection with The Exorcist, but I have noted Hatra's importance in late-antique Aramaic-speaking Silk Road culture here and here.

And finally, what might come next:

Libyan Antiquities Feared as Next ISIS Target (Susan Raab,Nonprofit Quarterly). Excerpt:
Stating that “ISIS holds an intolerance towards items that are deemed jahili (pre-Islamic) and antiquities that depict humans,” Dr. Hafed Walda, the pending deputy ambassador to the permanent Libyan delegation at UNESCO, has said “Their eyes are on big museums which have fine collections of Greek and Roman sculptures…. This, coupled with the fact that ISIS’s power has grown substantially in Libya, particularly along the Mediterranean coastline, has brought the group closer to sites of historical significance.”

Among the sites cultural and government leaders believe are most vulnerable in Libya are the ancient Roman theatre, Leptis Magna, just outside of Tripoli; the coastal town of Sabratha, a former Phoenician trading post with the remains of an amphitheater, temples and a basilica; and the archaeological site of Cyrene, considered one of the most impressive Greco-Roman sites in the world. ISIS militants have also proclaimed the city of Misrata, which houses a museum, a Roman forum, and a great basilica, as one of their primary targets.
Background here and here and links.

UPDATE: Judith Weingarten has more on Hatra: ELEGY FOR HATRA: The City of the Sun God.

More on the Sixth Legion excavation

POPULAR ARCHAEOLOGY: Archaeologists Return to Unearth Base of the Roman Sixth Legion. Remains of walls, barracks and artifacts testify to a major 2nd-3rd century CE Roman military presence near ancient Megiddo, Israel. Excerpt:
But real validation didn’t come until 2010, when Tepper began focused archaeological investigations at el-Manach using a variety of remote sensing techniques. This, along with data acquired through preliminary archaeological and historical work, led to the first full-scale excavation at el-Manach in 2013, employing a team of archaeologists, American and European students, and participants from local youth and community groups under co-directors Tepper and Matthew J. Adams of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research and Jonathan David of Gettysburg College.

What they found at the site, now referred to as Legio after an associated ancient place name, was nothing short of reaffirming.

“The data gathered so far in survey, research, and excavations shows a complex and unexpected settlement scenario at Legio,” wrote Tepper, et al. in a project summary soon to be published in Popular Archaeology Magazine. “At its heart is a large legionary base of the Sixth Legion, perhaps accommodating the full legion of nearly 5,000 soldiers from all over the empire. Nearby would have been a vicus, an ad hoc civilian settlement providing entertainment, commercial support, and other services for the men of the legion. At Kefar ‘Othnay, just south of the base, was a Jewish-Samaritan village in which there is evidence for an early Christina gathering place, dedicated in part by a Roman centurion.”
Background here.

Sunday, March 08, 2015


ADAM MCCOLLUM: Ethio-Hebrew Psalms (BL Add. 19342). Because it turns out that Ethio-Hebrew is a thing. I didn't know that.