Saturday, March 21, 2015

Hatra Image Gallery

ASOR BLOG: Hatra Image Gallery.
Please take a look at the bellow photo gallery of Hatra circa 2009 and 2010. Brought to you by The Ancient Near East Today. With a special thank you to the photographers, Suzanne Bott and Col. Mary Prophit, US Army.
Background here and links.

On ancient Palmyra

ARASH ZEINI: Palmyra: Trade families, city and territory. An article by Leonardo Gregoratti.

More on Palmyra here and links.

More from Doudna on Qumran

A Narrative Argument that the Teacher of Righteousness was Hyrcanus II

In what may come to be regarded as one of the more unusual, indeed astonishing, oversights in the history of Qumran scholarship, so far as is known it seems no previous scholar has proposed that Antigonus Mattathias, the last Hasmonean king of Israel, executed by the Romans in 37 BCE, might be the figure underlying the Wicked Priest of Pesher Habakkuk or the doomed ruler of Pesher Nahum.

(Excerpted from pp. 95-107 of Gregory Doudna, “The Sect of the Qumran Texts and its Leading Role in the Temple in Jerusalem During Much of the First Century BCE: Toward a New Framework for Understanding” in D. Stacey and G. Doudna, with a contribution from G. Avni, Qumran Revisited: A Reassessment of the Archaeology of the Site and its Texts [Oxford: Archaeopress, 2013].)

See Also: Article Archives - Dead Sea Scrolls.

By Greg Doudna
March 2015
More on Doudna's theories, which so far have not found much acceptance among Qumranologists, is here and links.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Jordan metal codices as modern amulets?

FAKE METAL CODICES WATCH: Dr. Samuel Zinner, an independent scholar who specializes in indigenous and comparative religious studies with a special interest in Judaism, has posted a paper at on the Jordan metal codices: The Jordan Lead “Codices”: Ancient Amulets, Modern Forgeries, or Something Else? The Jordan Lead Tablets as Early Modern Zionist Lag BaOmer Amulets. (HT Daniel McClellan.) Excerpt (from pp. 4-5):
Personally I think it unfortunate that the Jordan tablets were so soon overly associated with Christian origins and claims to antiquity, because together these seem, at least in large part, to have fated the objects to scorn and perhaps eventual oblivion, certainly to enduring controversy. The claim that the tablets might be Jesus’ diaries, for instance, means that the artefacts would be of virtually no value if not truly ancient. By contrast, if the artefacts had been presented as what they appear at face value to be (in my opinion at least), namely, basically modern vintage Jewish amuletic art inspired by traditional Jewish coinage, synagogue art, mysticism, and religious identity in early modern Zionist modes, then the objects could have been more calmly assessed as works of Jewish art and possible ritual (“possible” because we may here be dealing with an idealized depiction of kabbalah of past ages), whose intrinsic value (or lack thereof) would not in the least have hinged upon the question of ancient origins.

The parallel that springs to mind in this context, and which surprisingly was never referenced after the Jordan “codices” story emerged, is the early twentieth-century Zionist Bezalel school of art, whose metal products (Hanukkah menorahs, Passover plates, etc.) and arts and crafts in other media regularly incorporated motifs from ancient Jewish coinage, especially that of the Jewish War and the Bar Kokhba Revolt, which is incidentally also often the case with the Jordan lead tablets’ images. ...
Dr. Zinner criticizes me at the beginning of the paper for assuming that the only two possibilities were that the objects were either ancient artifacts or modern objects and therefore necessarily forgeries. That is a fair point. In my defense, in the blog post Dr Zinner cites (here) I agreed with Philip Davies that the codices were in principle worthy of further study, so it is not quite true that I found them "unworthy of any serious attention at all":
I agree that it is worthwhile for someone to try to track down how, where, and when the codices were made. If Philip wants to spend his time doing this, more power to him. But I doubt very much that this will lead to significant evidence that they are ancient productions.
Dr Zinner and I agree on the last point: the codices are modern artifacts, not ancient ones. But in any case, he has taken the discussion in a very interesting direction, exploring the possibility that the codices are modern productions that were only later misunderstood to be ancient, and later still further misunderstood to have some early Christian connection. I have read his paper (quickly) and his theory involves many matters about modern Jewish art history that are outside my own expertise. I should add that he reports that Mr. Elkington has cooperated fully with his research, making photographs of all the objects available for it, which is to Elkington's credit.

A few preliminary observations. Ironically the report that at least one of the codices (or amulets or whatever) is made from ancient lead is a significant problem for this theory. If these are modern artifacts that are merely evoking ancient iconography and themes without intention to deceive, why did the artisan go to the trouble of manufacturing them from ancient material? Also, Dr. Zinner offers some intriguing decipherments of the letters on the objects, which, however depend frequently on letters being transposed, written backwards, and omitted. That doesn't make him wrong: as he observes, such things did happen. But every time one has to invoke such irregularities, the proposed decipherment becomes more speculative and less persuasive. And I can't say that I find the proposed parallel with the angel name in the ancient magical treatise Sepher HaRazim persuasive either. Nevertheless, I encourage Dr. Zinner to submit his research for peer-review publication so that it can be properly evaluated by the relevant experts. I am skeptical, but I will watch with interest for any further developments.

Background here with many, many links going back to March of 2011.

Numerology in Dig?

TELEVISION: ‘Dig’ TV series starts adding up: Watch the numbers (Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service). Interesting observations. It does sound as though something is going on with the number 19, although not, strictly speaking, involving gematria. The latter involves adding up the numerical value of the letters in a word and then connecting it with other words whose letters add up to the same value.

Background here.

Mar Behnam Catholic monastery in Iraq destroyed?

REPORT: ISIS CONTINUES ITS ATTACK ON THE PAST: Isis 'blows up famed 4th-century Mar Behnam Catholic monastery' in Iraq (Gianluca Mezzofiore, International Business Times).
Islamic State (Isis) militants have allegedly blown up parts of the ancient monastery of Mar Behnam near the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh, south-east of Mosul, according to pictures from IS media shared on twitter and a Kurdish media report.

The photos, released by IS members, show the 4th-century monastery's tomb complex of Mar (Saint) Behnam and Mart (Saint) Sarah reduced to rubble.

Dr Nicholas al-Jeloo, an expert on Assyrian monasteries in Iraq from the University of Melbourne, visited the monastery, previously run by the Syriac Catholic Church, in January 2010 and confirmed the authenticity of the pictures to IBTimes UK.


The monastery is known for its carvings and features, including "very intricate inscriptions in Syriac, in Armenian and in Uygur, a Turkic language from Western China" said Al-Jeloo.

"The place is a major site of pilgrimage, at the very origins of Christianity in the region, and it links us to our ancient Assyrian heritage - being only a stone's throw from the ruins of Nimrud, also destroyed by Isis. The only way I could describe it is as a work of art. It was one of the most richly carved monastery complexes in northern Mesopotamia up until today," he said.


The monastery also had a huge collection of manuscripts dating back centuries. "Luckily, all of them have been digitised," he said.

Does that mean that the manuscripts themselves are now lost? I hope not. The expulsion of the monks from this monastery was noted here and here last July.

Cross-file under "Syriac Watch." More on recent militant Islamist attacks on the past here and links.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Centre for the Study of the Jordanian Lead Books

FAKE METAL CODICES WATCH: The still-anonymous Erasmus blog at The Economist notes (A chink of light) a very interesting development regarding the Jordan metal codices:
Yesterday an initiative was launched in London which should improve the chances of the codices being seriously investigated: something that everybody, including the most hardened sceptics, must presumably want. Under the benign gaze of Richard Chartres, who as bishop of London is the third-ranking hierarch in the Church of England, it was announced that a Centre for the Study of the Jordanian Lead Books has been established (as a not-for-profit limited company) with some distinguished figures lending their weight to the project. The centre's board includes two veteran British politicians, Sir Tony Baldry and Tom Spencer; an "evaluation panel" will be headed by Professor Robert Hayward of Durham University; and a Jordanian professor, Fayez Khasawneh of Yarmouk University, has agreed to chair an "advisory council".

Perhaps the most urgent need now is for some independent, peer-reviewed metallurgical analysis. One test found that the lead could indeed be ancient, but a sceptic would immediately retort that ancient lead can be re-fashioned by modern forgers. On the other hand, the objects show an extraordinary variety of forms of corrosion; a forger would have needed to be extraordinarily diligent and energetic to tailor-make all these effects. It's also worth stressing that even if some of the objects in this collection are proved to be forgeries, that doesn't mean they all are. Another possibility is that they will prove to be relatively old copies of a prototype that is much older still; that would still be of great interest.
A brief article on the announcement of the founding of the Centre is here.

The really good news is that Professor Robert Hayward is heading the "evaluation panel." He is an expert in Second Temple and Late Antique Judaism and an eminently appropriate person for the job.

My most recent substantive post on the fake metal codices (and, yes, I still think they are fakes) is here from two years ago, in reply to "B.C." of the Erasmus blog. A couple of other relevant posts since then are here and here.

Regarding B.C.'s comments quoted above, I note first that he or she says "even if some of the objects in this collection are proved to be forgeries, that doesn't mean they all are." That is a bit disingenous, given the undisputed fact that the copper codex featured in the original announcement was shown almost immediately to be a crude fake that used (incompetently) a Greek inscription published in the 1950s and that everyone acknowledges that many of the codices currently circulating are fakes. (To be fair, the latter are supposed to be forged copies of the original lot of codices.) It would have been considerably clearer, especially to readers new to the story, to say "even though some of [or even "one of ... has"] the objects in this collection have been proved to be forgeries ..."

I don't know what the last sentence quoted means, so I will refrain from commenting.

Later in the article, B.C. says, "Perhaps the newly-established Centre should take heart from the fact that it took quite a few years for the importance of Dead Sea Scrolls to be widely realised." Well, it took some years for them to be widely known at all, but when Israeli biblical scholar Eliezer Sukenik saw one of them, shortly after its discovery, he immediately realized it was genuine. And years later when some of the scrolls were, as B.C. observes, put up for sale in America in the Wall Street Journal, Sukenik's son, Yigael Yadin (himself a biblical scholar), quickly made arrangements to buy them on behalf of the State of Israel. It may be that buyers were wary because of the high price and the not-entirely-clear ownership status of the scrolls rather than doubts about their genuineness. (You can read most of this in the link that B.C. provides, with some more at the one I've given.)

That doesn't sound very much like the story of the Jordan codices to me.

I have been saying for years (e.g., here) that the current evidence is very strong that the whole lot of metal codices are modern fakes (with at least one apparently made from ancient lead), but if someone wants to make a real case that some of them are genuine, they need actually to argue it. If I may quote myself:
Bottom line: such evidence as we now have, which is not inconsiderable, indicates that the Jordan metal codices are fakes. I am prepared to consider any new, reputable (especially peer-reviewed) evidence to the contrary, but failing that, I see no reason for scholars to be concerned about them.
We now have the good news that a panel of specialists is going to examine the codices. Very early on I offered a list of conditions that needed to be fulfilled to demonstrate that some of them are genuine. And I underline that any such case needs at least to make the cut of being published in peer-review journal articles or monographs. I look forward to hearing more about the membership of the evaluation panel and to seeing what they produce in due course.

Review of Nickelsburg and VanderKam, 1 Enoch 2

Questioning Categories and Shifting Paradigms in the Study of Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins – By Simon J. Joseph
March 17, 2015
Simon J. Joseph on George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam’s 1 Enoch 2
The review, which is also a wide-ranging discussion of the case for the existence of an ancient "Enochic" Judaism, concludes:
The task of the historian is to avoid (re)inscribing orthodoxies where they are historically anachronistic and to recognize the diversity, fluidity, and interactivity of ancient Judaism and Christianity. Fortunately, our knowledge of the ancient past — in particular, the Enochic literature, the Qumran manuscripts, and the earliest Christian writings, authors, and communities — is currently expanding into a far more complex pattern of interrelationships within Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity than previous generations recognized. The publication of 1 Enoch 2 by Nickelsburg and VanderKam represents a significant milestone in this rediscovery of Early Christianity-within-Early Judaism.

And now Tunisia

MORE SLAUGHTER AND ANOTHER ATTACK ON THE PAST: Gunmen storm Tunisian museum, kill two Tunisians, 17 foreign tourists (Tarek Amara, Reuters/Jewish Journal).
Gunmen in military uniforms stormed Tunisia's national museum, killing 17 foreign tourists and two Tunisians on Wednesday in one of the worst militant attacks in a country that has largely escaped the region's "Arab Spring" turmoil.

Visitors from Italy, Germany, Poland and Spain were among the dead in the noon assault on the Bardo museum near parliament in central Tunis, Prime Minister Habib Essid said.

Security forces stormed the former palace around two hours later, killed two militants and freed other tourists held hostage inside, a government spokesman said. One policeman was killed in the police operation.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Islamic State militants, who have become particularly active in neighboring Libya, were behind the attack. "The EU is determined to mobilize all the tools it has to fully support Tunisiain the fight against terrorism," she added.


The museum is known for its collection of ancient Tunisian artifacts and mosaics and other treasures from classical Rome and Greece. There were no immediate reports the attackers had copied Islamic State militants in Iraq by targeting exhibits seen by hardliners as idolatrous.

Background here and links.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

AJS call for papers on ancient Jewish medical knowledge

H-JUDAIC: CFP: AJS, Boston 2015 - Jewish medical knowledge and rabbinic discourse(s) in Late Antiquity. Follow the link for details. The deadline for submission of paper proposals is 7 April 2015.

The Copper Scroll

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Column: Scroll: Treasure map or ancient hoax? (Don Knebel, Current in Westfield)
A pretty good, brief, popular account of the Copper Scroll. Excerpt:
Scholars are divided about who made the Copper Scroll and what, if any, treasures it describes. Some believe the scroll identifies items from the Second Temple in Jerusalem, hidden before the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Others argue the items were accumulated by first century Essenes living in Qumran, near where the scroll was found. Still others claim the treasures came from the First Temple, destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Finally, some scholars believe the Copper Scroll repeated an ancient fable. Fable or not, explorers from around the world have sought fame and fortune using the ambiguous descriptions in the Copper Scroll, so far digging up only dirt.
As far as I know, no scholars think that the Copper Scroll describes treasures from the First Temple, although a legendary list of such treasures and their hiding places does survive in The Treatise of the Vessels. There is no confirmed case of any of the Copper Scroll treasures actually being found, although one site at Nahal Hever, excavated by archaeologists, does have at least a superficial similarity to one of the treasures described in the document. In any case, few, if any, specialists now think that the treasures listed in the Copper Scroll are just legendary.

Lots more on the Copper Scroll etc. is here and links.

DSS Ponzi scheme?

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS IN A MANUSCRIPT SCANDAL: French police widen net in manuscripts investigation. In case against dealer charged with fraud, authorities are now looking at suppliers and other booksellers (Vincent Noce, The Art Newspaper).
The scandal in France involving manuscripts’ dealer Gérard Lhéritier and his company Aristophil is growing daily. Earlier this month, he was charged with fraud, money laundering, creating false accounts and embezzlement. Bail was set at €2m. His accountant and his daughter were also indicted, as well as his main supplier, one of the most important Parisian booksellers, Jean-Claude Vrain. A prominent Sorbonne law teacher, Jean-Jacques Daigre, who was Aristophil’s legal council, was held by police but released without being charged.


Hundreds of investors bought shares in each of Aristophil’s historic manuscripts (see below for details on the collection). They say they were led to believe their investment would bring a profit of 40% or more over five years. According to state prosecutors, there was no way they could recoup their money. Investors were thus persuaded to sign a new contract with a new fund, or paid with fresh money brought in by newcomers, in what authorities describe as a Ponzi scheme. Lhéritier categorically denies this, saying he was following normal business practices, on the rise of an underestimated market.

And the details on the collection?
Lhéritier has amassed one of the world’s most important private manuscripts collections, containing documents, books, photographs, drawings and watercolours. It includes such treasures as fragments from the Dead Sea scrolls, Medieval illuminated manuscripts, the Marquis de Sade’s infamous The 120 days of Sodom written while he was a prisoner in the Bastille, Louis XVI’s address to the French public before his execution, Romain Gary’s novels and the two Surrealist manifestos written by André Breton, as well as thousands of documents signed by Balzac (including his journal, nicknamed le garde-manger), Baudelaire, Vigny, Flaubert, Apollinaire, Verlaine, Cocteau and the like.
Hmm ... I suppose the moral is that you shouldn't try to get rich off of the Dead Sea Scrolls. You are warned.

Tekhelet in the news

RESURRECTED? Feeling Blue, in The Biblical Sense: Return of Tekhelet Dye Revives Lost Mitzvah (Deborah Fineblum Schabb, The Jewish Voice).
The Talmud defines the tekhelet dye as derived from the “blood” of a rare amphibious snail known as the chilazon. The mitzvah to wear a thread of that dye on one’s tallit is mentioned multiple times in the Torah. But the tekhelet supply ground to a complete halt following the Muslim conquest of the land of Israel in 638 CE, when Jews were cut off from their local source of the chilazon. Though many theories surfaced over the years, even the most educated Jews had no concrete proof of which modern-day creature the Talmud’s chilazon actually was. Due to that mystery, the mitzvah of tekhelet was largely lost, becoming a source of puzzlement for centuries.

Now, thanks in large part to a few enterprising individuals and some enthusiastic rabbis, what appears to be original chilazon has been found—and tekhelet strings are being dyed in a fashion much like the process performed by our ancestors.
Interesting. So someone has figured out how to make bluish-purple dye from powdered snails that could be the ones used in antiquity to make the tekhelet dye. That is encouraging, but not in itself convincing. It seems that some material actually dyed with tekhelet survives from antiquity (see here). What would be convincing if a chemical analysis of that dye showed that the modern reconstructed dye has the same composition. I don't know how close we are to being able to make such comparisons, which ideally would involve non- – or at least minimally – destructive chemical analysis, but this sounds like a desideratum for the future.

Additional background in the last link above, as well as here and here and links.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review of Levine, Short Stories by Jesus

ON THE PARABLES: Sure, Jesus Was Son of God. But How Was His Fiction? Amy-Jill Levine Makes Contribution to Jewish New Testament Lit (Jerome A. Chanes, The Forward)

● Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi
By Amy-Jill Levine
HarperOne, 320 pages, $25.99
Levine’s exploration of first-century Judea is splendid; tax collectors, judges, merchants, widows and mustard trees provide the interstitial tissue for the historical context of the parables. But Levine goes well beyond context. She thoroughly — and wittily — rips the parables from the hands of the “domesticated” interpreters and re-reads them to us in the form that Jesus may very well have intended. In the process, we learn what Judaism could well have been about in Temple times.

The cost of rape in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Talmudic Rabbis Debated the Cost of Rape—In Terms of the Woman’s Market Value. Reading the oral law today forces Jews to reconcile repellent, outdated legal views with modern morals.
The rabbis of the Talmud, living as they did in the first centuries C.E., did not share our modern intuitions about these subjects. Under Jewish law, rape is indeed a serious crime, with penalties laid out in detail in the Book of Deuteronomy. But in this week’s Daf Yomi reading, as the rabbis explored the penalties for rape of a virgin, it became clearer than ever that rape was not the same crime to them as it is to us. Today, we consider it a crime of violence against an individual; for the rabbis, it was more significantly a crime against a woman’s reputation, which had serious effects on her social standing and her marriage prospects. Their remedy for rape, then, was not to imprison or execute the rapist, but to insist that he make reparation to the victim’s family—either by paying a fine or by offering to marry his victim.
As I have remarked before, the world of the ancients was a very different world from ours.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

Forum on the Babylonian Talmud

THE TALMUD BLOG: What is Bavli: A Forum.
In light of the recent publication of four books on the Bavli, a session (modeled after a predecessor on What is Mishnah) entitled “What is Bavli” was organized this past December at the annual Association of Jewish Studies conference. The panel considered recent developments in scholarship on the literary structure and cultural context of the Bavli, and discussed the possibilities opened by these developments; the broad historical, literary, methodological, and conceptual questions which they raise or imply; and the problems which the field currently confronts. ... The Talmud Blog will be publishing the papers of this session over the next two weeks, and a PDF of the entire forum will be available for download when the forum is completed. ...
The first installment is I. Approaching the Bavli’s Structure (Pt. 1/3): papers by Michal Bar-Asher Siegal and Shai Secunda.

Curzon's Greek mss at the BL

ETC: The Greek Manuscripts of Robert Curzon (Peter M. Head). The ones listed so far by the British Library are mostly of the Septuagint and the New Testament.

Background on Robert Curzon is here and links.

Shanks on BAR's 40th

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: First Person: BAR’s 40th Birthday As published in the March/April 2015 Biblical Archaeology Review. Editor Hershel Shanks reflects on 40 years of BAR. I still have my copy of the first issue.

Background here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Roma Downey on The Dovekeepers

BACKGROUND: Roma Downey says she was 'profoundly moved' by 'The Dovekeepers' novel. "I was so profoundly moved by it that I was weeping openly on the plane," Downey says of reading Alice Hoffman's novel (Karen Butler, UPI).
LOS ANGELES, March 13 (UPI) -- Producer Roma Downey says she was determined to bring The Dovekeepers to the screen after falling in love with Alice Hoffman's historical novel on an airplane.

Downey and her husband Mark Burnett eventually adapted the book as a miniseries, which is set to air on CBS March 31 and April 1. ...
More background on the forthcoming miniseries and the novel is here and many links.

Essene séance?

SIMON SAYS: AN INTERESTING PLAY NOW SHOWING IN BOSTON: Simon Says See Schaffer's Séance (Jules Becker, Excerpt:
Speaking through James, Simon describes the soul as "a suit of clothing" and speaks of having arthritis in a previous life. Tellingly, he calls up details about the Essenes, the tightly structured groups associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls-Jews described here as "under but not with the Romans." To hear Simon, he himself was an Essene cared for by a surrogate mother named Rachel. As he continues, he identifies Essene prophet Nathan as the greatest of all, but not false at first. Murder mystery elements include the possibility that Nathan murdered Rachel's late husband Aaron.
Josephus mentions a dream interpreter named Simon the Essene in Jewish War 2.113. But I can't find any reference to an Essene prophet named Nathan.

Pi and Judaism

BELATEDLY FOR PI DAY 2015: The Secret Jewish History of Pi. Examining the Allure of a Magic Number From the Talmud to Maimonides to Mr. Spock (Seth Rogovoy, The Forward). Only it isn't actually secret. Excerpt:
The relationship between a circle’s diameter — a line running straight through cutting it into two equal halves — and its circumference — the distance around the circle – was originally mentioned in the Hebrew Book of Kings in reference to a ritual pool in King Solomon’s Temple. The relevant verse (1 Kings 7:23) states that the diameter of the pool was ten cubits and the circumference 30 cubits. In other words, the Bible rounds off Pi to about three, as if to say that’s good enough for horseshoes and swimming pools.

Later on, the rabbis of the Mishnah and the Talmud, who knew that the one-third ratio wasn’t completely accurate, had a field day with the Bible having played fast and loose with the facts, arguing in their characteristic manner that of course it depended on whether you measured the pool from the inside or the outside of the vessel’s wall. They also had fun with some of the Gematria – the numerical value – of the words in the original passage, which when you play around with them a bit indeed come a lot closer to the value of Pi, spelling it out to several decimal points.
Last year's Pi Day post, which covers some of the same ground, is here. And more on Aronofsky's movie Pi is here.

Pan mask found at Hippos-Sussita

DISCOVERY: Rare bronze mask of god Pan found at Golan dig. Larger than a human head, the mask of the half-human, half-goat god was discovered by chance at the Sussita archaeological site (Nir Hasson, Haaretz).
An extremely rare bronze mask of the ancient Greek deity Pan has been unearthed in an excavation at the Sussita archaeological site on the Golan Heights.

The mask, which dates back to the Hellenistic period, is larger than a human head and is made of bronze. It is extremely rare, because most ancient bronze statues and masks were melted down in later periods.

The mask was discovered two weeks ago by a University of Haifa archaeological team, headed by Dr. Michael Eisenberg. The team had returned to the site several weeks ago to examine several structures that had been found outside the city area last summer.

While using a metal detector to find coins, team member Dr. Alexander Yarmolin discovered a mass of earth, which, when cleared away, revealed the mask. The features of the ancient deity Pan were instantly recognizable — long, sharp ears and goat horns. Pan, the half-human, half-goat god of shepherds, also represented music and amusement.

The location of the mask, so far outside the ancient city, was unusual. The researchers believe that the building where it was found may have been a shrine on the main road to the city.

The Jerusalem Post also has a story on the find, with video, here.

Past posts about the site of Hippos-Sussita are here and links. It has been a significant source of ancient pagan artifacts.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hurtado on the REF

LARRY HURTADO: REF Results and Research in the UK. Some commentary by someone who knows the British Government's system of evaluating academic research well and who is now free of it.

Zoroastrian eschatological seers

ARASH ZEINI: Eschatological seers.