Saturday, October 03, 2015

Review of Bradley, Smell and the Ancient Senses

Mark Bradley (ed.), Smell and the Ancient Senses. The senses in antiquity. London; New York: Routledge, 2015. Pp. xii, 210. ISBN 9781844656424. $39.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Stuart Eve, University College London/L – P : Archaeology (


Mark Bradley opens this collected volume of 13 essays by stating: “one of the most interesting things about smell is its very transitoriness and elision from the record, as well as its ambiguities and complexities” (p. 2-3). This sentence sums up the book as a whole and sets the stage well for what can be considered an excellent collection of work on smell in the ancient world.


The breadth of the different contributions means there is not room to discuss each one individually, but each certainly contributes something useful to the volume and as a whole they give a good overview of the current (and varied) thinking on the subject. The early chapters present excellent discussions of smell for both medical diagnosis and prognosis, along with a discussion of which herbs and trees may have been experienced and exploited for their smelly qualities. In some cases it seems as if the authors are perhaps 'tacking on' a discussion of smell to some of their previous research – this is particularly true of Koloski-Ostrow (with her focus on sewerage systems) and Potter (on Roman dining) – but the contributions don't necessarily suffer for this and indeed it can be taken as evidence of how pervasive the study of smell should be.

The choice of the contributions means interesting juxtapositions are sometimes presented, with Butler's exploration of the poetical creation of the sweet-smelling 'scent of a woman' being set against Bradley's discussion of the foul smells of the body. The chapters on the role of scent and smell in religious contexts, (Clements [on Greek ritual], Green [on smell in Rabbinic Jewish ritual], and Toner [on smell in Christianity]) work together very well to present three different ways in which smell can be used to appease or attract the gods. The exploration of the role of incense throughout these three chapters aptly demonstrates both the ethereal nature of smell, but also its politicisation to achieve one's own aims.3 As Clements says, “odour emerges as an experience of divinity, and divinity, in turn, as an experience of odour” (p. 59).


RevQ 105/27 (2015)

A NEW VOLUME IS OUT: Revue de Qumrân 105, tome 27 (2015). Follow the link for the TOC.

Thompson on "Biblical Archaeology"

Biblical Archaeology: The Hydra of Palestine’s History

Both Israel Finkelstein and William Dever have allegedly distanced themselves from the kind of “biblical archaeology” of William F. Albright. Their own efforts, however, to relate Palestinian archaeology and biblical narrative not only reflect Albright’s earlier methods, they create a politically oriented incoherence. In three recent works, since the turn of the millennia, Finkelstein uses archaeologically based arguments primarily to resolve problems of biblical interpretation. Dever, who also has published three biblical-archaeological studies since 2001, concentrates, rather, on archaeological issues, while using biblical narrative for his underlying historical context. A discussion of the figures of Solomon and Josiah on the one hand and a discussion of “landscape archaeology” and site classification, on the other hand, illustrate the shortcomings of their methodology.

This article has been published as part of the Festschrift for Niels Peter Lemche, Teologi, historie og erindring, in the Dansk teologisk tidsskrift 78 (2015), 243-260.

By Thomas L. Thompson
Professor emeritus
University of Copenhagen
October 2015


AWOL: Open Access Journal: ARTA: Achaemenid Research on Texts and Archaeology. Lots of good articles on Achaemenid Persia. I noted a recent one here.

The Mt Zion excavation

JAMES TABOR: Fabulous Coverage of our Mt Zion Dig! Professor Tabor links to a popular report on the Mt Zion excavation, headed by him and Shimon Gibson under the auspices of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. It will be running again in 2016.

Background on the excavation and its most famous discovery, the "Mt Zion cup," is here and links.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Dead Sea Scrolls workshop report

THE EUROPEAN QUMRAN NETWORK MEETING IN HELSINKI took place in September. Katri Antin and Jutta Jokiranta have a brief report at the Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions (CSTT) Blog: FROM TINY DOTS TO GLOBALIZATION.

Satlow on Ben Sira

MICHAEL L. SATLOW: The Wisdom of Ben Sira: How Jewish? (
Ben Sira will never replace Kohelet within the Tanak or as a synagogue reading on Sukkot. But although it is “outside the Bible,” it may still contain teachings and wisdom that remain relevant for us today. King Solomon, the reputed author of Kohelet, was said to have a capacious sense of wisdom. We might want to ask whether our tent, like those of the Talmudic and Geonic Sages, is large enough to include Ben Sira, even if the book is only just allowed to lurk at the entrance.
Cross-file under Old Testament Apocrypha Watch.

Research fellowship at the John Rylands Library

H-JUDAIC: Fellowships: Visiting Research fellowships at the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester.

For more on the John Rylands Research Institute, see here and links.

Fulton, Reconsidering Nehemiah's Judah

Reconsidering Nehemiah's Judah
The Case of MT and LXX Nehemia 11–12

[Neuauswertung des Juda bei Nehemia. Der Fall MT und LXX Nehemia 11–12.]
2015. XV, 258 Seiten.
Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe 80

Deirdre N. Fulton investigates the history of Judah during the late-Persian and Hellenistic Periods by analysing Nehemiah 11-12. These chapters exhibit changes in the lists and the procession narrative, preserved in two different traditions, within the MT (Masoretic Text) and the LXX (Greek Septuagint).


YONA SABAR: Hebrew word of the week: Gerim — “alien residents; converts to Judaism.”

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Virtual tour of biblical sites

POPULAR ARCHAEOLOGY: Website walks visitors on virtual tour of biblical archaeological sites.
Petra. Masada. Herodium. Jericho. Qumran.

These are “holy land” archaeological sites of which most of us have heard but comparatively few of us have actually visited in person. There are obvious reasons for that—cost, time, cost, other commitments, cost, other priorities, cost. For those of us who have a passion for things archaeological, especially as they apply to the biblical account and the Middle East in general, such places remain mostly uncrossed on the travel wish list.

But what if you were told that you could ‘visit’ these places without incurring the fortune of airfare, hotel expenses and food, without ever having to hassle with security check lines, step onto an airplane or ride a bus or take a taxi?

One website, called the Virtual World Project, can do that for us. Featuring archaeological sites from Abu Ghosh to Zohar, the website offers virtual grand tours of no less than 106 sites.

Nice website. It's not quite up to this level of virtual reality yet, but the images are high quality and the panorama effects are very good.

PSCO 53 (2015-16)

THE PHILADELPHIA SEMINAR ON CHRISTIAN ORIGINS: 2015–2016 Topic: Beyond “Greco-Roman Context”: Persian & Other Perspectives on Judaism & Christianity. Sounds like an excellent area to explore. Follow the link for details.

Canepa, "Text, image, memory, and performance"

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Epigraphic practices in Persia and the ancient Iranian world. Notice of a new article in a new book: Canepa, Matthew P. 2015. "Text, image, memory, and performance: epigraphic practices in Persia and the ancient Iranian world." In Antony Eastmond, Viewing Inscriptions in the Late Antique and Medieval World, 10-35. Cambridge University Press

Dennert, John the Baptist and the Jewish Setting of Matthew

John the Baptist and the Jewish Setting of Matthew

How does the Jewish figure of John the Baptist function within the Jewish setting of Matthew? Brian C. Dennert analyzes the Baptist's role in Matthew and draws upon his portrait in other texts, noting how Matthew's portrait and use of John strengthens the claims of Matthew's Jewish group over against other Jewish groups.

Aramaic and the Cellist

ARAMAIC WATCH: Cellist Maya Beiser takes cutting-edge approach to music (Colin Eatock, Chron).
For this kind of unorthodox programming, the Washington Post dubbed her "the reigning queen of the avant-garde cello."

Beiser was raised on a kibbutz and came to the U.S. in 1987. She soon made a name for herself as the cellist in the New York ensemble Bang on a Can All-Stars, which is known for cutting-edge repertoire.

Her newest production, brought to the Wortham Theater Center by the Society for the Performing Arts, is called "All Vows." She says the title is inspired by the "Kol Nidre," a Jewish prayer written more than 1,000 years ago in the Aramaic language.

"I'm starting the second part of the show with 'Kol Nidre,' " she says. "I'll be playing the cello and singing in Aramaic. I'll perform a setting that was written for me by Mohammed Fairouz. It's a beautiful gift that he has created."

Fairouz is an American composer of Palestinian origin who is much feted in the classical music world.
Aramaic and music seem to go well together.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sukkot priestly blessing at Western Wall

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: IN PICTURES: Thousands flock to Western Wall for traditional priestly blessing. The traditional priestly blessing is held anually in honor of Succot, Passover and Shavuot (Jerusalem Post).

Background on the Festival of Sukkot is here (cf. here) and links.

AJR interviews CBR editor

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Currents in Biblical Research: Interview with Editor Jordan Rosenblum.
“The Ancient Jew Review sat down with Jordan Rosenblum, editor of Ancient Judaism at Currents in Biblical Research. We discuss the scope of the journal, the peer review process, as well as Rosenblum’s advice for journal submissions.”

Egyptian street-map mosaic excavated in Israel

A Rare 1,500 Year Old Mosaic was Discovered that Depicts Ancient Streets and Buildings in Egypt

A 1,500 year old mosaic, depicting a map with streets and buildings, was exposed about two years ago in archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted together with school children and employees from the Qiryat Gat Industrial Park. The excavation of the mosaic was generously underwritten by the Y.S. Gat Company–Qiryat Gat Industrial Park Management Company. This extraordinary mosaic served as the floor of a church dating to the Byzantine period. It was removed from the site for the purpose of conservation and was recently returned to its permanent location in the industrial park. The mosaic will be revealed to the public for the first time at the “Factories from Within” festival to be held October 1, during the Sukkot holiday.

According to archaeologists Sa‘ar Ganor and Dr. Rina Avner of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The appearance of buildings on mosaic floors is a rare phenomenon in Israel. The buildings are arranged along a main colonnaded street of a city, in a sort of ancient map. A Greek inscription preserved alongside one of the buildings exposed in the mosaic indicates that the place which is depicted is the settlement חורטסו, in Egypt. According to Christian tradition, the prophet Habakkuk was buried in חורטסו. The appearance of this Egyptian city on the floor of the public building in Qiryat Gat might allude to the origin of the church’s congregation”.

The mosaic pavement was part of the floor of a church that did not survive. Two sections of the mosaic were preserved; animals such as a rooster, deer and birds and a special goblet with red fruits are portrayed on one part of the pavement. According to Ganor, “The artist utilized tesserae of seventeen different colors in preparing the mosaic. The investment in the raw materials and their quality are the best ever discovered in Israel”. A Nile River landscape in Egypt consisting of a boat with a rolled-up sail, streets and buildings is depicted on the second carpet. The buildings are portrayed in detail and in three dimensions, and they have two–three stories, balconies and galleries, roofs, roof tiles and windows.

The “Factories from Within” festival will be held this year for the first time in the Qiryat Gat Industrial Park during the Sukkot holiday, in what will become an annual tradition. On October 1 the Qiryat Gat Industrial Park will be turned into an event-filled arena of one-time performances in unconventional locations, with rare visits inside some of the best known factories in Israel. The children will enjoy performances of Adon Shoko with songs by Arik Einstein, “Shukhnat Hop” and a variety of creative activities. A unique offering of events awaits adults with appearances by Shalom Hanoch and Moshe Levi in a performance of “Exit” that will be held in a printer factory, the singer Dikla will appear in the park, and Hemi Rudner will hold a fascinating master’s class in the Negev Beer brewery.

The project will give the general public a rare opportunity to peek into the hidden world of the factories in one of the country’s most modern industrial areas. The “Factories from Within” festival is the inaugural event slated to launch the 60th anniversary of Qiryat Gat, and the public is invited to enjoy the unique musical and visual experience.
The announcement has already received considerable media attention, for example, these LiveScience articles by Stephanie Pappas: 1,500-Year-Old Mosaic Shows Map of Ancient Egyptian Settlement and In Photos: Elaborate Mosaic Adorned Floor of Ancient Church.

Scanning the bodies from Pompeii

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Revealed - what's inside the Pompeii mummies: Incredible CT scans show bodies in unprecedented detail laying bare their bones, delicate facial features and even dental cavities (Victoria Woollaston, Daily Mail)
  • Restorers are working on 86 preserved plaster casts of Romans who died when Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79AD
  • Each of the victims have been entombed in ash and now plaster for more than 1,900 years
  • Experts have spent the summer scanning these bodies using CT scanners at the Pompeii Archaeological Site
  • They have now released the first results of these scans to show what lies beneath the plaster of the victims
Remarkable, if macabre, technological progress. Pompeii has featured from time to time on PaleoJudaica, notably here, here, here, and here and links. It has even occasionally come up in connection with ancient Judaism, such as here, here and here and links.

Cairo Geniza scholar receives MacArthur Fellowship

CONGRATULATIONS! Rustow receives MacArthur Fellowship (Daily Princetonian).
Marina Rustow, the Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East at the University, is among the 24 scientists, artists, scholars and activists who received this year’s MacArthur Fellowship.

The distinction, sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, comes with $625,000 grants distributed in quarterly installments over a five-year period. ...

Rustow joined the University faculty this past July and specializes in Jewish studies of the medieval Middle East. Rustow has analyzed Cairo Geniza, a collection of more than 300,000 folio pages of legal documents, letters and literary materials once preserved in an Egyptian synagogue. These documents now reside in about 200 libraries and private collections.

Rustow explained that because of the complexity of their language, the Cairo Geniza texts are often difficult to understand and only a limited number of scholars have received sufficient training. The texts mostly include legal transactions and other day-to-day records preserved in a range of languages, particularly Judeo-Arabic ones.

Studying those texts, she said, provides a more insightful understanding of the Medieval Islamic state, especially the lifestyle of Jews, a minority in the empire that stretched from Egypt to Palestine.

“I am interested in the internal history of Jewish communities between the 11th and 13th centuries, a period that they documented so well,” she said. “Reading these accounts allow me to get a sense about the lives of Jews living under Islamic rule on every level from breakfast to poetry to marriage choices.”

This is later than PaleoJudaica's normal range of interest, but I always like to keep track of what is happening in Cairo Geniza studies. On which, more here with many, many links.

Christ Among the Messiahs in paperback


A review of the book was noted here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


AWOL: Neo-Babylonian Cuneiform Corpus (NaBuCCo). Get it, get it, Nabucco?!

Review of Hoyos, Mastering the West

Dexter Hoyos, Mastering the West: Rome and Carthage at War. Ancient warfare and civilization. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Pp. xxi, 337. ISBN 9780199860104. $29.95.

Reviewed by Fred K. Drogula, Providence College (


Dexter Hoyos is a leading authority on ancient Carthage and its wars with Rome, and his numerous works have advanced our understanding of these subjects.1 In Mastering the West: Rome and Carthage at War, Hoyos takes up the daunting tasks of giving a detailed narrative of the three Punic Wars and their intervening periods, of analyzing the catalysts and motives driving critical events in these wars, of drawing attention to problems in our evidence, and of working through those problems to present the best reconstruction possible. Hoyos also asks several larger questions in his work, such as why the three Punic Wars (and related Macedonian Wars) began, how Carthage and Rome were able to sustain the immense costs of the wars, and why winning the wars did not leave Rome enfeebled. In all of these areas he has succeeded admirably, and has produced an engaging and highly readable work that will attract a wide readership.

Cross-file under Punic Watch.

More on the renovation of the JTS Library

MARC GARY: The JTS Library for the 21st Century (Times of Israel blog).
Although nostalgia for a golden-hued past is a common emotional reaction to change, it cannot be a substitute for meeting the evolving needs of the future. The present JTS Library was built in the 1980s, which may seem not so long ago until you realize that 30 years ago the Internet revolution had not transformed the way we receive and disseminate information, digitization was not yet available, eBooks did not exist, and the numerous technological developments that allow rare books to be showcased and studied without harm to their fragile condition were not even considered. Perhaps even more importantly, 30 years ago libraries were mainly used as spaces for silent, individual scholarship, which is at odds with the advanced thinking of today that emphasizes the value of collaborative learning.

Had JTS merely decided to preserve the present Library and ignore these seismic changes—as some have suggested—we would have done a major disservice to the remarkable collection and the history it represents. Instead, the leadership of JTS—the Board of Trustees, the administration, and the leadership of the Library—embarked on one of the most exciting ventures in JTS history to ensure that the treasures of the Jewish people are better conserved, more widely disseminated, and more accessible to the world of scholars, students, and lay people with the purpose of enriching and inspiring new generations.
The author "is executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS)."

Background here.

Was Tischendorf a goodie or a baddie?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Tischendorf on Trial for Removing Codex Sinaiticus, the Oldest New Testament. Is Constantine Tischendorf a hero or thief? (Ellen White). The BAR article by Stanley Porter is summarized in this post, but its full text is behind a subscription wall.
Stanley Porter, the Dean of McMaster Divinity College, argues that many salient details are omitted from this all too common telling of the events. At the time of Tischendorf, there was nothing uncommon about removing, buying or gifting ancient manuscripts in this manner. He also demonstrates that from the beginning, there were discussions about donating the manuscript to the Russian Czar, as would be appropriate for an Eastern Orthodox monastery, but that the succession problems within the church leadership lead to a more complicated than normal process, which allowed allegations against Tischendorf to linger. Stanley Porter explains how newly revealed documents from the Russian archives exonerate Tischendorf and provide the rest of the story of Codex Sinaiticus’s long journey west.
More on Tischendorf is here and link. More on Codex Sinaiticus is here and links.

Regarding Codex Siniaticus, I can only repeat my view that antiquities are the heritage of humanity, not just treasures of particular nations or institutions, and they should be kept where they are safest. I realize that raises many moral and practical issues and, yes, let's talk about them. Meanwhile, I can't say I'm sorry that this manuscript is not at Saint Catherine's Monastery at present.


LET IT STAY BURIED FOR NOW: Iraq’s Ancient Kish City Lies Buried in Sand. Iraq’s Kish City has overcome natural disasters and neglect over the years, but it has now been turned into a desolate site covered in sand (Adnan Abu Zeed, Al-Monitor).
KISH CITY, Iraq — A British archaeological team from the Field Museum and Oxford University conducted excavations between 1923 and 1929 in Kish City, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad. Since then, no other excavations have been made in the city, which dates back 5,000 years. The visible ruins of the ancient site have been covered by sand dunes and mounds. According to archaeological records, Kish City survived the Great Flood that happened some 7,600 years ago and was mentioned in Jewish, Christian and Muslim scriptures.

Kish City is also well known because this is the site where the famous King Sargon of Akkad, with whom the Akkadian state was raised to the level of an empire, appeared. This brave king annexed the cities neighboring Kish to his kingdom and invaded the lands neighboring Iraq, such as Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and the Arab Gulf region.

Whoever visits Kish City, 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) east of Babil, will not find, for the time being, more than ruins buried underneath the sand.

Kish is not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Saul's father's names is coincidentally similar) or the New Testament or, as far as I can recall, in the Qur'an. I don't know where the author got the idea that the name is mentioned in these scriptures. The Hebrew Bible does mention a number of very ancient Mesopotamian cities such as Babylon, Uruk ("Erech"), and Agade ("Akkad") in Genesis 10.

The Sumerian King list is the "archaeological records" that say that that the city-state of Kish survived the Great Flood.

There is already some local looting of the site, but I hope it remains relatively ignored until the political situation becomes more stable in Iraq.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Super blood moon photos

SUKKOT SUPER-BLOOD-MOON-TETRAD FINALE: Blood moon: Your stunning photographs of the lunar eclipse over the North East. People across the region were tempted from their beds by a rare celestial event combining a lunar eclipse and a supermoon in early hours of Monday (BARBARA HODGSON, Chronicle Live). Lots of good photos. Also in The Guardian: Super moon and lunar eclipse combine for 'blood moon' – pictures from around the world (Jonny Weeks).

As the latter headline hints, a "super moon" is a full moon while at the moon's closest point to the earth and a "blood moon" happens during a lunar eclipse. Both happened together last night, which coincided with the beginning of Sukkot. This is a fairly rare coincidence, but not so rare as to be an apocalyptic one.

I last saw the full moon last night at about 11:00, when it was just starting to go bloody. And I woke up and went out again at 4:45 am in time to see a remaining crescent from the eclipse. None of my photos came out as well as the ones linked to above, so I won't post any here.

Background here and links.


At the conclusion of the 2013 York Christian Apocrypha Symposium there was discussion of creating a North American academic association for the study of Christian Apocrypha, a counterpart of sorts to l’AELAC (the French/Swiss group of scholars responsible for the Corpus Christianorum Series Apocryphorum and other publishing endeavours). We soon established a founding board and met at SBL in November 2014 to consider the group’s mandate, possible collaborative projects, and the very important decision of what do we call the thing? After a few false starts we came up with the North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature (NASSCAL). Since November we have elected an executive and created a web site to promote the group and to build a membership. The existence of the group was formally announced at this past weekend’s 2015 York Christian Apocrypha Symposium.

Background here. The website of the new society is here: NASSCAL: The North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature.

Review of Ziedan, Azazeel

BOOK REVIEW IN THE JORDAN TIMES: ‘Storms we have stifled’ (Sally Bland).
Youssef Ziedan

Translated by Jonathan Wright

London: Atlantic Books, 2013

Pp. 312

Youssef Ziedan’s novel, “Azazeel”, has many layers, each of them fascinating in its own right. At the narrative level, it is the diary of a 5th century monk named Hypa, who undertakes a number of significant journeys, spiritual and temporal. Born in Upper Egypt along the Nile, the disintegration of his family leads him to migrate to Alexandria, then Jerusalem, Syria, north of Aleppo, and Antioch. Other layers of the story involve history, culture, philosophy, psychology, love, religion and spirituality.

Hypa’s descriptions of the people, landscapes, cities and customs he encounters weave a fascinating tapestry of life in a time which is largely forgotten. It is a multilingual and multicultural world peopled by Greeks, Arabs, Kurds and Turks, speaking Syriac (Aramaic), Greek, Arabic, Coptic, etc. It is also a world in transition and turmoil as Christianity advances at the expense of paganism, only to be embroiled in internal doctrinal squabbles.

This novel was first released in Egypt in Arabic in 2010 and was controversial. It was published in the English translation in 2012.

The title refers to a name of the devil, who is also a character in the story. His name comes from the Hebrew name Azazel, on which more here. I don't know where the extra "e" comes from, but perhaps this is just an Arabic form of the name?

A seal, not a coin

CONFUSION: 10 Year Old Volunteer Discovers Ancient Coin in Israel (David DeMar, The New Historian).
An ancient coin dating back to the tenth century BCE – roughly the time of the reign of King David – was recently discovered by a 10 year old volunteer from Russia who had been participating in the Temple Mount Sifting Project in Jerusalem.

No, this was not a coin. Coins were not invented until some centuries after the time of this artifact. It is a seal — a stone object carved with an image (not writing in this case, alas) which is pressed into clay (or later wax). The clay impression is called a "bulla" (plural "bullae) and was used to seal documents shut. You can read about the story here.

This doesn't seem complicated to me, but this is the second time I've seen this sort of confusion recently. Back in June someone was confusing a Canaanite-era Egyptian scarab seal with a coin. Story here.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Jewish history’s greatest archaeological crime. The Temple Mount Sifting Project, now in its 10th year, has uncovered hundreds of thousands of invaluable antiquities from tons of ancient debris discarded like trash from Judaism’s holiest site (DANIEL K. EISENBUD, Jerusalem Post).
In 1999, thousands of years’ worth of fragile and irreplaceable Jewish archaeological antiquities were surreptitiously and violently dug up by Arab bulldozers at Judaism’s holiest site, Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, to build an entrance to a subterranean mosque.

The resulting thousands of tons of invaluable debris – believed to contain over 1 million artifacts dating back to the First Temple period – were then carted off in dump trunks and discarded like garbage to a nearby landfill in Jerusalem’s Kidron Valley.

According to internationally recognized archaeologist Gabriel Barkay, PhD, who is the co-director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, located near Mount Scopus, the removal represents perhaps the greatest archaeological crime in history.


However, only slightly more than 50 percent of the reclaimed earth has been sifted, and a massive shortfall in the project’s funding now seriously endangers the possibility of continuing the work. In an effort to ensure that the project continues, Barkay and Dvira launched a crowdfunding campaign earlier this month.


In the meantime, despite a growing Arab campaign to rewrite Jewish history at the contested holy site, Barkay notes the sifting project has been instrumental in irrefutably proving the inexorable link between Jews and the Temple Mount.

“Even now we have new information that may well change the written history of some of the periods of the Temple Mount,” he says.

“The sifting project has proven itself to be an inexhaustible source of knowledge for the research and study of the archaeology and history of the Temple Mount, and the project is continuing full steam with many more finds waiting to be discovered by professionals and visitors who come to work at the site.”

I have been blogging on this story ever since the Temple Mount Sifting Project's inception, but a reminder never hurts. Background here with many, many links.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sukkot 2015

THE FESTIVAL OF SUKKOT (BOOTHS, TABERNACLES) begins this evening at sundown. Best wishes to all those observing it.

Biblical and other background to the festival is collected here in last year's Sukkot post.

Also, there is this good news: Super blood moon on Sunday will not usher in the end of the world (and other failed predictions) (JAKE ELLISON, This is the last of the four "blood moons" corresponding with four successive major Jewish holidays, on which more here and links. When the world doesn't end tonight (assuming it doesn't), we should have some peace on the matter again for a while.

Israel Beer Museum

IT KEEPS A LOW PROFILE ONLINE, but I just learned from a photo caption in this article that Carlsberg has a brewery in Ashkelon and its Visitor Center includes a Beer Museum. (This website caption places it in Eilat, but that seems to be an error. See the directions in the right-hand column.)
The visit includes the following: a spectacular audio-visual display in a unique auditorium; tour of the brewery, a prize-winning state-of-the-art plant; visit to the museum which describes the story of beer production in ancient times, with an exciting archeological display of authentic tools on loan from the Israeli Antiquity Authorities. Unique pub museum in which the visitor can taste the brewery’s products - unlimited!
Background on ancient Near Eastern and biblical beer is here and links.

Lied on Codex Ambrosianus B.21 marginalia

LIV INGEBORG LIED: Details in the margin – not marginal details: A liturgical annotation in the Syriac Codex Ambrosianus.
A small annotation such as this one may seem (literally) a marginal detail. However, it may turn out to be an interesting detail, since it sheds some additional light on a hypothesis that has been repeated in scholarship ever since Ceriani published the facsimile edition of the codex in 1876/1883. In the Praefatio of this edition, Ceriani suggestes that the codex was probably not produced for ecclesiastical use, since it includes neither liturgical notes, nor an index of lessons. He notes, though, that the occasional liturgical note occurs in the columns of some texts, but suggests that this is due to the fact that the scribe copied the texts in question from an exemplar that contained such notes (p. 8).
Details matter.

More on manuscript Codex Ambrosianus B.21 here and here (cf. here). Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

Workshop on ancient Nabataean rituals

NABATEAN WATCH: Ancient Nabataean rituals uncovered and explored at IFPO workshop (Saeb Rawashdeh, The Jordan Times).
AMMAN (JT) — Under the patronage of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, the French Institute for the Near East (IFPO) held on September 17th a workshop titled “Offerings to Gods, Offerings to Man — Archaeology of Rituals in the Nabataean World“.

Ancient Nabataean heritage, language and rituals were at the forefront of the discussion, as nine distinguished scholars gathered from global universities to present their findings.

Archaeologists, historians and anthropologists specialising in Nabataean legacy covered the territories of southern Jordan and northwestern Saudi Arabia in order to reconstruct life in this ancient kingdom.

Seen on Facebook. For some past posts on the Nabateans (Nabataeans), the Nabatean (Nabataean) language, and Petra, see here and links.

Biblical and African manuscripts at the University of Jos

IN NIGERIA: Uni-Jos pushing boundaries on ancient manuscripts collection (Hir Joseph,The Daily Trust).
A research work on ancient manuscripts - now lasting two years so far - has brought the University of Jos (UNIJOS) in Plateau State pushing boundaries in the collection of original, unpublished documents especially about Africa.

The university is on its way to breaking the record among universities in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to Professor Danny McCain, an American author who is leading a research group made up of a dozen scholars from five universities in Nigeria on a work called “Ancient Manuscripts Project.”


Ancient manuscripts project:
The ancient manuscript project, brought the university linking up with Ancient Manuscript Group based in Grand Haven, Michigan, according to Professor McCain, who is also a professor of Biblical Theology in the department at the university.

McCain has lectured continuously at UNIJOS since 1991 and has had significant experience creating academic projects and coalitions in Africa. He is also the founder and Chairman of Board, Global Scholars, a group of Christian professors in universities worldwide.

He said the Ancient Manuscripts Group has been visiting the country every three months to do workshops with scholars.

“We have about 12 to 15 scholars involved in this project. These are ancient biblical manuscripts and other manuscripts which are important to the Christian faith because they are the foundation of the bible,” McCain said.

“Now, we have a 600 year old Hebrew scroll with us; we have been analysing for the last three months. We have also analysed 800-year old Latin manuscript. We have one of my PhD students doing works on 4th Century Coptic document.”
He said the group of scholars has spent a good deal of time looking at the Papyrus document; that is one of the earliest papers from 1600 years old to over 2,200 years old.

“For example, I have a picture of the Vice Chancellor holding a document in his hands; a letter from Ptolemy II, son of Ptolemy I, Alexander the Great’s general who ruled Egypt.

The article doesn't specify this, but it sounds as though these manuscripts may be from the Van Kampen Collection, which was originally located in Grand Haven, Michigan, but is now in Orlando, Florida, associated with the not uncontroversial Holy Land Experience theme park.