Sunday, August 07, 2022

More on the ghost amphitheater at Megiddo

UPDATE: First Roman military amphitheater discovered in Israel’s Armageddon. The excavation, led by USC Dornsife scholars, yielded clues about the lives of ancient Roman soldiers stationed outside the fabled city of Armageddon (Margaret Crable, USC Dornsife).
It wasn’t until 2013 that a team of researchers began the first official excavation of the army base that Schumacher hypothesized was in the vicinity. They uncovered both the walls and administrative center of the Roman 6th Legion’s base and hypothesized that the odd depression was a military amphitheater associated with the legion.

In July, scholars from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences finally proved this hypothesis to be correct. It’s the first Roman military amphitheater ever uncovered in the Southern Levant, which encompasses Israel, Jordan and Palestine.

Into the pit

Excavation of the amphitheater was led by historian and archaeologist Mark Letteney, a postdoctoral fellow at the USC Mellon Humanities in a Digital World Program, headquartered at USC Dornsife.

I noted the discovery of this amphitheatre depression (which I labeled "ghost architecture") here.

That Jerusalem Post article also referred to a gold coin found at the Legion excavation. This current article has more on its discovery.

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Edelman Festschrift

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: The Hunt for Ancient Israel. Notice of a New Book: Shafer-Elliott, Cynthia, Kristin Joachimsen, Ehud Ben Zvi & Pauline A. Viviano (eds.). 2022. The Hunt for Ancient Israel: Essays in Honour of Diana V. Edelman. Sheffield: Equinox.

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Saturday, August 06, 2022

Tisha B'Av 2022

TISHA B'AV (THE NINTH OF AV) begins this evening at sundown. An easy fast to all those observing it.

The Ninth of Av is not specifically a biblical holy day. Rather, it commemorates a number of disasters that happened to the Jewish people, traditionally all on that same day of the year. These include the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Babylonians, the destruction of the Herodian Temple by the Romans, and the fall of Betar during the Bar Kokhba revolt.

Last year's Tisha B'Av post is here, leading to many links. More recent posts are here and here.

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More on that late-antique convent at Horbat Hani

ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECOVERY: Unbelievable Byzantine-era nunnery discovered by Israeli military (PHOTOS) (Greek City Times).
At Horbat Hani (aka Horvat Hani), among the original finds were dedicatory inscriptions to an abbess; a tower; structures that seem to have been the nuns’ equivalent of hermit cells; signs of economic activity – production of wine and olive oil; and a subterranean burial complex. But only for women and children, it seems. No men.
There some nice photos of the mosaics and an aerial view of the site.

Background here.

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Barmash & Hamilton (eds.), In the shadow of empire (SBL)

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: In the Shadow of Empire. Notice of a New Book: Barmash, Pamela & Mark W. Hamilton (eds.). 2021. In the shadow of empire: Israel and Judah in the long sixth century BCE. Atlanta: SBL Press.

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Friday, August 05, 2022

An app to unpack rabbinic literature

ALGORITHM WATCH: New AI technology hopes to change everything we know about Jewish texts. Prof. Moshe Koppel finds a new way to read Ancient Hebrew text through a groundbreaking AI technology that will be launched this week (Zvika Klein, Jerusalem Post).
This new technology is called Dicta Maivin (dictation expert). It’s a new addition and app of the Dicta organization that makes rabbinic literature accessible by automatically vocalizing and punctuating it, opening abbreviations and identifying source texts.
This (free!) technology is reportedly about to be released to the public. If the claims about it bear up, it sounds like a signficant advance for the study of ancient and medieval Hebrew literature.

A less ambitious, but still impressive, project at the Holon Institute of Technology is working on an algorithm to identify quotations in Jewish texts.

For more on using algorithms to study ancient Judaism etc., see the link in the previous paragraph, plus here and here.

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A mislabled (cheater's?) die from the Temple Mount

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG: FIND AND FINDER OF THE MONTH: DANIELLE PINTO OF FLORIDA FOUND ANOTHER CHEATER’S GAME DIE.

I noted a cheater's die (presumable the "another" in the title) here. And for a possibly fraudulent First Temple-era weight, see the links here.

There are additional recent Finder-of-the-Month artifacts posted at this blog which fall outside PaleoJudaica's period of interest. Have a look, if you like.

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Tishah B’Av, the Arch of Titus, and a 1926 postcard

YESHIVA UNIVERSITY LIBRARY BLOG: Tishah B’Av at the Arch of Titus in 1926.
A display of pride in Jewish endurance, despite the destruction and sacking of the Temple, is reflected in this photo postcard penned by Rabbi Judah Leib Fishman Maimon on 9 Av 1926 [July 20, 1926] in Rome and sent to his father in Tel Aviv the following day.

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Thursday, August 04, 2022

Embodying textual criticism

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Teaching Textual Criticism through Manuscript Creation (Lisa J. Cleath).
... Since textual criticism is analysis and comparison of physical manuscripts, the topic lends itself to a material activity which I will describe here. Ideally, the students come into class having a foundation in the day’s topic from assigned materials, and then the class lesson proceeds to explore and reaffirm those materials.
Cross-file under Pedagogy.

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The palace of the High Priest Annas?

LEEN RITMEYER: Palatial Mansion publication. A palace fit for a High Priest.
My friend and colleague Hillel Geva, director of the Israel Exploration Society and editor cum publisher of the Jewish Quarter Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem Conducted by Nahman Avigad, 1969-1982, sent me a copy of Volume VIII of this important series. Hillel is to be congratulated on the preparation and publication of this beautiful volume which sets a high standard of how excavations should be studied and published.

[...]

This is considerably more than a book review, since Ritmeyer was himself involved with the publication and restoration of the site.

For discussion of his idea that this building is the palace of the High Priest Annas, see the essay linked to here.

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The slaying of Zechariah and the destruction of the Temple?

TISHA B'AV IS COMING: What Sin Caused the Destruction of the First Temple? (Prof. Rabbi Marty Lockshin, TheTorah.com).
The prophet Zechariah, son of the high priest Jehoiada, is stoned to death in the Temple (2 Chronicles 24:21). According to the Talmud, his blood bubbled for two centuries, until the destruction of the Temple. Is “a priest and prophet were killed in the Temple” (Lamentations 2:20) a reference to this incident, presenting a reason for the destruction?

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Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Paul's sea voyage to Rome: maritime mystery solved?

RECONSTRUCTING HISTORY: Israeli Replica of 2,400-year-old Ship Solves Ancient Mediterranean Mystery. For years, researchers wondered how sailors in ancient times sailed westbound in the Mediterranean Sea, contrary to the prevailing wind. A University of Haifa researcher found the answer with the help of both modern and antique hardware (Gid’on Lev, Haaretz).
This description [in the New Testament Book of Acts] comes from one of the few detailed written accounts of sea voyages that remain from that period. “Until recently, we didn’t understand why the Alexandrian grain ship, that Paul joined in southern Anatolia, bound for Rome, chose that particular route,” says David Gal, a doctoral student in the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa.

The journey from the shores of Caesarea toward Rome was not an easy route. The winds in the Mediterranean are virtually all westerly, and researchers have never understood how sailors in ancient times sailed into the wind with the simple ships at their disposal.

Now Gal is proposing a solution to the riddle.

In order to reach the solution, he used “Big Data” analyses of 750 million sets of weather data. He also embarked on a series of voyages in a replica of a merchant vessel that sank near Kibbutz Ma’agan Mikhael (just north of Caesarea) some 2,400 years ago.

This is a long and detailed article on a fascinating project.

PaleoJudaica posts on the reconstructed Good Ship Ma’agan Michael II are here, here, and here. A second shipwreck (the Ma’agan Mikhael B) was found in the same area in 2020. See here and here.

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Talmudic-era storage jugs excavated at Shiloh

ARCHAEOLOGY: Rare Discovery in Ancient Shiloh – 5 Intact 2,000-Year-Old Giant Jugs (TPS / Tazpit News Agency via the Jewish Press).
100 years after the first excavations at the ancient Shiloh site, a number of rare finds were discovered in a new excavation, including five intact large storage jars that were placed in a row inside a building from the Talmud period (200-400 CE).

[...]

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McGrath in the footsteps of John the Baptist (5)

RELIGION PROF: In the Footsteps of John the Baptist 5: Pools of Bethesda and Siloam (James McGrath).

I have noted the first four installments here and links.

Some PaleoJudaica posts on the Pool of Siloam are here, here, and here. And a couple of old posts on the (traditional) Tomb of Zechariah in the Kidron Valley are here and here.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2022

The IDF restores late-antique convent ruins at Horbat Hani

ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECOVERY: IDF Soldiers Uncover 1500-Year-Old Convent with Mosaic Floor in Military Fire Zone (The Jewish Press).
Over the past month, dozens of IDF soldiers uncovered a 1500-year-old nuns’ abbey at Horbat Hani, in the low foothills east of Shoham in central Israel, 15 miles east of downtown Tel Aviv.

It began after a small area of the site, which is located within a military training zone was accidentally damaged by the army. The consequent recovery project, a collaboration of the IDF educational corps and the Israel Antiquities Authority, was crowned ”The Nature Defense Forces Project: Officers Take Responsibility for the Environment.”

[...]

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Biblical Studies Carnival 197

READING ACTS: Biblical Studies Carnival 197 for July 2022 (Phil Long).

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Anniversary of the Battle of Cannae

PUNIC WATCH: On 2 August 216 BCE, Hannibal Barca led the Carthaginian army to a major victory over the Romans at the Battle of Cannae in southeast Italy. PaleoJudaica posts on the battle are collected here and links.

Hannibal won the battle but lost the (Second Punic) war. Details at the link.

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Monday, August 01, 2022

The Magdala Stone returns home

ICONOGRAPHIC ARTIFACT: Magdala Stone in Israel’s Galilee an ‘Oasis of Encounter’ with Christian, Jewish History (Julie Stahl, CBN News).
JERUSALEM, Israel – A unique stone from an unearthed synagogue where Jesus could have prayed has returned to its home in the Galilee and the Magdala stone is expected to be a special draw for visitors.

[...]

For many posts (going back to 2010) on the remarkable Magadala Stone, its international travels, and the site of ancient Magdala, start here and follow the links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Remembering Constantine's Cologne decree of 321

COMMEMORATION: 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany: Taking stock. Festivities marking centuries-long Jewish-German history are concluding this week. A roundup of what's been achieved. (Deutsche Welle, Tapatrisha Das, Hindustan Times).
Festivities marking centuries-long Jewish-German heritage are concluding this week. Organizers are taking account of all that’s been achieved and are thinking to the future.

The first documented presence of Jews north of the Alps dates back to 321 CE, when the Roman emperor Constantine issued a decree allowing Jews to be members of Cologne's town council. The documents are stored in the archives of the Vatican today.

[...]

For much more on Constantine's Cologne decree of 321, see here.

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Mason, Josephus, Volume 2a: Judean War 4 (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary, Volume 2a: Judean War 4

Series: Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary, Volume: 2a

Author: Steve Mason

Josephus wrote his most impactful history, The Judean War, in seven volumes. The volume translated here and furnished with a full historical commentary, is pivotal. Filled with high drama and penetrating assessments of human behavior under extreme duress, it brings readers from Galilee and mass suicide at Gamala in the Golan to Vespasian’s rise to imperial power. In between, Josephus explains how first John of Gischala and then Simon bar Giora came to be the two dominant figures in Jerusalem, setting up the siege of Titus. This volume also introduces the war’s most famous antagonists: the Zealots (or Disciples).

Copyright Year: 2022

Prices from (excl. VAT): €176.00 / $212.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-51377-8
Publication date: 15 Jun 2022

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-11708-2
Publication date: 23 Jun 2022

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