Saturday, January 20, 2007

MORE LESLAU OBITUARIES: Back in November I noted the death of renowned Ethiopic scholar Wolf Leslau at the age of 100, and I linked to an obituary from the LA Times. Now Jack Sasson has noted two more obituaries on the Agade list. Gary Rendburg sent them along with this opening note:
t only recently came to my attention that Wolf Leslau, professor emeritus of Semitic linguistics at UCLA and the world's foremost authority on Ethiopian languages, died two months ago, on November 18, 2006, at the age of 100 (plus four days).

I had the privilege of knowing Professor Leslau well over the years, notwithstanding the geographical distance between the two coasts of the U.S. I last visited him in his home (within a retirement community in Fullerton, California) in December 2003, and can attest to Grover Hudson’s description of Leslau at work (see below).

There he was, at age 97, working diligently on his Macintosh computer, entering the data from card files on yet another Gurage dialect, which he had kept at hand for about forty years.

In addition to the detailed information provided by Hudson, note that Leslau also served a term as president of the American Oriental Society.
The longer obit was published on The Linguist list in November:
Message 1: Obituary: Wolf Leslau, 1906-2006
Date: 23-Nov-2006
From: Grover Hudson
Subject: Obituary: Wolf Leslau, 1906-2006

Wolf Leslau, surely the greatest Semiticist linguist of the post-war generation, whose work established Ethiopian linguistics as an essential part of Semitic studies, died on Nov. 18, at age 100 + four days. He is survived by two daughters, Elaine and Sylvia, and grandchildren.

Author of a body of work the size and breadth of which it is difficult to imagine anyone again matching, and the content of which it is difficult to imagine anyone again having the competence to match, his life was filled with love and energy for scholarly work. His publications date from 1933 including eleven articles before the appearance of the book Lexique soqotri in 1938, and continue uninterrupted almost to this year (The Verb in Mäsqan, 2004). Until recent months he was diligently working on another book, on the Ethiopian Semitic language Gogot. Characteristically, at 80 years old he discovered and mastered use of the Macintosh computer, recognizing its usefulness in composing work using phonetic and European-language fonts as well as Ethiopic and other Semitic writing systems.

The other one is a brief note on the website of The North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics:
Wolf Leslau, 1906-2006

Wolf Leslau, one of the greatest Semiticist linguists of the post-war generation, passed away on Nov. 18, at age 100 + four days. Leslau was a frequent participant in NACAL's annual meetings, and had the unique distinction of serving as NACAL reminiscer not once but twice, first at NACAL 12 (1984) and then again, two decades later, at NACAL 32 (2004). Grover Hudson's obituary for Leslau can be found here. [i.e., at the same link as above - JRD]

Friday, January 19, 2007

THE SITE OF PETRA in Jordan is a finalist in the "New Seven Wonders of The World" competition.

(Via Archaeologica News.)
ART BUCHWALD - R.I.P. Normally I wouldn't have mentioned Buchwald's death, sorry though I am to hear of it. But the brief A.P. death notice has this intriguing paragraph:
Buchwald fired volley after volley of unrelated humor -- such as recounting a landing in the Dead Sea by helicopter and being asked to return some scrolls.
A Google search brought up nothing relevant. Does anyone have information on this story?

UPDATE: Reader Roberto Labanti has sent a copy of a Buchwald column that was published in the Washington Post, Times Herald on 23 March 1961 and which is the source of the paragraph. Buchwald reports on his helicopter ride to Yadin's camp near the Dead Sea, where a basket containing what we now know was Babatha's archive had just been discovered in a cave. Yadin then asked them to take the scrolls back with them on the helicopter. Buchwald reported that they were happy to comply, "not only because we were taking a small part in a great archeological discovery, but because it would also give us something to read on the plane."
EGYPTIAN BLOGGER Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman is going on trial for his blogging:
Accused Egyptian Blogger Stands Trial

Friday January 19, 2007 2:16 AM


Associated Press Writer

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - An Egyptian blogger went on trial Thursday on charges of insulting Islam and causing sectarian strife with his Internet writings. Egypt's first prosecution of a blogger came as Washington has backed away from pressuring its Mideast ally to improve its human rights record and bring democratic reform.

Abdel Kareem Nabil often denounced Islamic authorities and criticized Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on his Arabic-language blog. He has been in detention since November and faces up to nine years in prison if convicted.

Egypt has arrested a string of pro-democracy bloggers over the past year, sparking condemnation from human rights groups.


Nabil is the first blogger Egypt has put on trial for his writings. Other bloggers have been released without charges. But unlike the other detained bloggers, who concentrated on politics, Nabil wrote often on religion - and Seif al-Islam said the government was likely prosecuting him as part of its ``competition with the Muslim Brotherhood to show its Islamic credentials.''

In his blog - where he uses the name Kareem Amer - Nabil was a fierce critic of conservative Muslims and in particularly of al-Azhar, one of the most prestigious religious institutions in the Sunni Muslim world.

Nabil was a law student at al-Azhar University, but denounced it as ``the university of terrorism,'' accusing it of promoting radical ideas and suppressing free thought. Al-Azhar ``stuffs its students' brains and turns them into human beasts ... teaching them that there is no place for differences in this life,'' he wrote.

He was thrown out of the university in March, and in his last blog entry before his arrest blamed al-Azhar for pushing the government to investigate him.

In other postings, Nabil described Mubarak's regime as a ``symbol of dictatorship.''

This is very bad news. The only positive thing about the story is that the A.P. is finally taking notice of it. For updates on the situation see the Free Kareem! blog.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Black Oak Books strives to stay open, but the times, they are a-changing

Heidi Benson, [San Francisco] Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, January 15, 2007

Don Pretari doesn't want to shut the doors of Black Oak Books. And not just because running the store has been his life's work.

When not attending to the details of the 23-year-old business, he spends every spare minute studying languages, including Quranic Arabic, classical Chinese, biblical Hebrew, Ethiopic and more.

"All the languages I study are dead," he says. "Who would hire me?"

But with profit margins down, a five-year lease coming due and a partner who wants to retire, Pretari, 49, may have to seek a vocation less perfectly suited to a Berkeley-educated polymath.

Last week, he sent up a trial balloon, inviting someone, anyone, to buy one or both Black Oaks stores -- the Berkeley location on Shattuck Avenue or the San Francisco store on Irving Street. (A short-lived third store in North Beach closed last year.)

"We'd like Black Oak to keep going," he says, adjusting his round glasses and settling into a chair in the back office, a warren of books. "We're exploring every possibility, even if that means someone else has to come in and own it."

Whether Pretari and his partners sell the store or find a way to keep it going themselves -- perhaps through renegotiation of the nearly $1 million Berkeley lease -- they don't want to see it change.

"It's a niche store, slanted toward the scholarly," says Pretari, noting that the landlord wants them to stay. "I wouldn't want to sell the store to someone who wouldn't carry books from university presses because they don't sell well enough."

Today, Pretari runs the finances, does new book buying and manages the store with Bob Brown, 68, whose specialty is rare and used books. (There are two other co-owners, but they are less involved in day-to-day operations.)

Pretari had more time for study just 10 years ago, when the staff was one-third larger. That's when he became interested in reading sacred texts in the original languages. Even now, he studies two hours a day -- down from six. He reads the Quran, with a dictionary, every morning, and he never takes a walk without his Latin note cards. His next project: to study math for pleasure. "I want to go back to arithmetic and follow it up as high as I can," he says. If he can do that and keep the bookstore going, great. "But I can't if I'm working 50-hour weeks."

I hope he finds a suitable buyer and is able to continue with his studies.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

FINDING JESUS' FORESKIN? Usually I ignore things like this, but I couldn't resist this one. This strange article from AND, South Africa, is so garbled it's hard to say if it's based on anything real:
Christian gravesite found in Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery.

Reprint permission by: Judaistic Review

Issue 14:22 Yeshuhana Journal

25th of Tevet, 5767

By Mitch Ugana

Important Archaeological Find: Christian Gravesite at Mount of Olives

Christian gravesite found in Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery. Christian researchers were invited to Mount Olive Cemetery, just outside the walls of Jerusalem. This sacred site made infamous by the biblical story of Jesus last spot on earth, before leaving on a cloud for heaven.

Summoned by archaeological scholars from Egypt, Rome, Greece and Tunisia, the Christian Scholars are excavating a site which may hold clues to some of the burials of those left behind after Jesus departure. Although the bible doesn’t specifically state the disciple’s place of interment, Mount of Olives is a reasonable place to expect them to be buried. The mainly Jewish graveyard is where the Jews wait until the Messiah comes to take them home.

The finding of a Christian Cross type headstone is what all the fuss is about. This is so unusual, and had gone unnoticed for so many years; until a visitor noticed a stone hidden by an olive tree at the site. When they carefully moved the olive tree, they found a white cross with the Greek inscription, To The God Jesus Christos. This same inscription was found in a ruin adjacent to Megiddo prison in Israel, where a mosaic floor also had written in ancient Greek, “To the God, Jesus Christo.” Some say it may be the burial grounds of the rabbi Jesus himself, but the Christian scholars were quick to point out, that it couldn’t be, as Jesus left on a cloud, as witnessed by Peter, and possibly other disciples, and this was collaborated by two strangers who were present at the time of Jesus passage from earth. YX is the Ancient Greek Inscription for Jesus Christ.

The Christian scholars are interested in the find, but both agree that the finding of the possible prepuce of Jesus is a much greater find. Jesus, being Jewish, and of devout parents would have had his ritual circumcision on the 8th day after his birth. The prepuce would have been expected to be kept by his Mother Mary, as only she knew for sure he was the son of God. They surmise she may have buried Jesus prepuce in a ritual box, and in a location where Mary felt it would be safe. This only remnant of Jesus left on earth, is a subject of great interest to scholars. What will the DNA reveal and what does this mean for Christian’s worldwide?
The article obviously belongs in the crank file, but I wonder if it is vaguely inspired by the Akeldema ossuaries excavated by Shimon Gibson, which included the "shroud of the leper" and perhaps the James Ossuary (in it's original form, whatever that was). The findings at the Megiddo prison are much later and are not of relevance for the time of Jesus, so any similar discovery at the Mount of Olives (if there actually has been one, which I don't know) is likely to be irrelevant as well. Any reference to burial grounds of Jesus is the wildest of speculation, although the garbled allusion to Acts 1:6-11 is really neither here nor there.

For the record, I know of no evidence that foreskins of circumcised Jewish infants were saved in antiquity. So don't get your hopes up about recovering Jesus' DNA.

UPDATE (18 January): It seems the holy prepuce has a long and illustrious history (if that's the right term). Reader Robert S. Schwartz e-mails to point to the "Holy Prepuce" Wikipedia article, which I will repost here (but you have to go to the article itself to follow all the links). Apparently the traditions go back to apocryphal infancy gospel material. And the relics were put to some very creative uses (note, for example, the applications reported of St. Bridget and Leo Allatius).
Holy Prepuce
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Holy Prepuce, or Holy Foreskin (Latin præputium or prepucium) is one of several relics attributed to Jesus. At various points in history, a number of churches in Europe have claimed to possess it, sometimes at the same time. Various miraculous powers have been ascribed to it.


* 1 Theological origin
* 2 Claimants
* 3 Modern practices
* 4 Historical allusions and references to the Holy Prepuce
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 External links

Theological origin

As a Jew, Jesus would have been expected to be circumcised on his 8th day after birth.

According to the apocryphal Infancy Gospels, after Jesus' circumcision in a cave, Mary's midwife placed the foreskin in an alabaster jar filled with spikenard, a preservative, which she gave to her son, admonishing him "Guard well this jar of aromatic nard and do not sell it, even when they offer you 300 denarii". [1]

According to legend, the prepuce was eventually given to St. John the Baptist by Mary Magdalene. [2]

Since the circumcision removed his foreskin, this raises the question of what happened to it once Jesus had ascended forty days after his death. Some ancient Christians believed that Jesus ascended bodily, hence implying that Jesus' foreskin would be one of the few physical remainders of Jesus left behind on Earth, unless it had been restored to him during his resurrection, and by the fourth century this became the traditional stance.

There was also some theological dispute as to whether Jesus can really be said to have ascended wholly into Heaven if this part of his body was actually missing. This was resolved by noting that his foreskin was no more an obstacle to this than the hair and fingernails that he had cut throughout his life or the blood he shed. The Jewish custom of burying the foreskin in the earth would, however, seem to argue against its preservation, and hence its ability to be a relic.

Some argue that when God achieves something by miracle, it is arbitrary to propose limits to what that miracle can restore. In Mark 12:18-25, Jesus responded to the Sadducees' question about marriage after the resurrection, saying that "For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven." (KJV) This suggests that the resurrected dead may have certain anatomical differences that may make the question irrelevant. But then again, he may have restored the foreskin in heaven without taking the discarded one away from earth.

The act of circumcision was a ritual of profound religious significance to Jews, and marked their membership in the covenant community. The New Testament contains extensive discussions about whether circumcision was needed for Gentile converts, and concludes that it was not; the position settled upon is that Jesus' crucifixion established a new covenant for Christians for which the rite was not necessary.

The modern, peri'ah style of circumcision did not become the standard mode until around the time of the revolt led by Simon bar Kokhba in AD 132–135, whereas the style of circumcision practised by Jews in Judea prior to bar Kokhba removed only the 'tip' of the foreskin, not all of it. Thus modern, and probably medieval, ideas of what Jesus'foreskin would be like were, and are, wide of the mark.[citation needed]


"Depending on what you read, there were eight, twelve, fourteen, or even 18 different holy foreskins in various European towns during the Middle Ages". [3] The relic was originally said to have been given to Pope Leo III on December 25, 800 by Charlemagne on the occasion of his coronation; he in turn is said to have claimed that it had been brought to him by an angel while he prayed at the Holy Sepulcher (although another version of the story says it was a wedding gift from the Byzantine Empress Irene). The Pope placed it into the Sancta Sanctorum in the Lateran basilica in Rome with other relics. [4]

In addition to the Holy Foreskin claimed by Rome, other claimants in history have included the Cathedral of Le Puy-en-Velay, Santiago de Compostela, the city of Antwerp, Coulombs in the diocese of Chartres, France as well as Chartres itself, and churches in Besançon, Metz, Hildesheim, Charroux, Conques, Langres, Anvers, Fécamp, Puy-en-Velay, Calcata, Santiago de Compostela, and two in Auvergne. [3]

According to legends of the village of Calcata, in 1527 a soldier in the German army sacking Rome looted the Sancta Sanctorum; when he was eventually captured in the village he hid the jeweled reliquary containing the Holy Prepuce in his cell, where it was discovered in 1557 and officially venerated by the Church since that time, offering a ten year indulgence to pilgrims. Calcata thus became a popular site for pilgrimmage.[4]

The abbey of Charroux claimed the Holy Foreskin was presented to the monks by Charlemagne. In the early 12th century, it was taken in procession to Rome where it was presented before Pope Innocent III, who was asked to rule on its authenticity. The Pope declined the opportunity. At some point, however, the relic went missing, and remained lost until 1856 when a workman repairing the abbey claimed to have found a reliquary hidden inside a wall, containing the missing foreskin. The rediscovery, however, led to a theological clash with the established Holy Prepuce of Calcata, which had been officially venerated by the Church for hundreds of years; in 1900, the Church solved the dilemma by ruling that anyone thenceforward writing or speaking of the Holy Prepuce would be excommunicated. In 1954, after much debate, the punishment was changed to the harsher degree of excommunication, vitandi (shunned); and the Second Vatican Council later removed the Day of the Holy Circumcision from the church calendar .[5]

Modern practices

Most of the objects reputed to be the Holy Prepuce were lost or destroyed during the Reformation and the French Revolution. [5]

Calcata is worthy of special mention, as the reliquary containing the Holy Foreskin was paraded through the streets of this Italian village as recently as 1983 on the Feast of the Circumcision, which was formerly marked by the Roman Catholic Church around the world on January 1 each year. The practice ended, however, when thieves stole the jewel-encrusted case, contents and all. [5] Following this theft, it is unclear whether any of the purported Holy Prepuces still exist. In a 1997 television documentary for Channel 4, British journalist Miles Kington travelled to Italy in search of the Holy Foreskin, but was unable to find any remaining example.
According to 17th century theologian Leo Allatius (Leone Allacci), the foreskin may have divinely ascended to become the rings of Saturn.
According to 17th century theologian Leo Allatius (Leone Allacci), the foreskin may have divinely ascended to become the rings of Saturn.

Historical allusions and references to the Holy Prepuce

Apart from its physical importance as a relic, the Holy Foreskin is sometimes claimed to have appeared in a famous vision of Saint Catherine of Siena. In the vision, Jesus mystically marries her, and his amputated foreskin is given to her as a wedding ring. [6] However, this has not been traced any earlier than a seventeenth-century anti-Catholic parody, and as such is of dubious credibility.

Because the sweet scent that the relic was supposed to give off was reputed to enhance fertility and ease childbirth, when Catherine of Valois was pregnant in 1421, her husband, King Henry V of England, sent to Coulombs for the Holy Prepuce. According to this legend, it did its job so well that Henry was reluctant to return it after the birth of the child (the future King Henry VI of England).[6]

Saint Bridget was said to have received the Holy Prepuce from an angel, and would experience "orgasm-like sensations" when she would place bits of it on her tongue.[6]

During the late 17th century, Catholic scholar and theologian Leo Allatius in De Praeputio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Diatriba ("Discussion concerning the Prepuce of our Lord Jesus Christ") speculated that the Holy Foreskin may have ascended into Heaven at the same time as Jesus himself and might have become the rings of Saturn, then only recently observed by telescope.

Voltaire, in A Treatise of Toleration (1763), ironically referred to veneration of the Holy Foreskin as being one of a number of superstitions that were "much more reasonable... than to detest and persecute your brother". [7]

Umberto Eco, in his book Baudolino, has the young Baudolino invent a story about seeing the holy foreskin and navel in Rome to the company of Friedrich Barbarosa.

See also

* Circumcision
* Holy Umbilical Cord
* Shroud of Turin
* True Cross


1. ^ [1]
2. ^ Boussel, Patrice; Des Reliques et de Leur Bon Usage, 1971.
3. ^ a b [2]
4. ^ a b [3]
5. ^ a b c "Fore Shame", David Farley,, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006
6. ^ a b c [4]
7. ^ [5]

* Müller, Alphons Victor: Die hochheilige Vorhaut Christi im Kult und in der Theologie der Papstkirche. Berlin 1907.
* Shell, Marc: "The Holy Foreskin; or, Money, Relics, and Judeo-Christianity." Jews and Other Differences: The New Jewish Cultural Studies. Ed. Jonathan Boyarin and Daniel Boyarin. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1997.

External links

* Relics article from the Catholic Encyclopedia
* The Relics of Romanism article at the European Institute of Protestant Studies (anti-Catholic site)

Retrieved from ""

Categories: Articles with unsourced statements | Circumcision | Relics attributed to Jesus | Famous body parts

(# This page was last modified 02:49, 29 December 2006.
# All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)
A STATEMENT ON TEDDY KOLLEK from the Israel Museum:
JANUARY 2, ‏2007

The entire family of the Israel Museum mourns today the passing of Teddy Kollek.

Teddy's vision shaped the modern landscape of Jerusalem, embracing as its cultural centerpiece the plan for a museum of art, archeology, and the material culture of the Jewish world that would parallel the national museums of other countries worldwide.

From its founding in 1965, Teddy guided the flowering of what would become one of the largest encyclopedic museums in the world, comprising over 500,000 objects spanning the timeline of material culture from pre-historic archeology through contemporary art. He also envisioned the Museum as a vital educational setting where Jerusalem's and Israel's many communities could together learn to appreciate the rich cultural heritage of an intercommunal world.

With charisma and determination, Teddy also forged an international network of friends - the Museum’s International Council - whose contributions of gifts of works of art and financial support have enabled the Museum to achieve world-class standing in a history of just over forty years - a result which is surely without parallel in the museum world.

"Teddy was visionary in his conception for a museum that would be the jewel in the cultural landscape of modern Jerusalem, in the cultural crown of the modern State of Israel. The comprehensive reach, and sheer physical beauty, of the Museum and its campus are a true testament to his success," states James Snyder, Director of the Museum.

"The Israel Museum today stands as a proud symbol of Israel’s cultural heritage, from the archeology of the ancient Land of Israel to the creativity of Israel’s artists today, seen within the context of world cultural heritage. Teddy realized this dream through his persuasiveness with a community of supporters from around the world - an achievement almost as remarkable as the Museum itself," states Isaac Molho, Chairman of the Board of the Museum.

Teddy himself, together with his wife Tamar, was also a donor to the Museum, with gifts of archeological objects and historical maps from their private collection.

Teddy served as Chairman of the Museum from 1965 through 1996, and then as President until his designation as Founder in 2000. On the occasion of the Museum's 25th Anniversary in 1990, he was named Avi Ha Muzeon (Father of the Museum), and he and Tamar were named the 100th Honorary Fellows of the Museum in 2000. Teddy enjoyed an intense relationship of commitment, caring, and affection with many members of the Museum's staff, its Board, and its International Council, and he will be greatly missed by all of them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

JACK BAUER AS JESUS? PaleoJudaica has already been there.
TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: More on opposition by archaeologists to the bridge to the Mugrabi Gate. The Jerusalem Post reports the following:
The plan to construct the new bridge straight through the archeological garden has provoked fierce opposition by archeologists, who say that the bridge will inevitably damage antiquities.

"What is being done is a crime against one of the world's top archeological places, and the Antiquities Authority is lending its hand to this crime, the destruction of archeology," said Dr. Eilat Mazar, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Shalem Center.

Mazar noted that there is no need for the bridge - whose planned length has nearly tripled - to run through the garden. Originally, the route for the bridge ran between the Western Wall and the site.

"The archeological garden is of primary importance to the future and history of Jerusalem and under no circumstance should be touched," said Professor Amos Kloner, former Jerusalem district archeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Kloner lambasted the IAA for succumbing to "foreign interests" in approving the plan and forgoing its mandate to preserve the archeological site.

Kloner added that a petition against the planned bridge had been signed by 30 leading Israeli archeologists, already forcing some changes in the proposal.
THE HOLYLAND THEME PARK in Orlando is reviewed in It sounds pretty goofy, but this is interesting:
Two features are still ahead for next year. One is the Qumran Cave, a copy of the caverns where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. That's planned for a July opening. The other is the "Scriptorium," a museum of biblical manuscripts planned for an opening early next year. An extended loan from the Robert Van Kampen familyof Michigan, the collection is so large that only 20 percent of it will be on display at any given time.
IN THE MAIL: Hendrickson Publishers have noticed PaleoJudaica and have kindly offered to send me books on ancient Judaism from time to time. There are no conditions attached, but whenever I think one might be of interest to PaleoJudaica readers, I'll mention it. Here's one:
T. Anthony Perry, The Honeymoon Is over: Jonah's Argument With God (2006)
Looks like an interesting popular treatment of theological issues in Jonah from a Jewish perspective.

Monday, January 15, 2007

THE BYBLOS OIL SPILL has now been cleaned up:
U.S. Helps Lebanon Complete Oil-Spill Cleanup

USAID experts train, partner with locals to clean historic sites, harbors

By Carrie Loewenthal
USINFO Special Correspondent

Washington -- A team of American and Lebanese workers has completed the cleanup of over 100 kilometers of coastline in Lebanon, stretching from Byblos to Enfeh, contaminated by an oil spill, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) says.

Temple Aqueduct and Ritual Bath Excavated Opposite Temple Mount
01:00 Jan 15, '07 / 25 Tevet 5767
by Ezra HaLevi (Arutz Sheva)

Excavations being conducted opposite the Western Wall Plaza have uncovered an aqueduct that brought water to the Holy Temple, as well as a ritual bath from that period.

The never-before-excavated area is situated behind the Western Wall police station, adjacent to the plaza where millions of worshipers and tourists come each year to visit the Western Wall and Temple Mount.

The new archaeological find uncovers a missing link in the ancient water system, known as the "Lower Aqueduct" which channeled water from Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem (located miles south of Jerusalem) directly to the national focal point of Jewish worship - the Temple Mount.

UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post also has a story on the excavation that includes additional information:
Invading Romans' greatest obstacle uncovered in J'lem

An immense bedrock cliff uncovered opposite Jerusalem's Temple Mount may help explain why it took the Romans so long to capture what is now known as the Jewish Quarter almost two millenia ago, an Israeli archeologist said Sunday.

The cliff, uncovered during a year-long excavation at the western edge of the Western Wall Plaza, was one of several important finds that include the remains of a colonnaded street called the Eastern Cardo, dating from the Roman-Byzantine period; a section of the Lower Aqueduct that conveyed water from Solomon's Pools to the Temple Mount; and a damaged rock-hewn and plastered Jewish mikve (ritual bath) that dates back to the Second Temple period, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced at a press conference.

And there's also a report by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs that looks as though it's the source of the Arutz Sheva article.
IN THE MAIL -- or at least in my mailbox. My colleague Richard Bauckham has very kindly given me a signed copy of his latest:
Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Eerdmans, 2006)
I've seen some of it in page proofs already. I dare say it will be judged to be one of the most important books on the New Testament to be published in the last year.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

ANTIQUITIES ARE BEING RAINED ON in a museum in Jerusalem:
Ancient treasures graced by rainwater
By Nadav Shragai (Haaretz

Visitors to a unique museum in Jerusalem's Old City displaying rare mosaics, frescoes, ritual baths and structures dating to the time of the Second Temple, find themselves stepping over buckets of water, as they make their way from one archaeological treasure to the next.

The buckets have been placed throughout the Herodian Mansions-Wohl Archaeological Museum in the Jewish Quarter in an attempt to minimize rainwater and sewage from dripping onto the ancient displays.


The Jewish Quarter Development Company, which owns and operates the museum, says the water dripping onto the antiquities is due to poor sealing between paving stones of the streets above the site. The Jerusalem Municipality, which is responsible for infrastructure in public areas, says there is no proof of that contention, and that sewaged pipes are the source of the leak.

Whatever the reason is, the leak is damaging the museum and its contents. This is not good.