Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rufina the archisynagogos

His/Her Story: A woman 'head of the synagogue'

06/10/2011 16:55

As it turns out, the evidence available about women in the Greco-Roman Diaspora is distinctive and, at times, quite difficult to interpret.

Jews living in the Greco-Roman Diaspora in the period known as late antiquity (second/third centuries until the fall of the Empire in the fifth century) had experiences that differed considerably from those in the Land of Israel. This held true for women as well as men. As it turns out, the evidence available about women is distinctive and, at times, quite difficult to interpret.

One Greek inscription in particular has long attracted the attention of scholars in the field. This inscription is from Smyrna (modern-day Izmir), located in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), and was commissioned in the second or third century by a woman named Rufina.

While the name Rufina is Latin, the dedicator immediately identified herself by the Greek term Ioudaia. This term is unusual in inscriptions otherwise thought to be Jewish, and suggests that it was important for Rufina. It may even suggest that she wasn’t born Jewish, but converted at some point in her life. The second detail recorded was that she was the archisynagogos, the head (or possibly the president) of the synagogue.


PA researcher: Crusader first to say "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem"

PA: "If I Forget Thee, Oh Jerusalem" First Said by Crusader

by Gavriel Queenann (Arutz Sheva)

Continuing its policy of denying Jerusalem's Jewish heritage the Palestinian Authority publicized the claims of an Arab researcher that the well-known ancient Hebrew psalm, "If I forget three, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill," is not Jewish at all, the Israeli research institute Palestininian Media Watch reports.

Instead, Dr. Hayel Sanduqa insists the words were uttered by a Christian Crusader, and have only recently been "borrowed" by Jews and "falsified in the name of Zionism."

The quotation is, of course, from Psalm 137:5 and dates roughly to the time of the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BCE.
The following are the words of Palestinian researcher Dr. Hayel Sanduqa on PA TV, claiming that the Hebrew Bible's psalm was actually first said by a Crusader:

"[The Israelis] have acted to change Jerusalem's character. Even the expression (Psalm 137:5) 'If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember thee.'

"This statement, said by the Frankish [Crusader] ruler of Acre shortly before he left, was borrowed by the Zionist movement, which falsified it in the name of Zionism," Sanduqa said. [PA TV (Fatah), June 2, 2011 -Ed].
Here's the video of the phone conversation. The context of the conversation is not given, but I have a hard time imagining how any context could make the claim less ridiculous.

Apart from this story, there's not much from Google on Dr. Hayel Sanduqa, but this 2008 PNN article refers to him as "the researcher of colonial affairs in Jerusalem."

CNN on the CAD

CNN ON THE CHICAGO ASSYRIAN DICTIONARY: What a Babylonian laundry list says about you. Despite the lame title, the article is quite upbeat.

Background here and links.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pullman, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

Philip Pullman, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2010)
This was sent unsolicited, but maybe I'll get around to reading it. It looks kind of interesting. Earlier coverage is here.

Jared Calaway's dissertation is online

JARED CALAWAY: My Dissertation is Online! The dissertation is "Heavenly Sabbath, Heavenly Sanctuary: The Transformation of Priestly Sacred Space and Sacred Time in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice and the Epistle to the Hebrews." Follow the link for the abstract and a link to the ProQuest document.

(Via Polumeros kai Polutropos.)

Roland Boer against "Reception History"

ROLAND BOER has an essay Against “Reception History” posted at Bible and Interpretation.

He makes some fair points, but there is a straw man in his argument as well. Historical-critical exegesis is not entirely unbiased and it cannot produce "one 'right' meaning" of the text, or even one original meaning. However, it does make a serious effort to look at the text the way the original author might have intended it or the original audience might have received it, drawing on philology, archaeology, and the like. This effort provides a narrower range of meanings than is found in the full history of interpretation to the present. Whether this range of meaning is somehow more primary than other, later ones, I leave to others to argue. Roland makes an interesting case against that view. But that range is valuable in itself as, for example, a resource for historians of the biblical period. Yes, the historical-critical method has its own limitations and biases, which constantly need to be interrogated by other methods and perspectives, but how interesting is this point really? It has been made endlessly already, and it applies to those other methods just as much. The hermeneutical spiral is a process, not a conclusion, but that doesn't mean no progress is possible in it. If every method is dismissed because it has inherent limitations, we stray from an asymptotic groping toward truth to a Gödelian infinite loop of prolegomena.

UPDATE (12 June): Chris Heard comments on the essay at the Blackwell Bible Commentaries website.

KJB@400: The Jerusalem Post on the KJB

KJB@400 WATCH: The Jerusalem Post on the King James Bible:
Sacred words, well spoken!


Marking 400 years of the King James Bible.

CAD completion again

Dictionary of Akkadian Language Links Modern Civilization with Ancient Origins

Greg Flakus | Houston, Texas June 09, 2011

“Better late than never” might be the motto scholars could apply to the completion of a comprehensive dictionary of a language that has not been spoken for more than 2,000 years. It took nearly a century, but scholars at the University of Chicago say they have now completed the definitive dictionary of Akkadian, which was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia during the time when the first civilizations began to flourish there.

Background here and links.

Real Gnostics: The Bogomils

Bulgaria, Bogomils and Italy

Author: Maria Guineva
Society | June 2, 2011, Thursday (

Bogomislims (Bogomilstvo), often called the Bulgarian heresy, is a social and religious teaching, which appeared in Bulgaria during the first half of the 10th century.

Contemporary historians and scientists characterize Bogomilism as a dualistic teaching and an anti-feudal, reformative movement, born in the bosom of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, quickly spreading across Bulgarian lands during the tumultuous times in the eve of the Byzantine invasion of the country. Its roots can be found in the dualistic gnostic and the mass deportations of Armenians and Syrians from Byzantine.

A long, interesting article on the Bogomils and their influence. Not mentioned is that the Bogomils seem to have been involved to some degree with the transmission of the Slavonic Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. See the comments in Grant Macaskill's online essay, The Slavonic Pseudepigrapha: An Introduction.

Additional background here and follow the links.

Anthony Weiner, Gnostic?

A NEW TAKE ON GNOSTICISM from Christianity Today:
Anthony Weiner, Gnostic

The embroiled congressman's defense that sexting is not adultery reveals a mind-body dualism long resisted by Christian tradition.
I don't know that Gnosticism applies here: Karen Swallow Prior is the one who seems to me to be taking a decidedly Platonist position - the virtual world is as real as the physical. But more to the point, as she does imply in passing, if Jesus said that just looking is adultery (Matt 5:28), it's hard to imagine him thinking that sexting isn't.

I never expected to write the word "sexting" in this blog.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Anniversary of Nero's suicide

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: On This Day in Ancient History - Nero's Suicide. But watch out for Nero redivivus imposters.

UPDATE: No, really, watch out.

Who’s Afraid of Abishag?

LEONARD GREENSPOON: WHO'S AFRAID OF ABISHAG? I am astonished that there are so many media references to her.

Conference in honor of Daniel Sperber

A CONFERENCE IN HONOR OF DANIEL SPERBER is being held next week at Bar-Ilan University.

And he knows Aramaic too ...

The Renaissance Man: How to Become a Scientist Over and Over Again [Video]

By Ed Yong | Jun 8, 2011 07:57 AM | 2 (Scientific American)

Erez Lieberman Aiden is a talkative, witty fellow who will bend your ear on any number of intellectual topics. Just don’t ask him what he does. "This is actually the most difficult question that I run into on a regular basis," he says. "I really don’t have anything for that."

It is easy to understand why. Aiden is a scientist, yes, but while most of his peers stay within a specific field – say, neuroscience or genetics – Aiden crosses them with almost casual abandon. His research has taken him across molecular biology, linguistics, physics, engineering and mathematics. He was the man behind last year's "culturomics" study, where he looked at the evolution of human culture through the lens of four per cent of all the books ever published. Before that, he solved the three-dimensional structure of the human genome, studied the mathematics of verbs, and invented an insole called the iShoe that can diagnose balance problems in elderly people. "I guess I just view myself as a scientist," he says.

His approach stands in stark contrast to the standard scientific career: find an area of interest and become increasingly knowledgeable about it. Instead of branching out from a central speciality, Aiden is interested in ‘interdisciplinary’ problems that cross the boundaries of different disciplines. His approach is nomadic. He moves about, searching for ideas that will pique his curiosity, extend his horizons, and hopefully make a big impact. "I don't view myself as a practitioner of a particular skill or method," he tells me. "I’m constantly looking at what’s the most interesting problem that I could possibly work on. I really try to figure out what sort of scientist I need to be in order to solve the problem I'm interested in solving."

It’s a philosophy that has paid dividends. At just 31 years of age, Aiden has a joint lab at MIT and Harvard. In 2010, he won the prestigious $30,000 MIT-Lemenson prize, awarded to people who show "exceptional innovation and a portfolio of inventiveness". He has seven publications to his name, six of which appeared the world’s top two journals - Nature and Science. His friend and colleague Jean-Baptiste Michel says, "He's truly one of a kind. I just wonder about what discipline he will get a Nobel Prize in!"

Here's the Aramaic part:
"It turns out you can’t work everything out from first principles, because it seems like a lot of things have happened and I didn’t know anything about the universe before I was born in 1980," he says dryly. "So I thought I have to go and understand that stuff." To do that, he spent a year at New York’s Yeshiva University studying for a Masters in History. He took classes going back in time from the present day, reading forward from ancient history (he can now read Aramaic), and stopping when the two streams met in the 17th century.
I think the Aramaic was key to his success.

More opera at Masada

Israeli desert opera festival becomes a 'tradition'

Success of last year's Nabucco performance at Masada historical site leads organizers to hold encore performance – this year with Verdi's Aida
Background on last year's performance here.

Museum of Tolerance update

Jerusalem approves revised plan for contested Museum of Tolerance site

The controversial project by the Simon Wiesenthal Center is located on a medieval Muslim cemetery, which opponents say defeats the museum's goal of building tolerance.

By Nir Hasson (Haaretz)

After a two-year delay the Jerusalem municipal planning committee approved on Monday the plan to build the Museum of Tolerance in the city center.

This is about a change in the building design, not a change in the location.

Background here and here and links.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

News on the Nephilim and the Rephaim

ZOMBIES TOO: The Nephilim Are Not Coming … They Are Already Here.

Good news for the Nephilim, but for the Rephaim maybe not so much: The second death of the Rephaim: Job 13.4 not really a reference to Rephaim after all.

Irish bog Psalter now on display in Dublin

THE IRISH BOG PSALTER is now on display in Dublin:
Public gets first look at ancient book of psalms

By Grainne Cunningham (

Wednesday June 08 2011

AFTER hundreds of years lying in a muddy bog, one of the country's most important antiquities went on public display for the first time yesterday.

The Fadden More Psalter, a book of psalms as old as the Book of Kells, was found by turf cutters in a Tipperary bog in 2006.

Conservationists have spent the past five years painstakingly preserving the vellum pages and leather cover and the psalter, which dates from 800AD, now sits centre stage at a new exhibition in the National Museum in Dublin.

Background here and here and follow the links.

UCLA acquires Ethiopic manuscripts

UCLA Library acquires Ethiopic manuscripts collection

By Dawn Setzer June 06, 2011 Category: Arts & Humanities, Campus News

The UCLA Library has acquired the largest private collection of Ethiopic manuscripts and scrolls in the U.S., given by Gerald and Barbara Weiner. Together with the library's existing collections, this gift makes the UCLA Library the leading repository for Ethiopic manuscripts in North America.

A classical Semitic language, Ethiopic is used as the liturgical language of the Christian church in Ethiopia.

Dating from the 18th to the 21st centuries, the collection of 137 bound manuscripts and 102 scrolls is particularly rich in elaborately illustrated liturgical texts. Highlights include a late 19th/early 20th-century version of the Gospels containing 78 miniatures; a 19th-century "lives of the saints" with 40 miniatures; a 20th-century compilation of a table blessing and miracles performed by Jesus with 37 miniatures; and a 20th-century collection of prayers with an image of John the Evangelist and 26 miniatures.

An important collection, although so far no word of Enochiana or other Old Testament pseudepigrapha in it.

Top five religious mysteries?

MY HEART SANK when I saw this headline:
Top five religious mysteries
As yet another theory emerges as to the origins of the Turin Shroud, here are the top five religious mysteries.

By Nick Squires, Rome
(The Telegraph)

9:00PM BST 07 Jun 2011
What an odd collection, and how odd to think that a list mainly of lost, legendary, and/or fake relics somehow constitute the "top five religious mysteries." The exception to my generalization is the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are a mystery in the sense that, although most scholars accept that they come from the Essenes, there is a good deal of debate about what exactly that means.

For the Ark of the Covenant, start here and follow the links. I have posted less on the other relics, but see here for the Holy Grail; here for the True Cross and here for Simcha Jacobovici's True Cross nails; and here for another face-cloth of Christ. And this post covers a few of these relics as well.

I suppose I should just be glad that the fake metal codices didn't make the list.

Shroud of Turn "creation of a Renaissance artist"?

JUST WHAT WE NEED, a new Shroud of Turin theory:
Turin Shroud 'the creation of a Renaissance artist'

The Turin Shroud is neither an authentic cloth in which Christ's body was wrapped nor a medieval forgery, but the creation of early Renaissance artist Giotto, according to new book by an Italian art historian.

By Nick Squires, Rome
(The Telegraph)

9:00PM BST 07 Jun 2011

Luciano Buso claims to have found Giotto di Bondone's signature hidden in the 14ft-long, sepia-coloured burial cloth, as well as the number 15.

The historian believes that the number is a reference to 1315, and that the artist was commissioned in that year to come up with an exact copy of the relic because the original was badly damaged after centuries of being hawked around the Holy Land and Europe.

Mr Buso, who has laid out his controversial thesis in a new book, said the idea that the existing shroud was created in 1315 agrees with modern carbon dating tests which dated the fabric to the early 14th century.

My reaction to the news was similar to that of Professor Barberis:
However, Prof Bruno Barberis, the director of the Shroud of Turin Museum, was highly sceptical of the theory.

"Firstly, physical and chemical tests have shown that the shroud is not a painting.

"Secondly, there's a long list of scholars who have enlarged images of the shroud and seen all sorts of things that don't exist – a crown of thorns, words in Aramaic and Greek and Latin. "It's like looking at the moon and thinking you can see eyes, a nose and a mouth."
That said, Mr Buso has published his theory in a book, so at least there is something for specialists to interact with. I don't know how technical the book is; if it is a popular publication it might not be of much use. But I will keep an open mind for now, with the caveat that when I hear that someone thinks they have found writing etc. on the shroud which everyone else has missed, my bogometer starts flashing.

Shroud of Turin background here and links.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

CAD meets NYT

After 90 Years, a Dictionary of an Ancient World

Ninety years in the making, the 21-volume dictionary of the language of ancient Mesopotamia and its Babylonian and Assyrian dialects, unspoken for 2,000 years but preserved on clay tablets and in stone inscriptions deciphered over the last two centuries, has finally been completed by scholars at the University of Chicago.


At a conference on Monday, historians, archaeologists and specialists in ancient Semitic languages assessed the significance of the comprehensive dictionary, which Gil Stein, director of the university’s Oriental Institute, said “is an indispensable research tool for any scholar anywhere who seeks to explore the written record of the Mesopotamian civilization.”

I'm glad someone has finally raised the issue of the dated title.

Background here.

Ancient Buddhist Aramaic

ARAMAIC WATCH: Aramaic was also used by ancient Indian Buddhists:
A glimpse of Gandhara Buddhist heritage

Tue, 2011-06-07 01:17 — editor

By Janaka Perera (Asian Tribune)

The exhibition in Sri Lanka of Sacred Relics of the Buddha and other Buddhist artifacts from Pakistan during this Poson season (June) should widen the horizon of ordinary Buddhists here on the great Gandhara Buddhist civilization.

Although many of them are aware of the Buddhist heritage of other Asian Buddhist countries, not many Sri Lankans – even of they have heard of the name Gandhara – know where exactly it is and that it was seat of Buddhist civilization in the Indian subcontinent.


The museum’s six galleries present the material subject wise. Among the exhibits is a complete stupa from the Buddhist monastery of Mohra Moradu, stucco sculptures from Mohra Moradan, big stucco Buddha heads, relic caskets, a sleeping Buddha from Bhamala monastery and an Aramaic inscription of Emperor Piyadasi Asoka (Dharmasoka).

My emphasis. N. S. Gill has more on Asoka/Ashoka here.

Magdala Stone replica going to Denver

Replica of Magdala Stone, Vital to Jewish and Christian History, to visit Denver

* June 6th, 2011 12:20 pm MT

Kurt Matthies

* Denver Spiritual Perspectives Examiner

Denver, CO – The Israeli Antiquities Authority has sent an exact replica of a 2,000 year-old coffee-table-sized to Denver, an engraved stone depicting the oldest carved menorah ever discovered. This replica will be unveiled at The Galilee Gala, a benefit being held June 8, 2011 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for the Magdala Center. This is the first time the Stone replica has been outside of Israel, and thereby, this is the first opportunity for viewing in the US.

Unless the replica is made of styrofoam, it's going to be heavy to ship.

Background here.

Happy Shavuot

THE FESTIVAL OF SHAVUOT (Weeks, Pentecost) begins this evening at sundown. Best wishes to all celebrating.

More here.

UPDATE: Studying Torah all night on Shavuot. Cool.

Large grant for Persepolis Fortification Archive Project

PARSA CF Awards $370,000 to Museums and Institutions for Preserving and Advancing Persian Arts


As a part of its Mehrgan 2010 Grant Cycle and its steadfast commitment to preserving and promoting Persian arts and culture, PARSA Community Foundation is pleased to announce four grants to major museums and institutions to further expand and grow their stellar programs.

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, which is the recipient of two previous PARSA CF grants, has been awarded a $200,000 grant for their important work on capturing, recording, and distributing the information from the famous tablets of the Persepolis Fortification Archive (PFA). The archive is comprised of some 30,000 clay tablets and fragments found in 1933 by the Oriental Institute archeologists, examining and clearing the ruins of Persepolis palaces of kings Darius and Xerxes and their successors, near Shiraz.

The tablets contain close to 20,000 original texts in cuneiform and Elamite language, Aramaic script and language, and seal impressions, and are currently on loan from Iran at the Oriental Institute.

PFA is the largest and most consequential single source of information on the Achaemenid Persian Empire at its zenith. It provides a very important portal into the languages, art, society, administration, history, geography and religion in the heart of the Persian Empire in the time of Darius I, around 500 BC. It has fundamentally transformed every aspect of modern research on Achaemenid history and culture.

The PFA Project at the Oriental Institute is responsible for carefully cleaning these important ancient tablets, taking high resolution digital imagery of the texts on the tablets, exploring various technologies for the best imaging of the tablets such as 3D, laser, and CT scanning), and recording the texts and impressions. An editorial team within the group reviews and prepares editions of the texts, and all of the tablets, texts and impressions are carefully cataloged for publication and archiving. At this point more than 8000 tablets are completed, resulting in almost 40 Terabytes of data, and the team expects to grow the collection to approximately 11,000 over the next two years.

The tablets have been subject to a long legal battle where plaintiffs suing the Iranian government are asking for the ancient tablets as compensation. With the fate of the archive hanging in balance, the PFA Project has been under pressure to clean, scan, and record as many tablets as possible and as fast as possible. The grant from PARSA CF helped the PFA Project during an urgent time, since the project was in critical need for servers and other resources. An appellate court ruling a while later at the end of March came out with favorable result for the PFA, although the battle still continues.

Congratulations to the Oriental Institute and to the other institutions that also received awards.

Background on the Persepolis Fortifications Archive Project and the attendant legal controvery noted above is here. The project has a blog here.

Cross-file under "Aramaic Watch."

Lectio Difficilior 1/2011

LECTIO DIFFICILIOR: European Electronic Journal for Feminist Exegesis 1/2011 has just been published. TOC:
* Dalia Marx: Women and Priests: Encounters and dangers as reflected in I Sam 2:22
* Susanne Plietzsch: Verführung zur Tora: das Konzept idealer Weiblichkeit in der rabbinischen Überlieferung zu Rabbi Akiba und seiner Frau
* Karen Strand Winslow: For Moses Had Indeed Married a Cushite Woman": The LORD's Prophet Married Well
(Via the Agade list.)

Rabbinics resources at Tyndale Tech

TYNDALE TECH, by David Instone-Brewer, has a new online rabbinics resource up: www. Legal Texts before 500 CE in Mishnah, Tosephta, Babylonian & Jerusalem Talmuds.

He also has links to other rabbinics resources, including his new online book, at Rabbinic Texts to Read and Search. Most of these cost money to use properly.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Eilat Mazar on temple architecture surviving on Temple Mount

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar has a radio interview with Aaron Klein in which she discusses the archaeology of the Temple Mount at some length. The interview is linked to and excerpted by WorldNetDaily.
2nd Jewish Temple just 'waiting to be unearthed'
Archaeologist 'absolutely sure' structure beneath Jerusalem's holy mount

Posted: June 05, 2011
6:11 pm Eastern

© 2011 WND

One of the most prominent Israeli archaeologists declared today that remains from the First and Second Jewish Temple period – including the Second Temple itself – lie underneath the Temple Mount surface, just waiting to be excavated.

Dr. Eilat Mazar of Hebrew University accused the site's Islamic custodians of destroying Jewish artifacts while attempting to turn the Temple Mount into a "giant mosque."

"I think we will find all the remains starting from the First Temple period and remains of the Temple itself," said Mazar, a third-generation archeologist. "I mean, no one took it out, it's there."

Mazar said she is "absolutely sure" remains from the First and Second Temple periods, including "the Second Temple itself," as well as later remains from the Byzentine and early Islamic periods, are just under the surface of the Temple Mount.

Continued Mazar: "I am absolutely sure, in light of my very rich experience excavating Jerusalem for 30 years now, all these remains are waiting to be revealed. And if it can't be done nowadays because of all kinds of sensitivities, at least we should take care that it won't be ruined for future excavations when time comes."

Mazar was speaking in an interview with "Aaron Klein Investigative Radio" on New York's WABC Radio.

How much of the earlier temple architecture remains in the Herodian Temple Platform depends very much on how thoroughgoing Herod's renovation of the Second Temple was. If it amounted to clearing the site and putting up a third, much grander temple, then there may not be much architecture in the fill. There's no way to tell at present. That said, I completely agree that "at least we should take care that it won't be ruined for future excavations when time comes" and have frequently said the same thing, adding that future non-invasive and non-destructive technologies may allow us to scan and explore what's there without damaging it.

More on the State Comptroller's partially suppressed report here.

For the Temple Mount Sifting Project go here and follow the links at the bottom of the post.

That 2007 Waqf excavation was noted here, here, and here.

The Gedaliah bulla is discussed here. As Joe Lauer noted, the WND article above mistranslates Jeremiah 38:6: the reference should be to "Malchiah the son of the king."

(HT Gerald Rosenberg and Joseph I. Lauer.)

Qanawat in Syria

Qanawat Archeological Area Narrates Stories of Successive Civilizations

Jun 05, 2011

SWEIDA, (SANA) - Qanawat archeological area in Sweida Province is distinguished by its Roman, Greek, Nabataean and Islamic monuments and its important tourist location as it is considered one of the Decapolis which were situated to the West of Jordan River.

The archeological surveys discovered that the ancient man lived in Qanawat since the Middle and New Stone Ages during the period between 1,200 to 4,000 BC, and people coming from the Arabian Peninsula started to inhabit the area since the 3rd millennium BC while the Arab Islamic invasions reached it in 653 AD.

The Decapolis cities are also mentioned in Mark 5:20 and parallels.

I appreciate the effort being made by SANA to publicize these sites, but the releases seem to be translated hurriedly and carelessly from another language (Arabic?). Aside from the atrocious English, there are one or two obvious errors in this one (e.g., Athena was not a "sea goddess" plus see below).

The following is interesting:
[The Director of the Sweida Antiquities Department, Wasim ] Al-Sha'arani indicated that the inscription which was unearthed near the French city of Lyon represents important evidence on the role the city played as the citizens of Qanawat (Qanatha) were part of the Syrian merchants who were well known in France as the discovered inscription mentions the name of a merchant called Taim bin Sa'ad.
I didn't know there was an inscription excavated in France that talked about Syrian merchants (assuming this paragraph was understood and translated correctly). The name looks Arabic, so perhaps the inscription is from the Islamic period.
An inscription written in the Greek and Aramaic languages dating back to the 2nd millennium BC was also unearthed in the town.
This, however, is definitely wrong. There were no Aramaic/Greek bilingual inscriptions in the second millennium BCE. Perhaps the original read "second century."

Review of Landau, "Revelation of the Magi"

THE REVELATION OF THE MAGI, by Brent Landau, is reviewed briefly in the Daily Herald (Utah) (scroll down to second review). Unfortunately, the reviewer gives the impression that this text actually tells us something about the (legendary) story of the Magi in Matthew instead of it telling much later legends about the Magi story.

Background here and links.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

More on Magdala Center Gala

MORE ON THE MAGDALA CENTER GALA being held next week in the United States:
Treasure at the Center of the World

* June 3rd, 2011 3:55 pm MT

Kurt Matthies

* Denver Spiritual Perspectives Examiner

An Event in Support of the Magdala Center Being Held in Denver, June 8, 2011


The Center’s Archaeological Zone grew out of an exciting archaeological find on the site. In 2009, construction workers discovered a 2000 year-old synagogue in the exact location planned for a Christian ecumenical chapel. This discovery caused great excitement among the archaeological community, and was made by a female Jewish archaeologist, assisted by a Muslim man, with a third archaeologist who is a Christian -- a true interfaith effort! Currently, Mexican archaeologists, with a group of volunteers are now excavating a 12-acre site adjacent to the Magdala Center, which is producing further artifacts from this period of history.

One of the artifacts from the original ecumenical site is a beautifully carved stone table (see figure), of which the Israeli Antiquities Authority has called “the most important archaeological discovery ever related to the 2nd Temple.”

In the adjacent 12-acre site a floor has been recently discovered that is, according to archaeologists, the most perfectly built and conserved first century floor found to date.

The Magdala Center is a project of the New Gate for Peace Foundation, an independent organization adjacent to the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Institute. The $100 million dollar project is to date, already 30% funded. Father Eamon Kelly, LC of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Institute, is here in the US on an awareness and fundraising tour, which is beginning here in Denver next week.

Wednesday, June 8th at 6pm, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science will host the Galilee Gala, the first benefit for the Magdala Center being held in the US.
Details follow.

Background here.

"The Phoenicians" wins Golden Palm Award

PHOENICIAN WATCH: That documentary on the Phoenicians has won another award:
The Phoenicians win the Golden Palm Award

Article published on 30 May 2011 (Malta Independent)

The Phoenicians produced by Chris & Maurice Micallef was awarded the Golden Palm Award for documentary in ‘The Mexico International Film Festival’ held last May. The detailed documentary focuses on this sea-faring nation that established trading and commercial routes across the Mediterranean and which eventually challenged the Roman Empire. It then delves into the Phoenicians’ influence on the Maltese Islands. Partly shot in Lebanon, the documentary also includes the re-enactment of the third Punic war, in which the Carthaginians were crushed by the Roman soldiers.

It recently also won the Silver Remi Award as well as other awards that are noted in the article above.

Funding to preserve Israel's coastline

FUNDING to preserve Israel's coastline:
Shoring up Israel’s treasure-rich coastline

By Karin Kloosterman (ISRAEL21c)
June 05, 2011

An infusion of governmental funds aims to keep natural and human occurrences from washing ancient artifacts out to sea.

No one knows when she lost her head or arm, but the 1,500-year-old sculpture believed to depict the Roman goddess Aphrodite rolled out into the Mediterranean Sea last December, looking as fresh as the day she was made. Her discovery after falling out from an escarpment onto the coast of Ashkelon, a southern Israeli city near the Gaza Strip, highlights Israel's growing need to protect its eroding coastline.

A new government initiative worth $135 million will turn about 10 miles of stretches of the Israeli coast into a series of reinforcements and public parks to be enjoyed by locals and tourists. Some of the parks will run through archeological sites of interest.

Geological archeologist Dr. Beverly Goodman, from the University of Haifa's Leon Charney School of Marine Sciences, stands to receive some of the much-needed funds for her research on coastal tsunamis and underwater geo-archeological surveying.

She tells ISRAEL21c that coastal protection is a social, cultural, economic and environmental imperative. "The coastal area is extremely important because so many infrastructure facilities lie on the world's coastlines," she says, "whether it's a power station; a cosmopolitan area like Tel Aviv, which includes hotels and tourist sites; and, of course, nature areas. These are all things that rely on the coastline being protected, and kept stable and somewhat reliable."

The story of the statue discovered on the coast of Ashkelon last year was noted here.