Saturday, November 05, 2016

Semitica 58

Semitica 58 is out!

Semitica is published by the Institute of Semitic Studies at the Collège de France. It presents every year new scientific studies. I serve as editor under the direction of Thomas Römer, professor at the Collège de France and director by right of the Institute of Semitic Studies.

Volume 58 is out and available in paper and electronic version at Peeters. Here are its contents
The current volume has a number of articles relevant to biblical studies and ancient Judaism. The electronic version charges for access to the full articles, but you can read the abstracts for free.

On the Sumerian King List

THE ASOR BLOG: The Sumerian King List or the ‘History’ of Kingship in Early Mesopotamia (Gianni Marchesi). Yes, I know this one is a stretch for PaleoJudaica, but I have mentioned the Sumerian King List in the past. It's a very interesting document that has some indirect connections with biblical studies (e.g., mention of the Great Flood and a list of ancestors who came before it) and, given all the recent events in the Middle East, it may well come up again. This essay is a good, brief introduction to the text and to the current scholarly state of the question about it.

Yezidism and Yezidi Studies in Kurdish Studies 4 (2016)

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Yezidism and Yezidi Studies. Notice of a thematic journal issue: Kreyenbroek, Philip G. & Khanna Omarkhali (eds.). 2016. Yezidism and Yezidi Studies in the early 21st century (Special Issue. Vol. 4, No 2, Kurdish Studies). London: Transnational Press. Some of the material in the issue is available online for free.

Cross-file under Yazidi Watch. Background on the Yazidis, their Gnosticism-themed religion, and their tragic fate in the hands of ISIS, is here with many links.

Christian Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha at ISBL 2017

The 2017 SBL International Meeting will take place August 7-11 in Berlin, Germany. The deadline for proposals is February 22, 2017.
It's not too early to start thinking about this!

Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE)

AWOL: Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE) News. Looks like an important resource. Cross-file under Numismatics.

Friday, November 04, 2016

CFP: Christian late antiquity conference

JAMES MCGRATH: Call for Papers: Mapping Transformations Towards a Christian Late Antiquity. James posts some information from Gerhard van den Heever.
New Testament Society of South Africa: Early Christian Studies Subgroup

Inaugural Session: 9—12 April 2017, University of Stellenbosch.

Call for Papers

Mapping Transformations Towards a Christian Late Antiquity
The context includes Greco-Roman, ancient Near Eastern, Jewish, and Islamic traditions. Follow the link for details.

Diversity of views in the Bible

THE ASOR BLOG: It’s Complicated: Biblical Exercise for the Theological and Ethical Imagination (C. L. Crouch).
Why does the Bible matter? Why do we continue to talk about, turn to, and study a diverse assortment of narratives, poems, laws and prophetic proclamations at least two millennia old? The most straightforward answer is that they continue to serve as the sacred texts for two of the world’s major religions, Judaism and Christianity, and as an interlocutor for a third, Islam. As such, they have served as the theological, ethical and social bedrock of half of civilization.

But if this goes some way to explaining their persistence through past ages, it leaves open why these texts might continue to matter in the present and future. Why might these texts remain of interest, particularly in the undeniably diverse cultural milieu which is the modern world? One compelling reason is their own diversity, which contributes in a marked way to their ongoing vitality. The texts and traditions of the Hebrew Bible contain profound differences in their theologies, deep disputes in ethical thought and argumentation, and fundamental disagreements in conceptions of the world and its workings.

Access to the full text of the essays at the ASOR Blog requires free registration.

Hendel on textual criticism and inerrancy

RON HENDEL: The Dream of a Perfect Text: Textual Criticism and Biblical Inerrancy in Early Modern Europe ( This is the full text of Professor Hendel's contribution to the Collins Festschrift (on which see the immediately preceding post). The full TOC of the volume is also included.

HT Peter Gurry at the ETC Blog. He has comments there.

Collins Festschrift

Sibyls, Scriptures, and Scrolls: John Collins at Seventy

Edited by Joel Baden, Yale University, Hindy Najman,University of Oxford and Eibert Tigchelaar, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

This volume, a tribute to John J. Collins by his friends, colleagues, and students, includes essays on the wide range of interests that have occupied John Collins’s distinguished career. Topics range from the ancient Near East and the Hebrew Bible to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Judaism and beyond into early Christianity and rabbinic Judaism. The contributions deal with issues of text and interpretation, history and historiography, philology and archaeology, and more. The breadth of the volume is matched only by the breadth of John Collins’s own work.
Congratulations to Professor Collins on this well-deserved honor.

Netanyahu on the Arch of Titus and UNESCO

POLITICS: Netanyahu: Italy’s Arch of Titus in Rome Described A Jewish Tragedy in Jerusalem. PM Netanyahu reminded Italy's Pres. Matarella the Arch of Titus, a Roman description of Jewish Jerusalem events, was not 'Zionist propaganda' (Hana Levi Julian, The Jewish Press).
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday in Jerusalem with Italian President Sergio Mattarella. Netanyahu spoke with media prior to the meeting at his office, offering condolences to the families of the earthquake victims and wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded. Israel, he said, has extended its offer to help and reiterated the assistance remains if needed.

... "I cannot say that the history of our peoples in antiquity was always marked by amity,” Netanyahu remarked, however, “even though there was a very active Jewish community in ancient Rome. But obviously things took a turn for the worse, and that is commemorated in all its tragedy in the Arch of Titus in Rome… in which you see, of course, the great artifacts of the Jewish Temple carried in a triumphal march in Rome. And you see the Menorah, which is the symbol of the Jewish state, but also was of course the main object in our ancient Temple.

“I raise this because we’ve just had an absurd decision of UNESCO that said that the Jewish people h ave no connection to the Temple Mount.

“Well, the Arch of Titus was built by Titus’s brother, the Emperor Domitian. He wasn’t a Zionist propagandist. And he obviously was depicting that long, thousands-year connection to the Temple Mount, to Jerusalem and to this country of the Jewish people.

The Prime Minister's comments on the Arch of Titus at least have a secure basis in historical facts. Any political interpretation of the facts is, of course, a political interpretation. The situation with the Jerusalem papyrus was, you may recall, more complicated. That last link also has links to background on the UNESCO resolution.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

More from Rollston on the Jerusalem papyrus

THE ROLLSTON EPIGRAPHY BLOG: The Jerusalem Papyrus: Complementary Notations. Epigrapher Christopher Rollston has posted some detailed observations and concerns about the Jerusalem papyrus. His previous post on the subject is here.

HT reader Stephen Goranson. Background here and links.

Romans 9:4-5

READING ACTS: What Advantage Has The Jew? Romans 9:4-5. In this latest post in his series on Paul's letter to the Romans, Phil Long interacts with passages from the Hebrew Bible, the Wisdom of Solomon, and 2 Maccabees. As background, you may also want to have a look at his introductory comments on Romans 9-11 here.

Some past posts in the series have been noted here and links.

The Artifact Peregrination Scale

ROGUE CLASSICISM: Artifact Peregrination Score: Thinking Out Loud About Provenance, Collection History, etc.. David Meadows proposes a new methodology for preliminary evaluations of of unprovenanced putatively ancient artifacts. Excerpt:
Indeed, it struck me that all our scholarly concern about not commenting on potentially-looted artifacts has done nothing but drive collectors into anonymous land. These are wealthy people whose egos and reputations are a large part of their identity, and while they might not like that we cast doubt on their collecting habits, they’re still going to do it. They just don’t tell us they’re doing it.

With the foregoing in mind, I thought there must be some way to bridge this gap between scholars and collectors to lend confidence to the authenticity of objects and encourage practices which actually add value both from a scholarly point of view and a collector’s point of view. And so, as traffic came to a complete halt on the Burlington Skyway, I came up with what I call the ‘Artifact Peregrination Scale’.

The idea of the scale is to give an artifact a ‘confidence rating’, which scholars can make use of (and contribute to) and collectors can also use for investment purposes (which should have some appeal). It’s basically a 10-point scale, from which points are deducted for various things as follows ...
Read it all and see what you think.

SBL 2016 seminar papers on Philo of Alexandria

PHILONICA ET NEOTESTAMENTICA: Philo papers (Torrey Seland).
Papers for the Philo seminars at the coming SBL Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Tx are now coming in, and are posted on my website.

CFP: Yale graduate conference on "Talmud and Philosophy"

ASSOCIATION FOR THE PHILOSOPHY OF JUDAISM: Graduate conference on “Talmud and Philosophy” (Yale University 30 April 2017).
The study of Talmud, immersion in its distinctive modes and methods, represents a promising arena for deepening philosophical reflection. We invite papers for a day-long conference, to be held on April 30, 2017 at Yale University, that both explore and evaluate the potential for conversation between Talmud and philosophy. We welcome proposals engaging rabbinic literature more broadly; proposals addressing the concerns outlined above in relation to other religious traditions may be considered as well. Limited financial assistance is available for travel and hotel costs. Open to graduate students in all fields.
Follow the link for further particulars and instructions for submitting a paper proposal. HT reader Gerald Rosenberg.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Interview with Shmuel Ahituv (Jerusalem papyrus)

AUDIO: Rejuvenation: Beyond the Jerusalem Papyrus Debate (The Land of Israel Network/The Jewish Press).
Israel Prize winner Professor Shmuel Ahituv was one of the first to examine the now famous and controversial ‘Jerusalem Papyrus”. This delightful, unpretentious Biblical Archaeology expert discusses different aspects of the incredibly rare find with Eve in addition to the usual dating and verifying procedures. The role of women in the First Temple period, Jericho’s agriculture, antiquities theft and the keeping of secrets. Who knows what else awaits discovery in the arid Judean Desert?
Lots of interesting details in this interview. The papyrus seems to refer to a female administrative functionary in late Iron Age II Judah. Do we have other evidence for such female administrators or is this new? I didn't find his example convincing. And I note that the word "maidservant" is partially reconstructed. Also, Professor Ahituv clarifies that he dates the script of the papyrus's inscription to the late seventh century BCE, around 600, roughly during the reign of King Josiah.

Background here and links.

The Josephus Problem on video

POPULAR MECHANICS: The Deadly Ancient Math Problem Computer Scientists Love. Learn the secret of the Josephus problem and maybe you'll be the lone survivor (Jay Bennett).
Flavius Josephus, a Jewish-Roman historian from the first century, tells the story like this: A company of 40 soldiers, along with Josephus himself, were trapped in a cave by Roman soldiers during the Siege of Yodfat in 67 A.D. The Jewish soldiers chose to die rather than surrender, so they devised a system to kill off each other until only one person remained. (That last person would be the only one required to die by their own hand.)

All 41 people stood in a circle. The first soldier killed the man to his left, the next surviving soldier killed the man to his left, and so on. Josephus was among the last two men standing, "whether we must say it happened so by chance, or whether by the providence of God," and he convinced the other survivor to surrender rather than die.

This tale may be apocryphal and fantastic, but it gives rise to a fascinating math problem. That is: If you're in a similar situation to Josephus, how do you know where to stand so you will be the last man standing? This is the subject of a new video from the wonderful YouTube channel Numberphile.

If Josephus really did the maths in his head under those circumstances, that's pretty impressive.

Background on the Josephus Problem is here and here.

Review of Nelson and Ulmer (eds.), "It's Better to Hear the Rebuke of the Wise Than the Song of Fools"

H-JUDAIC: Adelman on Nelson and Ulmer, '"It's Better to Hear the Rebuke of the Wise Than the Song of Fools" (Qoh 7:5): Proceedings of the Midrash Section, Society of Biblical Literature'
Author: W. David Nelson, Rivka Ulmer, eds.
Reviewer: Rachel Adelman

W. David Nelson, Rivka Ulmer, eds. "It's Better to Hear the Rebuke of the Wise Than the Song of Fools" (Qoh 7:5): Proceedings of the Midrash Section, Society of Biblical Literature. Judaism in Context Series. Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2015. 200 pp. $169.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-4632-0560-7.
This selection of essays advances midrash scholarship in three directions: with regard to the history of interpretation—whether it be the “curse of Ham” in the justification of slavery, the split image of Jacob the patriarch, the term “the holiest of holies,” or the Divine Spirit as the source of rabbinic inspiration and the sequel to prophecy; with regard to the content and composition of such texts as Seder Eliyahu Rabbah and Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer; and with respect to expanding the approach to the reading of midrash—inner-biblical exegesis and form criticism.

A Future for Pauline Studies?

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Paul is Dead. Long Live Paulinism! : Imagining a Future for Pauline Studies (Cavan Concannon).
The editors of Ancient Jew Review have asked me to think about the future of Pauline studies. To pronounce the future of a field is a weighty task. To conjure the future is beyond me. What I can do is gesture towards a future, a future in which I think I could have fun studying Paul again. The future that I conjure is not a neutral one. I am a partisan in the battles over Pauline studies. My prescriptions stem from my own roots in feminist biblical criticism, though I also invoke here other pathways toward solidarities that might yet be cobbled together.

When I think of what it would take to make Pauline studies fun, I am drawn to one simple idea: we have to kill Paul. ...
That seems a bit harsh, but the rest of the essay clarifies. For example:
What might it mean to kill the presumption of Paul’s authority over moral and ethical matters and reject our collective moratorium on ethical criticism of the Pauline archive?
If we stop caring about whether Paul might undergird our ethical, political, or theological projects, I think we should also stop pretending that our historical procedures can get us back to the historical Paul.
As someone who has a mild interest in Paul and Pauline studies, but is not a specialist, I found this essay very interesting.

Biblical Studies Carnival October 2016

DUST: Biblical Studies Carnival 128 - October 2016 (Bob MacDonald). And Jim West has his own Halloween-themed, counter carnival: The ‘You’ve Got to Be Kidding, Great Pumpkin’ Biblical Studies Carnival.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Lost property in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Lost and Found. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how the Talmud transforms absolute Torah commandments into contingent human laws, prizing practicality over literalism.
Chapter Two of Tractate Bava Metzia offers a good example of how the Talmud transforms an absolute Torah commandment into a contingent human law. Deuteronomy 22 instructs Jews that it is their duty to return lost property to its original owner: “You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep wandering and disregard them; you shall return them to your brother.” If a Jew finds lost property and can’t locate or doesn’t know the rightful owner, the finder is obligated to keep it until the owner comes to claim it: “You shall bring it home to your house, and it shall be with you until your brother requires it, and you shall restore it to him.” There are no limitations on this duty; it seems to apply to all kinds of property, and for an indefinite period of time.

But you don’t have to think about this law for very long for its inadequacy to become apparent. What happens to a found item if the owner never comes to claim it? And how do you know if the person who does claim it really is the rightful owner? It is these kinds of questions the rabbis seek to answer, and they begin from the assumption that the right of an owner to reclaim lost property is not unlimited. Here we meet again a concept that has come up often in the Talmud: ye’ush or “despair.” Once a person has despaired of regaining his lost property, it becomes ownerless, and anyone who finds it can claim it.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

What they found in the Holy Sepulcher tomb

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: UNSEALING OF CHRIST'S REPUTED TOMB TURNS UP NEW REVELATIONS. For just 60 hours, researchers have had the opportunity to examine the holiest site in Christianity. Here's what they've found (KRISTIN ROMEY). Excerpt:
When the marble cladding was first removed on the night of October 26, an initial inspection by the conservation team from the National Technical University of Athens showed only a layer of fill material underneath. However, as researchers continued their non-stop work over the course of 60 hours, another marble slab with a cross carved into its surface was exposed. By Friday night, just hours before the tomb was to be re-sealed, the original limestone burial bed was revealed intact.

"I'm absolutely amazed. My knees are shaking a little bit because I wasn't expecting this,” said Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic's archaeologist-in-residence. "We can't say 100 percent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades."

In addition, researchers confirmed the existence of the original limestone cave walls within the 18th-century Edicule, or shrine, which encloses the tomb. A transparent window has been cut into the southern interior wall of the shrine to expose one of the cave walls.

The article includes a lot of background information on the site and its archaeological context, so read it all. The restoration work on the Holy Sepulcher (Holy Sepulchre) continues. Background here and links.

UPDATE: David Meadows has additional background over at Rogue Classicism: Jesus’ ‘Tomb’ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: Some Background.

"The Holy Temple" and the Dome of the Rock in an early mosque inscription

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH (INDIRECTLY): Centuries before trying to deny it, Muslims carved Jewish link to Jerusalem into mosque. Newly studied inscription from Mosque of Umar dated to 9th or 10th centuries highlights correlation between Dome of the Rock and biblical Jewish temples (Ilan Ben Zion, Times of Israel).
A recently studied inscription from a mosque near Hebron offers insight into how, until the mid-20th century, the Muslim world considered Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock to be the successor to two ancient Jewish shrines that formerly stood atop the Temple Mount.

The previously overlooked dedicatory inscription from the Mosque of Umar in Nuba, a village nearly 26 kilometers (16 miles) southwest of Jerusalem, mentions the village as an endowment for the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. But what’s striking is that the Dome of the Rock is referred to in the text as “the rock of the Bayt al-Maqdis” — literally, “The Holy Temple” — a verbatim translation of the Hebrew term for the Jerusalem temple that early Muslims employed to refer to Jerusalem as a whole, and the gold-domed shrine in particular.

Local tradition ascribed the construction of the mosque to Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, under whose rule Arab armies conquered Jerusalem and the rest of Byzantine Palestine in the mid-7th century. It was under his eventual successor Abd al-Malik, the fifth caliph, that the Dome of the Rock was completed in 691 CE.

But the Israeli scholars who presented a paper on the inscription at the recent conference on the archaeology of Jerusalem date it to the ninth or tenth century CE on orthographic (spelling) and stylistic grounds. The Times of Israel article also has lots of information on the connection between the Temple Mount and Solomon's Temple in early Islamic tradition. As I have said before, the explicit denial of the existence of the Jewish temples on the Temple Mount is a new phenomenon, perhaps no older than the 1990s. Background here and links.

Romans 8:19-22

READING ACTS: Why Does “All Creation Groan” in Romans 8:19-22? Phil Long continues his series on Paul's letter to the Romans, with parallel material from the Septuagint and 4 Ezra cited in this post.

Some past posts in the series have been noted here and links.

The Pseudepigrapha at SBL 2016

LIV INGEBORG LIED: SBL Pseudepigrapha Section 2016 - annotated version. Cross-file under News You Can Use and Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Jerusalem papyrus: the IAA responds

JERUSALEM PAPYRUS UPDATE: IAA refutes authenticity accusations of ‘Jerusalem’ papyrus inscription (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post). The IAA didn't exactly "refute" them, they denied them. Despite the unfortunate tendency these days to water down the meaning of "refute," this is not the same thing. Refute means to demonstrate or prove that something is incorrect.

That curmudgeonly grumble aside — key quote from the article:
Asked to respond to the allegations of impropriety, Prof. Gideon Avny, head of the Antiquities Authority’s Archaeological Division and a lecturer at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, said the onus of disproving such a rare find falls on Maeir and Rollston.

“We cannot say that the accusations are false, but on the other hand they cannot prove in any way that this is a forgery,” Avny said by phone.

Conceding that doubt could arise because the relic was apprehended on the black market and not during a normal excavation – compounded by the fact that it is difficult to accurately analyze the date of ink – he nonetheless reasserted its authenticity as genuine.

“Yes, we didn’t have an archeologist [on site] testifying that it came out of [an excavation], but at the same time, if someone wants to say it is fake, they need to bring some kind of proof,” Avny said.
The burden of proving an unprovenanced object to be an ancient artifact is on those arguing it to be an ancient artifact. I think we need more than has been offered so far to say that that has been done. The conference paper has been released, apparently in a formal publication. That's good. (Has it been peer-reviewed? It would speed up dissemination if an English translation were made available.) But the lab reports on the carbon dating and other tests need to be released. More details need to be released on how the object was acquired and the state it was acquired in. A full paleographical analysis also needs to be published. Then substantive objections and alternate interpretations will need to be evaluated in the peer-review literature.

Now don't get me wrong. The IAA has made a good start here and the initial case looks promising to me, as I have already stated. But some skepticism is still warranted and the IAA still has work to do before it dismisses the current concerns about the object's authenticity. But I agree with Professor Avny that objections also need to be substantive and specific — once the IAA has itself presented the case fully.

Let us remember that we were once at the stage that the Gospel of Jesus' Wife had strong materials-testing verification in its favor: both the papyrus and the ink tested as ancient. [Later - okay, consistent with an ancient, or at least very old, origin. See link for details.] But it still turned out to be a forgery. That doesn't mean that the Jerusalem papyrus is also a forgery. I hope it isn't. But it could be. Let's take our time and figure it out.

Meanwhile, Aren Meir summarizes his response to the Ahituv, Klein, Ganor conference paper: My take on the Jerusalem Papyrus. There you will also find a link to the Hebrew conference paper itself, which has been posted on Thanks to Joseph Lauer for both links.

Background here and links.

More on the Syriac mosaics in Turkey

APOCRYPHICITY: Mosaics Discovered of “Christian king” Abgar (Tony Burke). Professor Burke gives some background from legends about King Abgar V and his supposed correspondence with Jesus in apocryphal material preserved by Eusebius.

In addition, at Lootbusters, Dorothy Lobel King (who also drew my attention to the link above) has a post up about some other mosaics with Syriac inscriptions which seem to have been looted from Turkey since 1970: Edessa: Mosaics with Syriac inscriptions, families and Orphic scenes.
Mosaic works stolen from Sanliurfa Province, Turkey.

Please note that DK identified other mosaics from this group, which were not reported stolen, but which turned out to be amongst the set of photographers the looters took at the site. Any mosaics in this very distinct style - Orphic scenes, Syriac inscriptions, women wearing hair piled high and covered in veils - are almost certainly looted from Edessa post 1970.
Follow the link for photos, translations of the inscriptions, and descriptions.

Background here. Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

Hurtado on "law" in the NT

LARRY HURTADO: A “Law-Free” Apostle Paul? In this post Professor Hurtado discusses an article by Paula Fredriksen on the Apostle Paul and Torah observance. This is followed up with some statistical data in this post: “Law” Statistics.
Here are some raw figures to contemplate about the usage of “law” (Greek: nomos) in the NT (relying on Bibleworks) ...

More on the Schottenstein archaeological campus in Jerusalem

ARCHITECTURE: New archaeology complex shows there's hope for Jerusalem yet. The city’s buildings and towers have been lumbering or kitschy in recent years, but the new campus in the museum district will be a modern gem housing ancient artifacts (Naama Riba, Haaretz).
Given this depressing situation, the new Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, which is going up near the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum, is good news. Construction is still underway and at least 14 months will be needed to finish it, but even at this stage it’s easy to perceive the building’s archaeological language.

Among the better efforts, the idea is to do as little as possible to undermine Jerusalem's delicate fabric, and Moshe Safdie and Irit Kohavi get a high grade for meeting this challenge.

The proposal for the Schottenstein campus came up after the Oslo Accords over two decades ago. East Jerusalem’s future wasn’t clear, and because the Rockefeller archaeological museum was already there, it was thought a new building should go up.

The planning was delayed until 2006 and the building was conceived with a number of other functions. It will house the Israel Antiquities Authority, storerooms for some 2 million artifacts, laboratories, a magnificent library and exhibition space. The 35,000-square-meter (376,737-square-foot) structure will have nine stories and cost 400 million shekels ($104 million) to build.
The article has a lot of details about the Schottenstein Campus, but it's a premium article, so read it now before it goes behind the paywall.

Background here and links.

The shipwreck that keeps on giving

PHOENICIAN WATCH: A Phoenician wreck that just keeps giving. Recent find shows Malta may have been part of early Phoenician trade network.
A jug unearthed at the oldest shipwreck in the central Mediterranean could prove that the Maltese islands were an integral part of the Phoenician trade network.

“To date, we knew that the Phoenicians lived here, because they died here. And to date, our main archaeological sources came from graves,” marine archaeologist Timmy Gambin told The Sunday Times of Malta.

“We now have a ship that was actually leaving the Maltese Islands before it sank off Gozo, because the island was one of its port calls. A shipwreck without any local items could mean that the ship just happened to sink close to Malta during its voyage.”

Confirming the origin of the jug, he said, could place Malta as an integral part of the trading network of the earliest phase of the Phoenician occupation.

Background on the Gozo shipwreck is here and here, with links to past posts about Maltese Phoenician archaeology and history.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Kiel, Sexuality in the Babylonian Talmud

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Sexuality in the Babylonian Talmud: Christian and Sasanian Contexts in Late Antiquity. Notice of a new book: Kiel, Yshai. 2016. Sexuality in the Babylonian Talmud: Christian and Sasanian Contexts in Late Antiquity. New York: Cambridge University Press.

For a recent popular book by Maggie Anton on the same topic, see here and links.

Lecture on Malta shipwreck

PHOENICIAN WATCH: Exploring the Phoenician Shipwreck off Gozo – Public lecture (Gozo News).
In 2016, the University of Malta conducted another season of underwater operations on the Phoenician Shipwreck off Gozo. An international team of technical divers was used to record this unique site as well as to recover a number of archaeological objects.

This presentation of – Exploring the Phoenician Shipwreck off Gozo – covers aspects such as the logistics of the project, diving procedures, and the recording processes used this season. Works in progress and some preliminary results from 2016 will be shared via numerous illustrations, 3D work, and short videos.

It will be taking place on Monday, the 14th of November, starting at 6.30pm, at the Ministry for Gozo Exhibition Hall, St Francis Square, Victoria.

Background on the Gozo shipwreck is here. Past PaleoJudaica posts on Maltese Phoenician and Punic history and archaeology are collected here.

Women in ancient Israel

NEWS YOU CAN USE: 11 things about women in Ancient Israel you probably didn’t know (Cassandra Gill, OUP Blog). Some of these generalize a bit much from our limited evidence, but the post has lots of interesting information.

McGrath sets Amos to music

JAMES MCGRATH: Setting Amos’ Hymn Fragments to Music. This is an awesome idea. I too have found these passages in Amos to be fascinating.

Torah-scroll incredible journeys

MANUSCRIPTS: The unbelievable tales of smuggled Torah scrolls that survived incredible journeys These Sifrei Torah made it through hard times in Poland, Iraq, Portugal, Russia and elsewhere, before being reborn in new communities (Jerusalem Post). Technically none of these manuscripts are ancient, although, of course, the Torah itself is an ancient work. But their stories are fascinating, so have a look.