Saturday, December 09, 2017

Niehoff (ed.), Journeys in the Roman East: Imagined and Real

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Journeys in the Roman East: Imagined and Real Ed. by Maren R. Niehoff. [Reisen im Osten des Römischen Reichs: Fiktiv und Real.] 2017. XI, 440 pages. Culture, Religion, and Politics in the Greco-Roman World 1. 59,00 €. cloth. ISBN 978-3-16-155111-6.
Published in English.
In the Roman Empire, travelling was something of a central feature, facilitating commerce, pilgrimage, study abroad, tourism, and ethnographic explorations. The present volume investigates for the first time intellectual aspects of this phenomenon by giving equal attention to pagan, Jewish, and Christian perspectives. A team of experts from different fields argues that journeys helped construct cultural identities and negotiate between the local and the particular on the one hand, and wider imperial discourses on the other. A special point of interest is the question of how Rome engages the attention of intellectuals from the Greek East and offers new opportunities of self-fashioning. Pagans, Jews, and Christians shared similar experiences and constructed comparable identities in dialogue, sometimes polemics, with each other. The collection addresses the following themes: real and imagined geography, reconstructing encounters in distant places, between the bodily and the holy, Jesus' travels from different perspectives, and destination Rome. The articles in each section are arranged in chronological order, ranging from early imperial texts to rabbinic and patristic literature.

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Review of Howe and Brice (eds.), Brill's Companion to Insurgency and Terrorism in the Ancient Mediterranean

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Timothy Howe, Lee L. Brice (ed.), Brill's Companion to Insurgency and Terrorism in the Ancient Mediterranean. Brill's Companions in Classical Studies: Warfare in the Ancient Mediterranean World. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2016. Pp. xvi, 372. ISBN 9789004222359. $175.00. Reviewed by Gabriel Moss, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (
From its very title, Brill’s Companion to Insurgency and Terrorism in the Ancient Mediterranean invites controversy. Setting out to test the validity and utility of applying modern military terminology to ancient evidence, this volume dares critics to charge it with gross anachronism. Yet its best chapters make a strong claim that, with cautious and considered application, the theoretical toolsets of insurgency, counterinsurgency, and terrorism provide useful ways to narrate and analyze conflict in the ancient world. This said, in contrast to modern, popular understandings of the term, the terrorism discussed in this volume is mostly perpetrated on behalf of states, not against them. The relative silence of ancient sources on non-state terrorism certainly justifies this focus, although co-editor Lee Brice’s technologically deterministic argument that non-state terrorism was all but impossible before the invention of gunpowder and mass media fails to convince.

Of special interest is the article by Frank Russell: “Roman Counterinsurgency Policy and Practice in Judaea.”

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This is what a manger looks like

'TIS THE SEASON: Away in a Manger (feeding trough!) (Carl Rasmussen, The Holy Land Photos' Blog). Kind of cool, even though we are now told that Jesus wasn't born in a stable.

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Review of Diaspora

REVIEW Diaspora: A Fantastic Play Besieged By Questionable Content (Matthew Silkin,YU Commentator).
Diaspora, a new play written by Nathaniel Sam Shapiro and directed by Saheem Ali, tells two separate but intertwined stories - it follows a Birthright group on their tour of Masada in the present day, as well as the struggles of the Jewish fighters in Masada in 73 CE, during their last days before committing mass suicide rather than falling to the Romans. Shapiro makes the interesting artistic decision to have the scenes weave between the present day and 73 CE, rather than have specific breaks in between the timelines, made easier by the minimal -- to the point of lacking -- set design. This is also benefitted by having the actors portray multiple characters in both the present and the past, making the audience connect the story of the Birthright students to the story of the Jewish rebellion.
He thought the play was excellent, but unnecessarily crude.

Background here. Cross-file under Performing Arts.

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Friday, December 08, 2017

Greek influence on Jewish martyrdom traditions

'TIS THE SEASON (HANUKKAH EDITION): Chanukah: The Greek Influence of Martyrdom (Prof. Rabbi Martin Lockshin,
On Chanukah we celebrate the miraculous military victories of the “few over the many,” and of Jewish culture over Greek. Ironically, however, Chanukah has also bequeathed to us a new genre of Jewish literature, one that has been in frequent use ever since: Greek-style stories of bravery in defeat and dying for the cause.

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Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day 2017

IT'S THAT DAY AGAIN: Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day.

This is the tenth anniversary of its founding. One of the original announcements, with some instructions, is here. The Facebook page is here.

Here's someone who got started early on his pretending.

I assume he's pretending. He makes predictions for 2021. What do you think?

Follow this link for past posts on the day and related links.

Have fun and try to stay out of trouble.

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Review of Rabbinic Judaism 20 (2017) issue 2

Research Article
The People, Not the Peoples: The Talmud Bavli’s “Charitable” Contribution to the Jewish-Christian Conversation in Mesopotamia
Author: Alyssa M. Gray
pp.: 137–167 (31)

Research Article
Early Rabbinic Judaism and the Danger in Ezekiel 1
Author: Rick Van De Water
pp.: 168–192 (25)

Research Article
The Use of Numbers as an Editing Device in Rabbinic Literature
Authors: Ariel Ram Pasternak and Shamir Yona
pp.: 193–234 (42)

Research Article
The Death of Honi the Circle Maker
Author: Zvi Ron
pp.: 235–250 (16)

Research Article
The Individual vs. Society in Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s Halakhic Rulings
Author: Amir Mashiach
pp.: 251–271 (21)

Machiavelli and Sforno
Authors: Bernard Pinchuk and Lawrence Zalcman
pp.: 273–278 (6)

Book Review
Matthew and the Mishnah. Redefining Identity and Ethos in the Shadow of the Second Temple’s Destruction, written by Akiva Cohen
Author: Bruce Chilton
pp.: 279–281 (3)

Book Review
Revelation and Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition. The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library, written by Benjamin D. Sommer
Author: Gary G. Porton
pp.: 282–286 (5)

Book Review
The Value of the Particular: Lessons from Judaism and the Modern Jewish Experience, written by Michael Zank and Ingrid Anderson
Author: David Ellenson
pp.: 287–289 (3)

Book Review
Modern Orthodox Judaism: A Documentary History, written by Zev Eleff
Author: Aaron I. Reichel
pp.: 290–297 (8)
Requires a paid personal or institutional subscription for full access.

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Hempel and Brooke (eds.), T&T Clark Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls

T&T Clark Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls

Editor(s): Charlotte Hempel, George J. Brooke
Media of T&T Clark Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls
See larger image
Published: 12-07-2018
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 512
ISBN: 9780567352057
Imprint: T&T Clark
Series: Bloomsbury Companions
Illustrations: 60 bw and colour illus
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm

RRP: £130.00
Online price: £117.00

About T&T Clark Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls
This companion provides the ideal resource for those seriously engaging with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In 30 concise articles all of the key texts and documents are examined. A section on the complex methods used in anaylzing the scrolls then follows before the focus moves to consideration of the scrolls in their various contexts; political, religious, cultural, economic, historical. The genres ascribed to groups of texts within the scrolls are examined in the next section with due attention given to both past and present scholarship. The main body of the companion then concludes with crucial issues and topics discussed by leading scholars. The book finishes with appendices and indexes giving: timelines, lists of kings, family trees of the Seleucids, Ptolemies, Hasmoneans, lists of places and scrolls, information on electronic resources and classified bibliographies. The volume is illustrated throughout with some 60 images enabling readers to consider key texts from the scrolls not only in transcription but simultaneously with photographs.

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Judah the Hammer

PHILOLOGOS: Judah the Maccabee, Judah the Mace-Man. A modest suggestion for a new way of thinking about the original meaning of the word “Maccabee” (Mosaic Magazine).
The derivation of makkabi from makevet or makava certainly makes better sense than any of the contending explanations. What I would take issue with is the assertion made by First and others before him that since a hammer “is not a military weapon,” Judah Maccabee must have been likened to one because of his physical appearance, or else because of his physical power or strength of character.
I agree with Philologos that this is not really a problem. Philologos's solution, that "Maccabee" refers to a hammer in the sense of a mace — hence a military weapon — is possible. But I don't think it is necessary.

Not for the first time I've seen, this problem arises only because scholars sometimes seem incapable of thinking like regular people or imagining language being used the way regular people use it. If you meet someone whose nickname is "The Hammer," you don't think "A hammer is not technically a weapon, so maybe this is about the shape of his head." You think, "I don't want to mess with this guy." It's just a vivid metaphor, something quite common in nicknames.

Think, for example, of "The Rock." A rock is not technically a weapon either, but someone with that nickname is probably a good wrestler.

"The Hammer" makes perfectly good sense as a nickname for Judah, who hammered his enemies on the battlefield.

Cross-file under 'Tis the Season (Hanukkah Edition).

UPDATE (8 December): Perhaps I should have included a link for "The Rock" above. Readers have also written to draw my attention to Thor's hammer and to an early medieval comparison of Charles Martel to a hammer, because he broke his enemies and foreigners in battle.

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Landman on the biblical law of bailment

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Dissertation Spotlight | Yael Landman (Yael Landman Wermuth).
Yael Landman, “The Biblical Law of Bailment in Its Ancient Near Eastern Contexts,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Yeshiva University, 2017
Through its study of a multifaceted legal institution thickly embedded in the socio-economic fabric of ancient Israel and the ANE, this dissertation offers a window into models of jurisprudence in the biblical world. When viewed in conjunction with the wealth of pertinent biblical and ANE sources, the biblical law of bailment can tell us about a law in its many contexts, about divine justice and compassion, about the interactions of law with literature, about everyday life in ancient societies, and about the earliest articulations of a legal topic whose relevance has persisted into the modern era.

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Hurtado on Philo of Alexandria and Early Christianity

LARRY HURTADO: Philo of Alexandria and Early Christianity. Professor Hurtado posts a previously published article of his on this topic.

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Fertility in the Bible

PROF. JOEL BADEN: “God Opened Her Womb”: The Biblical Conception of Fertility (
Is infertility a divine punishment?
He argues that it is not.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Festschrift for Moshe Bernstein

A WELL-DESERVED HONOR FOR A SENIOR LEADER IN THE FIELD: Scholars Pay Tribute to Bernstein in New Festschrift. Volume Published in Dr. Moshe Bernstein’s Honor Explores Jewish Scriptural Interpretation (YU News).
At the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in November in Boston, MA, Dr. Moshe Bernstein ’62YUHS, ’66YC, ’69R, ’69BR , The David A. and Fannie M. Denenberg Chair in Biblical Studies, was presented with a Festschrift titled HĀ-‘ÎSH MŌSHE: Studies in Scriptural Interpretation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature in Honor of Moshe J. Bernstein (Brill). The book, featuring 19 essays related to his work in biblical interpretation in antiquity (a bibliography of which runs eight single-spaced pages), was edited by Binyamin Goldstein (currently a PhD student at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies), Michael Segal ’93YC, Father Takeji Otsuki, professor of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Dr. George Brooke, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis Emeritus at the University of Manchester.


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THE ANXIOUS BENCH BLOG: Divination – A Most Neglected Most Important Element of Religion (Philip Jenkins).
Now this is a treat! I was recently corresponding with the excellent English scholar of religion Linda Woodhead, who made some very interesting comments about the importance of divination as a badly under-studied theme within religion – in fact, within all religions. At my request, she put together a summary of her views, and it is a privilege to include her guest contribution to the blog. As you see, she ranges widely in the examples she offers. Reading her observations makes us look afresh at the many examples of divination in various forms that we find in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.

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On child sacrifice in ancient Israel

THE ASOR BLOG: Child Sacrifice in Ancient Israel (Heath D. Dewrell).
In my recent monograph, Child Sacrifice in Ancient Israel, I address these arguments and, like most scholars, argue that at least some Israelites did sacrifice their children, probably to Yahweh. My primary objective, however, is not merely to address the existence or non-existence of Israelite child sacrifice. Instead, I collect all of the different types of evidence—biblical, archaeological, and epigraphic—to attempt to untangle the various forms of child sacrifice. “Child sacrifice” was not a homogeneous phenomenon any more than “sheep sacrifice.”
Cross-file under Punic Watch. Some related posts on this ghastly topic are here and links.

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The meaning of the Dinah story

DR. ALISON L. JOSEPH: Who Is the Victim in the Dinah Story? (
We can not imagine anyone but Dinah as the victim, but does the Torah? Do the Rabbis? Understanding the story of Dinah and its reception in historical context can help us reflect on the role of women in ancient Israel and the meaning of sexual violence in a patriarchal society.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Persepolis: the Supreme Court sounds skeptical

PERSEPOLIS ARCHIVE CASE: US justices cast doubt over Hamas bomb victims’ claim to Iran artifacts. Judges express skepticism that five US citizens maimed in 1997 Jerusalem bombing can use act to seize items from Chicago museums (AP and Times of Israel).

Background here. Follow the links from there for past posts on the legal case, my own comments on it, and past posts on the Persepolis Fortification Archive and links.

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Kuhn and Hebrew philology?

Counting and Weighing: On the Role of Intuition in Philology and Linguistics, with Some Thoughts on Linguistic Comments by R. E. Friedman in The Exodus

The intuition of established scholars often holds them back from appreciating revolutionary advances in the understanding of how the biblical texts evolved and how to view their language in that context. Kuhn’s theory of paradigm shifts helps elucidate what is currently going on in our field. We use Richard Friedman’s new book on the exodus as an example of the old paradigm and juxtapose it with the emerging paradigm that is founded on more robust data collection and analysis.

See Also: An Unsettling Divide in Linguistic Dating and Historical Linguistics

Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts

Unhistorical Hebrew Linguistics: A Cautionary Tale

A Very Tall “Cautionary Tale”: A Response to Ron Hendel

By Martin Ehrensvärd
Associate Professor
Faculty of Theology
University of Copenhagen

with collaboration by

Robert Rezetko
Research Associate
Radboud University Nijmegen & University of Sydney

Ian Young
Associate Professor
Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies
University of Sydney
November 2017
I think that if comparative philology could establish a decisive diachronic typology of Biblical Hebrew with anchored absolute dates, it would have by now. The discussion would basically be over and we would just be mopping up the details. But the situation seems to be more complicated. That is perhaps not surprising, given the complicated (and still poorly understood) history of the transmission of the Hebrew Bible.

That said, I find appeals to Kuhn's model of paradigm shift almost always to be unpersuasive. Everyone just imagines that they are part of the new paradigm and their opponents are stuck in the old one. Then the confirmation bias of both sides makes them see only the evidence that their paradigm is the shift.

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Review of Bolin, Ecclesiastes and the Riddle of Authorship

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Ecclesiastes and the Riddle of Authorship (Brennan Breed).
Thomas Bolin, Ecclesiastes and the Riddle of Authorship. New York: Routledge, 2017.
In short, Bolin argues that the well-known interpretive problems posed by the book of Ecclesiastes, and in particular the shadowy figure of Qohelet, are generative. Namely, they have provoked interpreters over the centuries to construct a seemingly endless series of authorial portraits that they then use to exclude certain interpretive possibilities and to ground their reading of the text. ...

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Biblical Studies Carnival November 2017

The Wide-Ranging 2017 Biblical Studies Carnival and SBL Annual Meeting Edition (Jim West).

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Monday, December 04, 2017

Detective work on 1970s Temple archaeology

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Temple Mount Riddles Resolved by Tens of Thousands of Tiny Pieces. The monumental buildings on Temple Mount, Jerusalem turn out to have been decorated chiefly with images of plants and geometric forms, patient researcher finds (Nir Hasson, Haaretz).
What did the Temple Mount compound look like over 2,000 years ago? How were its buildings decorated? The literature and the archaeology do not always coincide, but new research may have put some of the questions to rest. Including the enigma of who built a set of subterranean domes. Who completed the construction however will have to remain a mystery for now.

Much of what we know, or think we know, comes from the 1st century C.E. traitor-cum-historian Josephus Flavius, who devoted a section in one of his books to the Mount and the temple itself, which is associated with the massive construction drive by the Roman vassal king of the Jews, Herod. And we also have some knowledge from archaeological research.


A recent new study by Dr. Orit Peleg-Barkat of the Hebrew University archaeology department reexamined Josephus’ text in comparison with archaeological finds from Temple Mount digs in the 1970s. Focusing on fragments of decoration found from the time, she extrapolates to the construction of the buildings, and does propose answers to some questions – including that issue of the 162 columns that don’t divide by four. She also raises new questions too.

For the coin evidence that the Temple platform was completed after Herod's time, see here. For the second Arch of Titus, see here.

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Emek Shaveh vs. Elad

POLITICS: ARCHEOLOGY IN ISRAEL AS A POLITICAL WEAPON. Emek Shaveh’s Mizrachi: When you control the past, you control the present and the future (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post).
The battle between right- and left-wing ideologues is evident at archeological sites in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, where discoveries are routinely exhibited to the world as evidence of Israeli sovereignty in the Jewish homeland or as an occupier.

The two main opponents in the ongoing war over rightful sovereignty between Jews and Palestinians are the left-wing archeological political activist NGO Emek Shaveh, and its right-wing counterpart, the City of David Foundation (also known as Elad).

The former is primarily funded by European countries with a decidedly “anti-occupation” stance, while the latter deems the term “occupation” an incendiary insult to a people with thousands of years of history in Jerusalem.

This protracted war came to a fevered pitch in May, when UNESCO approved a resolution rejecting Jewish ties to Jerusalem – including its holiest site, the Temple Mount – prompting claims of flagrant antisemitism against the international body.

Last week, the heads of Emek Shaveh and the City of David Foundation explained why they allege the other is attempting to manipulate history to further their respective political narratives at the expense of science itself.
This is a long, informative article that gives both organizations a good deal of space to defend themselves and define their opponent.

Past PaleoJudaica posts involving Emek Shaveh are here and links. Past posts on Elad are here and here and links. Not surprisingly, the two organizations often intersect in these posts.

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Looting arrests at Khirbet Ma'on

APPREHENDED: Antiquities theft: 'A widespread and destructive phenomenon.' Arab antiquities thieves nabbed at archaeological site mentioned in the Book of Joshua (Mordechai Sones, Arutz Sheva).
Members of the Archaeology Unit of the Civil Administration arrested a large group of antiquities thieves who broke into a burial cave in Khirbet Ma'on, which lies southeast of Hevron. Khirbet added to the name of a site means "the ruins of."

Ma'on was one of the main settlements in the southern Hevron hills of Judea and is mentioned in the Book of Joshua on the list of cities of Judea, dating back to the MIddle Bronze Age and the First Temple Period.

The site also contains remains from the Second Temple period and a Byzantine-era synagogue.

I have noted other recent looting and smuggling arrests in Israel and on the West Bank here, here, here, and links.

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Exhibition on the Birmingham Qur'an fragments in Abu Dhabi

DIGITAL, THAT IS: Exhibition on ‘Birmingham Quran’ opens (The Gulf Today).
BU DHABI: A digital exhibition of the manuscript of the ‘Birmingham Quran’, one of the oldest surviving parts of the Quran in the world, was inaugurated last night at the Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi.

The manuscript includes parts of Surahs 18-20 of the Quran, written in ink on parchment using an early Arabic Hijazi script. Part of the University’s Mingana collection of manuscripts, it is believed to date to the 7th Century AD.

The exhibition is being staged by the British Council in collaboration with the University of Birmingham as part of the UAE/UK Year of Creative Collaboration 2017 and was opened by the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Noura Al Kaabi, and the British Ambassador, Philip Parham.

The manuscript is on display "in digital form" and a replica is also present. Presumably the original is still in the Mingana Collection in Birmingham.

For past posts on the very old and very important Birmingham Qur'an fragments, start here and follow the links.

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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Exhibition canceled: Germany won't guarantee return of DSS to Israel

WELL, THAT'S AWKWARD: ISRAEL PULLS OUT OF DEAD SEA SCROLLS EXHIBIT IN GERMANY. Frankfurt museum couldn’t guarantee scrolls’ return if claimed by Palestinians or Jordanians (BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JTA/Jerusalem Post).
Israel has pulled out of a planned exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Frankfurt because the German government would not guarantee their return if claimed by Palestinians or Jordanians.

The Frankfurt Bible Museum announced that it has canceled the exhibit which was scheduled for a September 2019 opening. Its director, Jürgen Schefzyk, said he regretted the German government’s decision, adding that neither Holland nor Austria would have hesitated to issue general immunity guarantees.

According to German news reports, the government guarantee would have blocked Palestinian or Jordanian authorities from contesting the provenance of the scrolls, which are among the oldest known texts related to the Hebrew Bible.

The deputy mayor of Frankfurt is not pleased with the German government.

Some past PaleoJudaica posts that bear on this subject are here and links.

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Supreme Court hearing on Persepolis Archive case starts tomorrow

PERSEPOLIS ARCHIVE UPDATE: Will Ancient Persian Artifacts Be Sold To The Highest Bidder? (Shayan Modarres, The Iranian).
On December 4th, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a case that will decide the fate of the Persepolis tablets – ancient Persian artifacts that are currently on display in the United States. The Persepolis tablets are clay tablets written in Aramaic and other ancient languages dating back to the fifth century BC, and contain important clues about the religion, administration, society, and economy inside the ancient Persian empire. Millions of Iranian descendants of the Persian empire across the globe today treasure these precious artifacts as historical records of their lineage. If successful, the plaintiffs may be able to seize these precious artifacts from the museums that are currently displaying them to sell them off to the highest bidder.

The Court is faced with one question: can United States citizen victims of terror sue foreign countries designated as state sponsors of terror, win judgments for money damages, and seize and sell the property of the foreign country to satisfy the judgment? That is the question that will ultimately decide whether the Supreme Court of the United States will allow ancient artifacts from the Persian empire to be seized from museums and sold into private hands after it hears the case of Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran in less than two weeks.

PaleoJudaica has been following this case for years. For past posts, start here (cf. here) and follow the links.

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

Multispectral imaging

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: What Is Multispectral Imaging And How Is It Changing Archaeology And Digital Humanities Today? (Sarah Bond, Forbes).
What is multispectral imaging and how is the technology changing the face of archaeology, art history and digital humanities today? The non-invasive digital technique is making the past visible in ways we never thought possible.

In the world of archaeology and art history, even objects that have long been known to the world are now providing new information for researchers. This is in part due to an approach called multispectral imaging (MSI). Multispectral imaging first began as bulky and expensive remote sensing equipment used by high-tech astronomy labs like those at NASA interested in planetary science and mapping mineral deposits.

Improvements to sensors and apertures have downsized MSI technology and made it more cost-efficient in recent years. Consequently, the technique has become a more regularized part of the fields of digital archaeology and art preservation as a novel means of revealing hidden materials, pigments and inks that the naked eye alone cannot decipher.

Some recent PaleoJudaica posts involving multispectral imaging are here, here, and here, plus links. And for older posts on the subject, use the blog search engine.

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The keyholder of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

ECUMENICAL: The Muslim Who Holds the Ancient Key to Jesus' Tomb in Jerusalem. As Christian denominations vie for control over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the 800-year-old key rests with a Muslim man named Adeeb Joudeh (Reuters/Haaretz).

Due to archaeologically-informative restorations, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Holy Sepulchre) has been in the news recently. For past PaleoJudaica posts on the Church, start here and follow the links.

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