Saturday, January 21, 2023

Another Bar Kokhba-era coin recovered in a cave

NUMISMATICS: Archeologists Find Ancient Hebrew Coin Dated to Jewish Rebellion Against Rome: ‘Year Two of the Freedom of Israel’ (The Algemeiner).
An ancient Hebrew coin minted during a Jewish rebellion against Roman rule in Judea has been found during an excavation of caves by the Dead Sea, the Israel Antiquities Authority recently announced.

The bronze coin was discovered at the Nahal Darga Nature Reserve. It is dated to the second year of the Bar Kokhba revolt, a failed Jewish uprising against Roman rule in Judea that broke out in 132 CE, following Roman repression of Jewish practice. ...

A silver tetradrachm from the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt was also discovered recently in a cave in the nearby Nahal Teqoa.

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Review of Gods, spirits, and worship in the Greco-Roman world and early Christianity (ed. Evans & Wright)

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Gods, spirits, and worship in the Greco-Roman world and early Christianity.
Craig A. Evans, Adam Z. Wright, Gods, spirits, and worship in the Greco-Roman world and early Christianity. Jewish and Christian texts in contexts and related studies, 23. London; New York: T & T Clark, 2022. Pp. 280. ISBN 9780567703262

Review by
Fritz Naerebout, Leiden Universty (retired).;

This volume contains twelve papers by twelve authors, including both editors, that claims to offer “innovative studies that focus on the ways Jews and Christians in late antiquity appropriated, interpreted, and presented afresh the sacred traditions of the past”. It looks like a somewhat haphazard collection, which might be because it is a Festschrift, a type of publication that usually features rather arbitrary compilations, dedicated to Hans Dieter Betz on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday. ...

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Crash Course in Greek Palaeography at Ghent University

THE ETC BLOG: Crash Course in Greek Palaeography (Peter M. Head).
Crash Course in Greek Palaeography

Ghent University, 22-23 May 2023

The Greek department of Ghent University offers a two-day course in Greek palaeography in collaboration with the Research School OIKOS. The course is intended for MA, ResMA and doctoral students in the areas of Classics, Ancient History, Ancient Civilizations and Medieval studies with a good command of Greek. It offers a chronological introduction into Greek palaeography from the Hellenistic period until the end of the Middle Ages and is specifically aimed at acquiring practical skills for research involving literary and documentary papyri and/or manuscripts. We will also provide the unique opportunity to read from original papyri in the papyrus collection of the Ghent University Library and become familiar with the ongoing research projects at Ghent University.

Follow the link for the full program and a link to the course page.

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Friday, January 20, 2023

An Amorite glossary from the time of Hammurapi?

PHILOLOGY: Two 3,800-year-old Cuneiform Tablets Found in Iraq Give First Glimpse of Hebrew Precursor. The ancient tablets, uncovered 30 years ago during the Gulf War and forgotten until now, offer a first glimpse of the Amorite language that Hebrew developed from (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz).
The text on the tablets resembles a language manual that is divided into two parts. On the first are words and phrases in the Amorite/Canaanite language – an extinct ancient language of which scholars hitherto had very little knowledge, and the second contains their translation into Akkadian, a known language that can be read and translated.
"Amorite" is a general term for the proto-Northwest Semitic dialects in the second millenium BCE which are ancestral to the Northwest Semitic languages: Ugaritic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Phoenician, Moabite, etc.

Up to now our knowledge of Amorite has come almost entirely from names of its speakers preserved in Akkadian and Egyptian transcription. Neither Egyptian hieroglyphics nor Akkadian cuneiform are well suite to transcribing the Amorite language, and names are a poor source for the current state of a language - they often reflect a more archaic form. So our knowledge of Amorite has been very imperfect.

This new discovery is a potential game changer. It still does not give us a connected narrative text. But it preserves a list of words, and even sentences, in a current spoken form of Amorite with Akkadian translations. That is a huge amount of new information.

All that said, I have two reservations.

First, although the tablets have been published in a peer-review journal, which is gold-standard good, I still want to see the reaction of other Assyriologists. Cuneiform texts are difficult. Those transcribing another language are very difficult indeed. Let's see some more publications and find out whether there is general agreement that the tablets contain an Amorite glossary.

Second, the tablets are unprovenanced. They were not scientifically excavated. They were "transferred" from Iraq during the Iraq war. Reportedly they sat around somewhere for more than thirty years until the editors noticed them. I don't have access to the journal article, but the Haaretz article gives no other information about the provenance trail.

I used to think that convincing forgery of cuneiform tablets was virtually impossible, but apparently it does happen. And the contents of these tablets are just the sort of thing a competent forger might have the incentive to produce.

In this case the tablets have been studied thoroughly by experts, so the chance of a forgery seems remote. But I want more information before I rule it out. Again, what is their provenance trail? Did anyone get a lot of money for them at some point? And, again, I want to see evaluations by other Assyriologists. I myself have some training in cuneiform, now very rusty, but I am not an Assyriologist and am not qualified to have an opinion of my own.

In sum, this announcement is probably very good and important news. But let's take our time and vet it thoroughly before we get too excited. Modus et ordo.

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Congratulations to Eva Mroczek!

CHANGES: Spatz Chair aims to unlock new opportunities in Jewish Studies (Dal News).
Dream jobs can be tough to come by, but Dr. Eva Mroczek feels like she’s finally found hers.

Dr. Mroczek has been named Dalhousie’s inaugural Simon and Riva Spatz Chair in Jewish Studies, an appointment that’ll see the seasoned Jewish Studies scholar trade the Californian coast for Nova Scotia.

“I’ve wanted to live in Halifax since I was a teenager, and I’ve hoped to return to Canada at some point in my life to help build Jewish Studies here,” says Ontario-born Dr. Mroczek, who’ll formally take up the post at Dal in July 2024. “It really is my dream job, and I can’t wait to see what we build together.”

Dr. Mroczek will deliver her first public lecture as chair, titled “The Myth of the Lost Torah,” at Dalhousie next Tuesday (January 24) at 7:00pm in the McInnes Room of the Dalhousie Student Union Building.


And congratulations to Dalhousie University as well.

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Microarchaeology collaboration by Israeli universities

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Israel’s Technion, U of Haifa announce game-changing microarchaeology collaboration. With excavators in need of cutting-edge science and advanced lab equipment to study finds on a molecular level, academics say the partnership will benefit both institutions (Melanie Lidman, Times of Israel).
For some modern-day archaeologists, shovels and picks are now ancient history. The tools leading to breakthrough discoveries today are microscopes, DNA sequencing and artificial intelligence, according to professors who launched a new joint initiative in archaeological sciences between the University of Haifa and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology on Wednesday. ...

There’s been an explosion of research using cutting-edge scientific methods. On Wednesday, archaeologists from the University of Haifa presented their research on DNA extraction of ancient grape seeds to identify their closest living relative; biochemical analysis of animal waste; AI and algorithms to identify flint and tooth marks on animal bones from 40,000 years ago; and chemical analysis to identify cannabis resin on an ancient altar. These research methods have allowed new insights into the daily life of people whose habitats have already undergone excavation by archaeologists for decades.

Everything is proceeding as I have have foreseen.

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Thursday, January 19, 2023

Was the Parable of Lazarus an OT Pseudepigraphon?

THE ANXIOUS BENCH: The Story of Lazarus and the Making of the New Testament (Philip Jenkins).
My focus is on the story of Lazarus, which in the Gospel of John involves a spectacular miracle accomplished by Jesus. According to John’s gospel, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. But I will suggest that the same plot elements, and the same vocabulary, appear elsewhere in the New Testament, except that they manifest in totally different genres and settings. The obvious question is: which came first? What evolved into what?

I’ll offer three possibilities. A parable was repurposed as history. Or, a historical episode morphed into a parable. Or, and I will argue, most likely, both history and parable grew out of a homily or sermon – in fact, one of the very earliest Christian homilies of which we have record.

Also, I have updated yesterday's PaleoJudaica post on the 1300-year-old silks from China.

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Interview with Phil Long on 1 Enoch

READING ACTS: Talk Junkies Podcast on 1 Enoch.

I noted the recent publication of Phil Long's book, The Book of Enoch for Beginners, here.

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A message from the Sifting Project

ON THE BLOG: AN IMPORTANT LETTER FROM THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT. The letter gives an update on the eighteen years of the project now completed. It is also a plea for funding, which is short in these lean times. If you are minded to contribute, there is a link.

There is also another new post: FIND AND FINDER OF THE MONTH: ROBERT KOLB FOUND A SPINDLE WHORL WITH A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER. To be clear, the late Roman or Byzantine-era spindle whorl is not inscribed with a number. But it has been assigned an important number in the Sifting Project's registry.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Pool of Siloam to be opened to visitors

ARCHAEOLOGY AND TOURISM: Jerusalem’s ancient Pool of Siloam to be opened to public. The 2,700-year-old pool is being fully excavated so that in the near future visitors can see this site of great historic and religious significance. (Georgia Barnett, Israel21c).

Carl Rasmussen has commentary on the story and additional photos at his HolyLandPhotos' Blog: The Pool of Siloam to be Excavated.

Some PaleoJudaica posts on the Pool of Siloam are here and links. For posts on the Siloam Tunnel Inscription, see here and links.

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A Metatron AI?

ARCHANGEL METATRON WATCH: Revolutionary AI-Chat Service now available at (yahoo!finance). Ask him anything!

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1300-year-old silks from China etc. excavated in the Arava

ANCIENT MATERIAL CULTURE: Israel discovers 1,300-year-old colored silk fabrics from China (Xinua).
JERUSALEM, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Israeli archaeologists have discovered hundreds of 1,300-year-old imported colorful fabrics, the University of Haifa (UH) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The findings include silk fabrics originating in China, as well as cotton fabrics imported from India, Iran and Sudan, all found in excavations carried out in the southeastern Arava valley by UH, together with the Israel Antiquities Authority and other universities.


I like to keep track of recovery of ancient textiles and organic remains in Israel. This one is on the high end of "ancient," but still. The point I keep coming back to is that if textiles etc. survive, the conditions were right for scrolls and other writings (e.g., codices in this period) to survive as well.

I hope that someday some more will turn up.

I couldn't find anything more on this story, even on Professoe Bar-Oz's University of Haifa website.

For PaleoJudaica posts on ancient organic remains and their implications, see here, here, here, and here, and follow the links. See also here (link now fixed!) for more on Professor Bar-Oz's research project.

UPDATE (19 January): The story is now receiving more media attention.

This article by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich in the Jerusalem Post has additional information and two photos of textile fragments: Luxury fabrics from 1,300 years ago apparently from China, India and Sudan found in Arava. Has the Israeli Silk Road been discovered?

An article by Aspen Pflughoeft in the Miami Herald has more photos and a link to an IAA Facebook announcement: ‘Trash mounds’ of 1,300-year-old fabrics — still vividly colored — unearthed in Israel.

UPDATE (20 January): More from Tobias Siegal in the Times of Israel: First evidence of unknown ancient ‘Israeli Silk Road’ uncovered in Arava trash dump. Results from sifting 1,600-year-old garbage during a first excavation season at Nahal Omer suggest luxury goods from East were in high demand in the 8th century CE, researchers say. With more photographs and additional details.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Fingerprinting ancient pottery

FORENSIC ARCHAEOLOGY: What Fingerprints Tell Us About Jerusalem’s Ancient Artisans. In an unusual collaboration, archaeologists in Israel are working with police to analyze prints left on fifth- or sixth-century pottery shards (Hillel Kuttler, Smithsonian Magazine).
On a chilly, rainy afternoon in September 2020, two Israeli police cars and a motorcycle, their red lights flashing and sirens blaring, pulled up to an archaeological dig in Motza (or Moza), a neighborhood in the mountains west of Jerusalem.

Four police officials emerged from the vehicles and approached the excavation—but they weren’t responding to a crime. They’d come to examine ancient fingerprints as part of an unconventional, ongoing collaboration between Israel’s police department and the Tel Moza Expedition Project team.


For more on the archaeology of the site of Tel Moza (Tel Motza, Tel Moẓa, Tel Moẓah), start here and follow the links.

Cross-file under Technology Watch.

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

Finds in the Cave of Salome

ARCHAEOLOGY: Tomb of 'Jesus' midwife' excavated, revealing remarkable courtyard and oil lamps (Tom Metcalfe, Live Science).
Archaeologists in Israel have discovered new artifacts and carvings from the Cave of Salome, a place of pilgrimage for early Christians who thought that it was the burial place for Salome, the supposed midwife of Jesus.
This is the first I can recall hearing of this cave.

For PaleoJudaica posts on Salome, daughter of Herodias, see here and links.

The "Gospel of James" mentioned in the aricle is better known as the Protevangelium of James. The episode about Salome is in chapters 19-20.

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Monday, January 16, 2023

Bible Places Blog 2022 roundup

THE BIBLE PLACES BLOG: Top 10 Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2022. Todd Bolen has an excellent review of 2022.

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

AJR top ten for 2022

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: 2022 AJR Year in Review.
Ancient Jew Review is thankful for our community of contributors and readers invested in learning about Jews and their neighbors in the ancient world. For the year of 2022, these are our ten most-read pieces:

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Sunday, January 15, 2023

Levison, The Greek Life of Adam and Eve (De Gruyter)

The Greek Life of Adam and Eve

John R. Levison

In the series Commentaries on Early Jewish Literature

PDF & EPUB £175.50
Hardcover £175.50

Published: December 5, 2022
ISBN: 9783110756449

Published: December 5, 2022
ISBN: 9783110755886

About this book

For the first time, Jack Levison offers the English-speaking world a comprehensive commentary on the Greek Life of Adam and Eve, an epic of pain, death, and hope. An exhaustive introduction clarifies issues of literary character, manuscripts and versions, and provenance; the commentary itself provides rich discussions of the Greek text, illuminated by Jewish scripture and ancient Greek and Hebrew literature. Fresh translation and bibliography.

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