JERUSALEM – Parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are up for sale — in tiny pieces.
Nearly 70 years after the discovery of the world’s oldest biblical manuscripts, the Palestinian family who originally sold them to scholars and institutions is now quietly marketing the leftovers — fragments the family says it has kept in a Swiss safe deposit box all these years.
Most of these scraps are barely postage-stamp-sized, and some are blank. But in the last few years, evangelical Christian collectors and institutions in the U.S. have forked out millions of dollars for a chunk of this archaeological treasure. This angers Israel’s government antiquities authority, which holds most of the scrolls, claims that every last scrap should be recognized as Israeli cultural property, and threatens to seize any more pieces that hit the market. Read more.
Archaeologists working in Jerusalem have discovered a 2,000-year-old stone quarry, along with an iron key and masonry tools dating to the same period, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.
The large quarry adjacent to the modern-day neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo dates to the first century CE and would have been active around the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, archaeologists say.
Some of the stones cut from the rock were more than two yards long. They were likely transported downhill, on an ancient road discovered nearby, to the walled city to the south, where they would have been used in the construction of monumental buildings. Read more.
The initial discovery was made by Benjamin Troper, the training coordinator of the Kfar Etzion field school, who suddenly, while aiding a troubled tourist down a deep cave south of Jerusalem, turned to look at the nearby wall and saw an ancient stone column.
“I had gone down that hole dozens of times,” Tropper told Makor Rishon, “but this was the first time, because I was helping the tourist, that I came down looking in that direction.”
What he saw was a bona fide ancient column with a crown, which he recognized from his years as tour guide and from the time he spent working in excavating ancient Jerusalem.
That’s the story of a remarkably rare archeological discovery, which no one has heard about. For some reason, possibly political, the Israeli authorities have been trying to silence this discovery which could usher in a breakthrough in our understanding of the periods of King David and his son, King Solomon. Read more.
Tel Aviv — Researchers have long been fascinated by the secrets of Ramat Rahel, located on a hilltop above modern-day Jerusalem. The site of the only known palace dating back to the kingdom of Biblical Judah, digs have also revealed a luxurious ancient garden. Since excavators discovered the garden with its advanced irrigation system, they could only imagine what the original garden might have looked like in full bloom — until now.
Using a unique technique for separating fossilized pollen from the layers of plaster found in the garden’s waterways, researchers from Tel Aviv University’s Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology have now been able to identify what grew in the ancient royal gardens of Ramat Rahel. And based on the garden’s archaeological clues, they have been able to reconstruct the layout of the garden. Read more.
In the Old City of Jerusalem, no one ever went broke underestimating the proof required to help the faithful suspend disbelief — or in a modern twist, allow the skeptical to bolster their heterodoxy. A million-dollar lawsuit in Israel has become the latest vehicle in the unending quest to redefine faith as the substance of things seen.
Simcha Jacobovici, a Canadian documentary maker specializing in biblical archaeology, is suing a retired scientist and former archaeological museum curator named Joe Zias, who has accused him of publicizing scientifically dubious theories. Many of Jacobovici’s documentaries have focused on artifacts that purport to reveal new interpretations of early Christianity, including the notion that the remains of Jesus and his family were buried in a tomb underneath modern-day Jerusalem. Read more.
The archaeological archive of Israel, which is administered by the Israel Antiquities Authority and amasses data on all of the activity of the archaeological entities in the country, is being computerized and will go online in the coming days. This is being underwritten with joint funding provided by the Landmarks heritage program in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Israel Antiquities Authority. The scientific archive has its beginnings in the British Mandatory Department of Antiquities. It was continued by the Israel Department of Antiquities and is managed today by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which invests considerable thought and resources in its operation.
The first stage, containing tens of thousands of documents, photographs, maps and plans from the years 1919-1948 from Akko and Jerusalem, is already available for viewing online. Most of this material was written in English. Read more.
When an architectural fragment like this one is found on an archaeological dig in Jerusalem, it could likely mean a very important building existed somewhere nearby — such as a building fit for a king. An archaeological excavation team under the direction of Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar has recently uncovered a large fragment of what is known as a “proto-aeolic capital”, or royal Israelite capital, the top-most portion of an architectural column that is designed to support or grace the facade or entrance-way of an important royal or administrative/public building.
It was found within a stony fill adjacent to a wall dated to the Iron Age II (1000 - 539 BCE) and is assumed by its location to have been in secondary use in this final resting place. (Succeeding builders often reused or “recycled” architectural elements in the construction of later structures). Read more.
Archaeologists, students and volunteers have unearthed archaeological remains that will shed additional light on the occupation of ancient Jerusalem’s royal precinct of the time of the Israelite and Judahite kings, going back to the 10th century BCE.
Under the direction of Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, painstaking excavation by a team of archaeologists, including a group from the Herbert W. Armstrong College in the U.S., has revealed extensive architectural elements, including floor layers and walls, that suggest at least one very large structure of yet-to-be-determined function. This, after weeks of excavating through layers containing artifacts, architectural elements and other features representing later periods of occupation, including those of the Byzantine and Second Temple (Herodian) periods. Read more.