The Civil Administration is calling for the demolition of a Palestinian village in the southern West Bank, partly because it is built on an archaeological site.
The call for demolition comes despite the fact that Israeli authorities have approved the construction of Jewish settlements on much more important archaeological sites, such as the settlement at Tel Rumeida in Hebron and the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem.
In the past year, the High Court of Justice has been asked to rule on the state’s intentions to demolish at least 12 villages south of Hebron (Susia, Dekaika, Bir al-Id, Saala and eight villages that have been declared part of army firing zone No. 918) located in Area C, which is under Israeli control, and force their residents to move to Areas A and B, which are under Palestinian civil control. Read more.
BATTIR, West Bank — In this scenic Palestinian village in the West Bank hills near Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem, a week is said to last eight days, not seven. That is because Battir’s eight extended families take daily turns watering their crops from the natural springs that feed their ancient agricultural terraces, a practice they say has worked for centuries.
The water flows through a Roman-era irrigation system down into a deep valley where a railway track — a section of the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway built in Ottoman times — roughly marks the 1949 armistice line between the West Bank and Israel. The area is dotted with tombs and ruins upon ruins of bygone civilizations.
When the World Heritage Committee of Unesco — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — meets in St. Petersburg, Russia, over the next two weeks, this pastoral area will be thrust into the spotlight at least momentarily as the villagers and conservation experts fight to save what they say is a unique living cultural and historical landscape. Read more.
The Dead Sea Scrolls may have been written, at least in part, by a sectarian group called the Essenes, according to nearly 200 textiles discovered in caves at Qumran, in the West Bank, where the religious texts had been stored.
Scholars are divided about who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls and how the texts got to Qumran, and so the new finding could help clear up this long-standing mystery.
The research reveals that all the textiles were made of linen, rather than wool, which was the preferred textile used in ancient Israel. Also they lack decoration, some actually being bleached white, even though fabrics from the period often have vivid colours. Altogether, researchers say these finds suggest that the Essenes, an ancient Jewish sect, “penned” some of the scrolls. Read more.
NABLUS, West Bank (AP) — Archaeologists unearthing a biblical ruin inside a Palestinian city in the West Bank are writing the latest chapter in a 100-year-old excavation that has been interrupted by two world wars and numerous rounds of Mideast upheaval.
Working on an urban lot that long served residents of Nablus as an unofficial dump for garbage and old car parts, Dutch and Palestinian archaeologists are learning more about the ancient city of Shekhem, and are preparing to open the site to the public as an archaeological park next year.
The project, carried out under the auspices of the Palestinian Department of Antiquities, also aims to introduce the Palestinians of Nablus, who have been beset for much of the past decade by bloodshed and isolation, to the wealth of antiquities in the middle of their city.
“The local population has started very well to understand the value of the site, not only the historical value, but also the value for their own identity,” said Gerrit van der Kooij of Leiden University in the Netherlands, who co-directs the dig team.
“The local people have to feel responsible for the archaeological heritage in their neighborhood,” he said. Read more.
During routine excavation work at the site of the King Amenhotep III funerary temple on Luxor’s west bank, an Egyptian excavation mission led by Zahi Hawass, minister for antiquities, unearthed a statue of the king. Thirteen meters in height, the King Amenhotep III statue consists of seven huge quartzite blocks. The statue is without its head.
According to Hawass, the statue is one of a pair that once flanked the northern entrance to the temple, which was damaged by a severe earthquake in 27 BC. The blocks are currently undergoing restoration in an attempt to re-erect the statue in its original position. The pair were previously discovered by Egyptian Egyptologist Labib Habachi and his German colleague Gerhard Haeny in the 1970s. They documented both statues before leaving them at the site, hidden in the sand. Read more.