Posts belonging to Category Archaeology

Google Will Bring Dead Sea Scrolls Online

From The Washington Post:

[Google] and Israel announced Tuesday that they are teaming up to give researchers and the public the first comprehensive and searchable database of the scrolls – a 2,000-year-old collection of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek documents that shed light on Judaism during biblical times and the origins of Christianity. For years, experts have complained that access to the scrolls has been too limited.

Once the images are up, anyone will be able to peruse exact copies of the original scrolls as well as an English translation of the text on their computer – for free. Officials said the collection, expected to be available within months, will feature sections that have been made more legible thanks to high-tech infrared technology.

Ben Witherington Reports on Laodicea

Ampitheater at Laodicea

Ben Witherington reports on the ongoing excavation of the biblical city of Laodicea.

Turkish archaeologists have been working very hard indeed on this site over the last several years and the results are remarkable … This city was, along with Hierapolis, [one of] the most important of cities in the Lycus valley … The population size of a city is often judged by the size of its theaters and then one multiplies by 10. On this showing Laodicea was truly urban, with a population around 100,000 at its peak …

There is much more to be said, but let this be said at this juncture. The archaeological evidence at Laodicea simply confirms what the NT suggests about the city — it was large, rich in the first century, a city materially on the rise, but sometimes prosperity has a deadening effect on spirituality as John of Patmos reminds.

See Witherington’s article for more commentary and pictures.

English Farmer Builds Model of Herod’s Temple

Scale Model of Herod's Temple | Alec Garrard

78-year-old Alec Garrard has spent more than 30 years constructing a 1:100 scale model of Herod’s Temple in his back yard. The original temple was built by King Herod the Great between 19 B.C. and A.D. 4 and was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Garrard’s model measures 20ft by 12 ft and is considered one of the best representations of the historical temple in the world.

“I’ve always loved making models and as I was getting older I started to think about making one big project which would see me through to the end of my life,” Garrard said. “I have an interest in buildings and religion so I thought maybe I could combine the two and I came up with the idea of doing the Temple. I’d seen one or two examples of it in Biblical exhibitions, but I thought they were rubbish and I knew I could do better. I have been working on it for decades but it will never be finished as I’m always finding something new to add.”

Thousands of visitors from all over the world have come to see the model, and Garrard provides them with binoculars so they can see all the details.

Scale Model of Herod's Temple | Alec Garrard

Garrard has written a book with information about the temple and detailed photographs of his model: The Splendor Of The Temple: A Pictorial Guide to Herod’s Temple and Its Ceremonies. You can also view a picture gallery of the temple model here.

Related post: Behold the Temple!

Who’s Buried in Herod’s Tomb?

Yes, it’s a trick question. Archaeologists found coffins there containing the remains of most likely Herod’s wife and the wife of Archelaus, Herod’s son, but no Herod as of yet.

The bright red and elegant coffin of Herod, which was displayed last year, is now completely restored, along with a large tomb. Prof. Netzer ascertains that the red coffin is the burial coffin of Herod …

One big question remains: Where is Herod’s body? “We have only found a very small number of human bones at the site and have not been able to come to any conclusions,” Netzer said. “We have not yet finished digging and have only uncovered a small area.” But he does not believe the king’s remains will ever be recovered.

Todd Bolen summarizes the latest discoveries at Herod’s tomb over at

Related posts:
    • King Herod’s Tomb Found?
    • Is the Bible Relevant to Archaeology?

Views That Have Vanished: Israel in the 1960’s presents Views That Have Vanished — a collection of over 700 never-before-seen photographs taken in Israel and the surrounding areas in the 1960s.

In the early 1960s, David Bivin went to study at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Armed with a Yashica-D medium-format camera, Bivin traveled the land of Israel and the surrounding regions taking photographs of biblical sites, archaeological excavations, and everyday scenes. Today these photographs provide a window on a land that has changed radically, as a result of the construction of cities, the Six Day War, and the unification of Jerusalem … The collection includes photographs of Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Greece, and Rome.

The Photo CD is on sale for only $20 from now until October 31 (free shipping in the U.S.). Click here to see a sample of “then and now” shots from the collection.

Behold the Temple!

Justin Taylor wrote an excellent article on Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem complete with striking illustrations from the newly released ESV Study Bible. Here is just one snippet from this fascinating article.

Now to get a sense of how massive this was, take a look at the illustration below, showing the entire Temple Mount. According to many scholars, the corner closest to you is the “pinnacle of the Temple” where Satan tempted Jesus — a frighteningly high point that created a 450-foot drop down to the valley below (essentially equivalent to standing on top of a 45-story building and being dared to jump). It was probably near this place — in front of the Royal Stoa — that Jesus cleansed the Temple from moneychangers who were turning a place of prayer into a den of thieves.

Temple Mount | ESV Study Bible
                                    (Click image to enlarge)

World’s First Church?

Updates from Todd Bolen:
    ● Earliest Church in Jordan
    ● Just Another Byzantine Church

From the Christian Post:

Archaeologists unearthed in Jordan what they believe to be the world’s first church, according to a report Monday.

“We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD,” said Abdul Qader al-Hussan, the head of Jordan’s Rihab Center for Archaeological Studies, to The Jordan Times …

Hussan said his team has evidence to believe “this church sheltered the early Christians – the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ.” These 70 early Christians are said to have fled persecution in Jerusalem, particularly to Rihab, and founded churches in northern Jordan …

The underground church has been described as a cave with several stone seats believed to have been for the clergy and a circular shaped area, thought to be the apse – an area which usually contains the altar.

Archaeology Handbook: The Key Finds

Insight's Archaeology Handbook: The Key Finds and Why They Matter Chuck Swindoll’s Insight for Living ministry presents Insight’s Archaeology Handbook: The Key Finds and Why They Matter. This 120-page handbook highlights the top ten archaeological discoveries relating to the Bible. Complete with photographs, the book covers the Temple Mount, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Merneptah Stele, the Tel Dan Inscription, the Sea of Galilee boat and more. You can view a video about the book here.

HT: BiblePlaces Blog

Sounds of Ancient Music Exhibit

“Striking an ancient chord” from Haaretz:

Sounds, archaeological finds and scientific hypotheses all play major roles in an exhibition entitled “Sounds of Ancient Music,” which opened last week at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. Focusing on musical developments in ancient Sumeria, Babylon, Assyria and other cultures of the Ancient Near East, through the periods of the Kingdom of Judea, Greece and the Roman Empire, the exhibition features 137 objects – among them, rare musical instruments that have been preserved from antiquity, as well as full-sized replicas of instruments from those early eras …

Visitors to the exhibition are invited to listen to a trumpet being blown the way the researchers believe it sounded in the courtyard of the Temple. There are also earlier finds on hand – for example, a flute from the Chalcolithic period (the Copper Age, 4,300-3,300 B.C.E.), one of the oldest wind instruments discovered in all of the Near East …

Multimedia stations have been set up in the museum so as to enable visitors to virtually “play” such ancient instruments as the lyre, the flute and drums. Dozens of digital music players provide an audio guide in Hebrew and English with a highlight tour of the exhibition, peppered with the musical interludes based on the sounds of ancient instruments.

HT: BiblePlaces Blog

Is the Bible Relevant to Archaeology?

SourceFlix Productions has put together an excellent 3 minute video interviewing five biblical archaeologists on site in Israel. Here are some of their answers to the question: “Is the Bible relevant to archaeology?”

“You can’t do archaeology in Israel without the Bible.” (Dr. Aren Maier)

“Serious scholars, even if they’re not believers, even if they do not think this is a sacred text, still consider it to be history, because things match up so well … As it’s coming together, there isn’t anything to contradict or anything to make me wary of the testimony of Scripture.” (Dr. Steven Ortiz)

“I can’t ignore the Bible because the Bible is our main text relating to the periods that we excavate … I need some texts to refer to, and the Bible is, of course, the main one.” (Dr. Amihai Mazar)

“You cannot exclude the Bible from archaeology in this part of the country, in this particular period. You can, but then you are missing a very, very important tool … And you are missing not only this, then you are dealing with pots and pans and bones and dust. You lose the soul.” (Dr. Amnon Ben Tor)

(Note: Dr. Gabriel Barkay is also interviewed.)

There is more on the video. If you’ve got three minutes, I encourage you to visit SourceFlix and listen to these men talk on site about their work in archaeology and the Bible.

HT: BiblePlaces Blog

Museum Tablet Confirms Biblical Figure

The British Museum announced that the cuneiform inscription in a tablet dating from 595 B.C. confirms the existence of a person who until this time was known only through the biblical book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 39:3 identifies Nebo-Sarsekim as an official of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 587 B.C. The museum tablet records Nebo-Sarsekim as making a large gift of gold for the temple in Babylon during the same time period.

Irving Finkel, assistant keeper in the Department of the Middle East, said: “A mundane commercial transaction takes its place as a primary witness to one of the turning points in Old Testament history. This is a tablet that deserves to be famous.”

The discovery was made by Michael Jursa, associate professor at the University of Vienna, on a routine research trip to the museum. “It’s very exciting and very surprising,” he said. “Finding something like this tablet, where we see a person mentioned in the Bible making an everyday payment to the temple in Babylon and quoting the exact date, is quite extraordinary.”

Dr. Jursa told The Times that the British Museum tablet was so well preserved that it took him just a couple of minutes to decipher. The tablet was part of a large temple archive excavated in the 1870’s and acquired by the British Museum in 1920. Dr Jursa said: “But no one realised the connection. They didn’t really read it.”

HT: BiblePlaces Blog

The New 7 Wonders of the World

The New Seven Wonders of the World were announced today in Lisbon, Portugal. (Today’s date being, appropriately enough, 7/7/07). The New7Wonders were selected by worldwide popular vote from 21 candidates chosen from the top 77 different nominees. Here is the list unranked, as they are all considered equal:

The New 7 Wonders of the World

  • Chichen Itza – Mexico
  • Chichen Itza - Mexico

  • The Great Wall of China – China
  • The Great Wall of China - China

  • Machu Picchu – Peru
  • Machu Picchu - Peru

  • Petra – Jordan
  • Petra - Jordan

  • The Roman Colosseum – Italy
  • The Colosseum - Italy

  • The Statue of Christ Redeemer – Brazil
  • The Statue of Christ Redeemer - Brazil

  • The Taj Mahal – India
  • The Taj Mahal - India

And here are the remaining candidates that were not selected:

  • The Acropolis – Greece
  • The Acropolis - Greece

  • The Alhambra – Spain
  • The Alhambra - Spain

  • Angkor – Cambodia
  • Angkor - Cambodia

  • The Easter Island Statues – Chile
  • The Easter Island Statues - Chile

  • The Eiffel Tower – France
  • The Eiffel Tower - France

  • Hagia Sophia – Turkey
  • Hagia Sophia - Turkey

  • Kiyomizu Temple – Japan
  • Kiyomizu Temple - Japan

  • The Kremlin – St. Basil’s
  • The Kremlin - St. Basil’s

  • Neuschwanstein Castle – Germany
  • Neuschwanstein Castle - Germany

  • The Statue of Liberty – U.S.A.
  • The Statue of Liberty - U.S.A.

  • Stonehenge – United Kingdom
  • Stonehenge - United Kingdom

  • The Sydney Opera House – Australia
  • The Sydney Opera House - Australia

  • Timbuktu – Mali
  • Timbuktu - Mali

The Great Pyramids of Giza

  • The Great Pyramids of Giza – Egypt
  • The Pyramids of Giza - Egypt

  • The Great Pyramids of Giza were part of the final 21 candidates for the New7Wonders but were removed from competition out of respect for Egypt. They are the only remaining structures from the original list of Seven Wonders of the World. Thus, they will be listed together with the New7Wonders as the Eight Wonders of the World.

So, have you ever visited any of these sites? Which are your favorites?

Note: The New7Wonders Project is sponsored by The New7Wonders Foundation. The N7W Foundation was created in 2001 by Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber, with a mission to protect humankind’s heritage across the globe. Fifty percent of all net revenue raised by the New7Wonders Project is to be used to fund restoration efforts of important monuments around the world.

Additional Note: Here is the original list of Seven Wonders of the World:

  • The Colossus of Rhodes
  • The Great Pyramids of Giza
  • The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
  • The Pharos Lighthouse off Alexandria
  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

This traditional list was derived from various lists compiled by ancient Greek observers. The Pyramids of Giza are the only surviving structures from the original list. The rest no longer exist.