Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekend Roundup

The Israel Antiquities Authority has posted a 9-minute video tour of the City of David led by archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukrun.  Sites visited include Warren’s Shaft, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the Siloam Tunnel, the Pool of Siloam, and the recently discovered Herodian street.

The cover story of this month’s Smithsonian magazine is the tomb of Herod the Great at the Herodium.  If you don’t have access to the beautifully illustrated print edition, you can read it online here.

A review of last year’s work at Khirbet Qeiyafa (aka “Elah Fortress, Shaarayaim) is the subject of a two-part radio interview at Arutz-7.

Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that the government must establish a national park along part of the eastern wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in order to protect important antiquities from the expanding Muslim cemetery.

Five well-preserved Roman shipwrecks dating from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. have been found off the western Italian coast. 

The Biblical Archaeology Society has just produced a free 45-page e-book entitled, From Babylon to Baghdad: Ancient Iraq and the Modern West. The four articles are:

  • The Genesis of Genesis, by Victor Hurowitz
  • Backward Glance: Americans at Nippur, by Katharine Eugenia Jones
  • Europe Confronts Assyrian Art, by Mogens Trolle Larsen
  • Firsthand Report: Tracking Down the Looted Treasures of Iraq, by Matthew Bogdanos

Elad has asked the city of Jerusalem for permission to construct in the City of David “several apartment buildings, a 100-car-capacity parking lot, a synagogue, a kindergarten, roads and additional tourism infrastructure.”

HT: Joe Lauer and Explorator

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Monday, June 29, 2009

The Bones and Face of the Apostle Paul

According to the Vatican, the traditional “tomb of Paul” has been authenticated.  Pope Benedict XVI announced that “tiny fragments of bone . . . belong to someone who lived in the first or second century.”  “This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle St. Paul.” 

The skeptical would note that a lot of people lived in the first and second centuries.  However, these bones were within a tomb traditionally identified with Paul.  I wouldn’t call that proof, but it seems to point in the direction of authenticity.  At least, it is unlikely that somebody in the Middle Ages set this all up.  CNN has a report.

Additionally, what is believed to be the earliest portrait of Paul was unveiled.  The painting dates to the 4th century and shows the apostle with a thin face and a dark pointy beard.  You can see for yourself here.

Previous coverage of the excavation of Paul’s tomb was mentioned here and here.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pompeii’s Dead

A new book on Pompeii by classics scholar Mary Beard of Cambridge University is considered in a travel article in the Globe and Mail.  Beard believes that most of those who died were either slaves or those who intentionally chose to take their chances. 

Beard argues that Pompeii's population was smaller than previously thought, about 12,000, and that most escaped the volcanic eruption, taking the bulk of their possessions with them.

That would explain why relatively few corpses (1,100) and household effects were later found. Some citizens and slaves - half the population were slaves, many of them Jews brought from Israel after the Roman destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD - must have been stranded or chosen to stay. There were, after all, remains of 21 fresh bread loaves found in Pompeii's ovens, when excavations began in the mid-18th century.

Beard's book is too new to have changed the way local tour guides and historians treat the Pompeii saga, but for anyone contemplating a visit to one of the world's greatest archeological sites, it's a useful read.

The article continues with a look at the nearby ruins of Herculaneum and the modern city of Naples.  It ends with advice that I wish someone had given me: do not even think about driving a car in Naples.

Mt Vesuvius from south, tb111705547ddd Mount Vesuvius from the south

HT: Explorator

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