Saturday, August 08, 2009

Israel to Register Antiquities Collectors

From a press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority:

The Israel Antiquities Authority is embarking on a first of its kind campaign to register the antiquities collections that are held by the general public in Israel. An individual that is listed in the state’s databank as the owner of an antiquities collection will be recognized by the state as a “collector of antiquities”.

Israel is one of the world’s richest countries in archaeological artifacts. As such, over the years private individuals have discovered thousands of archaeological finds during the course of development work, agricultural work, etc.

In 2002 the legal status of a collector of antiquities in Israel was regulated, which is defined as “one who collects antiquities otherwise than for the purpose of trading therein”. The law defines an antiquities collection as: “an assemblage of fifteen antiquities or more”.

It is estimated that there are at least 100,000 people in Israel who can be considered by definition “collectors of antiquities”, but only several hundred of them are recognized by the state.

In February 2009 regulations took effect that will enable enforcing the law which was passed in 2002. The IAA is now calling on the public to comply in accordance with the law and report any antiquities they possess. An individual doing so will be granted the status of collector according to law and will be issued a certificate. The antiquities will be registered as the property of the collector and anyone who wishes to sell the collection they own can receive permission from the IAA to do so. Thus on the one hand, the collector can sell the antiquities he possesses, and on the other, the state will know to whom the object was transferred. 

Amir Ganor, in charge of the campaign on behalf of the IAA, explains that, “The country’s antiquities are a national, cultural and historical asset of utmost importance. We call on members of the public that hold pieces of history to assist us in gathering the archaeological information, which is part of the whole puzzle that makes up our past. Without parts of the puzzle it is difficult to know what the complete picture is exactly. The campaign is likely to result in a “flood” of important archaeological discoveries that are today hidden behind closed doors. The reporting will not affect adversely the public’s ownership of the items and the goal of the campaign is to document the national treasures and enable the IAA to keep proper track of them. Individuals who wish to hand over the inventory they possess to the IAA can do so, and whoever is interested can receive an appraisal regarding the historical importance of the items they own”.

The release continues here.

HT: Joe Lauer

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Volunteer Opportunity at Philistine Gath

Prof. Aren Maeir, archaeologist directing the excavations of Philistine Gath, mentions that there are still openings for this summer’s excavation.  He adds, “Remember - talking about the ANE, archaeology and the Bible, without actually experiencing excavations - is like a Bedouin who lives in the Sahara learning to swim thru a correspondence course...”  He writes:

EXCAVATION AND FIELDSCHOOL OPPORTUNITY IN ISRAEL
FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF DAVID AND GOLIATH: DIG PHILISTINE GATH - THE TELL ES-SAFI/GATH ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT

JULY 5 – 31, 2009

THE SITE
Tell es-Safi/Gath (Hebrew Tel Tsafit), Israel, is a commanding mound located on the border between the Judean foothills (the Shephelah) and the coastal plain (Philistia), approximately halfway between Jerusalem and Ashkelon. At about 100 acres in size, it is one of the largest and most important pre-Classical period archaeological sites in Israel. Tell es-Safi is identified as Canaanite and Philistine Gath (known from the Bible as the home of Goliath and Achish) and Crusader Blanche Garde. The site was inhabited continuously from the Chalcolithic period (5th millennium BCE) until 1948 CE.

THE PROGRAM
All able and willing people between 16 and 80 are invited to join us for a unique and exciting experience uncovering the history and culture of the Holy Land. In addition to participating in all facets of the excavation process, participants will be provided with an opportunity to learn cutting-edge techniques of field archaeology, gain experience in archaeological science applications (with a unique program in inter-disciplinary archaeological science in the field), hear lectures about the archaeology and history of the region and related issues, and go on field trips to nearby sites of historical/archaeological and/or contemporary interest. Participants will join a young, vivacious team comprised of staff, students and volunteers from Israel and the world-over. Students can earn either 3 or 6 university credits through Bar-Ilan University, the second largest university in Israel. Accommodations (including kosher food) will be provided at idyllic Kibbutz Revadim, a short drive from the site. Rooms (4-6 per room; single and double rooms available at extra charge) are air-conditioned and there will is to the Kibbutz pool. And don't forget the weekly, Thursday evening, Bar-B-Q!

WORKDAY (more or less)
6am to 1 pm excavation; Afternoon: various excavation related processes (such as pottery reading) and occasional tours; Evenings: occasional lectures. We work Sunday afternoon to Friday mid-day.

You can get more details here, and the registration form here (pdf).

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Friday, March 27, 2009

How To Learn Biblical Hebrew and Greek

If you’ve thought about learning biblical Hebrew or Greek—or really learning it after seminary, you should consider the Biblical Language Center in Israel.  The uniqueness of this program is that you learn Hebrew (or Greek) as a living language.  That means that you learn it by living it. 

BLC’s goal is for students to fluidly read the Bible with a natural and instant comprehension. Therefore, BLC immersion courses use living language methods in teaching Biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek. This means that more than 90% of classroom time is filled with the spoken biblical language. The result is an internalization of the languages which speeds the pace of learning and improves the reading of the biblical text.

You can read more about it on their website, noting especially the methodology description.  I have not had the privilege of participating, but friends who have give the highest recommendation.

Course offerings this summer:

Greek

Beginning Koine Greek (4 weeks):
“Introduction to the Parables of Jesus”
June 7-July 3, 2009

Intermediate Koine Greek (2 weeks):
“More Parables, Papyri, and Aesop’s Fables”
July 5-17, 2009

Hebrew

Beginning Biblical Hebrew (4 weeks):
“Jonah”
June 21-July 17, 2009

Intermediate Biblical Hebrew (2 weeks):
“Ruth the Moabitess: Ruth 1-4, Gen 19, Num 25”
June 21-July 3, 2009

Intermediate Biblical Hebrew (2 weeks):
“Samson, Shfelah, and Philistines, Judges 13-16”
July 5-17, 2009

Intermediate Biblical Hebrew (2 weeks):
“In the Beginning: Genesis 1-3”
July 19-31, 2009

Intermediate Biblical Hebrew (2 weeks):
“Psalms: Selected Coronation, Ascent and Canaanite Psalms”
July 19-31, 2009

All courses are offered in a quiet community near Jerusalem.  You can learn more about it at www.biblicalulpan.org.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hanukkah Re-creation in Hasmonean Village

Hanukkah begins at sundown tonight.  The Washington Post reports on a city in Israel that has re-created the story.

Dressed in a tunic and brandishing a sword, Zohar Baram leaps around the makeshift stage in the re-created Israeli village of Kfar Hashmonaim as dozens of children follow the action.

"I am the old Mattathias, and I have seen a lot in my life," he says in a booming voice. "The Greeks have forbidden us from reading the Torah and observing the Sabbath. . . . We are Jews, and we will always be Jews. Whoever is for God, follow me!"

What follows is a tale of military triumph and a miraculous supply of oil, a story told the world over that gains magic when recounted in the land where it took place. The reenactment of the Hanukkah story, which commemorates the time when a small band of Jews, the Hasmoneans, fought the Greeks for the right to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem, is only part of a visit to Baram's Hasmonean village, which tries to re-create life during that period, more than 2,000 years ago.

At the village, about halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, children can participate in several activities appropriate to Hanukkah. In one area they harvest olives from a tree and crush them into oil using an ancient olive press. In another they make mosaics, and in a third they make copies of ancient coins.

You can read the rest here.

HT: Paleojudaica

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Autumn Nights in the Old City of Jerusalem

If you want to avoid the crowds and get a different glimpse of Jerusalem, there are some great opportunities in the Old City for the next two weeks.  From the JPost:

After putting their heads together, the Jerusalem Development Authority, the municipal Tourism Authority, the Tourism Ministry and the municipal company Ariel came up with a brilliant move called Autumn Nights in the Old City. Successful beyond their wildest dreams, it consists of special (free) Monday and Thursday programs offered from the beginning of September until the end of October. Among the goodies are two light-hearted guided tours, evening performances of vastly diverse music programs and discounted museums kept open until evening.

The article has lots of details of the sites that are open and the costs.  If you like to take photographs, I’d recommend the Ramparts Walk and the Tower of David.

Temple Mount southwestern corner at night, tb031505525ddd
Temple Mount and excavations from southwest

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Extreme Israel

If you’ve already been to Israel and you’re young (at least in spirit), you might consider doing something “extreme” on your next visit.  With tourism booming again, there are more and more opportunities for those who don’t know what they’re doing.  The New York Times recently had an article on a variety of options for thrill-seekers, including rappelling, zip-lining, hiking, skydiving, mountain biking, and snuba-ing.  Who wants to go look at an old pile of rocks with so many other possibilities?

Rappelling at Qumran, tb051106052

Rappelling near Qumran

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bike Ride Mission to Israel

Arutz-7 reports on an up-coming bike ride in Israel:

From September 21-27, 2008, athletic tourists will be able to visit and tour the country in a unique style: Bicycling their way through the upper Galilee and the Golan Heights on the Jewish National Fund’s first annual Bike Ride Mission to Israel.

"Participants will traverse over 200 miles of breathtaking terrain," the JNF literature announces, "during four days of fully supported riding (all ability levels are welcome), and will be rewarded with exclusive accommodations at the 5-star Mitzpe Hayamim Hotel and Spa and The Carmel Forest Spa Resort."

The bicycle tours will include stops in towns, army bases, and JNF sites such as security bypass roads, forests, and nature reserves.  The participants will also hear talks from public officials and IDF officers, will learn about Israel's water problems and the JNF's efforts and successes in solving them, and will take part in rafting and wine-tasting activities.

The cost: $3,600 per rider (double occupancy), not including airfare. Participants can either bring their own bicycle or rent one here....

For more information on the bike mission, visit www.jnf.org/bikeisrael.

Bicyclist on road of patriarchs, tb111106873

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Monday, April 07, 2008

New Blog: Tel Dan Excavations

The first excavation in Israel to have a running blog is the The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog.  But it's been several years and no one else seems to have caught on.  Until now.  The Tel Dan Excavations has started a new blog.  At this point, the blog looks more like a website, with static pages but not daily updates.  Presumably, with the start of the season this summer, they'll keep us regularly informed of the progress. 

Permit me one comment on the recruiting banner, as they encourage volunteers to sign up.  The slogan says, on top of the graphic: "The 2008 season begins June 22!  Will you find the missing pieces of the David inscription?  Mail your volunteer application soon."  That's certainly a tantalizing suggestion.  Even though it's been 14-15 years since the three fragments were found, there certainly could be more.  And if more are discovered, you can bet that many of the scholarly theories about the Tel Dan Inscription (TDI) will be cast aside.  In fact, here's something that I had not picked up on until research last week.  Perhaps you know that the TDI was probably written by the Aramean king Hazael and it mentions his killing of King Jehoram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah.  This appears to contradict 2 Kings 9 which says that Jehu, not Hazael, killed these two kings.  But here's what I didn't realize: the contradiction entirely hangs on two hypothesized words and letters in the TDI (they are reconstructed because the fragment breaks off at these points).  In other words, we only know that it says "I killed Jehoram" because scholars hypothesized the words "I killed."  Of Ahaziah, it says "killed Ahaziah," but the "I" is reconstructed.  Whether this is a reasonable or unreasonable guess, it is only a guess.  I sure hope they find more fragments.  Maybe it'll be you.

Dan marketplace and Iron Age gate, tb052907121 
Iron Age gate and plaza at Dan

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Speak Biblical Hebrew: A Program in Israel

I've not participated in this, but I know many who have and they rave about it:

At first glance the ulpan at Kibbutz Tzova, about 20 minutes west of Jerusalem, may seem no different than any other. But within a couple of minutes of listening to the exchange between students and teachers, it becomes clear that there is something fishy about the Hebrew spoken here.

Welcome to the Biblical Ulpan, a framework that allows students to study biblical Hebrew in its original context. In place of the conventional grammar-driven approach to Hebrew study that often includes memorizing elusive rules and arcane verb charts, biblical Hebrew is the medium through which the language is taught here to Christian and Jewish students.

"Studying a text needs the 'code' [the language] and the culture, history and geography in order to be most fully understood," explains Randall Buth, who founded the ulpan 10 years ago.

"Students may be throwing a plastic sheep in the class after hearing a command like 'hashlech et hakeves el hatalmid sham' [Throw the sheep to the student over there], without realizing that the verb is part of the hif'il pattern [causative grammatical form]," he says. "When they finally know a few verbs or forms from these categories they will receive a presentation that organizes the forms into a system. The binyan system that is dreaded by many a beginning student is cut down to size and more easily understood."

Buth, who holds a doctorate in Semitic languages from UCLA, has also studied theoretical linguistics. He worked for the United Bible Societies in Africa for 20 years supervising Bible translation projects into local languages.

See the JPost article for the rest.  You can get more details at the program's website at http://www.biblicalulpan.org/

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Study Trip in Jordan

If you are looking for a serious study tour of biblical and historic sites in Jordan, you can do no better than the trip this June with Dr. Ginger Caessens.  I was on a similar trip some years ago and I highly recommend it.  This is particularly ideal for those who 1) have already been to Israel; 2) are not looking for a "tourist" trip, but really want to learn; 3) are in reasonably good shape.  You can even get credit to transfer back to grad school, college, or seminary.  Here are the details from the University of the Holy Land website:

Historical Geography of Jordan

Credits - 2

A 14-day Intensive Study Tour. Nine days of field studies will immerse the student in the rich history of the area. Regions visited include Ammon, Gilead, the Madeba Plateau, Moab and Edom. Many Biblical events transpired in this region, where the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh settled. Moses died in Transjordan and the judges and prophets including Elijah, John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul, all ministered in the area, which played a crucial role in international trade during Old and New Testament times.

Instructor: G. Caessens, Ph.D. June 2-16, 2008.

For information on cost and accommodation, contact the UHL office.

This is a short-term intensive course. Register now. Limited enrollment! (Minimum enrollment: 15; maximum: 22)

Dr. Caessens is also leading 21-day study trips of Israel in May and July.

Gerasa oval plaza from above, tb060603041sr
Modern Jerash - biblical Gerasa

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Excavation Opportunities in 2008

If this is your summer to volunteer on an archaeological excavation, then a great resource is FindADig.com from the Biblical Archaeology Society.  Many digs around Israel and in other countries are listed, with details on dates, cost, and requirements.  There are many good options, but if pressed my top recommendations would be Hazor, Gezer, and Gath.  If you don't have much money or time, check out the Temple Mount sifting operation.  Most excavations are summer projects, but you can dig on Mount Zion in March.

Gezer excavations, tb062806949
Excavations at Gezer, June 2006

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

DigMountZion.com

The Mount Zion excavation project has just launched an official website, complete with an application for joining in one or more weeks of the March 2008 dig.  You can read about the dig staff, see who is sponsoring the project, read the history of excavations, discover what they found last season, but you'll have to wait for the photo gallery.  As I've said before, opportunities for volunteers to excavate in Jerusalem are rare and this is a great opportunity because of 1) the choice location; 2) the ideal time of year; 3) the knowledgeable directors; 4) the weekly field trip and lectures, and 5) the choice location.

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