Monthly Archives: July 2009

The Dead Sea: A History of Change

The Dead Sea may be the most fascinating body of water on earth. It lies along the Great Rift (Afro-Arabian Rift), and is the lowest body of water on earth. A.D. Riddle and David Parker have created a relief map showing the level of the Dead Sea from 3500 B.C. to the present. The authors explain how they made the map at the site.

Visit the The Dead Sea - a History of Change.

Visit the The Dead Sea - a History of Change.

Click here to see the map. It takes a little while to get acquainted with all the information available on the page. Click the buttons on the right middle of the map page to run the animation. The extent of the water in the Dead Sea changes as the program runs through the centuries. Scroll over one of the names on the map and information appears in the blue box. This is a fascinating program.

Sinkholes on the western shore of the Dead Sea

Several news outlets, include our local Fox News station, ran reports on sinkholes that are developing along the western edge of the Dead Sea. Less water is flowing into the Dead Sea than in previous years. The Fox News report says,

As the Dead Sea recedes, fresh water comes to the dried-up areas in the form of rain, runoff and underground streams. The fresh water soaks into the ground, dissolving the salts that had been deposited there since long before there was a Sodom or a Gomorrah.

Once the salt dissolves, that opens up great underground caves — and the earth comes a-tumblin’ down.

Here is a photo showing one of the sinkholes filled with fresh water. The Dead Sea and the distant mountains of Moab are hidden in the summer haze.

Sinkhole along the western shore of Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sinkhole along the western shore of Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT on the map: Biblical Studies and Technological Tools.

Taking the family to the Explorations in Antiquity Center

We recently ran three posts about the Explorations in Antiquity Center, LaGrange, GA, here, here, and here. A couple of friends in Alabama were encouraged by the posts to take 9 of their grandchildren to visit the center. Olen and Jane have visited Israel and Jordan with me twice, and I think they have been in Turkey twice. So, they know what to look for, and they understood the value of such an experience as that provided by the Explorations in Antiquity Center for their grandchildren.

You may remember Jane from her Journeys With Jane blog. She described the experience in Georgia this way:

The experience was much more than we had even hoped for! It was a long (4 ½ hour) drive over there, included an overnight stay, and long drive back, but worth all the time involved. The exhibit itself is a bargain, and extremely educational for both adults and children. We are ready to go back whenever we have the opportunity. We are thankful for the safety during our travels on this brief “journey” and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the Bible or history of that era.

What was the best part?

The best part was the archaeological dig. We went to prepared areas and were instructed on archaeological techniques. Then we dug and sifted through our diggings to locate artifacts (some real and some replicas) which we would learn about later

She says they were honored to have Dr. James Fleming, the founder of the Center, explain about the artifacts they discovered on the dig, and relate them to different periods of history. Here, the kids listen intently as Dr. Fleming talks with them.

Dr. Fleming explains the archaeological artifacts to the kids.

Dr. Fleming explains the archaeological artifacts to the kids at the Explorations in Antiquity Center. Photo courtesy Journeys With Jane.

You might enjoy seeing the other photos Jane has posted on her blog here.

I have no connection with, or financial interest in, the Explorations in Antiquity Center, but I am delighted to promote such a wonderful teaching center. The link to the Center website is here.

Keeping up with the digs

Not many digs this year are keeping the unfortunate, non-participants, informed about what is going on. I miss seeing anything from Dan, Gezer, and Hazor. Nothing new has appeared on the Khirbet Qeiyafa page since the middle of May. Maybe they have fewer workers and time does not permit. Of course, we have had a few notes from our friends who are working there. We had an earlier report on the Mt Zion Excavation.

The one real exception has been the excavation at Tell es-Safi/Gath. Prof. Aren Maer has kept us updated and included some nice photos along the way. Check here and read back through the season.

A 2009 Post season wrap-up on Ashkelon is available here.

Dr. Bryant G. Wood has provided a report here on the season at Khirbet el-Maqatir, a site that he thinks may be biblical Ai.

The photo below shows the Palace of the Canaanite Kings of Hazor. The palace which dates from the 14th-13th centuries B.C. (Late Bronze period) is said to be of a ceremonial nature. Excavators are still looking for the administrative palace at some other place on the tel. The palace, like the rest of Hazor, was destroyed by fire. It has been restored in order to give visitors some real insight into the size and function of the building.

The Late Bronze Canaanite Palace at Hazor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Late Bronze Canaanite Palace at Hazor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Gordon Franz has posted an interesting interview with conservator Orna Cohen, the restorer of the palace, on his Life and Land Seminars page here. Orna was responsible for the restoration of the Roman Boat that many visitors to Israel have seen at Nof Ginosaur.

Video on the City of David

The Israel Antiquites Department has released a nice 9-minute video featuring archaeologists Ronnie Reich and Eli Shukron showing some of the highlights of the City of David excavation. The film features the following places:

  • The water system and Warren’s Shaft
  • The Canaanite pool channel
  • Gihon Spring
  • Hezekiah’s Tunnel
  • The Pool of Siloam
  • The Herodian Street
  • The drainage channel

The video runs a little slow on my computer, but if you give it a little time to load it is certainly worth the wait. The link is here.

The photo below shows part of two towers that served as a fortification for the protection of Gihon Spring as early as the Canaanite time.

Foundation of the fortification tower at Gihon Spring. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Foundation of the fortification towers at Gihon Spring. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The information sign at the site says,

It was here that a rock-cut pool and the remains of the bases of two towers were located. These towers, built of large stones, constituted part of the fortifications protecting the pool and the spring as early as the Middle Bronze Age (18-15 centuries BCE). The spring water flowed through the channel to a large pool, from which scores of people could draw water simultaneously. The surplus water flowed through a channel to another pool in the south of the city.

This work has been carried out by Reich and Shukron.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Life at an archaeological dig can be fun

Luke and Royce Chandler, a couple of friends from Tampa, are participating in the dig at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site above the Valley of Elah. It is also being called the Elah Fortress. The director of the dig, Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, thinks this is the site of Shaaraim (Joshua 15:36; 1 Samuel 17:52; 1 Chronicles 4:31).

Todd Bolen, of BiblePlaces.com has suggested the site should be identified with Ephes-dammim here, here, and here. Both places, Shaaraim and Ephes-dammim (1 Samuel 17:1) are associated with the conflict between David and Goliath. I will leave all of this for you to study as you wish.

Luke sent me a few photos to share with our readers.

Luke is standing in the "Philistia Gate" with his left foot in the Iron Age threshold. Azekah can be seen in the distance.
Luke is standing in the “Philistia Gate” with his left foot in the Iron Age threshold. Azekah can be seen in the distance.The Valley of Elah is to the left.

Luke reports an interesting incident that happened at the dig last Wednesday.

On this final day in the room, my father leaned his hand against the wall and accidentally caused a stone to fall out onto the ground. Behind where the stone had been, Royce saw a shiny turquoise circle. We called Guy Stiebel, the area archaeologist (also the chief excavator at Masada), to see it. When Guy saw the glass he took a keen interest. It turned out to be a complete ancient glass bottle that had been placed on its side into the wall during construction. Glassware such as this is common in burial locations, but very uncommon in this situation.

Read the full account here. Luke has several photos on his site. He received permission to include a photo of the glass bottle “in situ” (the place where it was found). He has given me permission to share it with our readers.

Glass bottle found in a wall at Khirbet Qeiyafa by Royce Chandler. Photo: Luke Chandler.

Glass bottle found in a wall at Khirbet Qeiyafa by Royce Chandler. Photo: Luke Chandler.

In 2008 one of the volunteers uncovered a large potsherd (broken piece of pottery) containing a Hebrew inscription. We are still awaiting a complete translation. We published a photo here.

We appreciate Luke sharing these experiences with us. By the time he and Royce get back home their wives will be expecting them to work in the flower beds!

You might also enjoy reading his account of walking through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (2 Kings 20:20), and seeing his video showing a stone from the Iron Age in the east wall of the Old City of Jerusalem, here.

Padfield’s visit to Explorations In Antiquity Center #2

We actually spent two days at the Explorations In Antiquity Center. We visited the Center on a Thursday morning, when they were not busy, so I could photograph the exhibits without other visitors getting in the way. We returned the following day to meet up with Gene and Sandy Taylor so we could have a guided tour of the Center and enjoy an authentic “Biblical meal” together.

House exterior at Explorations in Antiquity Center. Photo by David Padfield.

House exterior at Explorations In Antiquity Center. Photo by David Padfield.

Our guide for the three-hour tour was Lamar Hamric and he did an excellent job of explaining the exhibits and putting them in a Bible context. The first half of the tour took place in the outside exhibit area and the last half was in a dining area designed to look like a Roman period banquet hall.

In the meal room we enjoyed a four-course meal with fifteen different food items, including unleavened bread, fruit, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, vegetables and bitter herbs. The meal was supposed to represent a Jewish Passover meal, but instead of roasted lamb they served roasted chicken (which, by the way, was excellent).

In the center of the room is a Roman triclinium—a U-shaped table like the one our Lord probably used at the Last Supper (Luke 22:12). During the meal Mr. Hamric discussed the various Passover customs and the social aspects of sharing a meal in the ancient Near East. Hamric gave the best explanation of the events at the Last Supper I have ever heard.

Roman period triclinium. Photo by David Padfield. Click for larger image.

Roman period triclinium. Photo by David Padfield. Click for larger image.

If you are anywhere near LaGrange, Georgia I would highly recommend you visit the Center. In fact, take your whole Bible class! The tour and meal costs $30 per adult and is well worth it. You need to make reservations in advance. They can prepare the Biblical meal for a small group (a minimum of 10) or a larger group of up to 140 people. Reservations can be made by calling the Center at (706) 885-0363.

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David Padfield has visited the Bible Lands several times and is well qualified to evaluate the Explorations In Antiquity Center. Many of you have used his photographs and other materials that are made available through his web site (padfield.com).

The Explorations In Antiquity Center web site is available here.

David Padfield visits the Explorations In Antiquity Center at LaGrange, Georgia

If you have a desire to visit the lands of the Bible, but can’t afford the trip, I would suggest you visit the Explorations In Antiquity Center in LaGrange, Georgia. Recently my wife and I visited the Center for the first time and were amazed at the quality of the displays.

The Explorations In Antiquity Center is a living museum of life in Bible times. As you walk through the outdoor exhibits you will see realistic replicas of scenes from the Ancient Near East, such as water wells, vineyards, olive presses, mangers, and a sheepfold, watchtower and a threshing floor.

Sheepfold at Explorations in Antiquity Center. Photo by David Padfield.

Sheepfold at Explorations in Antiquity Center. Photo by David Padfield.

The tomb exhibit is especially worthy of notice. They have a replica of a typical Israelite tomb from around 700 to 500 BC, and a wonderful Herodian Period tomb like the one in which our Lord was probably buried. The replica was designed to show a cross section of the tomb (i.e., one of the walls is missing) and this makes it easier to explain the burial process in our Lord’s time upon this earth.

Cut-away replica of Herodian Period niche-type tomb. Photo by David Padfield.

Cut-away replica of Herodian Period niche-type tomb. Photo by David Padfield.

My favorite exhibit is the one that depicts life in an ancient village. They have built a typical four room Israelite house that will help you to understand the importance of a courtyard, the place of domestic animals in village life, how household storage was managed and the way the sleeping quarters were divided.

The center is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. You can walk through the displays at your leisure, or call in advance for a guided tour that includes a Biblical meal (more about that in our second post).

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David Padfield has visited the Bible Lands several times and is well qualified to evaluate the Explorations In Antiquity Center. Many of you have used his photographs and other materials that are made available through his web site (padfield.com).

The Explorations In Antiquity Center web site is available here.