Monthly Archives: May 2012

The looting of Sardis

Finally, Greece and Turkey can agree on something. They wish they had back the archaeological treasures that have been taken to other countries in the past. Greece wants back the Elgin marbles taken from Athens to the British Museum. Turkey wants back the treasures taken from Sardis in September 1922, the days of unrest during the fall of the Ottoman Empire. According to the article by John Leonard in Athens News, the port city of Smyrna (modern Izmir) was burning when John Horton sent crates of antiquities to the United States.

Numerous Turkish artifacts, including some real big ones (in size and importance), are displayed in the British Museum, and in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin.

It is a fascinating story with two sides. Read Leonard’s article here.

The photo below is one I made at Sardis earlier this month. The view is West over the ruins of the Temple of Artemis. One of the Ionic capitals is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The temple dates back to at least the 6th century B.C., but was destroyed in 499 B.C., and then underwent three rebuilding phases. The columns seen here date to the third rebuilding phase (ca. A.D. 150). Ruins of a restored Byzantine church from the fourth century A.D. may be seen in the left corner of the photo.

Sardis. Temple of Artemis. View West. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sardis. View west over the Temple of Artemis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sardis is mentioned in the Bible only in Revelation (Apocalypse) 1:11 and 3:1-6.

saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”  (Revelation 1:11 ESV)

Another post about efforts to retrieve artifacts from foreign museums may be read here.

HT: Jack Sasson

Additional Gezer boundary stone discovered

Eric Mitchell and Jason Zan report the discovery of a “previously undiscovered bilingual inscription” at Gezer, and the rediscovery of  an inscription lost for more than a century.

An archaeological survey led by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary of Fort Worth, Texas, discovered a previously undiscovered bilingual inscription this week at the ancient site of Tel Gezer, Israel. Gezer, a biblical city, was situated on the border between the Philistine and Israelite territories guarding the route to Jerusalem. The city was given as a dowry to the daughter of Pharaoh, who married king Solomon. Gezer is well known in the later Maccabean period for its boundary stones with inscriptions in both Hebrew and Greek. In addition to the new inscription, the Southwestern Seminary survey team rediscovered a previously known inscription that had been lost to the archaeological community for more than a century.

The boundary inscriptions demonstrate the period of conflict between the Seleucids and Maccabees. They show that the city had agricultural land around it and that the Jewish occupants were concerned over keeping their fields according to Jewish law. These discoveries are significant since the boundary stones have been frequently sought, but with long time frames between new discoveries. According to the scholarship of Ronnie Reich, of the University of Haifa, there are 12 known and published Gezer boundary stones dating to the Maccabean period. These bilingual inscriptions in outcrops of limestone bedrock ring the ancient city of Gezer on the South, East and Northeast. Many of these are two line inscriptions reading “Region of Gezer” on one line in Hebrew and “Belonging to Alkios” on the second line in Greek.

The article may be read in its entirety here.

According to the article, there are now 13 known boundary inscriptions from Gezer.

On my recent tour in the Steps of Paul and John, we visited the Istanbul Archaeological Museum where one of these boundary stones is displayed. It is turned so that the Greek letters “Alkio” are visible on the bottom. We would expect the missing letter to be the “s” or “u“. The line at the top, but upside down, is the Aramaic word for boundary or region, and the first letter of Gezer (GZR). Todd Bolen includes a photo here of one of the inscriptions still in place at Gezer.

Gezer Boundary Stone. Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Gezer Boundary Stone. Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Biblical references to Gezer include the following:

  • The king of Gezer fought against Joshua and the Israelites during the conquest (Joshua 10:33; 12:12).
  • Gezer was allotted to Ephraim (Joshua 16:3).
  • Gezer became a city of the Levites (Joshua 21:21). It was designated as a city of refuge (1 Chronicles 6:67).
  • Israel failed to drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer (Joshua 16:10; Judges 1:29).
  • By the time of David the Philistine seem to be living at Gezer (2 Samuel 5:25; 1 Chronicles 14:16; 20:4).
  • Pharaoh, king of Egypt, captured Gezer, burned it, and gave it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife (1 Kings 9:16).
  • Solomon (re)built the cities of Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer (1 Kings 9:15-17).

The following aerial photograph of Gezer was made in December, 2009.

Gezer Aerial View. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Bible Places Blog.

Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. (Memorial Day History)

When I was a kid, growing up in the American South, the day we now call Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. Families went to the local cemeteries to clean up the grave sites of relatives and leave fresh flowers. If it was known that there were no family members left in the community, those graves also were cleaned. I don’t recall when I first began to hear, or think, that the day was intended to honor those fallen in war.

Like many holidays, the original purpose has changed. Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Christmas, Easter, and other holidays, have become times for picnics, trips, vacations, and assorted non-related practices. Every holiday has become a time for stores to have sales.

I like the idea of Memorial Day. I am pleased to join in the remembrance of troops fallen in battle, and all of the dead who have played a significant role in my life.

The photo below is one I made at the funeral of a long-time friend, earlier this year.

Military Honor Guard Funeral of B. R. Baker. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Military Honor Guard Service for Barney Ross Baker, SSGT, U.S. Army (Retired), Tampa, Florida, March 31, 2012. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The beginning comments are repeated from 2010 and 2011.

The Man of Galilee available in Kindle format for 99¢

DeWard Publishing Company announces today that Atticus G. Haygood’s The Man of Galilee in available in Kindle format for 99¢. This, in my judgment, is one of the finest books written, apart from the Bible, to direct people to a proper understanding of Jesus..

The Man of Galilee by Atticus G. Haygood.
I don’t know how long it will be available for this incredibly low price, but I suggest you get it now from this link.

Eisenbrauns 2012 Mug announced

Scholarly book publisher Eisenbrauns announces the Eisenbrauns 2012 Mug.

Eisenbrauns 2012 Mug

Eisenbrauns 2012 Mug
A Hittite Proverb

Eisenbrauns, Forthcoming June 2012
14 ounces, Hittite and English
Ceramic
Your Price: $7.50
www.eisenbrauns.com/item/EISMUG2012

If you want to know what the Hittite proverb says, click on the link to Eisenbrauns.

Just something on the lighter side for you to enjoy while I make my way across the Atlantic.

Black Sea coastal town of Sinop

We drove the 100 miles from Samsun to Sinop today. The distance on the road map is deceptive. about one half of the distance is in serious mountain territory. The drive took three hours each way. We had a 6:15 p.m. flight from Samsun to Istanbul, so our time was limited. The drive was educational and helped us to understand some things we had only read about before.

I don’t have the time to explain the reasons for going to this town, except to say that it is in the region of the ancient Roman province of Pontus (1 Peter 1:1).

Later I hope to show you some photos and explain the importance of the town to the study of Peter’s epistles.

Homeward bound tomorrow after a great (nearly) four weeks in Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus.

Pontus and Peter’s Epistles

Pontus is mentioned only three times in the New Testament.

  • Devout Jews were present in Jerusalem from Pontus on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9). Some of these individuals who accepted the message of Peter on Pentecost might later have been the recipients of his letters.
  • Aquila was a native of Pontus. He had moved to Rome, but being ordered to leave by the Emperor Claudius he came to Corinth where he, along with his wife Priscilla, met Paul (Acts 18:2).
  • Peter addressed his epistles to Christians residing in five different Roman provinces, including Pontus.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen (1 Peter 1:1 NAU)

Scholars suggest that the order of the Roman provinces is indicative of the order in which Peter’s epistle was delivered by the messenger. Colin Hemer argues for Amasus (Amisos) as the starting point on the Black Sea coast for the messenger. Amisos is now identified with the Turkish city of Samsun, a prosperous town of over half a million inhabitants (“The Address of 1 Peter.” Expository Times, 89:239-243). Mark Wilson agrees (Bibical Turkey, 338).

The photo below was made from the harbor of Samsun. The hill in the distance marks the ancient acropolis of Amisos.

Harbor at Samsun with acropolis of ancient Amisos. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Harbor at Samsun with acropolis of ancient Amiisos, Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Even the Romans brought their armies to this region of Asia Minor through the ancient port city of Amisos. This was much easier than traveling overland.

Amisos is mentioned under the same Sampsames in the Apocrypha book of 1 Maccabees 15:23 (RSV).

Tomorrow we hope to visit the Pontic city of Sinop (Sinope), about 100 miles west of Amisos.