Category Archives: Archaeology

Prof. Yossi Garfinkel speaks in Tampa

Prof. Yossi Garfinkel speaks at Florida College

Prof. Yossi Garfinkel speaks at Florida College

Yosef Garfinkel is head of the Berman Center for Biblical Archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has been involved in numerous archaeological excavations in Israel. Last year he began the fourth archaeological excavation at Lachish. Prior to that he directed the dig at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site overlooking the Elah Valley where David fought Goliath, from 2007 to 2013.

Garfinkel identifies Khirbet Qeiyafa as Biblical Shaaraim (Joshua 15:36; 1 Samuel 17:52; 1 Chronicles 4:31). He identifies two large buildings dating to the Iron Age at Khirbet Qeiyafa as a palace of David and a royal storeroom. We reported on this identification with photos here.

I think it is still impossible to say if Garfinkel’s identifications are correct, but I can say that his presentation will be interesting and enlightening. I have heard him speak at the Society of Biblical Literature annual meetings.

Florida College — Temple Terrace, FL
Puckett Auditorium
Tuesday, November 18 — 7:30 p.m.

This presentation is part of the Life Enrichment program at Florida College. These programs are intended primarily for students, faculty and staff of Florida College, but there should be some seats available for visitors who are interested in the subject.

Jesus taught the crowds from a boat

What kind of boat did Jesus sit in when he spoke parables to the multitudes gathered around the cove of the sower?

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.  (Matthew 13:1-2 ESV)

We can not know details about the boat mentioned in this text. Only one boat from the Roman period has been discovered in the Sea of Galilee.

A boat that belonged to the Roman period (dated from the first century B.C. to the first century A.D.) was discovered buried in the mud on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in January, 1986, by two members of the Kibbutz Ginosar. Two years of drought made possible the discovery. The discovery was made south of the Kibutz and north of the Migdal, the traditional site of Magdala (or Tarichea in Greek).

The boat measures 26.90 x 7.55 feet. Shelly Wachsmann, nautical archaeologist for the Israel Antiquities Authority and Museums, says,

The boat was most likely used for fishing and transport of people and cargo. It could have been sailed, or rowed by a crew consisting of four oarsmen and a helmsman. – (An Ancient Boat Discovered in the Sea of Galilee, a brochure once sold at the Museum.)

The boat is now displayed in the Yigal Allon Centre at Kibbutz Ginosar.

The Roman boat discovered in the Sea of Galilee in 1986. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Roman boat discovered in the Sea of Galilee in 1986. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo below shows the side view of the boat. The display on the wall informs us that,

The boat is made mostly of oak and cedar, together with other types of wood, some recycled from disused boats. Thus far, laboratory tests have found eleven types of wood in the boat. Some were used to build the hull and others were added in smaller pieces later, to replace missing parts or repair faulty ones. The result is an intricate wooden patchwork vessel.

Twelve, not eleven, trees are shown on the display: Cedar, Tabor Oak, Christ Thorn, Carob, Aleppo Pine, Hawthorn, Plane Tree, Atlantic Terebinth, Sycomore, Laurel, Willow, and Judas Tree.

The Roman boat displayed in the Yigal Allon Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Roman boat displayed in the Yigal Allon Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A pottery lamp was found inside the overturned boat, and a cooking pot was found outside the boat near the prow. These vessels, along with some nails from the boat, are displayed at the museum.

Pottery found in association with the boat, and nails from the boat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Pottery found in association with the boat, and nails from the boat. Photo by FJ.

At first the boat was placed in a tank in a temporary building while the conservation took place. It is now beautifully displayed in the Yigal Allon Centre, a museum at Kibbutz Ginosar on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Entrance to the Yigal Allon Center where the Roman boat is displayed. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Entrance to the Yigal Allon Centre where the Roman boat is displayed. Photo by FJ.

The boat used by Jesus and the disciples would have been larger (John 6:22; Mark 4:38). But on some occasions Jesus had a boat standing ready for Him (Mark 3:9). Perhaps one like this one.

The story of the discovery of the boat is told by Shelly Wachsmann in the Biblical Archaeology Review (14:05; Sept/Oct 1988). This little tidbit might be of interest here:

On Sunday [February 9, 1986], we were startled to read newspaper reports of a wreck from Jesus’ time that had been discovered in the Sea of Galilee. Somehow the news had leaked. By Monday the press was writing in front page stories about the discovery of the “boat of Jesus.”

The media hype was soon overwhelming. The Ministry of Tourism actively promoted the “Jesus connection” in the hope of drawing pilgrims to Israel. In Tiberias, Ultra-Orthodox Jews, fearful that excavation of the boat would promote Christian missionary work, demonstrated against it.

During the Jewish War in Galilee the Roman Emperor Vespasian made headquarters in Tarichea (= Magdala) for a period of time. The Romans engaged the Jews in a fierce naval battle. The outcome was not good for the local residents. I suggest you consult Josephus’ Wars of the Jews, book 3, for details. Notice this brief account of the outcome.

529 but as many of these were repulsed when they were getting ashore, they were killed by the arrows upon the lake; and the Romans leaped out of their vessels, and killed a great many more upon the land: one might then see the lake all bloody, and full of dead bodies, for not one of them escaped. 530 And a terrible stink, and a very sad sight there was on the following days over that country; for as for the shores, they were full of shipwrecks, and of dead bodies all swelled; and as the dead bodies were inflamed by the sun, and putrefied, they corrupted the air, insomuch that the misery was not only the object of pity to the Jews, but to those who hated them and had been the authors of that misery. 531 This was the upshot of the naval battle. The number of the slain, including those who were killed in the city before, was six thousand and five hundred. (Jewish Wars 3:529-531)

The Ginosar about which we speak is on the shore of the region called the land of Gennesaret in the Gospels (Matthew 14:34; Mark 6:53). The lake is called the lake of Gennesaret in Luke 5:1.

A mosaic with a similar boat had been found earlier at nearby Magdala. The original has been displayed at Capernaum for many years, but it was in poor condition the last time I saw it there. A modern replica, pictured below, may be seen in the Yigal Allon Centre.

Replica of a mosaic discovered at Magdala. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Replica of a mosaic discovered at Magdala. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Boats played an important role in life around the Sea of Galilee in the time of Jesus. They were important in His ministry as well.

Restoration in the Protestant Cemetery in Jerusalem

A little more than a year ago we wrote a few posts about the Protestant Cemetery in Jerusalem where several well know persons are buried. These include Horatio Spafford, the author of “It is Well With My Soul,” and several famous archaeologists. See here. Use the search box to locate more articles about the cemetery.

We also reported on the vandalism of the cemetery here. In most instances this consisted of crosses being broken from their base.

The Jerusalem University College, on whose campus the cemetery is situated, reports now that the Society for the Preservation and Restoration of Israel Heritage Sites recently restored the grave markers. See their Facebook page with more photos here.

Restoring damaged tomb stones in the Protestant Cemetery.

Restoring damaged tomb stones in the Protestant Cemetery.

HT: Rebekah Dutton

Halley’s Bible Handbook on sale today

Halley’s Bible Handbook with the New International Version is available for a limited time in Kindle format for $3.99. This is the completely revised and expanded 25th edition of this famous book. I notice that the sections on archaeology and geography have been revised by Carl G. Rasmussen.

This is one of the first books I owned. It can be helpful to everyone, especially those who do not have access to a larger library. It is the sort of book you can take with you to Bible classes to be able to have a little information about a lot of topics.

Babylon – index of articles

The Babylonian Empire was relatively short lived (626–539 B.C.), but it played a large role in biblical history. We have written about all of the Babylonian kings mentioned in the Bible. In this post I am pulling together an index collection of these articles to make it easy for one studying about the Babylonian captivity to locate all of them in one convenient place.

Dragon made of chrome brick on the Ishtar Gate. (Museum of the Ancient Near East, Berlin). The dragon is a composite creature with the head of a fire-spewing dragon, body and tail of a serpent, front feet of a feline, and back feet of a bird. This provides a good illustration of the apocalyptic language found in the Old Testament prophets. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The dragon made of chrome brick on the Ishtar Gate from ancient Babylon was an emblem of Marduk (Museum of the Ancient Near East, Berlin). The dragon is a composite creature with the head of a fire-spewing dragon, body and tail of a serpent, front feet of a feline, and back feet of a bird. This provides a good illustration of the apocalyptic imagery found in the Old Testament prophets and the book of Revelation. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The articles below, especially those with an * after the title, are considered minor references. They still might provide some helpful material and photos for the Bible student and teacher.

I trust this list will be helpful to students and teachers alike.

In the future, when I write something about Babylon I will try to remember to include a link in this index. I would appreciate learning if you find this index helpful.

Eric Cline – 1177 BC – Live Stream

The Explorers Club — New York City
Public Lecture Series featuring Eric Cline

Event open to: Public — Date: November 03, 2014
Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture
Location: NYC Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

This event will be streamed live. Please visit our Live Stream page here at 7pm on the evening of the event to view the lecture for free.

Here is a brief summary of the lecture provided by The Explorers Club.

For more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age, from about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex international world in which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all interacted, creating a cosmopolitan and globalized world-system such as has only rarely been seen before the current day. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, as it did after centuries of cultural and technological evolution, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms, that had taken centuries to evolve, collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages.

It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Blame for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually laid squarely at the feet of the so-called Sea Peoples, known to us from the records of the Egyptian pharaohs Merneptah and Ramses III. However, as was the case with the fall of the Roman Empire, the end of the Bronze Age empires in this region was not the result of a single invasion, but of multiple causes. The Sea Peoples may well have been responsible for some of the destruction that occurred at the end of the Late Bronze Age, but it is much more likely that a concatenation of events, both human and natural — including earthquake storms, droughts, rebellions, and systems collapse — coalesced to create a “perfect storm” that brought the age to an end.

For more information about Dr. Cline, see here.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Repairs made during the time of Hadrian

Hadrian has been in the news this week because of the recently discovered inscription found north of Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. In the Israel Museum there is an inscription that reads,

The August emperor Caesar Trajan Hadrian made [the aqueduct] by [means of] the unit of the Tenth Legion Fretensis.

Inscription says Hadrian made the aqueduct. Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Inscription says Hadrian made the aqueduct. Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This inscription was taken from the aqueduct at Caesarea Maritima and dates to near the time of Hadrian’s visit about A.D. 130. The accompanying sign in the Israel Museum says,

other dedicatory inscriptions discovered on the aqueduct indicate that additional work was conducted by soldiers of the Second, Sixth, and Tenth Legions throughout the Roman Period.

A couple of years ago I learned from Carl Rasmussen that a portion of the famous Caesarea aqueduct could be seen about 3 miles from Caesarea near the town of Bet Hannanya. (See his directions and photos here.) The photo below shows a portion of the aqueduct at that place.

Aqueduct at Bet Hannanya. The inscription in our next photo is visible at the far left of the photo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

Aqueduct at Bet Hannanya. The inscription in our next photo is visible at the left of this photo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The inscription in this aqueduct is the same as the one on display in the Israel Museum.

Inscription mentioning Hadrian at Bet Hannanya. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Inscription mentioning Hadrian at Bet Hannanya. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Meanwhile, at Caesarea Maritima, visitors may see the high-level aqueduct at the point where it come to an end likely due to erosion from the waves of the sea. According to Murphy-O’Connor the eastern channel (on the right) was “built by a Roman Procurator about the middle of the C1 AD.” The western channel was built by Hadrian. Some attribute the eastern channel to Herod the Great.

The high level aqueduct at Caesarea Maritima. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The high level aqueduct at Caesarea Maritima. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Caesarea Maritima was a first century Roman capital and seaport. The gospel was first preached to the Gentiles here when Peter came from Joppa to Caesarea to tell Cornelius words by which he could be saved (Acts 10, 11).

The Apostle Paul used the harbor at Caesarea several times. He was imprisoned here for two years before departing for Rome (Acts 24:27; 27:1).