Category Archives: Bible Places

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).

Emperor Hadrian inscription uncovered in Jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday the discovery earlier this month of a partial inscription bearing the name and titles of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-135). The English translation of the Latin inscription reads,

(1st hand) To the Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, son of the deified Traianus Parthicus, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with tribunician power for the 14th time, consul for the third time, father of the country (dedicated by) the 10th legion Fretensis (2nd hand) Antoniniana.

Inscription bearing name and titles of Hadrian is displayed in front of the Rockefeller Museum, headquarters of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem. Photo by Yoli Shwartz, courtesy IAA.

Inscription bearing name and titles of Hadrian is displayed in front of the Rockefeller Museum, headquarters of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem. Photo by Yoli Shwartz, courtesy IAA.

The discovery was made north of Damascus Gate during a salvage operation. Dr. Rina Avner and Roie Greenwald were the excavation directors. IAA experts discovered that this inscription was part of an inscription already known from a discovery by French archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau (1846-1923) in the late 19th century. That inscription is displayed in the courtyard of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum.

Part of the Hadrian inscription discovered in the late 19th century by Clermont Ganneau, now located in Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum. Photo by Garo Nalbandian, courtesy of the Museum.

Part of the Hadrianic inscription discovered in the late 19th century by Clermont-Ganneau, now located in Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum. Photo by Garo Nalbandian, courtesy of the Museum.

The IAA Press Release says,

The events of the Bar Kokhba revolt are ascribed to the reign of the emperor Hadrian. He is remembered in Jewish history for having issued dictates imposing the persecution and forced conversions of Jews, which the sources referred to as the ‘Hadrianic decrees’.

The history of the Bar Kokhba revolt is known from, among other things, the works of the contemporary Roman historian Cassius Dio, who also mentions Hadrian’s visit to Jerusalem in the year 129/130 CE, within the framework of the emperor’s travels in the eastern empire. These travels are also documented on coins issued in honor of the occasion and in inscriptions specifically engraved prior to his arrival in different cities. This is apparently exactly what happened in Jerusalem.

The completion of the two parts of the text reveals an especially large inscription that is quite impressive. According to Dr. Abner, “The inscription itself might have set in the top of a free-standing triumphal arch on the city’s northern boundary such the Arch of Titus in Rome.”

The fate of Jerusalem following the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE) and prior to the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-136 AD) is one of the major issues in the history of the city and in terms of the Jewish people’s connection to it.

We know from ancient writers and the inscriptions on coins that the new city, which Hadrian established, was granted the status of ‘colonia’ (that is, a city whose citizens and gods are Roman) and its name was changed to Aelia Capitolina (COLONIA AELIA CAPITOLINA in Latin). That name incorporates within it the emperor’s name that is in the inscription, whose full name is Publius Aelius Hadrianus, and Rome’s main family of dieties [sic, deities].

The complete English Press Release is available here.

I read this first in the The Times of Israel, but soon found that it was discussed widely on several blogs. Todd Bolen has included several additional links at Bible Places Blog here.

We have written about other Hadrianic arches in Athens, Antalya (Attalia), and Jerash. A recent series on the Tenth Roman Legion is available here.

Index to Olives and Olive Trees

The olive tree was one of the most important plants in Bible times, and it still is today throughout portions of Europe and the Middle East.

The wood of the olive tree was used in some of the furnishings of the temple (1 Kings 6:23-33).

Stump of an olive tree at Beit Jimal. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Stump of an olive tree at Beit Jamal (? En-Gannim). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Wood from dead or destroyed olive trees is often turned into carvings and souvenirs such as this carving of the faithful spies (Caleb and Joshua; Numbers 14:30) that I secured in Bethlehem many years ago.

Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two men, with some of the pomegranates and the figs. That place was called the valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the sons of Israel cut down from there. (Numbers 13:23-24 NAU)

Olive wood carving of the faithful spies. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Olive wood carving of the faithful spies. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Index to Articles About the Olive Tree and Olives

Related minor posts about olives.

When I add other posts pertaining to olives I will try to remember to add them to this index.

Unearthing Magdala Conference Streaming Live Today

Nyack College, in partnership with the Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins, will host a gathering of scholars and dignitaries from 4:00–7:30 pm at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Manhattan, focused on discoveries from the excavations at Magdala.

Dr. R. Steven Notley, director of Nyack’s graduate program in Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins, says,

“Perhaps the most significant discovery at Magdala is its synagogue. Within the walls of the synagogue was found a stone artifact engraved with distinct and meaningful images, giving students of Judaism, early Christianity, and ancient art a tangible piece of religious history from the late Hellenistic and Roman periods.”

The Unearthing Magdala Livestream is scheduled for today from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. EDT. Use this link: http://www.nyack.edu/content/Magdala

Magdala Synagogue Table. End view. Replica at Notre Dame, Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Magdala Synagogue Table. End view showing columns, menorah, and two vases. Replica at Notre Dame, Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Conference presentations will include:

  • Magdala: History And Geography During The Late Hellenistic And Roman Periods by R. Steven Notley, Nyack College
  • The Importance Of Magdala’s Synagogue by Steven Fine, Yeshiva University
  • Mary Magdalene In Eastern Orthodoxy by John McGuckin, Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University
  • Mary Magdalene in Armenian Orthodoxy by Roberta Ervine, St. Nersess Theological Seminary.
  • Visual Journey Of The Magdalene Liturgical Cycle In Late Medieval Art by Sarah Wilkins, Pratt Institute:
  • Magdala Today And Its Importance In Christian Pilgrimage by Father Eamon Kelly, LC, Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame of Jerusalem.

The town of Magdala is not mentioned in the Bible, but Mary Magdalene is mentioned a total of 12 times in the four gospels. This place may have been her birthplace or her home. A few late manuscripts mention Magdala (Matthew 15:39 KJV), but earlier manuscripts read Magadan. Magdala is located about 4 miles north of Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

See here for one of our earlier posts about Magdala.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

New discoveries at Amphipolis

A new excavation at Amphipolis has revealed what the excavator and others think is a Macedonian tomb from the about 300 B.C. I have been following Carl Rasmussen’s HolyLandPhotos’Blog. He now has combined them into one here. In addition, he has called attention to the possibility of this tomb being similar to the one found at Vergina.

Drawing showing progress of the excavation. Source: Greek Reporter.

Drawing showing progress of the excavation. Source: Greek Reporter.

Here is a list of interesting articles, mostly with photos and drawings, to give you some idea of the exciting potential at Amphipolis.

The obvious answer is that it was most likely to have been built for Alexander, and either left empty when he was buried in Alexandria, or re-used for another Macedonian monarch – eg it could have become the tomb of Antigonus I Monophthalmus and the mausoleum of the Antigonids, for example.

Professor Rasmussen includes photos of jewelry and a golden oak wreath found in the area of Amphipolis.

Map showing Amphipolis. Credit: Bible Atlas.

Map showing Amphipolis. Credit: Bible Atlas.

Our photo below show the entrance to the Royal tombs at Vergina, a city located just a few miles from Berea, a city visited by Paul, Silas and Timothy (Acts 17:10-14). After the tumulus at Vergina was excavated a museum was built and then covered over to have the natural appearance. Notice the tumulus behind the ornamental fence.

Entrance to the Ancient Cemetery of the Royal Tombs at Vergina. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Ancient Cemetery of the Royal Tombs at Vergina. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Without the sign and ticket office one might pass this museum as just another rolling hill. In the photo below you see a sign on the left pointing to the entrance. The exit is near the center of the photo. The museum is filled with items of silver and gold and photography was not allowed when I was there. I am pleased to have a copy of Vergina The Royal Tombs, by Manolis Andronicos, given to me by a Greek guide and friend nearly 30 years ago. The book includes photos of the artifacts that are displayed in the museum. A popular theory says that this is the tomb of Phillip II of Macedon. One may only imagine the glory of the tomb of Phillip of Macedon, or Alexander.

Tumulus covering the Royal Tombs at Vergina. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tumulus covering the Royal Tombs at Vergina. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo by Sarah C. Murray shows a golden wreath suspended over a golden larnax.

Golden wreath suspended over a golden larnax. Photo by Sarah Murray.

Golden wreath suspended over a golden larnax. Photo by Sarah Murray.

 

Paul traveled through Amphipolis

When Paul and his companions went from Troas into Macedonia on his second preaching journey, they went ashore at Neapolis (modern Kavalla, Greece), and continued to Philippi. Luke remained at Philippi while Paul, Silas and Timothy followed the Egnatian Way to Thessalonica. There is no indication of any preaching done in Amphipolis and Appollonia. In fact, the reference to the cities barely attracts notice.

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. (Act 17:1 ESV)

Amphipolis was situated about 30 miles west of Philippi on the Via Egnatia. The River Strymon runs past Amphipolis and continues for about 3 1/2 miles south where it flows into the Aegean Sea.

The River Strymon at Amphipolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The River Strymon at Amphipolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

K. L. McKay, in an article in The New Bible Dictionary, describes the city briefly:

Prized by the Athenians and Macedonians as the key both to the gold, silver and timber of Mt Pangaeus and also to the control of the Dardanelles, it became under the Romans a free town and the capital of the first district of Macedonia. Amphipolis is about 50 km WSW of Philippi on the Via Egnatia, a great Roman highway, and Paul passed through it on his way to Thessalonica (Acts 17:1).

The city is somewhat difficult to reach and there is little to be seen. The most impressive ruin is a reconstructed lion dating to the 4th century B.C. standing along the highway.

The Lion of Amphipolis from the 4th century B.C. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Lion of Amphipolis from the 4th century B.C. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

New excavations recently have uncovered what may turn out to be an impressive tomb from the 4th century B.C.  More about that in a post to follow.

Graves vandalized on Mount of Olives

According to The Times of Israel more than 40 graves have been vandalized at the Mount of Olives cemetery. You may be able to access the short article here.

Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The western slope of the Mount of Olives is filled with Jewish graves. Numerous Moslem graves can be seen along the eastern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. Our next photo shows many of the graves on the Mount of Olives and the Kidron Valley. Look along the wall of the Old City for Muslim graves, with a large number visible at the right of the photo (near the Lion Gate).

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Vandalism of graves is not new. We have reported on vandalized graves in the Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion here and here, and the Midras Ruins rolling stone tomb from the Roman period here.

We have also called attention to fake tombs near the Temple Mount here.

In either case, it is sad.