Category Archives: Archaeology

“I will make your enemies your footstool” – # 2

In the previous post we discussed the common motif found in the Ancient Near East showing a monarch with his foot on the neck of a subdued enemy. We discussed how this helps us visualize certain Biblical texts.

Here I wish to add an illustration from the Roman world shortly after New Testament times. In the statue below we see the Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-138) with his foot on the neck of an enemy.

Hadrian has his foot on the neck of an enemy. Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Hadrian has his foot on the neck of an enemy. Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This statue is displayed in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum in Istanbul, Turkey. It is made of marble and is said to have come from Hierapitna, Crete.

The photo below is a closeup of the captive with the Emperor’s foot on his neck.

Closeup of Hadrian with his foot on the neck of an enemy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Closeup of Hadrian with his foot on the neck of an enemy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the New Testament, Peter quotes Psalm 110:1 to show that Jesus is now seated on the throne of David at the right hand of God (Acts 2:35).

The apostle Paul understood this. He said of Jesus,

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25 ESV)

The last enemy is death (1 Corinthians 15:26).

The illustrations here and in the previous post are suitable for use in PowerPoint presentations for sermons and Bible classes. We only ask that you leave our credit line intact so others will know how to reach our material.

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“I will make your enemies your footstool”

A common motif found in Ancient Near East reliefs shows a monarch placing his foot on his enemy. One illustration of this is the large relief showing the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III (reigned 745-727 B.C.) with his foot on the neck of an enemy. Tiglath-Pileser III is known as Pul in the Bible.

Pul the king of Assyria came against the land, and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that he might help him to confirm his hold on the royal power. (2 Kings 15:19 ESV)

So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he took them into exile, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day. (1 Chronicles 5:26 ESV)

The Assyrian relief below is displayed in the British Museum.

Tiglath-Pileser III Subjugates an Enemy. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

Tiglath-Pileser III Subjugates an Enemy. Note the spear held above the body of the enemy. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

Here is a closeup of what we are seeking to illustrate.

Tiglath-Pileser III Puts His Foot on the Neck of an Enemy. BM. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tiglath-Pileser III Puts His Foot on the Neck of an Enemy. BM. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Several biblical passages come to mind in this connection.

And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. (Joshua 10:24 ESV)

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Psalm 110:1 ESV)

Peter quotes Psalm 110:1 to show that Jesus is now seated on the throne of David at the right hand of God (Acts 2:35).

And Paul says,

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25 ESV)

The last enemy is death (1 Corinthians 15:26).

Note: This post is a repeat of one we published October 21, 2011, but we have exchanged the photos for more recent ones.

In the next post we plan to show an illustration from the Roman world.

Seal impression mentioning “governor of the city” discovered near Temple Mount

The Israel Antiquities Authority began the year with a great announcement yesterday. Many tourists to the Western Wall may have seen a covered area on the western side of the Western Wall Plaza. Here the archaeologists uncovered a 7th century B.C. four-room house. In it there was a seal impression which they refer to as a docket (also called a bulla) showing two men and a Hebrew inscription bearing the words translated as “governor of the city.”

Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, excavator of the site located in the northwestern part of the western Wall Plaza, on behalf of the IAA, believes that “the sealing had been attached to an important transport and served as some sort of logo, or as a tiny souvenir, which was sent on behalf of the governor of the city.”

Seal impression showing two men and bearing the inscription "governon of the city." IAA photo by Clara Amit.

Seventh century B.C. seal impression showing two men and bearing the inscription “governor of the city.” IAA photo by Clara Amit.

Prof. Tallay Ornan of the Hebrew University, and Prof. Benjamin Sass of Tel Aviv University, studied the sealing and describe it thus: “above a double line are two standing men, facing each other in a mirror-like manner. Their heads are depicted as large dots, lacking any details. The hands facing outward are dropped down, and the hands facing inward are raised Each of the figures is wearing a striped, knee-length garment. In the register beneath the double line is an inscription in ancient Hebrew: לשרער, with no spacing between the words and no definite article. It denotes לשר העיר, i.e., “belonging to the governor of the city.” Prof. Ornan and Prof. Sass add, that “the title ‘governor of the city’ is known from the Bible and from extra-biblical documents, referring to an official appointed by the king. Governors of Jerusalem are mentioned twice in the Bible: in 2 Kings [23:8], Joshua is the governor of the city in the days of Hezekiah, and in 2 Chronicles [34:8], Maaseiah is the governor of the city in the days of Josiah.

The original seal that made this impression may have belonged to one of these men, or to some other person not named in Scripture.

This discovery is another in a long list of those illustrating the historical setting and accuracy of the Bible.

Todd Bolen reported on this discovery, including a different photo of the seal impression, and several interesting links here.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Gadara described as a town “without a soul.”

Ancient Gadara has been described by a former Jordanian villager who once lived there as a town “without a soul.”  The reason for his description is explained by Sunny Fitzgerald in a recent issue of BBC Travel.

In the 1960s, Jordan’s Department of Antiquities declared Gadara an archaeological site; it’s now awaiting consideration for Unesco World Heritage status.

The local citizens were moved from the ancient site, but they still visit it for the beautiful scenes of the Sea of Galilee and the Yarmuk valley below Umm Qais.

View of the Sea of Galilee in the late afternoon from Umm Qais (Gadara). Notice the slight red sky showing through the haze. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View of the Sea of Galilee in the late afternoon from Umm Qais (Gadara). Notice the slight red sky showing through the haze. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Fitzgerald’s illustrated article is a fascinating one that I highly recommend that you read it.

Umm Qais (a common spelling; also Umm Qeis and Um Qays) is the site of Gadara, one of the cities of the Greco-Roman Decapolis. The late Mendel Nun discovered 16 ancient ports around the Sea of Galilee, including one for the city of Gadara. The port is located at Tel Samra on the southeast corner of the Sea of Galilee at the modern Ha-on Holiday Village (Mendel Nun. “Ports of Galilee.” Biblical Archaeology Review 25:04; July/Aug 1999).

From Umm Qais (Gadara) one has a great view of the Sea of Galilee and the Yarmuk River valley. We are told that Jesus visited the region of Decapolis.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. (Mark 7:31 ESV)

The Gospel of Matthew informs us about the healing by Jesus of two demon-possessed men in the country of the Gadarenes (Matthew 8:28). Mark puts this event in the country of the Gerasenes (Mark 5:1-20). Luke adds that they “sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee” (Luke 8:26).

Umm Qais is made of the local basalt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Roman theater at Umm Qais is made of the local basalt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The term Decapolis was used to describe a group of ten cities established by the Greeks. Many of them claimed to have been founded by Alexander the Great. The number of cities may have been ten at some time, but the exact number varies from list to list. The cities include Abila [Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, Luke 3:1], Gadara [Umm Qeis], Gerasa [Jerash], Hippos, Philadelphia [Amman], Scythopolis [Beth-shan], Pella, et al. These cities are located mostly south of the Sea of Galilee, and all except Scythopolis are east of the Jordan River. Damascus is included in some lists. In the first century A.D. they were part of the Roman province of Syria.

HT: Agade

Was this pillar intended for the Temple?

In the Jerusalem area we have evidence of numerous quarries from which stones and pillars (columns) were taken for the Biblical Temple and other buildings. Much of the area now covered by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, including Golgotha, was once a quarry. In a series of post we discussed the so-called Solomon’s Quarries here and here.

It is also known that an area now referred to as the Russian Compound was a quarry in Biblical times. This is the location of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, the central police station and the law courts.

The area lies on the northwest corner of the Old City of Jerusalem, and us bounded on the south by Jaffa Road and the Street of the Prophets on the north. It is often referred to as the area of the Assyrian Camp, referencing the occasion when Sennacherib, king of Assyria from 704 to 681 B.C., sent two of his commanders with “a great army from Lachish to Jerusalem” (2 Kings 18:17).

The Taylor Prism reports that Hezekiah was shut up in Jerusalem like a caged bird. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Taylor Prism reports that Hezekiah was shut up in Jerusalem like a caged bird. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Taylor Prism, found at Nineveh, and now displayed in the British Museum, claims that Hezekiah did not submit to his y0ke, but was “shut up in Jerusalem” like a caged bird.

Only one column remains visible in the quarry of the Russian Compound. It is 12.15 meters (almost 40  feet) long and has a mean diameter of about 1.75 meters (5.74 feet). It is greater at the base than at the head.

Pillar left in the quarry at the Russian Compound, Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Pillar left in the quarry at the Russian Compound. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Blue Guide Jerusalem says,

[The 19th century French scholar] Clermont-Ganneau suggested that the size agreed with that of the columns of the Royal Portico of the Temple of Herod the Great (1 C BC), and may have been one of the engaged columns placed adjacent to the wall.

Our photo below shows a model of the Temple precinct built by Herod the Great with work continuing for many years (John 2:20) . The view is from the northeast. The three people viewing the model are standing at the southwest corner of the Temple precinct. The Royal Stoa is to their right on the south side of the model. They appear to be standing at the location of Robinson’s Arch, the stairway that provided entrance to the Royal Stoa.

The Herodian Temple in the Second Temple Model at the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Herodian Temple in the Second Temple Model at the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Though we have here a pillar or column rather than a stone, I think we have a nice reminder of the prophecy of Psalm 118:22.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. (Psalm 118:22 ESV)

Jesus made reference to this text in His teaching (Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17). The Apostle Peter cited the same text and applied it to Jesus.

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. (Acts 4:11 ESV).

See also his extended discussion in 1 Peter 2:4-10, and think seriously about the consequences of rejecting the LORD’S chosen stone.

Archaeologists locate Idumean Palace or Temple in the Lachish region

Archaeologists working with the Israel Antiquities Authority and Hebrew University have uncovered an Idumean palace or temple in the Lachish region of the Judean Shephelah. I understand the news release to place this discovery south of the Beit Guvrin/Maresha National Park, and east of Lachish, in a military area. This area was allotted to the tribe of Simeon, but by the second century B.C. it had become part of Idumea, the residence of ancient Edomites who were pushed out of the area of Edom (the location of Petra in Jordan) by the Nabateans.

Herod the Great was an Idumean. Some have suggested Maresha as his hometown. He ruled over the Jews from 47 to 4 B.C., and his dynasty continued throughout most of the first century A.D. Herod was known for his fabulous building program that included the temple, the temple platform and the surrounding wall (John 2:20). He was a cruel ruler who sought to destroy the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:16).

The drone photo below shows portions of the large structure recently discovered.

Area of the large structure, possibly a temple or palace, uncovered in the dig – aerial photograph (photo: Dane Christensen)

Area of the large structure, possibly a temple or palace, uncovered in the dig – aerial photograph (photo: Dane Christensen)

The scholars working on the project say this is a 2200-year-old structure that was “apparently dismantled intentionally, perhaps during the Hasmonean conquests of the region.”

The release continues,

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An impressive 2200-year-old (Hellenistic period) structure, possibly an Idumean palace or temple, was uncovered during Sukkot in archaeological excavations at the site of Horvat ‘Amuda, situated at the heart of a military training area in the Lachish region.

The excavation directors (from right to left): Dr. Oren Gutfeld, Michal Haber, and Pablo Betzer (photo: Israel Antiquities Authority)

The excavation directors (from right to left): Dr. Oren Gutfeld, Michal Haber, and Pablo Betzer (photo: Israel Antiquities Authority)

According to the excavation directors, Dr. Oren Gutfeld of the Hebrew University, and Pablo Betzer and Michal Haber of the Israel Antiquities Authority: “If this was indeed an Idumean palace or temple, it is a rare and exciting find – similar structures in this country can be counted on the fingers of one hand. It seems that the building was intentionally dismantled, possibly during the Hasmonean conquest of the region.”

Two cultic incense altars found in one of the rooms of the structure (photo: Michal Haber, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Two cultic incense altars found in one of the rooms of the structure (photo: Michal Haber, Israel Antiquities Authority). These altars are small enough to be held in one’s hand.

Two stone incense altars were discovered in one of the rooms. One of them, bearing the carved image of a bull, is depicted as standing in what is apparently the façade of a temple adorned with magnificent columns. According to the archaeologists, the altar is “a unique and rare find in terms of its decoration.” The bull, they say, “may have symbolized a deity worshipped by the Idumeans.” In addition to the incense altar, delicate pottery vessels were also uncovered, including painted bowls, juglets and oil lamps.

Also found at the site are numerous underground spaces, used as quarries or to house ritual baths (miqvaot), oil presses and dovecotes. Hiding tunnels from the time of the Jewish revolts against the Romans were also discovered; one of these contained an intact cooking pot from the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–135 CE).

Uncovering the structure (photo: Michal Haber, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Uncovering the structure (photo: Michal Haber, Israel Antiquities Authority)

The new discovery came to light with the help of camera-equipped drones – technology that has become part of the archaeologists’ tool box in recent years. As part of an extensive archaeological research project of the area between Bet Guvrin and Maresha in the north and Moshav Amatzia in the south, the drone cameras photographed the archaeological remains from high above, subsequently revealing hints of the structure now under excavation. Calling the discovery a research breakthrough, the archaeologists say: “This technology helped us choose where to focus our excavation probes, and, indeed, it very quickly emerged that this was in fact a unique discovery. We hope that our continued excavation of the site in the spring will uncover more of the story told here.”

Remains of the structure indicate that it was intentionally dismantled, possibly by the Hasmoneans (photo: Dane Christensen)

Remains of the structure indicate that it was intentionally dismantled, possibly by the Hasmoneans (photo: Dane Christensen)

The excavation at Horvat ‘Amuda, which was funded by the Beit Lehi Foundation and the Israel Antiquities Authority, was carried out with the participation of archaeology students from the Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University, as well as a group of volunteers from the United States.

During the Hellenistic period Horvat ‘Amuda was apparently one of the agricultural satellite settlements of Maresha, which had by now become the Idumean district capital (today it is part of Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park). Prior to that, in the fifth century BCE (the Persian period), the Idumeans – a Semitic people originating in southern Jordan – settled in the Judean Shephelah (foothills). After the area was conquered by the Hasmoneans in 112 BCE, the Idumeans converted and subsequently blended into the Judean population.

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HT: Joseph Lauer

Laodicea stadium to be restored

Hurriyet Daily News recently reported here on plans to reconstruct the ancient stadium in ancient Laodicea. Laodicea is known to Bible students from the book of Revelation (1:11; 3:14-22), and from Paul’s epistle to the Colossians.

For I bear him [Epaphras] witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. (Colossians 4:13-16 ESV)

Laodicea is located about 100 miles east of Ephesus, five miles from the modern Turkish town of Denizli, and near the popular resort of Pamukkale.

The stadium at Laodicea before the recent efforts to uncover the stadium and restore it. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The stadium at Laodicea before the recent efforts to uncover the stadium and restore it. A portion of the nymphaeum is visible on the hill on the left side of the photo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When I first began traveling to visit the sites of the Seven Churches of the book of Revelation, all we could see at Laodicea was the form of the stadium and ruins of a nymphaeum (a fountain house). If we walked through across the mound to the north we could see the location of two theaters. That was about it.

In recent years tourists have seen many new excavations and reconstructions on the north side of the tell, but few walked through the weeds to get to the stadium.

Originally the stadium was an enclosed structure used for gladiatorial games. An inscription tells that a wealthy family dedicated it to Emperor Vespasian (A.D. 69-79) and Emperor Titus (A.D. 79-81). It is said to be the biggest stadium in Anatolia.

Vespasian and Titus are known for their war with the Jews beginning in A.D. 66, and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Here is the article from the Hurriyet Daily News for those who wish to read further.

 “ —

Works have been initiated this summer to unearth a stadium in the ancient city of Laodicea, a property on UNESCO’s tentative list for World Heritage Sites. The stadium was a venue for sports competitions and gladiator fights in ancient times and is located in the western province of Denizli.

Excavations and restorations have been ongoing in the ancient city for 13 years under the leadership of Professor Celal Şimşek of the Pamukkale University (PAU) Archaeology Department. Some 4,000 artifacts have been uncovered so far.

The artifacts include figures, sculptures, agricultural tools, and household products and have been under protection. The Holy Agora, which is home to one of the seven holy churches mentioned in the Bible but which collapsed in an earthquake along with its columns in 494 A.D., has been restored and revived.

A project has also been initiated to unearth the Laodicea Stadium, located on Stadium Street in the ancient city and known as the largest stadium in Anatolia in the era.

The project has been approved by the Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board and gets supported by the Merkezefendi Municipality. When it is finished, the stadium will be revived after 1,494 years.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Professor Şimşek said this year’s excavation and restoration works have still been continuing in the ancient city, focusing on the project made for the revival of Stadium Street.

“The recovery of the ruined columns continues. They will be revived with their arches within three months. The street will regain life after 1,500 years,” Şimşek said, adding that the street where the excavations are continuing is very important.

He said the Laodecia Stadium was the biggest one in Anatolia.

“It is a gigantic structure that is 285-meters high and 70-meters wide. Right next to it is a bath complex. It is one of the biggest bathes in Anatolia. There is an agora and an assembly building next to it. This place was a field of both sports and administration and people came together. From this aspect, the street has importance too,” said Şimşek.

Arena of gladiators

Şimşek said many competitions were held in the Laodicea Stadium in ancient times and the names of five-time winners of the competitions were written on inscriptions.

“At the same time, this stadium is very important for gladiator fights. The competition was held not only for this city but also the other cities in the Lycus lowlands. All Olympic-size games, local or big sports competitions, and gladiator fights have been held in this stadium,” he said.

August/21/2017

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See Archaeology News Network for two aerial photos of the area.

HT: ABR Newsletter