Tag Archives: Museum

Aleppo National Museum – #4

See our previous articles on Aleppo here, here, here, and here.

The Ebla tablets were discovered by an Italian team of excavators at Tell Mardikh in Syria (about 30 miles S of Aleppo) in 1975. More than 17,000 cuneiform tablets were discovered, dating to the mid-third millennium B.C. when Ebla was the capital of a great Canaanite empire. Scholars state that there are important affinities between the Eblaite language and biblical Hebrew, both being members of the Northwest Semitic family.

Pottery from Tell Mardikh (Ebla) in Aleppo Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Pottery from Tell Mardikh (Ebla) in Aleppo Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It is my understanding that the Aleppo National Museum became the main repository of the Ebla tablets. In a major controversy between the archaeologist (Paolo Matthiae) and the epigrapher (Giovanni Pettinato), the Museum took the side of Professor Matthiae.

The controversy between these two scholars played out in scholarly and popular archaeological journals in the late 1970s and the early 1980s.

We have posted several articles about Ebla in previous years. You need only put the word Ebla in the Search box to locate those.

A large eagle caught our attention. David and I were of the opinion that it belonged to the Roman period, but one of the guards we spoke with insisted that it belonged to the Hellenistic period.

An eagle possible from the Hellenistic Period in the Aleppo Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

An eagle possibly from the Hellenistic Period in the Aleppo National Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Statues and busts of Asclepios are fairly common throughout the ancient Greek world. Asclepios was known as a god of medicine in the Greek religion. I do not know where this bust was discovered.

Bust of the god Asclepios. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bust of the god Asclepios. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Even though the quality of the photos leaves much to be desired, I am hopeful that these photos and brief descriptions will be of benefit to those who have not been, and may never get to see the Aleppo National Museum.

This concludes the series on Aleppo.

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Aleppo National Museum – #3

See our previous articles on Aleppo here, here, and here.

We have one more nice Neo-Hittite piece displayed in the courtyard of the Aleppo National Museum. It shows genii with the symbols of the sun and the moon. These symbols are typical on Neo-Hittite and Assyrian reliefs.

Neo-Hittite genii with image of sun and moon on a basalt block in the courtyard of the Aleppo National Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Neo-Hittite genii with image of sun and moon on a block in the courtyard of the Aleppo National Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Assyrian. The museum has one stele depicting Esarhaddon, the son of Sennacherib and his successor as king of Assyria (680-559 B.C.; 2 Kings 19:37; Isaiah 37:38; Ezra 4:2). I am not certain about the identity of the rulers who are bowing before Esarhaddon, but I suspect this represents the same persons as the much better stele in the Berlin museum. The stele there depicts the king holding ropes leading to the lips of Tirhakah of Egypt and Ethiopia [Cush] (in ANET, 293, he is referred to as king of Nubia) and Ba’alu of Tyre. If so, then the bowing figure with Negroid features was an ally of Hezekiah against the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:9. The Berlin stele comes from Zinjirli and was discovered in 1888.

First, here is the Aleppo stele.

A broken relief showing Esarhaddon with two captured rulers, one on bended knee, before him. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A broken relief showing Esarhaddon with two captured rulers, one on bended knee, before him. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

And here is the Berlin stele (VA 2708).

Stele of Esarhaddon displayed in the Pergamum Museum, Berlin. VA 2708. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Stele of Esarhaddon displayed in the Pergamum Museum, Berlin. VA 2708. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I have the impression that the stele displayed in Aleppo may be one made by a beginner and was never finished. Notice the lack of proportion in the legs of the kneeling figure, and the absence of clear decorations at the top.

One final post on the Museum coming next.

Aleppo National Museum – #2

See our previous post on Aleppo here. Our #1 on the Aleppo National Museum is here.

In the first post on Aleppo I posted a photo of the Hittite Storm god Teshub standing on the back of a bull. I should have mentioned at the time that a large temple of the storm god from the Late Bronze and Early Iron ages has been excavated underneath Islamic buildings at the Aleppo Citadel. A well illustrated article by Kay Kohlmeyer states,

The storm god, first venerated as Hadda, then as Addu, Teshub, Tarhunta, and Hadad, played a supra-regional role in the ancient Near East, which explains the enormous size of his temple at Aleppo and the brilliance of its relief decoration. (Near Eastern Archaeology 72;4 (2009).

A statue of Hadad of poor quality is also displayed in the museum.

Statue of Hadad displayed in the Aleppo National Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Statue of Hadad displayed in the Aleppo National Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There are several other Neo-Hittite artifacts in the Aleppo National Museum. This first I am showing is a basalt lion with a slight wing relief. This is likely part of a pair that stood along an entrance to some building. Here you will notice that the lion is represented as having five legs. This allows the passerby to see at least four legs from almost any direction. We have become familiar with the huge winged bulls from Assyria that are made in the same fashion. I do not have the original source of the lion, but there are numerous Neo-Hittite sites  to the north of Aleppo in Syria and Turkey.

Lion from the Neo-Hittite Period in the Aleppo National Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Lion from the Neo-Hittite Period in the Aleppo National Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next image is a fascinating one from the palace of Karara at Tell Halaf. It shows a composite creature of basalt consisting of the head of a man with the feet and wings of a bird, and the tail of a scorpion.

Composite creatures were common during the Hittite, Assyrian, and Babylonian periods of Old Testament history, and many of them have been found in the extended region. They provide us some insight into the background of apocalyptic literature. We find these creatures especially in the Old Testament books of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah, and in the New Testament book of Revelation (the Apocalypse). See a previous post, “Apocalyptic imagery is not strange,” here.

The composite creature here brought to my mind the events of the sounding of the fifth trumpet in Revelation 9:1-11.

Composite creature showing the head of a man, body and feet of a bird, and the tail of a scorpion. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Composite creature showing the head of a man, body and feet of a bird, and the tail of a scorpion. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I am adding an additional image that I was able to enhance to show a little better sharpness.

aleppo-museum-composite-creature-fjenkins051302_09en

 1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.
2 He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.
3 Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth.
4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
5 They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone.
6 And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.
7 In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces,
8 their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth;
9 they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle.
10 They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails.
11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. (Revelation 9:1-11 ESV)

Knowing that such imagery was common in the ancient Near East should assist us in our understanding of the nature of apocalyptic literature of the Bible.

Aleppo National Museum – #1

See our previous post on Aleppo here.

In this post we will continue to look at some of the interesting artifacts displayed in the Aleppo National Museum at the time of our visit in 2002.

The Amorites. The Amorites are described as “the inhabitants of the land west of the Euphrates River, which included Canaan, Phoènicia, and Syria” (Youngblood, Bruce, and Harrison, Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary 1995).

Here is a summary of information about the Amorites from the same article.

  • Amorites were one of the major tribes, or national groups, living in Canaan. The Old Testament frequently uses “Amorites” as a synonym for Canaanites in general. The Book of Genesis cites Canaan as the ancestor of the Amorites (Gen. 10:16).
  • Before 2000 B.C. the Amorites lived in the wilderness regions of what today is western Saudi Arabia and southern Syria.… Beginning about 2000 B.C., they migrated eastward to Babylonia in large numbers. There they captured major cities and regions from the native Mesopotamians. “Abram” is an Amorite name, and Abraham himself may have been an Amorite.
  • Throughout Old Testament times, other Amorites remained in Syria, Phoenicia, and the desert regions to the south (Joshua 13:4). A significant number, however, settled in the land of Canaan itself, eventually occupying large areas both east and west of the Jordan River (Judges 11:19–22). These Amorites spoke a dialect that was closely related to Canaanite and Hebrew. Occasionally, the Amorites were identified as a Canaanite tribe (Genesis 10:16). At other times they were called the people of Canaan (Deuteronomy 1:27).
  • During the invasion of Canaan, Joshua and the Israelites defeated Amorite kings Sihon and Og, rulers east of the Jordan River (Joshua 12:1-6).
  • Various cities west of the Jordan—Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon—also were called “Amorite” cities (Joshua 10:5), even though Jerusalem was also known as a Jebusite city.
  • While conquering Canaan, the Israelites frequently fought with the Amorites. After the Israelites prevailed, the Amorites who had not been killed remained in Canaan and became servants to the Israelites (1 Kings 9:20–21).
  • Much of our knowledge about the Amorites and their culture comes from clay tablets discovered at Mari, a major Amorite city situated on the Euphrates River in western Mesopotamia. [Numerous artifacts from Mari are displayed in the Damascus National Museum.]

A significant text in Ezekiel 16:3 says to the Israelites of Judea,

… Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. (ESV)

The IVP Bible Background Commentary Old Testament suggests that when the land was conquered, the Israelites were supposed to have purified the land “of its idolatrous traditions (Deut. 7:1-5), but instead the people became just like the nations  they were supposed to displace.”

The Amorite Spring Goddess from the 18th century B.C. When I walked in the door of the Museum and saw the impressive statue of an Amorite Spring Goddess I recalled the work of French Archaeologist André Parrot and his comments about the Gushing Vases of Mesopotamia that are displayed in the Louvre.

Amorite Spring Goddess displayed near the main entry of the Aleppo Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Amorite Spring Goddess from the 18th century B.C. displayed near the main entry of the Aleppo National Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In his book Land of Christ, Parrot calls attention to the statement of Jesus in John 7:37-38.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”  (John 7:37-38 ESV)

Parrot says this passage,

“is an extraordinary and impressive reminiscence of Mesopotamian iconography: monuments from the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st millennia often have representation of male or female deities holding waist-high, in both hands, a vase from which water flows. Rivers literally flow from the heart of the personage represented. Two scholars, Rudolph Bultmann and Millar Burrows, have made the same comparison. They do not explain it, nor do we, but it is nonetheless striking” (page 102).

In our next post on this subject we will show some of the Hittite artifacts.

Visualizing Isaiah 29: a book that is sealed

Sealed documents were common in Bible times. Isaiah had already used this figure in chapter 8:16. Here the same illustration is used to show that because of Israel’s blindness of heart, no one was able (or willing) to accept and understand the will of God (see 6:9-10).

And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”(Isaish 29:11-12 ESV)

The photo below was taken in the archaeological museum in Gaziantep, Turkey. It shows a rolled up document with three strings held by clay seals. It appears that the document is modern with three ancient seals, but it illustrates what Isaiah is writing about.

The illiterate man says, “I cannot read.” The man who is literate says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” The illiterate man does not try to find someone who can read, and the literate man does not find someone with authority to break the seal. Blindness, darkness, and spiritual insensitivity prevent either man from finding out what is in the document. No wonder Jesus cited Isaiah’s statement to explain why he used parables (Matthew 13:13-15).

A sealed document displayed in the Gaziantep Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A sealed document displayed in the Gaziantep Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (Walton, Matthews & Chavalas) has this explanatory note about sealed documents in Bible times.

Official documents were written on scrolls of papyrus or vellum and then, when stored or dispatched by messenger, were rolled up and sealed with string and an affixed seal (see 1 Kings 21:8; Jer 32:10–11). The seal, either a ring or signet, was impressed into either wax or a lump of clay known as a bulla (Job 38:14). Archaeologists have found many of these clay bullae with the names of Israelite officials.

I am aware of one ancient document with as many as seven seals. It is the Wadi ed-Daliyeh Aramaic papyrus document dating to the 4th century B.C. The seals are currently displayed in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. This document provides an illustration for Revelation 5 and 6.

Here and there in Lower Galilee

This morning we set out from Tiberias to reach Khirbet Kana, the likely site of the Cana of Galilee mentioned in John 2. The site along the highway from Nazareth to Tiberias that many tourists visit is the traditional site known as Kafr Kana. Jesus attended a marriage at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11), and met the royal official (John 4:46-54).

Traveling as we are, and being extremely tired at night, I have neither the materials or the inclination to go into detail about the matter. Here is a view of the rocky hill located on the north side of the Bet Netofa Valley. The ancient road ran in the valley below the city.

View of Khirbet Kana from the SE. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View of Khirbet Kana from the SE. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This is not the sort of visit one may take lightly. It probably took us 45 minutes in from the main road, and 45 minutes out. (We should have had a Jeep-type vehicle. We spent about an hour walking up one side of the hill and down another. (I hope no one will ask directions!).

Later we made a short stop at Hannathon (Joshua 19:41), and then through Nazareth and Megiddo Junction to see again the Rolling Stone tomb on the south side of the Jezreel Valley. This tomb can no longer be photographed easily by tourists in a bus. There is no room for the bus to stop. Our little car could pull off the road, and we could get close enough to avoid the new railing that has been installed. This is what it looks like and how close the cars, buses, and trucks, come to it.

Rolling Stone tomb near Jezreel Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Rolling Stone tomb near Jezreel Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We were able to get photos similar to the one you see here.

Another brief stop allowed us to take a photo of Tell Jokneam (Joshua 12:22; 19:11; 21:34). On the way back to our home at the Ron Beach Hotel in Tiberias we visited the possible site of En Dor (En-Dor; 1 Samuel 28:7), where Saul visited the medium of En Dor. Our last stop was at the modern town of En Dor where we visited the En Dor Archaeology Museum. It is a great little museum. More about it later.