Jul 17, 2017

The Times of Israel on the Shiloh Excavation

From L-R Dr. David Graves, Dr. Phil Silva, Greg Gulbrandsen
Dr. Leen Ritmeyer in front.
This is square AG28 that was part of the 5.5 MB city wall.
I was the square supervisor of this square for 4 weeks.
We reached bedrock on the outside of the wall.

Here is the link to the Times of Israel article on our excavation this season at Shiloh. They interviewed some of our folk but did not get much information from the square supervisors. They try and maintain a balanced view by interviewing Israel Finkelstein as well.

Several things stood out for me from the article. Finkelstein stated “I strongly believe that one needs to conduct archaeological research in the best of methods and carry out biblical exegesis in the best of methods. There is no need to start from a perspective of either confirming or dismissing the historicity of a given biblical text,” Finkelstein told The Times of Israel.

The problem with such a statement is there is no neutrality. Everyone has preconceived notions even Finkelstein. Finkelstein outright dismisses the historicity of the biblical text. The Times of Israel describe him as on the forefront of the “radical” evidence-based revision of the history of Israel in the 10th and 9th centuries BCE (versus the biblical narrative), and Finkelstein himself states “The story of the ark is fascinating; but it can teach us mainly about the world of the authors who lived centuries after the destruction of Iron I Shiloh.” As The Time of Israel accurately point out "Finkelstein tends to see the Hebrew Bible as the nationalist mythology of a people attempting to centralize its power and faith." So even Finkelstein does not practice his own methods and begins his archaeology by dismissing the historicity of the text from the start.

Secondly, he states “In a site like this – to differ, e.g., from the desert fringe – one can expect to find built remains. In my own excavation, the only finds from the Late Bronze Age came from a pit which included what seemed to be cultic refuse,” said Finkelstein.

In my square this season we had Late Bronze Age I and II pottery and if I'm not mistaken so did all the other squares. One cannot determine their conclusions from what is not found. He just didn't dig long enough to find it.

Lastly, I want to put is on the record once more that personally I am not trying to prove the Bible. It does not need me to vouch for its authenticity. It does not need proving. What archaeology does is help us to better understand the text and culture of the Bible. One might read the header to my blog one more time to get my meaning.

Finkelstein has just announced that he will now be excavating Kiryat Ye’arim, the other location for the Ark of the Covenant for 20 years prior to being moved to Shiloh. Link

There will be more on the Ark of the Covenant in the years to come from two excavations in Israel, one excavated by those who take the Bible as historically true and one who does not. Stay tuned.

Jul 12, 2017

Preservation of Shiloh walls 2017

In June of this year (2017) I had the privilege of working at the Shiloh Excavations with over 100 volunteers. The project lasted 5 weeks with the last week designated for preservation of some of the wall excavated earlier in the month. It was great working with Dr. Leen Ritmeyer, Dr. Phil Silva and Greg Gulbrandsen on the preservation in the final week while everyone else toured Israel. The process was assisted by a mortar gun (see below) that I spotted at the local hardware store. To my knowledge this type of a gun has never been used in this application before and knew it would be a great help from my previous use of calking guns for painting and construction work. It exceeded our expectations once we got the right consistency of the mortar mixture down. Leen dig a great job in mixing the perfect consistency and it went into the small cracks and crevices like a charm. Leen has posted a great overview with pictures at his website ritmeyer.com.

Mortar gun used to fill between the loose stones.

Jun 26, 2017

King Herod’s Ritual Bath at Machaerus

BAR has just published an article about King Herod’s Ritual Bath at Machaerus.

Not far from Machaerus, in 2011, a similar Ritual Bath was excavated at Tall el-Hammam believed to be the ancient site of Livias (captial of Perea) where Herod Anitpas lived. While the structure dated to the Byzantine period it was built over a previous bath that dated to the first century AD.

See the article and image at LINK

See also the article Graves, David E., and D. Scott Stripling. “Re-Examination of the Location for the Ancient City of Livias.” Levant 43, no. 2 (2011): 178–200.

Feb 17, 2017

How to break into a Wax Seal

In light of the reports of many forgeries in the antiquities world I came upon this description of how ancient people read wax sealed documents without detection from the recipients. I found this fascinating.

The description is given by Lucian of Samosata (Λουκιανὸς ὁ Σαμοσατεύς, Latin: Lucianus Samosatensis) who lived ca. AD 125–180.
"Listen, therefore, in order to be able to show up such impostors. 
The first, my dear Celsus, was a well-known method; heating a needle, he removed the seal by melting through the wax underneath it, and after reading the contents he warmed the wax once more with the needle, both that which was under the thread and that which contained the seal, and so stuck it together without difficulty. 
Another method was by using what they call plaster; this is a compound of Bruttian pitch, asphalt, pulverized gypsum, wax, and gum Arabic. Making his plaster out of all these materials and warming it over the fire, he applied it to the seal, which he had previously wetted with saliva, and took a mould of the impression. Then, since the plaster hardened at once, after easily opening and reading the scrolls, he applied the wax and made an impression upon it precisely like the original, just as one would with a gem.
Let me tell you a third method, in addition to these. Putting marble-dust into the glue with which they glue books and making a paste of it, he applied that to the seal while it was still soft, and then, as it grows hard at once, more solid than horn or even iron, he removed it and used it for the impression. There are many other devices to this end, but they need not all be mentioned, for fear that we might seem to be wanting in taste." (Lucian Alexander the False Prophet, 2122.)1
1. Lucian of Samosata, Anacharsis or Athletics. Menippus or The Descent into Hades. On Funerals. A Professor of Public Speaking. Alexander the False Prophet. Essays in Portraiture. Essays in Portraiture Defended. The Goddesse of Surrye, trans. A. M. Harmon, vol. 4, 8 vols., LCL 162 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1925),  234235.

Feb 8, 2017

The twelfth Dead Sea Scroll cave is confirmed and I was there.

Cave 53 (now Q12) identifying the artifacts
as they are removed from the cave in buckets and
transferred to cardboard boxes for processing.

In January of this year (Dec 28, 2016-January 25, 2017), I had the privilege of working on the excavation of the newly announced Dead Sea Scroll cave number 12 (See news links below) with my colleague Dr. Randall Price of Liberty University, USA and Dr. Oren Gutfeld and his assistant Ahiad Ovadia of Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology, Israel. Several Liberty university students and volunteers also worked with us. My role was registrar of finds and it involved the proper recording and processing of all artifacts that were discovered in the cave (some 400), so I was able to see the artifacts firsthand and can verify the accuracy of those finds mentioned in the article published by Hebrew University. I was assisted by Eva Palmer of Liberty University and Dr. Lemar Cooper of Criswell College.

Cave 53, located west of the Qumran plateau, was supported by the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria (KMAT), by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and is a part of the new “Operation Scroll” launched at the IAA by its Director-General, Mr. Israel Hasson, to undertake systematic surveys and to excavate the caves in the Judean Desert. This present cave is now the 12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave to be identified and will be designated Q12. For a report on Operation Scroll that was launched in 1993, see Neil Asher Silberman, “Operation Scroll,” Archaeology 47/2 (1994): 27–28; Neil Asher Silberman, “Operation Scroll,” in K. D. Vitelli (ed.), Archaeological Ethics (London: Altamira Press, 1996): 132–35.

Cave 53 is now the12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave to be identified and will be designated Q12. The letter Q refers to a Qumran cave standing in front of the number to indicate that this is now an official number for Qumran documents. Normally Qumran caves are designated with the number of the cave in front of the Q as in 1QIsa for the scroll of Isaiah found in Qumran cave 1 or 4Q175 (4QTest) for the Testimonia scroll from Qumran cave 4. However, as Gutfeld explains
“Like Cave 8, in which scroll jars but no scrolls were found, this cave will receive the designation Q12 (the Q=Qumran standing in front of the number to indicate no scrolls were found).” Press Release
Some may object that because no scrolls were found it should not be considered a Qumran cave. See BAR article. However, as Belis stated in 2016 “It is axiomatic that if linen was found in a cave, then this cave must also have contained scrolls.” Mireille Belis, “The Unpublished Textiles from the Qumran Caves,” The Caves of Qumran. Edited by Marcello Fidanzio (Brill 2016): 136. (I am indebted to Randall Price for this quote).

Some of the linen cloth collected by our team
from Cave 12 in 2017.
Courtesy of Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld.
Quite a number of pieces of the linen that covered the scrolls, as well as leather ties were discovered in-situ. In addition, Qumran style jars were discovered in-situ, similar to the pattern of the other manuscript caves, identifying this cave a Qumran Scroll cave.

The cave was originally excavated in 1993 and reported in a 2002 journal article by Cohen and Yisraeli. Although the article is in Hebrew, the English summary on page 207 of the article states:
“Two caves and a rock shelter were discovered south of Nahal Qumran. . . The entrance to Cave XII/53 spans the entire width of the cavity (Fig. 4); two pillars for supporting the ceiling and a thin wall (Plan 3 [The layout of the cave is provided on page 209]) were built inside the cave. Four strata were discernible in the excavation, but the finds were mixed in part of the area. Stratum I dates to the Early Islamic period; Stratum 2 to the Early Roman period based on the pottery vessels uncovered in it (Fig. 5:2-5); Stratum 3 to the Pottery Neolithic period (Fig. 6:2, 3, 5-1 O); and Stratum 4, in which Byblos arrowheads were found (Fig. 7: I, 2), to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period.” Cohen, Rudolf, and Yigal Yisraeli. “The Excavations of Rock Shelter XII/50 and in Caves XII/52-53.” Atiqot 41, no. 2 (2002): 207–13.
It is worth noting that the photograph on page 207 of the 2002 article by Cohen and Yisraeli miss-identified the cave as number 50, but it is actually cave 53. Drawings of the pottery and flint blades were provided on pages 209 and 211.
All our artifacts were identified with Cave 53 for processing (see the cardboard box in the top photograph).
Dust from our two sifting stations.
All the dirt from the cave was sifted
to find the smallest find.

Initially no connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls was made from the excavation in 2002, however in 2006 Dr. Randall Price identified Cave 53 as a good potential for containing Dead Sea Scrolls. The initial read of the stratigraphy of the cave in 2002 has been confirmed by our recent systematic and thorough excavation of Cave 53, with a number of additional finds (over 400) including Qumran pottery and a small leather scroll piece (7 cm). We can now say without question that the cave did once contain some of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls.

Unfortunately, the cave had been looted probably by local Bedouin in the past looking for valuable scrolls. We did have one of the relatives of the Bedouin family, who first discovered the caves, working with us Joseph Ta’amarah. What an amazing eye he had for finds. Gutfeld reported “The jars were all broken and their contents removed, and the discovery towards the end of the excavation of a pair of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s (stored within the tunnel for later use) proves the cave was looted.” Press Release

The new designation of Q12 is due to the fact the we have now confirmed the presence of Dead Sea Scrolls in cave 53, even though as Dr. Gutfeld stated no scrolls were actually found. Gutfeld reported
“Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we ‘only’ found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen. The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more. . . The finding of pottery and of numerous flint blades, arrowheads, and a decorated stamp seal made of carnelian, a semi-precious stone, also revealed that this cave was used in the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods.” Press Release
 In addition
"Among the organic findings were dozens and dozens of olive pits, dates, various kinds of nuts, some whole nuts, which were left unshelled nuts, several thin ropes, bits of woven baskets, and a few pieces of fabric. The interior of the cave was covered by a wicker bed of palm and thin brush branches, which were used by the dwellers of the cave as a kind of mat. Once the first stratum was removed, findings from the Chalcolithic period were uncovered (5th century BC), as well as the Cermaic Neolithic and the pre-Neolithic period (8th-9th centuries BC)—mainly pottery and flint tools, including arrow heads, various blades and an complete seal made of red Carnelian stone." IAA reporting to YNet News
This is an accurate picture of the various finds among the organic material that we registered.
The rolled-up piece of leather was carefully collected and transported to an archaeological conservation laboratory at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. From there, the scroll was transported to another conservation laboratory under the auspices of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Tests have revealed that the scroll was empty and was most likely in the process of being prepared to be written on. IAA reporting to YNet News

If the piece of leather scroll (orphan) can be linked to one of the scrolls in existence then the designation would likely change to 12Q1 for the parent scroll. There are still more tests and research to be done on the many finds that have come out of cave 53 (aka Q12).

Map showing the location of the cave in
conjunction with the other 11 caves. Locations are
based on those published by the IAA and Google Earth.
Note that Cave 12 is closer to Qumran than Caves 1, 2, and 11.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were originally discovered in 1946 and 1947, with numerous fragments surfacing on the black market since. There are some 930 documents represented in the total Dead Sea Scroll collection, with approximately 15,000 fragments representing 600 documents from Cave 4 alone. Here is a summary of the story of the Dead Sea Scroll discovery. Also, an accessible pamphlet on The Dead Sea Scrolls by Dr. Randall Price is available from Rose Publishing, 2005.
According to Evans,
“Price thinks there may even be a thirteenth cave near the Qumran ruins. Unlike the newly discovered Cave 12, the mouth of the suspected thirteenth cave is concealed — which means there is a chance that it has not been looted. If that is the case, more texts could be discovered. If that happens, who knows what new things we might learn?” Craig Evans

It was a great privilege to be part of this historic event and to help identify the first Dead Sea Scroll Cave in over 60 years to bring the total Dead Sea Scroll caves to twelve. And stay tune there could be more caves to come in the future.

Dr. Randall Price, Scott Stripling (visiting) and myself.
The Qumran plateau is visible behind us.

Photos for download: (Credit for all photos below to Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld):
-Archaeologists Oren Gutfeld & Ahiad Ovadia survey cave http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170208_orenahiad.JPG
-Archaeologist Ahiad Ovadia digs carefully in cave http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170208_ahiaddigs.jpg
-Ziad Abu Ganem and student filter material from cave http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170208_ziad.jpg
-Fault cliff and cave entrance on the left http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170208_caveentrance.JPG
-Fragments of jars that contained stolen scrolls http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170208_jarfragments.JPG
-Remnant of scroll when removed from jar http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170208_remnantremoved.jpg
-Neolithic flint tools found in cave http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170208_tools.jpg
-Cloth that was used for wrapping the scrolls http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170208_fabric.jpg
-Seal made of carnelian stone found in cave http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170208_seal.jpg
-Filtering materials from the cave http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170208_sorting.jpg

The one fact that none of the news reports mention is that a lone Canadian was involved. :-)

 News Articles based on the original press release by Hebrew University.

Nov 30, 2016

Marcus Paccius. . . Gargilius Antiquus Confirmed Governor of Judea

Fig. 1. Roman-era 1900-year-old inscription outs an unknown
official: “The city of Dor honors Marcus Paccius...governor of the
 province of Judea.” The inscription is now on display in  the
 Haifa University Library. Photo by Jenny Carmel.
We have the confirmation of another governor of the province of Judea. It appears that some news reports have given the impression that this is the first time we have heard of Marcus Paccius Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus. It is not the first inscription that mentions his name (this is acknowledged by the Phillippe Bohstrom's article in passing). However, there was some debate over where he ruled, either in Syria or Syria-Palaestina.  Ameling and Dabrowa argue “it is more likely that Dor belonged to the province of Judaea/Syria Palaestina, and that the honorand was governor of Judaea.”[2]  This has now been confirmed with the discovery of the new inscription.
     Thirty (30) governors (Prefects, Procurators, and Legates) of Judea are known from AD 6-135.[3]  Three governors are known from the New Testament: Pontius Pilate (the trial of Jesus; AD 26-36), Felix (Acts 23-24; AD 52-60), and Festus (Acts 25-26; AD 60-62). Now we know that the previously known Marcus Paccius Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus (see bibliography below),[4]  who was suspected of being the governor of Judea before the Bar Kochba Revolt (ca. AD 135) by Dabrowa and Amiling, has indeed been confirmed as the governor of Judea. [5]
     Recently (January 2016) a new Roman inscription (see Fig. 1) was recovered from off the coast of Dor by Haifa University underwater archaeologists.[6]
The Greek inscription (not Latin) reads:
“The City of Dor honors Marcus Paccius, son of Publius, Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus, governor of the province of Judea, as well as […] of the province of Syria, and patron of the city of Dor.”[7]
Fig. 2. Circular Stone inscription fragment on a round
base for a statue of the governor  Marcus Paccius
Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus
from Ameling et al. eds. Caesarea and the Middle 
Coast. Berlin, 2011, 443.
     An inscribed circular stone was previously discovered in 1948, by the East Gate of the ancient city of Dor, during the Israeli War of Independence (SEG 37.1477; 41.1547; 45.1946).[8]  In 1978 it was again located in the same place[9] and transferred to the Center of Nautical and Regional Archaeology at Nahsholim, where it is now on display (see Fig. 2).[10]  Gera and Cotton translated the Greek of the reconstructed circular stone inscription, discovered in 1947, as:.
(In honour of) Marcus Paccius, son of Publius, of the Tribe Quirina, Silvanus Quintus  Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus, legatus Augusti propraetore (i.e. governor) of  the Province of Syria.[11] PDF
     What do we know of Marcus Paccius Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus (Mark Paktsy Sylvan Quintus Coredo Gull Gargily Antiqua). His Father was Publius and a relative of Gargilius Antiquus from Africa (CIL 8.23246).[12]   Marcus Paccius was a Roman politician in the first half of the 2nd Century AD. He held the position of governor (consul suffectus) of the province of Arabia Petraea in approximately AD 116-119 and was confirmed at Dor between 122 and 125.[13]  It has now been confirmed that he was the governor of Judea.[14]  His son, Marcus Paccius Silvanus Goredius Lucius Gallus Lucius Pullaienus Gargilius Antiquus presumably was the consul suffectus in 161/162. His name appears on coins of Hadrianopolis, Perinthus, Philippopolis, Plotinopolis, and Pautalia.[15]

      On the previous inscription mentioning Marcus Paccius Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus See this Image.
Fig. 3. Inscription found in Thugga (Dougga) in the province
of Africa proconsularis (CIL 8.26579 = AE 1893, 100
cf. AE 1951, 71). The location indicates that it belongs
to his son Marcus Paccius Silvanus
Goredius [or Coredius] Lucius Gallus Lucius 
Pullaienus Gargilius Antiquus.

Ferrell Jenkins' article and photos of Dor.

 1). Dov Gera and Hannah M. Cotton. “A Dedication from Dor to a Governor of Syria.” Israel Exploration Journal 41, no. 4 (1991): 258–66. PDF
2). Walter Ameling et al., eds., Caesarea and the Middle Coast: Nos. 1121-2160, vol. 2, Corpus Inscriptionum Iudeaeae/Palaestinae (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2011), 844; E. Dabrowa, “M. Paccius Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus et son cursus honorum,” in Nunc de suebis dicendum est: studia archaeologica et historica Georgio Kolendo ab amicis et discipulis dicata, ed. Aleksander Bursche and Jerzy Kolendo (Warsaw: Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 1995), 99.
3). See the list in Wikipedia: Judea (Roman province).
4).  First published in Hebrew in Qadmoniot 22 (1989): 42, but also found listed in the Dor inspection file (1951), of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
5). Dabrowa, “M. Paccius,” 99–102.
6). Philippe Bohstrom, “Divers Find Unexpected Roman Inscription from the Eve of Bar-Kochba Revolt,” Haaretz, November 30, 2016, n.p., http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/archaeology/1.756193.
7). Ibid.
8). See E. Stern et al.: Tel Dor 1986, Preliminary Report, Israel Exploration Journal 37 (1987), p. 209; E. Stern et al.:  Tel Dor 1987, Preliminary Report, Israel Exploration Journal 39 (1989), p. 37.
9). Gera and Cotton, “A Dedication from Dor to a Governor of Syria,” 499 n.3.
10). Ibid., 497.
11). Ibid.
12). On Gargilii Antiqui, see Ibid., 500 n.41.
13).  William David Davies, Louis Finkelstein, and Steven T. Katz, The Cambridge History of Judaism: Volume 4, The Late Roman-Rabbinic Period (Cambridge University Press, 1984), 4:101; Dabrowa, “M. Paccius.” 99–102.
14). Bohstrom, “Divers Find Unexpected Roman Inscription.” n.p.
15). Bengt E. Thomasson, Laterculi Praesidum, vol. 1 (Londongatan: Göteborg, 2009), 65; 22:028.

Ameling, Walter, Hannah M. Cotton, Werner Eck, Benjamin Isaac, Alla Kushnir-Stein, Haggai Misgav, Jonathan Price, and Ada Yardeni, eds. Caesarea and the Middle Coast: nos. 1121-2160. Vol. 2. Corpus Inscriptionum Iudeaeae/Palaestinae. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2011.
Bohstrom, Philippe. “Divers Find Unexpected Roman Inscription from the Eve of Bar-Kochba Revolt.” Haaretz, November 30, 2016. http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/archaeology/1.756193.
Cotton, Hannah M., and Werner Eck. Governors and Their Personnel on Latin Inscriptions from Caesarea Maritima. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 7. Jerusalem, Israel: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 2001.
CIL=Mommsen, Theodor, and Herbert Nesselhauf, eds. Corpus Inscriptionum latinarum: Diplomata militaria. Vol. 16. 20 vols. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1974
Dabrowa, E. “M. Paccius Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus et son cursus honorum.” In Nunc de suebis dicendum est: studia archaeologica et historica Georgio Kolendo ab amicis et discipulis dicata, edited by Aleksander Bursche and Jerzy Kolendo, 99–102. Warsaw: Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 1995.
Daniel, Robert, Avner Ecker, Michael Shenkar, Claudia Sode, Marfa Heimbach, Dirk Koßmann, Naomi Schneider. Caesarea and the Middle Coast: 1121—2160. Walter de Gruyter, 2011. рр. 843—844.
Davies, William David, Louis Finkelstein, and Steven T. Katz. The Cambridge History of Judaism: Volume 4, The Late Roman-Rabbinic Period. Cambridge University Press, 1984, page 4:101.
Eck, Werner. “Ehrenstatuen Als Mittel Der Öffentlichen Kommunikation in Städten Der Provinz Iudaea/Syria Palaestina.” Electrum 21 (2014): 107–15.
Gera, Dov, and Hannah M. Cotton. “A Dedication from Dor to a Governor of Syria.” IEJ 41, no. 4 (1991): 258–66.
Sartre, M. “Inscriptions inédites de l'Arabie romaine.” Syria 50, no. 1 (1973): 223—33.
SEG = Chaniotis, Angelos, Thomas Corsten, N. Papazarkadas, and Rolf A. Tybout, eds. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum. Leiden: Gieben, 1923.
Stern E. et al.: Tel Dor 1986, Preliminary Report, Israel Exploration Journal 37 (1987), 209.
Stern E. et al.:  Tel Dor 1987, Preliminary Report, Israel Exploration Journal 39 (1989), 37.
Thomasson, Bengt E. Laterculi Praesidum. Vol. 1. Londongatan: Göteborg, 2009
Urloiu, Rado. “Legoo II Traiana Fortis Sil Iudeea in Tempul Lui Hadrianus [In Rumanian].” ["Legio II Traiana Fortis And Judaea Under Hadrian’s Reign"] Cogito 2 (2010): 120–38. PDF in English

Oct 30, 2016

Papyrus mentions Jerusalem in Hebrew, Real or Forgery?

The rare inscription from the time of the First Temple period.
(photo credit: Shai Halevy, IAA)
Recently, a piece of Papyrus was recovered (from smugglers) that mentions the word "Jerusalem" in Hebrew. It is reportedly the oldest (7th Century BC) mention of "Jerusalem" in Hebrew ever produced thus far. See the the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
    However, keep in mind that the IAA have a vested interest in declaring that an early manuscript mentions “Jerusalem” for their land claims. Responding, the expert epigrapher Dr. Christopher A. Rollston, George Washington University, is calling for caution and believes it is a forgery. He lists his reasons on his blog. It does not mean it is a forgery, but we do need to be cautious about such finds that are not found in an excavation as they bring large sums of money and many are willing to pay big dollars for such a sensational find. There are certainly lots of other mentions of Jerusalem in other ancient texts, but non so early in Hebrew. However, these can be easily forged by experts.
    A conference, including sessions dealing with this Hebrew papyrus document, was held on October 27, 2016 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. One of the respondents was the archaeologist Prof. Aren Maeir. He raised some questions about the authenticity of the document. Some of the points he made are included in an article by Nir Hasson in Haaretz, which Maeir reproduced on his Tel Es-Safi/Gath blog where he included another 15 points
    The IAA have responded asking for those claiming it is a forgery to provide proof.
    There will be a presentation on it at ASOR American Schools of Oriental Research next month (Nov, 2016)  in San Antonio. Lets wait and see what more experts have to say. No doubt there will be a large debate over this one, as is so often the case with such a sensational find.