More stories from the news digests of the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine, including inscriptions that name a newly discovered Roman governor of ancient Judea, and that connect to the ruling family of the Hasmonean period.
An inscription naming Gargilius Antiquus was found in the harbor of Dor, indicating that he was probably the governor of the Roman province of Judea when the second Jewish revolt broke out.
An inscription, “Hyrcanus,” was found in the massive Givati Parking Lot excavation just outside the walls of Jerusalem. It is probably one or the other John Hyrcanus, from the Hasmonean lineage of the 1st and 2nd centuries BC.
“The Thinker” is the name given to the figure of a man found sitting atop a pot dating to around 1800 BC, the patriarchal period. The man is shown deep in thought.
And finally mention of some of the finds from last summer’s Gezer excavation of the Bronze Age gate.
Catching up with some of the archaeology stories in the news digests of the latest issue of our ARTIFAX magazine, co-editor Clyde Billington and I discuss some new Dead Sea Scrolls fragments that have been found. That is, they were found in some caves along the western shore of the Dead Sea but not at Qumran, rather further south near Masada, along Wadi Tze’elim.
Another discovery in the same cave (known as the Cave of the Skulls) is the Jerusalem Papyrus, which was one of our Top Ten biblical archaeology stories of 2016. This papyrus contains what appears to be the oldest mention of Jerusalem in the Hebrew language, dating to the 7th century B.C.
And finally, we discuss the recent proposition put forth by Douglas Petrovich, that the alphabetic Semitic inscriptions from Wadi el-Hol in Egypt and Serabit el-Khadem in the Sinai were actually written by ancient Hebrews.
For more than 60 years, the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery has included mention of the 11 caves in which scrolls and scroll materials were found. Then, earlier this year, it was announced that Cave #12 has been identified. A new effort to identify caves with archaeological contents along the shore of the Dead Sea has begun.
On this program we talk with professor Randall Price, one of the leaders of this year’s Cave #12 excavation for more details on the cave search and what’s ahead.
The 11 caves in which Dead Sea Scroll materials were found more than a half century ago have been joined by one more cave, cave #12. No new scrolls were found, but archaeologists did unearth evidence of scroll storage jars and related materials left behind by looters who plundered the site decades ago. We discuss this find and several other sites where archaeology is going on this year with John DeLancey, who will be the co-leader of our May 2018 TB&TS Israel Study tour.
In the second program we continue to review some of the most interesting sites in Israel where excavations are planned for 2017. This is an annual feature which gives listeners an idea of where Biblical Archaeology is focused right now, and it also serves to remind listeners that these are all opportunities where volunteers can get involved and do some hands-on biblical research. As William Dever once said, on The Book & The Spade program, “The only new facts about the Bible and the biblical world are coming from the ground.”
We check in again with Brent Seales, chair of the computer science department at the University of Kentucky, for an update on his efforts to read ancient scrolls which are unreadable without a X-ray scan and his software to virtually unroll the scrolls. Professor Seales first got our attention a year and a half ago with the news that he had virtually unrolled a carbonized scroll of Leviticus, excavated in 1970 from a burned synagogue on the Dead Sea shore at Engedi.
At the time he took up the Leviticus scroll professor Seales had been at somewhat of a dead end on his efforts to read scrolls from the Villa of the Papyri, excavated a century and a half ago from Herculaneum. The ink on the scrolls was indistinguishable from the burned black papyri. But now professor Seales believes he’s found the solution to that problem, and it may well be that this ancient library, destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, is once again going to be available to interested readers.
Every year we draw attention to all of the interesting excavations in Biblical Archaeology by highlighting ten of the most exciting discoveries or announcements of the previous year. This year the top discovery on the list goes right to the heart of the Christian faith, the opening up of the traditional tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. There are nine more on the list, one all the way at the other end of the Roman Empire.