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.”
Another update with news of the latest discoveries and developments in biblical archaeology from the pages of the summer issue of ARTIFAX magazine.
The news includes the collapse of one of Solomon’s Pools south of Bethlehem, part of the system that fed water to Jerusalem for centuries; new excavations taking place in Judean desert caves overlooking the Dead Sea, to preempt looting in the area; and the discovery of an ancient glass factory near Mt. Carmel, one of the two main centers of glass production in the ancient world .
ONLINE UPDATE: One of our listeners, professor Carl Rasmussen, sent along this link to a story about a 9-ton slab of glass found in Israel back in the 1960s. He also sent a link to a photo of ancient glass items from the Israel Museum.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and predicting that the top slot on our Top Ten discoveries in Biblical Archaeology list in two months is going to be this item, the reading of the oldest biblical text outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Earlier this year, it was announced that a CT scan of a cigar-shaped charcoal briquette, in reality the remains of a carbonized scroll from the fire-destroyed Byzantine synagogue at Ein Gedi, revealed the Old Testament book of Leviticus.
In this series of interviews we talk with University of Kentucky professor Brent Seales (a University of Wisconsin graduate) about his work, virtually unrolling and reviving ancient texts with computerized tomography and particle accelerators.
Archaeologists gather in Atlanta next month, and maybe somebody can top this. We’ll see.
Catching up on some other projects offers me the opportunity to dig into the Book & The Spade archives and dig out some great old programs.
Program #648 was produced in 1998, the 50th anniversary of the discovery of The Dead Sea Scrolls, and features the voices of some of the key personalities of that day, including William F. Albright and Yigael Yadin, as well as some more modern scholars.
Program #628 was recorded in 1997 and features Ray Vander Laan, who has produced the incredibly informative video series called Faith Lessons, originally known as That The World May Know. If you are going to Israel it’s important to prepare ahead of time to take full advantage of this opportunity to explore the HolyLand. Ray Vander Laan’s videos are one of the best resources that I can recommend (in addition to The Book & The Spade and ARTIFAX magazine, of course).
The Samaritans are mentioned in the gospels numerous times. Today there are two small Samaritan communities in Israel, one in Nablus and one in Tel Aviv.
The Samaritans thrived as a community for several centuries before and after the time of Christ. The recent discovery of a Samaritan Temple just south of Bethshean is evidence of that community, around the year 500 A.D.
On this week’s program we also discuss a temple discovered in Jordan, some beautiful wall paintings restored at Petra (also in Jordan), and possible renovations of the Western Wall in Jerusalem moving one step closer to reality.