This Easter, the Church that marks the traditional location of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is coming out of a 4 million dollar renovation. John DeLancey, co-leader of our Israel tour next year, is just back from another visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and discusses the newly renovated edicule in its rotunda.
The edicule, a small structure that covers the tomb of Jesus, has been rebuilt and strengthened against collapse.
In addition, we review news coverage of a recent open house at the Israel Antiquities Authority warehouse where relics from the time of Jesus are displayed for reporters.
News stories about the walls of Jerusalem, reported in the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine, include stories about the discovery of two triclinia (banquet rooms), along the western wall of the Temple Mount; the discovery of the location where the Romans breached the “Third Wall” during the first Jewish revolt; and new information about the Middle Bronze Age fortifications built by the Jebusites around the Gihon Spring.
More news digest items from the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine covered in this week’s program with ARTIFAX co-editor Clyde Billington, including:
- The discovery of the garbage dump from first century Jerusalem including the remains of the Last Supper (not identified yet, but it’s got to be in there somewhere)
- A cache of first century writing tablets from London, at the other end of the Roman Empire
- An abecedary (alphabet listing) from 15th century BC Egypt, the time of Moses
- And conclusive evidence that the ancient Coptic papyrus fragment that mentions the wife of Jesus is actually a forgery
Information on subscribing to ARTIFAX is at the radioscribe website.
It’s always fun to look back at the end of the year and see how Biblical Archaeology has opened up new perspectives on the biblical world. This year it was not just the discoveries of the year, but how discoveries from previous years were finally realized. Many of our Top 10 items were discovered decades ago, but their significance was only now becoming apparent in 2015.
Once again I was joined by Todd Bolen, the editor of Bibleplaces.com, to discuss the news stories of 2015. And our top item on the list highlighted the work of University of Wisconsin alumnus Brent Seales, now a computer science professor at the University of Kentucky. His software developments could open the way for the reading of many more ancient texts, such as the carbonized scroll of Leviticus from the Engedi synagogue that we reported on this year.
Two recent articles on important developments in Biblical Archaeology are discussed: a New York Times article on the excavations at Magdala (hometown of Mary Magdalene) and a Biblical Archaeology Review article on the discovery of the oldest alphabetic inscription found in Jerusalem.
Todd Bolen, a professor of Biblical Studies at The Master’s College and editor of Bibleplaces.com, joins me to reflect on these two developments and how they add to our understanding of the biblical world.
We will be visiting Magdala on our Book & The Spade Archaeological Adventure Study Tour coming up next March, and I’m looking forward to my first visit to the site of this synagogue that was probably visited by Jesus during his ministry. Why don’t you join us?
Gabi Barkay was one of our first guests on The Book & The Spade three decades ago, and has returned to the show about a half dozen times. On this latest program we got his report on some of the latest excavations in Jerusalem, such as the 2,000-year old streets that led from the Pool of Siloam up to the Temple Mount. Two parallel streets have been excavated in the last few years and visitors to the City of David area have been able to walk through the sewers under the streets.
These are the same sewers that were used as hiding places by first century Jews as the Romans besieged and then conquered the city. The ancient historian Josephus describes how the soldiers went after their hidden enemies. And Barkay noted that some of the paving stones show the evidence of being broken apart by the sledge hammers of the Roman soldiers.
We also discussed, in the second program, some of the results of the wet sifting process that Barkay developed for sifting debris removed from the Temple Mount in 1999. Other archaeologists are now starting to use the process and have discovered some exciting artifacts that might have otherwise been overlooked. In addition we discussed some of the archaeology taking place in the western wall plaza area.
Herod the Great is the subject of one of the largest exhibitions ever mounted by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. This video from CBN News gives somewhat of a sampling of what a visitor would see. We wanted to find out more about this brutal tyrant (according to New Testament accounts) so we called up Paul Maier. Prof. Maier is a professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University, and thoroughly familiar with Herod after re-translating the largest source of information about Herod, the ancient historian Josephus Flavius.