BLOG 357 July 17, 2017
Taking a breather from the turmoil of politics and war in the Middle East, a little side trip through the archaeological discoveries of recent days can prove interesting. Interest in archaeology was piqued many years ago with the discovery of the Qumran Dead Sea Scroll. Decades ago, I met Khalil Eskander Shahin, called Kando, the middle man, in the sale of this find at a shop he ran in what is today East Jerusalem. One of the clay jars was on display in his souvenir shop. I vividly remember standing in awe, staring at this clay vessel that went back beyond 2,000 years, and housing the priceless finds once hidden inside this container.
Archaeological finds put us in touch with the past like little else. They bring the stories of history books to life. We wonder what famous person from the past must have touched the same object we are looking at.
Here’s several recent finds you will find significant.
Reaching w-a-a-y back in time, Israeli researchers have just discovered that the land was inhabited by Neanderthals over 60,000 years ago. Contrary to previous opinion, they did not live in caves and weren’t really cavemen at all. Not that some did not live in caves, but the conclusion is now considered an overstatement because they lived in the open fields around what is today the Ein-Qashsish area on the bands of the Kishon River in northern Israel. The remains of a Neanderthal from between 15 to 22 years of age revealed he suffered an injury that caused limping.
On another trail, researchers at Tel Aviv University discovered a ground-breaking discovery on the back of a pottery shard that dates back to 600 BCE, the eve of the Kingdom of Judah’s destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. The inscription begins with a blessing by Yahweh and then discusses money transfers. The original vessel came from a military outpost and fortress at the Southern border of the ancient Kingdom of Judah probably populated by 20 to 30 soldiers. The use of contemporary multi-spectral imaging techniques has opened to new fields of discovery. More insights will be forthcoming.
From a different front, on the eve of the jubilee commemoration of the Six Day War, (see Blog 356), the Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled relics from the battle for Jerusalem on the eve of the Second Temple destruction 2,000 years ago. Stone ballista balls and well-preserved arrowheads had been uncovered. These finds came from the last battle between the Romans and the Jewish rebels. The final showdown was recorded by historian Flavius Josephus. These artifacts and additional discoveries came from what was once a main street in the Second Temple period and will provide new information and insights on how the Old City was structured.
Another discovery in a cave on the cliff west of Qumran has revealed additional pottery shards, fragments of rope, and olive and date pits, but no more biblical scrolls were found. However, an ancient scroll was uncovered, but it had nothing on it and the parchment was completely blank. The empty scroll currently remains a mystery and puzzle to be solved. Surely, more will be discovered.
Stay tuned. More to come.