Category Archives: archaeology

ARCHEOLOGICAL JACKPOT!

BLOG 484
August 31, 2020

archaeology

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

ARCHEOLOGICAL JACKPOT!

Parodically, I take a break from the “hot and heavy” political news of the Middle East to catch up with what archeologist are turning up. Possibly, nowhere in the world have the digs turned up such amazing finds and treasurers. These experts about the past are chancing how we read history. Here’s the latest.

A rare hoard of 425 gold coins from the Abbasid Caliphate, dating around 1,100 years ago, was uncovered by teenage volunteers at an archaeological excavation in the center of the country, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Monday. The trove was discovered by a group of young people carrying out volunteer work ahead of their mandatory army service.

“It was amazing.” said teen Oz Cohen. “I dug in the ground and when I excavated the soil, saw what looked like very thin leaves. When I looked again, I saw these were gold coins. It was really exciting to find such a special and ancient treasure.” Excavation directors Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr. Elie Haddad said that it was assumed that whoever buried the coins would have expected they would be able to retrieve the hoard, and that the find could point to international trade carried out by the area’s residents.

“Finding gold coins, certainly in such a considerable quantity, is extremely rare. We almost never find them in archaeological excavations, given that gold has always been extremely valuable, melted down and reused from generation to generation,” the directors. “The coins, made of pure gold that does not oxidize in air, were found in excellent condition, as if buried the day before. Their finding may indicate that international trade took place between the area’s residents and remote areas,” the statement read.

Dr. Robert Kool, a coin expert at the IAA, said that the total weight of the hoard — around 845 grams of pure gold — would have been a significant amount of money at the end of the 9th century. “For example, with such a sum, a person could buy a luxurious house in one of the best neighborhoods in Fustat, the enormous wealthy capital of Egypt in those days,” Kool said that at the time, the region was part of the Abbasid Caliphate, which stretched from Persia to North Africa, with a central seat of government in Baghdad.

“The hoard consists of full gold dinars, but also — what is unusual — contains about 270 small gold cuttings, pieces of gold dinars cut to serve as small change,” Kool said.

He added that one of those cuttings was exceptionally rare and never before found in excavations in Israel — a fragment of a gold solidus of the Byzantine emperor Theophilos (829 – 842 CE), minted in the empire’s capital of Constantinople.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
Harper-Collins Publishers
JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

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ON THE EVE OF THE BIG ELECTION

BLOG 462
March 2, 2020

archaeological

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

ON THE EVE OF THE BIG ELECTION

Just around the corner is the third election for the next Prime Minister of Israel. The rhetoric from the first two elections is still floating around Israel and most of the voters are sick of the mess. Under indictment for corruption, Netanyahu keeps saying he’s got America in his hip pocket. President Trump threw in the recent peace plan to support Netanyahu’s claims. Interestingly enough, this maneuver has to some extent been discrediting to Trump. The American President is now seen in large segments of the Israeli population as a manipulator whose trust is questionable.

Consequently, the sparks keep flying. Who will win? I see my task as only to attempt to present an objective view of what is happening in the Middle East. In other words, I’m not into gambling so I’ll pass on calling how the election will turn out.

For a breath of fresh air, this week let me take you in a different direction. For you who are interested in archaeological excavations, you will find a recent dig near the town of Neve Daniel to be fascinating. Archaeologists David Amit and Yuval Peleg turned up mikveh baths that date back to the Second Temple period. A mikveh was a ritual bath for purification during Passover, Shvuot, and Sukkot times in Jerusalem as well as many other times. The two baths found by Amit and Peleg are located at the place where pilgrims catch their first glimpse of the Holy City.

Out in the middle of nowhere, these two baths are located close to the main road leading into Jerusalem. Chiseled out of solid rock, the two sets of stairs lead downward and through entrances cut out of the same rock. In the middle remain two pool areas. During the coming month of March, the Jewish festival of Purim would have been another one of the times when people might come for purification.

Many in the Christian world believe that baptism grew out of the custom of mikveh baths because both are cleansing baths and personal purification. Since 1968 during the many years I have been involved in Israel, I watched these discoveries reveal the ancient face of this country that extends back for thousands of years.

Hey, maybe this week would be a good time for all the politicians in Israel to take a nice cleansing mikveh bath. They all need one.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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MY, MY LOOK WHAT THEY FOUND WHILE PLAYING IN THE DIRT

BLOG 439
August 5, 2019

coin (1)

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

MY, MY LOOK WHAT THEY FOUND WHILE PLAYING IN THE DIRT

Periodically, I share the latest archaeological finds in Israel. (Makes a nice break from all the turmoil and fighting going on across the Middle East.) Moreover, the latest discoveries are always fascinating. Over the decades, I’ve watched many of these digs reveal the past in surprising ways. They always make us more aware of the importance of the past.

Remember the city of Ziklag? Probably not because the name is rather obscure. However, Ziklag was one of the places that David stayed when he was running from King Saul. A team from the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem turned up the ruins of Ziklag. Large stone structures characteristic of Philistine culture were turned up along with a significant number of vessels that reveal the biblical period. Bowls and jugs all reflect the period of King David. The Philistine name further supports the contention that the Philistines were not native to the area, but migrated from Europe.

All of which reflect new discoveries at the excavation of the Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon. The Book of Joshua identified five Philistine cities: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. The name Palestine came from this beginning and was first used by the Greeks. Dating of the bones reveals that the Philistines probably immigrated in the 12th century B.C.E.. Bone samples received DNA testing that also revealed ancestry from European population. Their dig continues offering new insights.

Jerusalem is once again offering more discoveries. A broken sewage pipe in 2004 in the Silwan neighborhood led to the discovery of a long, narrow staircase that connected the Pool of Siloam to the Temple. People would bathe in the pool before entering the Temple grounds. When I was there in February, this was being readied for opening to the public.

Archaeologists are calling the ancient street “the Pilgrimage Road.” They are convinced this was the path millions of Jews took three times a year when fulfilling the commandment to go up to the holy city and bring their sacrifices during Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Jesus would certainly have used this road in going up to the Second Temple.

Discovered in the dirt of this find was a cache of coins marked, “Free Zion.” This was the Jewish battle cry against the Romans. One archaeologist suggests they made coins instead of arrowheads because they knew they could not beat the Romans. However, the coins would be there for the people who would one day come back.

And so we have. We, too, can now walk this ancient path.

You might find my book on near-death experiences important for you:
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF ETERNITY
Revell books

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