Tag Archives: archeological discoveries

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.

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ANCIENT TREASURES

BLOG 442
August 26, 2019

m desert

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.

ANCIENT TREASURES

One of the fascinating dimensions in the Middle East is the near ending archaeological discoveries that continue to pop up. Of course, the well-known ancient history of the entire region provides a fertile bed for new discoveries. Nearly every major American university annually sends teams of students and professors over to dig.

In addition, Israel knows that these finds collaborate the Old Testament support for their claims to the land. The Palestinians scream when the area around the Temple Mount continues to confirm Jewish claims to the past. However, apart from the political struggles, these recent discoveries enlarge our understanding of ancient history.

Recently, a rare and unusual find was unearthed north of the City of David in Jerusalem. A half-shekel weight was found that dates back to the First Temple period. The weight was found during the shifting of soil in the Emek Tzurim National Park that had been removed from the base of Robinson’s Arch on the Western Wall.

The word “beka” on the weight written in ancient Hebrew indicates this was the required donation for the maintenance of the Holy Temple from every person age 20 and older. (Exodus 38:26)

Another extraordinary find turned up at the Byzantine site of Shivta in the Negev Desert. A previously unknown painting of Jesus was found in part of a depiction of his baptism. This picture presents a youthful Jesus. The picture is in a badly preserved state with traces of red paint that present the outline of the face. Early Christian imagery is also rare in the Holy Land. Another painting was also found in the southern church of the same Shiva town. This painting depicted the Transfiguration of Jesus.

Using high resolution and special lighting, a picture revealed short curly hair, an elongated nose, large eyes, and a long face. To the left of Jesus is a picture of John the Baptist. This is the only in-situ scene of Jesus’s baptism recorded in the pre-iconoclastic Byzantine Palestine period.

The town of Shivta had a total of three churches which probably served pilgrims on their way to St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Desert.

Fascinating!

 

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RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES

BLOG 372 November 20, 2017

In the midst of the “push and pull” of Middle-Eastern politics and structure, periodically the Israel Antiquities Authority and other archaeologists make important discoveries. Perhaps, no place else in the world has attracted such fervent interest. My dear friend, Dr. William Tabbernee, author of Early Christianity in Contexts, has made similar archaeological explorations exploring the history of the Montanists. His work and findings are fascinating to explore.

Just recently another such discovery was made beneath Jerusalem’s Western Wall. Wilson’s Arch was the last in a series of arched bridges that connected to the Temple Mount from the West. Today it is the only remaining remnant of the Second Temple period. A huge aqueduct also passed over the arch. In an attempt to further date this area, Dr. Joe Uziel, Tehillah Lieberman, and Dr. Avi Solomon discovered a 200 seat amphitheater built in a Roman style like the ones at Caesarea or Beit She’an except much smaller. The uncovered theater sat under Wilson’s Arch, providing cover in case of rain or storms. Interestingly enough, the archaeologists are not sure this semi-circular theater was ever used. One archaeologist deemed this the most important discovery in the last thirty years.

One speculation is that it was built around the time of the BarKokhba Revolt and war and may have not been finished because of that insurrection against the Romans. Other similar findings were left unfinished from this period, suggesting the same possibility. The findings around the Wilson Arch area emphasize how significant these discoveries in the region can be.

On my visits to Jerusalem, a friend who is an American archaeologist took me inside these excavations to walk around the bedrock foundation of the original Temple Mount. Having removed dirt that for centuries had piled up against the city walls, they uncovered a large rock pathway that still had one of the stones split apart when the Romans took the Second Temple down. For 2,000 years no one had seen or walked on that stone. I stood there in awe of what it felt like to put one foot in the 21st century and the other in the first century!

Such finds are worthwhile indeed!

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TREASURES UNDER YOUR FEET

Blog 335 January 30, 2017

I have a new internet radio show!

Tune in at

www. blogtalkradio.com/miraclesnow

       miracles! With Robert Wise

In contrast to my usual blog, my focus is different today. One of my minor interests (although there’s nothing minor about it) is archeological discovery. During the years I roamed over the excavations in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, I found many exciting findings that are described in my latest book Bible Lands: An Illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places. Recently uncovered and developed sites like Beth She’an are off the beaten path in the Galilee but have the finest ancient Roman theatre in the country and remain a great visit.

Usually I update my readers on what’s happening behind the headlines in the major countries of the Middle East. Even though, the region is now enmeshed in war and struggle, the archeologists keep on digging and working. The result is that extraordinary surprises pop up all the time. Here’s some examples.

A “Freedom Zion” coin was recently uncovered in Jerusalem, dating back to the period when Israel struggled against Roman oppression which led to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. The backside of the coin reads, “Two years since the Great Revolt” which means the coin was minted in 67 CE. Such a find clarifies ancient Israel’s place in history and helps verify the story of the past.

Another rare find by the University of Haifa is an underwater discovery of a massive rectangular stone with the engraved name of Gargilius Antiques. He was the procurator that controlled Judea during the years of upheaval just prior to the Bar-Kochba Revolt. During that final revolt the Jews recaptured many of the areas lost to the Romans in 70 CE, including Jerusalem. However, the Jewish army collapsed after the final battle in Betar, Bar-Kochba’s headquarters. This is only the second time the name Judea was revealed in an ancient inscription. Many artifacts such as anchors and pottery were also found at this dig. The Tel Dor site is south of Haifa.

While construction was pending in the city of Yehud, archeology students turned up an amazing find that dated to the Middle Bronze Age nearly 4,000 years ago. The jug with a small figure sitting on top was unlike anything ever found before. The level of precision and attention to detail in the jug was extremely amazing for a find from this period.

During my time in Jerusalem a year ago, I walked through the on-going excavations in the City of David’s archeological site. Standing on the ground where history unfolded two millenniums ago was indeed humbling. Officials such as Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar recently lit candles on this site during Hanukkah. The rabbi pointed out that no UN resolution can deny the heritage of Jewish people that stretches back to those ancient times.

Fascinating!

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