9.2009 Massive ancient wall uncovered in Jerusalem
Made of boulders weighing 4 to 5 tons, the 3,700-year-old wall is 26 feet high
Archaeologist: "I don't know how to do it today without mechanical equipment"
JERUSALEM - An archaeological dig in Jerusalem has turned up a 3,700-year-old wall that is the largest and oldest of its kind found in the region, experts say. The wall is built of enormous boulders, confounding archaeologists as to how ancient peoples built it. Standing 8 meters (26 feet) high, the wall of huge cut stones is a marvel to archaeologists.
"To build straight walls up 8 meters ... I don't know how to do it today without mechanical equipment," said the excavation's director, Ronny Reich. "I don't think that any engineer today without electrical power [could] do it." Archaeologist Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority added, "You see all the big boulders -- all the boulders are 4 to 5 tons." The wall is believed to have been part of a protected passage from a canaanite hilltop fortress to a nearby spring that was the city's only water source and vulnerable to marauders.
The discovered section is 24 meters (79 feet) long. "However, it is thought the fortification is much longer because it continues west beyond the part that was exposed," the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a news release. It was found inside the City of David, an archaeological excavation site outside the Old City of Jerusalem on a slope of the Silwan Valley.
Last edited by Livni; 11th September 2009 at 16:27.
9.2009 Menorah depiction found in 2000 year old Galilee synagogue, uncovered in Migdal near Lake Kinneret (sea of galilee)
Israeli archaeologists have uncovered one of the earliest depictions of a menorah, the seven-branched candelabra that has come to symbolize Judaism, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Friday.
Ancient stone engraved with a seven-branched candelabra, or menorah, seen at a synagogue in the northern town of Midgal, near Tiberias. The menorah was engraved in stone around 2,000 years ago and found in a synagogue recently discovered by the Kinneret.
Pottery, coins and tools found at the site indicate the synagogue dates to the period of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem, where the actual menorah was kept, said archaeologist Dina Avshalom-Gorni of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The artist might have seen the menorah during a pilgrimage and then recreated it in the synagogue, she suggested.
A small number of depictions of the menorah have surfaced from the same period, she said, but this one was unique because it was inside a synagogue and far from Jerusalem, illustrating the link between Jews around Jerusalem and in the Galilee to the north.
The menorah, depicted atop a pedestal with a triangular base, is carved on a stone which was placed in the synagogue's central hall.
The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Roman legions in 70 AD. The Arch of Titus in Rome, erected to mark the Roman victory, depicts troops carrying the menorah from Jerusalem to symbolize the defeat of the Jews. The menorah became a Jewish symbol and is featured today on Israel's official emblem.
Most other depictions of the menorah were made only after the temple's destruction, and if this finding is indeed earlier it could be closer to the original, said Aren Maeir, an archaeology professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
"If you have a depiction of the menorah from the time of the temple, chances are it is more accurate and portrays the actual object than portrayals from after the destruction of the temple, when it was not existent," he said.
The ancient prayer house was discovered in the town of Migdal, usually identified as the birthplace of the New Testament's Mary Magdalene, whose name is thought to be based on the town's.
9.2009 Archaeologists find 120 coins from the Bar Kokhba Revolt era in Judean Hills
September 9, 2009 - The largest cache of rare coins ever found in a scientific excavation from the period of the Bar-Kokhba revolt of the Jews against the Romans has been discovered in a cave by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University.
The coins were discovered in three batches in a deep cavern located in a nature reserve in the Judean hills. The treasure includes gold, silver and bronze coins, as well as some pottery and weapons.
The discovery was made in the framework of a comprehensive cave research and mapping project being carried out by Boaz Langford and Prof. Amos Frumkin of the Cave Research Unit in the Department of Geography at the Hebrew University, along with Dr. Boaz Zissu and Prof. Hanan Eshel of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University, and with the support of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
The some 120 coins were discovered within a cave that has a "hidden wing," the slippery and dangerous approach to which is possible only via a narrow opening discovered many years ago by Dr. Gideon Mann, a physician who is one of the early cave explorers in modern Israel. The opening led to a small chamber which in turn opens into a hall that served as a hiding place for the Jewish fighters of Bar-Kokhba.
Most of the discovered coins are in excellent condition and were overstruck as rebels' coins on top of Roman coins. The new imprints show Jewish images and words (for example: the facade of the Temple in Jerusalem and the slogan "for the freedom of Jerusalem"). Other coins that were found, of gold, silver and bronze, are original Roman coins of the period minted elsewhere in the Roman Empire or in the Land of Israel.
Bar-Kokhba coins of this quality and quantity have never before been discovered in one location by researchers in the Land of Israel, although over the years antiquities looters have found and sold large numbers of coins from this period. The high value of such coins has served as an incentive for thefts in recent decades, especially in the Judean hills, where many such caves exist.
Prof. Frumkin points out the significance of this particular cave, owing to its size, its proximity to Betar, and the large collection of coins found there. Ancient Betar was the site of the "last stand" of the rebels led by Bar-Kokhba in their struggle against Roman rule in Judea from 132-35 CE.
"This discovery verifies the assumption that the refugees of the revolt fled to caves in the center of a populated area in addition to the caves found in more isolated areas of the Judean Desert," said Prof. Frumkin. He also noted that the discovery adds significantly to our knowledge of the Bar-Kokhba revolt, about which there is not a great deal of historical information.
9.2009 Unprecedented Miniature Carving of Alexander the Great Found in Dor
Excavations in Tel Dor have turned up a rare and unexpected work of Hellenistic art: a precious stone bearing the miniature carved likeness of Alexander the Great. Archaeologists are calling it an important find, indicating the great skill of the artist.
The Tel Dor dig, under the guidance and direction of Dr. Ayelet Gilboa of Haifa University and Dr. Ilan Sharon of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, has just ended its summer excavation season. For more than 30 years, scientists have been excavating in Tel Dor, identified as the site of the Biblical town of Dor. The town's location, on Israel's Mediterranean Sea coast some 30 kilometers south of Haifa, made it an important international port in ancient times.
"Despite the tiny proportions - the length of the gemstone (gemma) is less than a centimeter and its width less than half a centimeter - the artist was able to carve the image of Alexander of Macedon with all of his features," Dr. Gilboa said. "The king appears as young and energetic, with a sharp chin and straight nose, and with long, curly hair held in a crown." According to the archaeologists involved in the Tel Dor excavations, the discovery of the miniature Alexander gemstone carving in Israel is fairly surprising. The Land of Israel was not, for the Greek Empire, a central or major holding.
"It has been accepted to assume that first-rate artists - and whoever carved the image of Alexander in this gemstone was certainly one of them - were primarily active under the patronage of the large royal courts in Greece itself or in major capitals," the scientists explained. "It turns out that local elites in secondary centers such as Dor could allow themselves - and knew to appreciate - superior artwork."
Additionally, the new find is important for the study of the historical Alexander the Great. The gemstone was found in the remains of a large public building from the Hellenistic period in the southern area of the tel. Unlike most of the portraits of Alexander in museums throughout the world, with unknown origins, the Tel Dor carving was found and classified within its archaeological context. The face was definitively identified as that of Alexander the Great by Dr. Jessica Nitschke of Georgetown University and Professor Andrew Stewart of UC Berkeley.
Historically, Alexander himself passed through Dor in 332 BCE, during his voyage to Egypt. It appears that the city fell to him without resistance. Since that time until its conquest by the Hasmonean Jewish King Alexander Yannai around 100 BCE, Dor served as a stronghold of non-Jewish Hellenists in the Land of Israel.
The 6th century "Birds Mosaic" is now on display after restoration, at the Yael Garden, in the Eretz Israel Museum (Land of Israel Museum) in Tel Aviv. The bizzantine era mosaic was discovered near Beit Guvrin, and was likely part of a church. Part of the mosaic stands upright and is 4m tall by 3m width in size.
מוזיאון ארץ ישראל רחב הידיים שבתל אביב חונך בימים אלה גן חדש, גן יעל, שבמרכזו "פסיפס הציפורים". זהו פסיפס גדול וניצב מהתקופה הביזנטית, שהתגלה בבית גוברין.
בפסיפס נראים שריגי גפן היוצאים מתוך אמפורה - כלי קיבול מחרס - ויוצרים שמונה מדליונים ובתוכם בעלי-חיים. לצִדי האמפורה יחמורים, מעליהם (מימין לשמאל) שלו, עוף דורס וקורא ובשורה העליונה אווז, פסיון ועגור. ברצועה שמעל שטיח זה מתוארים שני טווסים אוחזים בזֵר ומעליו כתובת ביוונית.
Last edited by Livni; 16th September 2009 at 12:21.