Category Archives: ASIA

Ancient DNA reveals that the Biblical Philistines originated in Europe.

Ancient DNA reveals that the Biblical Philistines originated in Europe.

A team of scientists from Germany, the United States and Korea has sequenced and analyzed DNA of 10 Bronze and Iron Age individuals from the ancient Mediterranean port city of Ashkelon, identified as ‘Philistine’ during the Iron Age.

The researchers found that a European derived ancestry was introduced in Ashkelon around the time of the Philistines’ estimated arrival, suggesting that their ancestors migrated across the Mediterranean, reaching Ashkelon by the early Iron Age.

This European genetic component was subsequently diluted by the Levantine gene pool over the succeeding centuries, suggesting intensive admixture between locals and migrants.

Left: captive Philistine warriors from a wall relief at Medinet Habu, Egypt, 1185-1152 BC. Right: an artist’s conception of a Philistine warrior.

The Philistines are famous for their appearance in the Hebrew Bible as the enemies of the Israelites. However, ancient texts tell little about the Philistine origins other than a later memory that they came from ‘Caphtor,’ a Bronze Age name for Crete (Amos 9:7).

More than a century ago, egyptologists proposed that a group called the Peleset in texts of the late 12th century BCE were the same as the Biblical Philistines.

The Egyptians claimed that the Peleset traveled from ‘the islands,’ attacking what is today Cyprus and the Turkish and Syrian coasts, finally attempting to invade Egypt. These hieroglyphic inscriptions were the first indication that the search for the origins of the Philistines should be focused in the late 2nd millennium BCE.

“We found substantial changes in ways of life during the 12th century BCE which we connect to the arrival of the Philistines,” said Professor Daniel Master, an archeologist with the Wheaton Archaeology Museum and director of the Harvard Semitic Museum’s Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, and colleagues.

“Many scholars, however, argued that these cultural changes were merely the result of trade or a local imitation of foreign styles and not the result of a substantial movement of people.”

“Our new study represents the culmination of more than 30 years of archaeological work and genetic research, concluding that the advent of the Philistines in the southern Levant involved a movement of people from the west during the Bronze to Iron Age transition.”

Reconstruction of a Philistine house from the 12th century BCE.

The researchers successfully recovered genomic data from the remains of 10 individuals who lived in Ashkelon during the Bronze and Iron Age.

They then compared DNA of the Bronze and Iron Age people of Ashkelon to determine how they were related.

They found that individuals across all time periods derived most of their ancestry from the local Levantine gene pool, but that individuals who lived in early Iron Age Ashkelon had a European derived ancestral component that was not present in their Bronze Age predecessors.

“This genetic distinction is due to European-related gene flow introduced in Ashkelon during either the end of the Bronze Age or the beginning of the Iron Age,” said Dr. Michal Feldman, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

“This timing is in accord with estimates of the Philistines arrival to the coast of the Levant, based on archaeological and textual records.”

“While our modeling suggests a southern European gene pool as a plausible source, future sampling could identify more precisely the populations introducing the European-related component to Ashkelon.”

In analyzing later Iron Age individuals from Ashkelon, the researchers found that the European related component could no longer be traced.

“Within no more than two centuries, this genetic footprint introduced during the early Iron Age is no longer detectable and seems to be diluted by a local Levantine related gene pool,” said Dr. Choongwon Jeong, also from the Max Planck Institute of the Science of Human History.

“While, according to ancient texts, the people of Ashkelon in the first millennium BCE remained ‘Philistines’ to their neighbors, the distinctiveness of their genetic makeup was no longer clear, perhaps due to intermarriage with Levantine groups around them,” Professor Master said.

“These data begin to fill a temporal gap in the genetic map of the southern Levant.

At the same time, by the zoomed-in comparative analysis of the Ashkelon genetic time transect, we find that the unique cultural features in the early Iron Age are mirrored by a distinct genetic composition of the early Iron Age people,” said Dr. Johannes Krause, also from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

2,000-Year-Old Measuring Table Points to Location of Ancient Jerusalem Market

2,000-Year-Old Measuring Table Points to Location of Ancient Jerusalem Market

A rare Second Temple measuring table was recently discovered in the City of David, and it is causing archaeologists to identify an ancient Jerusalem square as the city’s 2,000-year-old central market, according to Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Ari Levy.

In conversation with The Times of Israel on Monday, Levy said the stone table would have belonged to the market’s manager, or agoranomos, who was in charge of the weights and measures of commodities traded in the shuk.

The measuring table was found in a broad paved central square still undergoing excavation, alongside dozens of stone measurement weights. The sum of the parts has led the IAA archaeologists to conclude that this area of the Stepped Street, a paved 2,000-year-old pilgrims’ path that connects the Siloam Pool with the Temple Mount, would have served as ancient Jerusalem’s main market.

“The volume standard table we’ve found, as well as the stone weights discovered nearby, support the theory that this was the site of vast trade activity, and perhaps this may indicate the existence of a market,” said Levy in a press release.

Today, the path is five meters (16 feet) under ground. Archaeologists and historians call the road that is being excavated under an East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood the “Stepped Street.” In more popular parlance it is called the “Pilgrims’ Path” or the “Pilgrimage Road.”

In total, the path stretches some 600 meters long and is eight meters wide. Both sides of the street were lined with shops that were likely two stories high, said Levy during a recent visit there.

It was built starting in 20 CE by the Romans and completed under the governance of Pontius Pilate in about 30 CE. A recent study of 100 coins collected under pavement at the site appears to confirm this dating.

But the Romans, in destroying Jerusalem in 70 CE, covered up all their hard work just 40 years later.

For the past decade, Jerusalem archaeologists have been excavating the dirt and debris that cover the near-mint condition Roman paving stones. Along the way, they’ve uncovered untold artifacts, such as this measuring table.

Only two other such measuring tables have been discovered in Israel: One in the 1970s in the Old City of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter by Dr. Nahman Avigad, and the second during excavations in Shuafat in northern Jerusalem in 2007 under Dr. Rahel Bar-Natan.

However, contemporary measuring tables are found in city centers throughout the Roman Empire that used the same system of measures for the volume of the liquids — likely olive oil or wine — as the one found in the City of David find, said Levy.

The fact that the measuring table is made of stone has nothing to do with Temple purity, said archaeologist Levy. Asked who this market manager would have been — Roman or Jewish — Levy laughed and said, “Until we find his identification card, we can’t know.”

The role of the market manager or agoranomos (the Greek agora connotes a central public space), well documented in antiquity, arrived in the Land of Israel during the Hellenistic period.

It is mentioned in the Book of Maccabees, according to an entry: “In Jerusalem, the controversy between Onias, the high priest, and Simeon in regard to the office of the agoranomia was one of the causes of the civil war in the early 70s of the second century b.c.e.” Roman Jewish historian Josephus also makes reference to the office — and the Jerusalem square where he would have sat.

In the Talmud it is described that whereas in Jerusalem prior to the fall of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the market manager would have only been in charge of weights and measures, the office in Babylon expanded to assigning the value of the foodstuffs.

The location of the measuring table and the additional finds of weights in the still partially covered square suggest to the archaeologists that the large paved open area, found in the middle of the path leading to the Temple Mount, served as “the focal point of trade and commerce,” according to an IAA press release announcing the find.

Preliminary research into the table is being conducted by archaeologist Prof. Ronny Reich, an expert in ancient Jerusalem who was among the first to find portions of the sewer system which led to the discovery of the Pilgrims’ Path.

Describing the piece of the stone table top, Reich said in the press release, “We see two of the deep cavities remain, each with a drain at its bottom.

The drain at the bottom could be plugged with a finger, filled with a liquid of some type, and once the finger was removed, the liquid could be drained into a container, therefore determining the volume of the container, using the measurement table as a uniform guideline. This way, traders could calibrate their measuring instruments using a uniform standard.”

The dozens of weights discovered in the town square and the surrounding area were made from flat stones of different weights and sizes. Reich said some 90 percent of weights of this type come from excavations of Second Temple period sites in Jerusalem and are a uniquely Jerusalem weight class.

According to Levy, the accompanying stone measure weights are typical to the period in Jerusalem. “The fact that there were city-specific weights at the site indicates the unique features of the economy and trade in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, possibly due to the influence of the Temple itself,” he said in the press release.

The City of David’s underground Stepped Street is still being excavated, in two shifts a day, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and will not be fully open to the public for several years, said Levy.

1600-Year-Old Roman Shipwreck Found in “Perfect” Condition in Spain

1600-Year-Old Roman Shipwreck Found in “Perfect” Condition in Spain

In 117 AD, at the time of Caesar Trajan’s death, the Roman Empire had reached its territorial peak, stretching across the Mediterranean Sea to North Africa and Western Asia. And the Romans used ships for much of the things that were sold to or bought from their distant colonies.

As a result, shipwrecks in Mediterranean Sea waters from the Roman era are common. Now another Roman cargo shipwreck, known as the Ses Fontanelles, has been found just off one of the busiest beaches in Mallorca, Spain reports The Guardian.

Dated to the 4th century AD, this incredibly well-preserved Roman cargo ship was carrying hundreds of amphorae of wine, olives, oil, and garum (fermented fish sauce). During a stopover at Mallorca, en route from southwest Spain to Italy, the ship anchored in the Bay of Palma when ferocious waves came and swallowed the vessel, burying it under the shallow seabed.

Project Arqueomallornauta and the Roman Cargo Ship

The Roman cargo shipwreck was first spotted in the summer of 2019. The ship was measured to be roughly 12 meters (39 feet) long.

Particularly surprising was the fact that this ancient shipwreck lay 50 meters (164 feet) from a very busy beach, with its contents only 2 meters (6.5 feet) below sea level. This very touristy beach just off the Balearics welcomes millions of visitors every year, but shockingly, none of the shipwreck artefacts were ever touched after the ship sank.

In the Guardian article Jaume Cardell, the head of archaeology at the Consell of Mallorca said, “The aim is to preserve everything there and all the information it contains, and that couldn’t be done in single emergency intervention. That’s where the project Arqueomallornauta comes in: it’s about recovering and preserving both the wreck and its historical cargo.

This isn’t just about Mallorca; in the whole western Mediterranean, there are very few wrecks with such a singular cargo.”

Researchers from the universities of Barcelona, Cadiz, and the Balearic Islands signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Consell of Mallorca for an inter-university 3-year project called Arqueomallornauta, which will be active till 2023.

The thrust of the project is “analyzing maritime traffic in Majorca in Late Antiquity through underwater findings” as per a press release by the University of Cadiz.

Late Antiquity, or the period between 284 and 700 AD, coincides roughly with the resolution of the Roman Empire’s crisis of the 3rd century, its collapse at the hands of the barbaric tribes, and the early Muslim conquests.

The first part of this MoU was put into action between November 2021, and February 2022, with the excavation of the contents of the ship’s cargo.

The finds were described as “…frankly exceptional, since they have made it possible to fully discover the cargo of the ship, which sank in the middle of the 4th century AD, in an excellent state of conservation,” said the research team.

This exceptional Roman cargo ship finds will shed new light on the condition of the Mediterranean in the 4th century and provide insights into the lives of crew members of such ships.

Just consider these artefacts found on the Mallorca Roman cargo shipwreck: a leather shoe, a rope shoe, a cooking pot, an oil lamp, and a carpenter’s drill (the fourth ever found in this entire region).

There were no human remains of the boat’s crew, however, which suggests that they might have made it to the coast or were swept away by the waves.

An Unparalleled State of Preservation

The best part? The sand created a natural barrier against oxygen, allowing for incomparable preservation of the boat’s organic materials. “Things have been so perfectly preserved that we have found bits of textile, a leather shoe and an espadrille.

The most surprising thing about the boat is just how well preserved it is – even the wood of the hull … It’s wood that you can knock – like it’s from yesterday,” said Dr Miguel Ángel Cau, an archaeologist at the University of Barcelona.

“It’s important in terms of naval architecture because there are very few ancient boats that are as well preserved as this one,” added Dr Darío Bernal-Casasola, an archaeologist at the University of Cádiz. “There are no complete Roman boats in Spain.”

He also notes that the amphorae are still so well preserved that the remains of the contents, the structure of the jar, and the inscriptions on them all remain perfectly intact, calling it an “improbable subaquatic archaeological hat-trick.”

Human Lives Illuminated: The Trading Elite and the Crew

Historian Enrique García Riaza from the University of the Balearic Islands made it clear that this wreck is proof of how important the Balearic archipelago was to the Roman Empire, particularly as a staging post between the Italian and Spanish parts of the Mediterranean.

The elites of the Balearic would have had extensive social and economic relationships with the elites of places like Cartagena and Tarragona.

The crew of the ship were likely Roman pagans, evidenced by the pagan symbol of the moon goddess Diana on an oil lamp found on the wreck. However, some of the ship’s amphorae were imprinted with Christian seals. This would mean that the crew itself was pagan but that the ship carried Christian cargo.

Once the hull of Mallorca’s latest Roman cargo ship is recovered, the plan is to put the ship and its cargo on display, for everyone to see. For the same purpose, conservationists and specialists are being invited to prepare a special report.

The archaeologists are particularly grateful because they acknowledge how easily this find fell into their laps, and the state of preservation only suggests that this is a once in a lifetime find.

Reconstructed Jesus’ Tomb Opened for First Time in 500 Years

Reconstructed Jesus’ Tomb Opened for First Time in 500 Years

The tomb’s contents provides ‘visible proof that the spot the pilgrims worship today really is the same tomb the Roman Emperor Constantine found in the 4th century’. The tomb believed to be the place where Jesus was laid has been opened for the first time in centuries.

For decades, archaeologists and theologians have debated over whether the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is the site where Christ was supposedly buried and resurrected after being crucified.

The tomb has been sealed in marble since the 1500s in order to prevent visitors from stealing pieces as relics.

Over the preceding centuries, the famous church had been destroyed and rebuilt so many times that experts were left unsure about whether the tomb had been moved and what it might contain.

The entrance of the Tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Lifting the tomb’s marble lid for the first time in 500 years, researchers discovered the limestone shelf where Jesus’s body was thought to have been placed, the Mirror reported.

Also discovered, was a second grey marble slab previously unknown to the researchers, engraved with a cross they believe was carved in the 12th century by the Crusaders.

Workers at tomb

Archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert of National Geographic, a partner in the project, said: “The most amazing thing for me was when we removed the first layer of dust and found a second piece of marble.

“This one was grey, not creamy white like the exterior, and right in the middle of it was a beautifully inscribed cross. We had no idea that was there.

“The shrine has been destroyed many times by fire, earthquakes, and invasions over the centuries. We didn’t really know if they had built it in exactly the same place every time.

“But this seems to be visible proof that the spot the pilgrims worship today really is the same tomb the Roman Emperor Constantine found in the 4th century and the Crusaders revered. It’s amazing.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalems Old City

“When we realised what we had found my knees were shaking a little bit.”

According to Christian scripture, Jesus died on the cross and buried for three days before rising from the dead.

Upon opening the ancient tomb, religious leaders from the Greek and Armenian Orthodox churches and the Franciscan monks, who share responsibility for the church, were the first to enter the tomb.

Construction on the tomb

Mr Hiebert added: They came out with big smiles on their face. Then the monks went in and they were all smiling.

“We were all getting really curious. Then we went in, looked into the tomb, and saw a lot of rubble. So it wasn’t empty, even though there were no artefacts or bones.”

Researchers have been involved in discussions as to whether or not the tomb could be opened for vital repairs since 1959, but the committee has faced difficulty in coming to an agreement.

Mr Hiebert said: “Everything has to be approved by the committee, so even changing a candle takes a long time.

”There is a ladder by the main entrance to the church that hasn’t moved in 240 years and they still haven’t reached a decision. It’s called the immovable ladder.

“So the fact we were finally allowed to carry out this work is a triumph of negotiation.”

The original bedrock of the tomb of Jesus Christ

Using ground penetrating radar and thermographic scanners, conservation experts gathered information on the insides of the tomb before unsealing it.

The data is so extensive it will take months to analyse, but the team hope to create a virtual reconstruction for public viewing.

The Ancient Mystery of the Dolmens of the North Caucasus

The Ancient Mystery of the Dolmens of the North Caucasus

Scattered around in some previously inaccessible parts of Russia are some mysterious stone structures built by an ancient megalithic civilization that have endured centuries of both veneration and plunder.

If you ever travel to the North-West Caucasus, you might encounter some strange stone structures that look like miniature houses with round holes in their front walls.

These are the dolmens, ancient megalithic monuments that date back to the early Bronze Age, from the middle of the 4th millennium BC to the end of the 2nd millennium BC.

The dolmens are scattered across the region, from Abkhazia to the Taman Peninsula in an area of approximately 12,000 square kilometers (around 4650 square miles), and are known by the locals as “ispun”, meaning the “houses of dwarves”.

Around 3,000 such megalithic monuments are known in the North Caucasus, with more discoveries regularly happening. The area has the largest concentration of dolmens on Earth.

The construction is remarkable, with massive stone plates fit together without the use of mortar or cement, precisely interlocking via specially crafted grooves. Some joints are so tight that a knife blade cannot pass through.

In 2007, an attempt to reconstruct a dolmen using high-precision electric tools with stones from Gelendzhik’s destroyed structures fell short of the precision achieved by Bronze Age builders.

The dolmens usually consist of a chamber with a large roof slab and an access portal formed by projecting blocks from the side walls and the overhanging roof slab. Most dolmens have a square, semi-circular, or oval access porthole in the center of the façade, which is thought to have been used to place offerings or burials inside the chamber.

Some dolmens have raised patterns (petroglyphs) on their face slabs, such as vertical and horizontal zigzags, hanging triangles, concentric circles, and some depicting pairs of breasts.

These symbols may have had religious or cultural meanings for the builders, but their exact interpretation is still unknown. The dolmens were mainly constructed from fluidogenic rock masses, such as sandstone or limestone, which were hand-carried from nearby quarries to the construction sites.

The purpose and function of the dolmens are still debated by scholars. Some of the dolmens are aligned with astronomical phenomena, such as solstices or equinoxes, indicating that they may have had an astrological or calendrical function.

Some of them are clustered in groups or rows, suggesting that they may have marked territorial boundaries or sacred landscapes. Some of them contain human remains or offerings, indicating that they may have been used for funerary or ceremonial purposes.

The proponents of the theory that the sites were used for tribal worship or ritual ceremonies point out that some dolmens are located in remote areas or on hilltops, away from settlements or cemeteries, and that some dolmens have no traces of burials at all. They also suggest that the petroglyphs may have represented deities or ancestors that were revered by the Dolmen builders.

The identity and origin of the Dolmen builders are also unclear. Some propose that they were associated with the Klin-Yar community in the North Caucasus, or the Koban culture from the Great Caucasus Range.

Others suggest that they were a separate group of people with their own unique culture and traditions. The dolmens may have been built by different tribes or clans over a long period, reflecting their social and political organization.

The dolmens are an enigmatic and fascinating part mysterious prehistoric civilization that left behind these impressive stone monuments. They are also threatened by natural erosion and vandalism, of the Caucasus heritage, revealing glimpses of looting, and urban development.

Many dolmens have been damaged or destroyed over time, and some have been moved or reconstructed for tourism purposes. Efforts are being made to preserve and protect these ancient structures, which are part of the cultural and historical legacy of the region.

Roadside dig Reveals 10,000 Year Old House In Israel

Roadside dig Reveals 10,000 Year Old House In Israel

Archeologists say that while digging at a construction site in Israel, they have uncovered some stunning finds, including stone axes, a “cultic” temple, and traces of a house 10,000 years old.

This image shows the 10,000-year-old house, the oldest dwelling to be unearthed to date in the Judean Shephelah.

The discoveries provide a “broad picture” of human development over thousands of years, from the time when people first started settling in homes to the early days of urban planning, officials with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said.

In preparation for the widening of an Israeli road, the excavation took place at Eshtaol, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) west of Jerusalem.

The site’s oldest discovery was an 8th millennium B.C. building during the Neolithic period.

“This is the first time that such an ancient structure has been discovered in the Judean Shephelah,” archaeologists with the IAA said, referring to the plains west of Jerusalem.

The building seems to have undergone a number of renovations and represents a time when humans were first starting to live in permanent settlements rather than constantly migrating in search of food, the researchers said.

Near this house, the team found a cluster of abandoned flint and limestone axes.

“Here we have evidence of man’s transition to permanent dwellings and that in fact is the beginning of the domestication of animals and plants; instead of searching out wild sheep, the ancient man started raising them near the house,” the archaeologists said in a statement.

The excavators also say they found the remains of a possible “cultic” temple that’s more than 6,000 years old.

The researchers think this structure, built in the second half of the 5th millennium B.C., was used for ritual purposes because it contains a heavy, 4-foot-tall (1.3 meters) standing stone that is smoothed on all six of its sides and was erected facing east.

Archaeologists think this standing stone, which is worked on all of its sides, is evidence of cultic activity in the Chalcolithic period.

“The large excavation affords us a broad picture of the progression and development of the society in the settlement throughout the ages,” said Amir Golani, one of the excavation directors for the IAA.

Golani added that there is evidence of rural society in Eshtaol making the transition to an urban society in the early Bronze Age, 5,000 years ago.

“We can see distinctly a settlement that gradually became planned, which included alleys and buildings that were extremely impressive from the standpoint of their size and the manner of their construction,” Golani explained in a statement.

“We can clearly trace the urban planning and see the guiding hand of the settlement’s leadership that chose to regulate the construction in the crowded regions in the center of the settlement and allowed less planning along its periphery.

The buildings and artifacts were discovered ahead of the widening of Highway 38, which runs north-south through the city of Beit Shemesh.

Throughout Israel, construction projects often lead to new archaeological discoveries. For example, during recent expansions of Highway 1, the main road connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, excavators discovered 9,500-year-old animal figurines, a carving of a phallus from the Stone Age and a ritual building from the First Temple era.

Ancient mosaic showing Jesus feeding the 5,000 is found in church ruins

Ancient mosaic showing Jesus feeding the 5,000 is found in church ruins

A 1,500-year-old mosaic depicting Jesus’s feeding of the five thousand has been unearthed during an excavation of an ancient city near the Sea of Galilee.

The discovery of the so-called Burnt Church in Hippos, northern Israel, has enthralled archaeologists who have spent the summer combing it for historical evidence. 

A fire destroyed the fifth-century church in 700AD but the mosaic-paved floor has been remarkably preserved throughout the centuries by a layer of ash.

Located in the heart of the Holy Land, Hippos overlooks the Sea of Galilee – also known as the Kinneret – where it was once the site of a Greco-Roman city.

An 2,000-year-old mosaic depicting Jesus’s feeding of the five thousand has been unearthed during an excavation of an ancient city near the Sea of Galilee
The discovery of the so-called Burnt Church in Hippos, northern Israel, has enthralled archaeologists who have spent the summer combing it for historical evidence

The mosaic purports to capture one of the miracles referred to in the New Testament where Jesus used just five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 people gathered on the banks of the water. 

A team from the University of Haifa found the Burnt Church in 2005, but only began the dig this summer.

Head archaeologist Dr Michael Eisenburg said: ‘There can certainly be different explanations to the descriptions of loaves and fish in the mosaic, but you cannot ignore the similarity to the description in the New Testament.

‘For example, from the fact that the New Testament has a description of five loaves in a basket or the two fish depicted in the apse, as we find in the mosaic.’

He added that the generally accepted location of the miracle performed by Christ may have to be reconsidered in light of the new evidence. 

A team from the University of Haifa found the Burnt Church in 2005, but only began the dig this summer
A fire destroyed the fifth-century church in 700AD but the mosaic-paved floor has been remarkably preserved throughout the centuries by a layer of ash

The historian said: Nowadays, we tend to regard the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha on the north-west of the Sea of Galilee as the location of the miracle, but with careful reading of the New Testament it is evident that it might have taken place north of Hippos within the city’s region. 

‘According to the scripture, after the miracle Jesus crossed the water to the northwest of the Sea of Galilee, to the area of Tabgha/Ginosar, so that the miracle had to take place at the place where he began the crossing rather than at the place he finished it. 

‘In addition, the mosaic at the Church of Multiplication has a depiction of two fish and a basket with only four loaves, while in all places in the New Testament which tell of the miracle, there are five loaves of bread, as found in the mosaic in Hippos. 

‘In addition, the mosaic at the burnt church has a depiction of 12 baskets, and the New Testament also describes the disciples who, at the end of the miracle, were left with 12 baskets of bread and fish.

‘There is no doubt that the local community was well familiar with the two miracles of Feeding the Multitude and perhaps knew their estimated locations better than us.’

After centuries of falling into the hands of several empires and religious groups, Hippos was abandoned in around 600AD when an earthquake devastated the hilltop city.

2,000-Year-Old Water Supply System Uncovered in Jerusalem

2,000-Year-Old Water Supply System Uncovered in Jerusalem

Part of an ancient aqueduct built more than 2,000 years ago to transport water into the city of Jerusalem was uncovered during a recent construction project, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

A section of the so-called Lower Aqueduct was discovered in the modern-day neighborhood of Umm Tuba, in East Jerusalem, during efforts to construct a new sewer line.

The Lower Aqueduct was originally built more than 2,000 years ago by kings in the Hasmonean dynasty, who ruled Judea and its surrounding regions from about 140 B.C. to 37 B.C., and preceded King Herod the Great.

The sprawling, 13-mile-long (21 kilometers) aqueduct carried water to the capital, and “operated intermittently until about 100 years ago,” Ya’akov Billig, director of the aqueduct excavation with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), said in a statement. 

The Lower Aqueduct fed from the En Eitam spring, which is located near three ancient reservoirs known as Solomon’s Pools that are about 3 miles (5 km) southwest of Bethlehem.

As water passed through the channel, it flowed down a gentle slope to Jerusalem, passing through the modern-day neighborhoods of Umm Tuba, Sur Bahar, East Talpiot and Abu Tor, according to the IAA.

“At first, the water was conveyed inside an open channel, and about 500 years ago, during the Ottoman period, a terra cotta pipe was installed inside the channel in order to better protect the water,” Billig said.

For nearly 2,000 years, the Lower Aqueduct remained one of Jerusalem’s principal sources of water, IAA officials said, which is why city rulers kept the structure so well preserved.

About 100 years ago, the channel was replaced by an electrically operated water-distribution system.

The Umm Tuba section of the aqueduct was uncovered by workers at Gihon Company Ltd., who are constructing the new sewer line.

Archaeologists at the IAA conducted an excavation of the site following its discovery, but the remains have since been covered up again to preserve the structure and prevent any damage, agency officials said.

Other sections of the extensive aqueduct have been uncovered in the past, including in the Armon Ha-Natziv tunnels in the City of David, on the Sherover promenade in southern Jerusalem and around the Sultan’s Pool along the west side of Mount Zion in Jerusalem, IAA officials said.

Almost 2,000 years old Ancient Metal books are the oldest written reference to Jesus Christ

Almost 2,000 years old Ancient Metal books are the oldest written reference to Jesus Christ

An ancient set of lead tablets showing the earliest portrait of Jesus Christ have proved to be around 2,000 years old, according to experts.

The metal ‘pages’, held together like a ring binder, were found in Jordan in around 2008 by an Jordanian Bedouin and make reference to Christ and his disciples.

The lead has been analysed and the words and symbols translated and experts say the tablets date from within a few years of Jesus’ ministry. And what they reveal could be enlightening not only for Christians, but also Jews and Muslims.

The tablets suggest that Christ was not starting his own religion, but restoring a thousand-year-old tradition from the time of King David. And the God he worshipped was both male and female.

Central to the books is the idea that Christ promoted worship in Solomon’s Temple where the very face of God was believed to be seen – and this is where the episode with the moneylenders in the Bible came from.

One of the books bears resemblance to how the Book of Revelations is described as it has seven seals. The books are known as codices – types of bound manuscripts distinct from scrolls – and among them is an image of Jesus himself.

Authors David and Jennifer Elkington have been campaigning since 2009 for the codices to be recognised and protected but say evangelical Christians are trying to brand them fakes.

The lead has been analysed and the words and symbols translated and experts say the tablets date from within a few years of Jesus’ ministry

They were apparently discovered by Hassan Saeda, an Israeli Bedouin, who according to some reports was given them by his grandfather, and by others that he discovered them in a flood.

The artefacts were found in a remote part of Jordan to which Christian refugees are known to have fled after the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD.

David Elkington, 54, of Gloucestershire, says he is now trying to prevent the codices from being sold on the black market.

In 2011 Elkington announced their discovery on BBC News and the world’s press followed it up.  But a number of scholars came forward to brand them fakes, most without ever seeing the codices.

Now tests conducted by Professor Roger Webb and Professor Chris Jeynes at the University of Surrey’s Nodus Laboratory at the Ion Beam Centre, confirm that the tablet is compatible with a comparative sample of ancient Roman lead unearthed from an excavation site in Dorset.

The experts said that the codex they tested ‘does not show the radioactivity arising from polonium that is typically seen in modern lead samples, indicating that the lead of the codex was smelted over one hundred years ago’.  They went onto explain how the testing suggests that the artefacts are indeed 2,000 years old.

‘While there may be variations in decay and corrosion that depend upon the environmental conditions in which the objects were stored or hidden, there is a strong underlying theme of decay from within the metal,’ said the researchers in a press statement.

‘It is oxidising and breaking down at atomic level to revert to its natural state.  ‘This is not witnessed in lead objects that are several centuries old and is not possible to produce by artificial acceleration.

‘This provides very strong evidence that the objects are of great age, consistent with the studies of the text and designs that suggest an age of around 2000 years’. 

The codex was leant to the Elkingtons by the Department of Antiquities in Amman for testing. Further crystallisation analysis indicates that the codex is likely to be between 1800-2000 years old.

The tablets suggest that Christ was not starting his own religion, but restoring a thousand-year-old tradition from the time of King David
The books are known as codices – types of bound manuscripts distinct from scrolls – and among them is an image of Jesus himself

Although Christ is referred to outside of the Gospels, for example by the Roman writer Tacitus, these would be the earliest and only Hebrew-Christian documents in existence – and linguistic and metallurgical analysis now suggests they are.

The tablets, bound together like ring binders suggest that Christ was not starting his own religion, but restoring a thousand-year-old tradition from the time of King David
Authors David and Jennifer Elkington have been campaigning since 2009 for the codices to be recognised and protected but say evangelical Christians are trying to brand them fakes

Analysis of the script by scholars has confirmed that the language of the codices is Paleo-Hebrew.  The codices are covered in eight-pointed stars, symbolic of the coming of the messiah, and they mention the name of Jesus.  They also contain the names of apostles James, Peter and John.

According to the Elkingtons the books suggest Christ was part of a Hebrew sect dating back 1,000 years to King David, who worshipped in the Temple of Solomon and believed in a male-female God.

In the Bible Jesus is referred to as a ‘tekton’ which is usually translated as ‘carpenter’ but actually means a skilled craftsman and could refer to the skill of producing such works in metal. 

In traditional Christian icons he is often shown carrying a sealed book – a codex. Mr Elkington said: ‘Jesus was seeking to restore the Temple.  ‘To put back that which had been lost in the reforms that came before his time. 

‘Dr Hugh Schonfield, one of the most eminent authorities ever to work on the Dead Sea Scrolls, predicted that a metal book would be found: as he recognized that one had been described in a scroll called The Damascus Document – a description that fits precisely one of the codices.  ‘His conclusion was that Christianity was based within the Hebrew Temple.

‘Dr Schonfield, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, also described himself as a Jewish-Christian, a view that he held because of his work on the scrolls.

‘A part of the older tradition of the Temple was the Divine Feminine – known to Christians as the Holy Spirit. Jesus had women involved in his ministry.

‘At the height of his ministry, the gospels tell us that Jesus challenged the moneychangers in the temple. ‘The codices appear to reveal what happened afterwards – a chapter missing from the gospels. 

‘It would appear that Christianity was founded upon what Jesus did in the temple: a place where many Jews believed God actually resided. Jesus went into the Temple to renew a covenant with God.’

If the codices are genuine, as the metal and writing suggests they are, they provide new insight into the life of Christ. 

While the codices do not contradict any of the established narrative they place greater emphasis on the physical temple, of the belief in the divine feminine and in Christ’s role in protecting a lineage of Hebrews rather than being the founder of his own movement.

Previously, many experts have been wary of confirming the authenticity of the codices. 

In 2011, two samples were sent to a laboratory in England where they were examined by Peter Northover, head of the materials science-based archaeology group.

The verdict was inconclusive without more tests, but he said the composition was ‘consistent with a range of ancient lead.’

However, Philip Davies, emeritus professor of biblical studies at Sheffield University was convinced the codices were genuine after studying one.

He has told colleagues privately that he believed the find is unlikely to have been forged, reported the Sunday Times.  

Archaeologist Found 1,500 Year Old Rare Painting Depicting Jesus Found in Negev Desert

Archaeologist Found 1,500 Year Old Rare Painting Depicting Jesus Found in Negev Desert

Archeologists have recently identified what is believed to be an extremely rare painting of Jesus Christ in an abandoned ruins church in the Israeli desert.

According to specialists, the painting is believed to date back at least 1,500 years.

The Picture previously considered an unknown piece of art was spotted at an ancient Byzantine Church in the Negev Desert.

The painting could date back to the 6th century and scholars argue the piece of art reveals Jesus Christ’s facial outline, revealing him as a young man with short hair.

The portrait, first spotted in the 1090s has now been studied using state-of-the-art techniques, which helped specialists to conclude it was a rare piece of art.

The rare painting was Found in the archeological ruins of Shivta, believed to be an old farming village and located in the Negev desert, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Be’er Sheva, the largest city in the Negev desert of southerm Israel.

Shivta is thought to have been founded during the 2nd century and flourished for more than 6 centuries after it was eventually abandoned during the early Islamic period.

The results of the discovery were published in a daily paper in the journal Antiquity, where experts say that the mere presence of Jesus Christ is important by itself.

“Christ’s face in this painting is an important discovery in itself,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

“It belongs to the iconographic scheme of a short-haired Jesus Christ, which was especially widespread in Egypt and Syria-Palestine, but gone from later Byzantine art.”

The discovery is of great importance mostly because of the fact that the painting of Christ predates the typical religious iconography used in the Orthodox Christian Church. 

“Thus far, it is the only in situ baptism-of-Christ scene to date confidently to the pre-iconoclastic Holy Land. 

Therefore, it can illuminate Byzantine Shivta’s Christian community and Early Christians art across the region,” experts wrote.

 The recent discovery is just one of the many Interesting finds that have recently been made in Isreal.

Earlier this year, experts confirmed the first full spelling of ‘Jerusalem+ in an ancient stone inscription found near Jerusalem’s Binyanei Ha’Uma International Convention Center.

Furthermore, in February of 2018, archaeologists Found a clay seal mark that is though to bear the signature of Biblical Prophet Isaiah.

Jesus’s portrait was first spotted in the 1920s and has now been reanalysed using modern techniques. Research claim in their paper, published in the journal Antiquity , that the mere presence of the messiah is important in itself.
The fragmented painting shows is thought to be from the sixth century and experts claim it reveals Christ’s facial outline and a youthful Jesus with short hair.
It was found in the ruins of Shivta, an old farming village in the heart of the Negev desert, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Be’er Sheva.