Category Archives: ISRAEL

Does 2,800-Year-Old Statue Head Depict a Forgotten Biblical King?

Does 2,800-Year-Old Statue Head Depict a Forgotten Biblical King?

Archaeologists are in the midst of a mystery of forgotten identity. They are trying to discover the name behind a 2,800-year-old face found in the ancient city of Abel Beth Maacah in northern Israel.

They are perplexed by the head of a statue which may have been made to portray the likeness of a biblical king.

The head is a small 2 by 2.2 inches (5.1 by 5.6 centimeters) artifact which archaeologists believe once belonged to a statuette which measured approximately 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in height, according to Live Science .

It is the representation of a man who had long black hair, a black beard, almond-shaped eyes and a yellow and black headband. His expression portrays the image of someone who had authority and demanded respect.

 Which sent the team out to excavate the Abel Beth Maacah site, states that the statuette’s head was found in a possible administrative building. Azusa Pacific University’s Robert Mullins described the discovery .

Mullins that the location and high quality of the carving of the head suggest that it was meant to represent a member of Abel Beth Maacah’s elite class, “We’re guessing probably a king, but we have no way of proving that,” Mullins said.

Mario Tobia, a student at Azrieli College of Engineering in Jerusalem, found this figure head on his first day at the excavation.

An art historian who examined the small head has suggested it depicts a king or other important Aramean official. However, Mullin understands that more research will need to be completed before that claim could become a conclusion.

Nonetheless, the idea is an intriguing one for Mullin, who writes , “If the head proves to depict an Aramean, it would suggest that the local Aramean population continued to live there as Israelite citizens long after Abel Beth Maacah fell under the sway of the United Monarchy and the northern kingdom of Israel.”

Researchers received a timeframe of 902-806 BC when some material found near the sculptured head was radiocarbon dated. 

Mullins said that Abel Beth Maacah changed hands many times during that period as it was bordering the kingdoms of Israel, Tyre, and Aram-Damascus.

Perhaps more information will be gathered when excavations start up again this summer at the administrative building of the Abel Beth Maacah archaeological site.

Aerial view of excavations at the Abel Beth Maacah archaeological site in 2015.

The intrigue of the artifact has garnered much attention. It has become a subject for a discussion at the 44th Annual Archaeological Congress at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the topic for a paper which will be published this month in the journal Near Eastern Archaeology , and it is a fascinating addition to the collection of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Roman House With Phallic Amulets, Frescoes Found in Northern Israel

Roman House With Phallic Amulets, Frescoes Found in Northern Israel

A house dating back around 1,900 years, which is decorated with frescoes showing scenes of nature, has been discovered at the archaeological site of Omrit in northern Israel. Phallic amulets were also found at the site.

The 1,900-year-old house containing scenes of nature is part of a much larger archaeological site called Omrit.

The house was constructed during the late first or early second century A.D., and was likely two stories tall, said Daniel Schowalter, a professor at Carthage College in Wisconsin.

“The floor [of the house] was plastered and its walls were covered in frescoes,” Schowalter told an audience in Toronto at the joint annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society for Classical Studies in January.

Two ducks huddled together can be seen in this fresco, which was discovered in a 1,900-year-old house in Israel

The frescoes show images of trees, bushes, birds, fish and plants; one includes two ducks huddled together. 

It’s not certain who owned the house in ancient times. “One would guess that it might have been commissioned by a Roman official who was stationed in the area, but it could also be the home  a local elite who adopted some traditional Roman motifs in decoration,” Schowalter told Live Science in an email.

Only part of the house has been excavated so far. The excavated area “was probably a courtyard, since the doorway we have opens into the ‘house’ proper. In other words, you could be locked out in that area,” Schowalter said.

The house appears to have been demolished during the early third century, as archaeologists found a layer of fill on top of the remains of the house. On top of that layer, a new building that resembles a “stoa” (a covered walkway or portico) was constructed, Schowalter said. 

Several phallus-shaped amulets were found in the layer of fill that covered the demolished house, Schowalter said. “That fill was probably put down in the early third century. So the amulets date to before that time, but since it is fill, we aren’t sure how long before.”

Amulets in the shape of peniseshave been found in many parts of the Roman Empire and may have been worn to help prevent misfortune.

The excavation is part of the Omrit Settlement Excavations Project, which is co-directed by Schowalter, along with Jennifer Gates-Foster, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Michael Nelson, a professor at Queens College, City University of New York; Benjamin Rubin, an independent scholar; and Jason Schlude, a professor at the College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University.

2,000-year-old burial complex discovered in Tiberias

2,000-year-old burial complex discovered in Tiberias

A magnificent Roman-era burial cave was fortuitously found in the northern Israeli city of Tiberias when a contractor clearing ground for a new neighborhood realized the significance of the void his bulldozer almost fell into, and immediately called in the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“A good citizen,” observes archaeologist Yardenna Alexandre of the IAA. The underground mausoleum unearthed this month is between 1,900 to 2,000 years old, judging by the architectural style, she told Haaretz.

The main central chamber has several burial niches – shelves carved into the cave walls, and a small inner chamber. The archaeologists also found ossuaries, which are boxes used for the secondary burial of bones.

And there it was: The entrance to the Roman-era Jewish catacomb found in Tiberias.

That means the bereaved would lay the dead on niches carved into the cave walls, and wait for the bodies to decompose. Then the bones would be reburied in boxes typically made of stone or clay that were only as long as the longest bone, Alexandre says.

The ossuaries, which were made of stone and pottery, are the tell-tale artifact marking the catacomb as belonging to Jews. Nobody else is known to have practiced secondary burial in the Roman era – with one exception.

Aerial view of the modern city of Tiberias, built on the ruins of the polis founded in 18 C.E. by Herod Antipas on the shores of the Sea of Galilee

“One single case is known in Israel of a non-Jewish secondary burial in an ossuary – a Nabatean. Maybe it was a Nabatean who was influenced by the Jews,” remarks archaeologist Dr. Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret College.

It is true that there is much older evidence of secondary burial in pottery ossuaries, but that’s from the Chalcolithic period – also known as the Copper Age, which is before Judaism existed. For some reason the practice arose anew thousands of years later, in the 1st century B.C.E., and vanished once and for all in the early 3rd century.

The underground mausoleum in Tiberias’ north had been skillfully carved out of the yielding limestone, possibly starting from a convenient rain-carved depression in the bedrock. Its walls were decorated with colored plaster, as was the custom at the time.

Ossuary in the 2,000-year old burial cave, Tiberias

More information will have to await proper excavation, which has not begun yet, Alexandre stresses. But meanwhile it can be said that the archaeologists also found the names of the dead, carved onto the ossuaries in Greek.

The multicultural Jews of Tiberias

Jewish names in Greek on graves in the Holy Land? Absolutely. It was very much the practice. Half the graves in ancient Jerusalem from the same era are also inscribed in Greek, Aviam says. Other inscriptions found in Tiberias itself, linked to Jews from the 3rd century, were in Greek too.

“It just means that the people buried in the cave had been people who knew Greek. It doesn’t speak to their Judaism but to their internationality, their multiculturalism,” Aviam explains. “They would have had cultural ties with Greek-speaking people. Jews could keep their mitzvot and write on their graves in Greek.”

Greek inscriptions also decorate ancient synagogues found across the Holy Land, including one found in Tiberias. The sage Abbahu who lived in Israel from 279 to 320 and who had studied in Tiberias famously spoke Greek as well as Hebrew. “It’s just like Jews in Brooklyn today pray in English,” Aviam points out.

But if the Jewish burial cave in Tiberias dates to the 1st or even the early 2nd century, there’s a snag. At least according to the Jewish-Roman historian Josephus, Tiberias wasn’t supposed to have Jews yet.

Josephus waxes imaginative

Tiberias was founded in the year 18 by the Jewish vassal king Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. Herod Antipas build it as his capital and named it as a submissive gesture to the irritable incumbent Roman emperor Tiberius.

As said, Herod Antipas built Tiberias from scratch as an entirely new Roman city-state, which has led to an intriguing conflict of opinion between Josephus and contemporary researchers.

Josephus, who was originally named Joseph ben Mattathias and who wrote quite a bit about Tiberias and nearby Sepphoris (Tzipori), says that Jews were squeamish about moving to newly-established town because it had been built partly over ancient graves. (And maybe it was; Jewish tradition says Tiberias was built in part on an even older village.) Because of the tombs, the land was unclean, says Josephus, and Jews shunned the city until purification rituals had been performed.

First of all, Herod Antipas may have been a toy-royal of the Roman emperor but he was also the Jewish king of the Galilee, a predominantly Jewish area. So if he built a city in the Galilee, Jews would have moved in too, Aviam argues.

Secondly, the issue of the ancient graves is circumventable, in his opinion. “Today the state simply pours money onto the problem,” says Aviam: if it wants to build a new neighborhood or highway and graves pop up, so to speak, it builds tunnels or bridges or just builds anyway.

Inside the 2,000-year-old Jewish burial cave found in Tiberias: Exquisitely carved walls attest to the wealth of the family.

Back then, in the 2nd century, the answer lay in rituals – possibly devised by the 2nd century sage Simeon Bar Yochai, who counseled the Jews after the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E., Aviam says. The rituals were supposed to either cause the ancient graves to sink deeper into the ground, preventing contamination of the living, or rise higher so the dead could be reburied elsewhere.

In any case, Aviam points out, at some point the Jews clearly circumvented the problem of living atop the dead because in the 2nd century, Tiberias greatly expanded, and yet again the issue of building on graves would have arisen. Since the city became central to Jewish life of the time, evidently the Jews were solving this conundrum.

Aviam further speculates that the deceased dwellers of the burial cave weren’t among the very first Tiberians. Most likely Herod Antipas peopled the city with low-status workers at first, and elite classes would have come later, possibly from the second half of the 1st century onwards. Among them would have been multicultural Jews speaking Greek.

Or, the cave might not have belonged to Tiberians at all. Aviam notes that it is nowhere near ancient Tiberias, so either the Jewish family in question had quite a trek to the site, or they didn’t live in the city itself but in a nearby village.

If human remains are found, more can be said. The cave has yet to be excavated, Alexandre stresses, so we do not know at this time whether anybody is there. Also, it is very likely the cave has been robbed of any valuables long ago.

Carved stone doors stood at the entrances into the rooms, which nobody can see because the authorities lost zero time in blocking the cave off to protect it from future grave robbers and vandals.

1,600-Year-Old Pottery Workshop Has First Known Rock-Hewn Kiln in Israel

1,600-Year-Old Pottery Workshop Has First Known Rock-Hewn Kiln in Israel

During the construction of a new residential quarter, north of the new Yaʽarit neighborhood, a team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered a Roman era pottery workshop, where jars were manufactured.

The kiln, used to fire the jars, is the only one known to date in the country to have been hewn entirely in bedrock.

“What makes the pottery works so special is its unique kiln, which was hewn in bedrock and is unlike most of the kilns known to us that were built of stone, earth and mud” said Joppe Gosker, head of the IAA excavations, in a press release.

Joppe Gosker, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, inside the pottery workshop’s water reservoir in Shlomi.

The 5 th century A.D. workshop included a system for storing water, storage compartments, a kiln, etc,

“The kiln was meticulously constructed. It consisted of two chambers – one a firebox in which branches were inserted for burning, and a second chamber where the pottery vessels were placed that were fired in the scorching heat that was generated” added Gosker.

Joppe Gosker, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the pottery workshop in Shlomi.

Stone kilns were used in ancient Palestine because of the abundance of bedrock. More recently in that land such kilns have been built on hillsides, the hill forming part of the rear wall.

The kilns have been constructed of rough stones without mortar, the spaces between the stones being filled with clay but with a large open flue at the top. After the interior was properly packed with crushed limestone, a hot fire made from brush would be started in the fireplace at the base of the kiln.

The strong draft entering through a tunnel in the bottom of the kiln would carry the flames up through the limestone, heating it until it was converted into lime. This process would normally continue for several days.

“We can explain the quarrying of this rare kiln right here because of the special geological conditions found in the area of Shlomi: here there is chalk bedrock, which on the one hand is soft and therefore easily quarried, and on the other is sufficiently strong to endure the intense heat”, said Anastasia Shapiro, a geologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority who is researching the production of pottery vessels.

From the ceramic debris that was piled up around the kiln the archaeologists surmised that two types of vessels were manufactured at the workshop: storage jars that could be transported overland, and jars with large handles ( amphorae) that were used to store wine or oil which were exported from Israel by sea.

Decorated amphoriform vessel made by the Iron Age inhabitants of what is modern-day Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Israel

Archaeological surveys performed in Shlomi have documented remains of a royal structure with a gate – probably from the Late Roman period, which coincides with the use of the pottery workshop.

In addition, remains of the walls of buildings were identified that probably date to the Byzantine period, and as in the case of the unique kiln their builders took advantage of the natural stone in order to hew high foundations in the bedrock.

Archaeologists Discovered A 9,000-year-old Underground Megalithic Settlement of Atlit Yam

Archaeologists Discovered A 9,000-year-old Underground Megalithic Settlement of Atlit Yam

In a groundbreaking discovery, archaeologists have uncovered a skeleton in the ancient underground city of Atlit Yam, which is believed to be around 9,000 years old.

The well-preserved city, located near the coast of Israel, has been the subject of extensive research for decades, but this recent find has the potential to reveal even more about the people who once inhabited the area.

The skeleton was found in a well-preserved state, with its bones and teeth intact. Experts are currently analyzing the remains in order to determine the gender, age, and cause of death.

The discovery of the skeleton is particularly significant because it provides a rare glimpse into the lives of the people who lived in the city during the Neolithic period.

Atlit Yam is a unique archaeological site that has been the subject of much interest over the years. The city was built on a small hill and was protected by a massive seawall, which is still visible 2023.

The city is believed to have been inhabited from around 8000 BCE until 5500 BCE and was likely a major center of trade and commerce in the region.

The discovery of the skeleton is just the latest in a series of exciting discoveries at Atlit Yam. In recent years, researchers have uncovered a number of artifacts and structures that provide insight into the daily lives of the people who once lived there. These discoveries include pottery, tools, and even a ritual bath.

The discovery of the skeleton is a major breakthrough in the study of Atlit Yam and has the potential to shed new light on the ancient city and its inhabitants.

As researchers continue to analyze the remains and other artifacts found at the site, we can expect to learn more about the fascinating history of this remarkable place.

Human Remains to Reveal the Oldest Known Case of Tuberculosis

Ten flexed burials encased in clay and covered by thick layers of sand were discovered, both inside the houses and in the vicinity of Atlit Yam, and in total archaeologists have uncovered 65 sets of human remains. One of the most significant discoveries of this ancient site is the presence of tuberculosis (TB) within the village. 

The skeletons of a woman and child, found in 2008, have revealed the earliest known cases of tuberculosis in the world.  The size of the infant’s bones, and the extent of TB damage, suggest the mother passed the disease to her baby shortly after birth.

What Caused Atlit Yam to Sink?

One of the greatest archaeological mysteries of Atlit Yam is how it came to be submerged, a question that has led to heated debate in academic circles.

An Italian study led by Maria Pareschi of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Pisa indicates that a volcanic collapse of the Eastern flank of Mount Etna 8,500 years ago would likely have caused a 40-meter-high tsunami to engulf some Mediterranean coastal cities within hours.

Some scientists point to the apparent abandonment of Atlit Yam around the same time, and the thousands of fish remains, as further evidence that such a tsunami did indeed occur.

However, other researchers have suggested that there is no solid evidence to suggest a tsunami wiped out the settlement. After all, the megalithic stone circle still remained standing in the place in which it had been constructed.  

One alternative is that climate change caused glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise and the settlement became flooded by a slow rise in the level of the Mediterranean that led to a gradual abandonment of the village.

Whatever the cause of the submerging of the settlement, it was the unique conditions of clay and sandy sediment under salty water that enabled this ancient village to remain so well preserved over thousands of years.

Israel archaeologists find ancient comb with ‘full sentence’

Israel archaeologists find ancient comb with ‘full sentence’

It’s a simple sentence that captures the hopes and fears of modern-day parents as much as the bronze age Canaanite who owned the doubled-edged ivory comb on which the words appear.

Believed to be the oldest known sentence written in the earliest alphabet, the inscription on the luxury item reads: “May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard.”

The double-duty ivory comb – bearing 14 teeth for lice and eggs and six bigger teeth for hair tangles – believed to have been made around 1700 BCE.

Unearthed in Lachish, a Canaanite city state in the second millennium BCE and the second most important city in the kingdom of Judah, the comb suggests that humans have endured lice for thousands of years and that even the wealthiest were not spared the grim infestations.

“The inscription is very human,” said Prof Yosef Garfinkel, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who helped direct the Lachish excavations.

“You have a comb and on the comb you have a wish to destroy lice on the hair and beard. Nowadays we have all these sprays and modern medicines and poisons. In the past they didn’t have those.”

The comb, which measures 3.5cm by 2.5cm, was discovered at the site in south-central Israel in 2017, but the shallow engravings on the surface were only spotted in December last year.

Analysis of the markings confirmed the writing to be Canaanite script, the earliest alphabet, which was invented about 3,800 years ago.

Script taken from the comb, which was discovered in 2017

Efforts to obtain an age for the comb from carbon dating proved futile, but researchers believe it was made around 1700 BCE.

The comb is worn and has lost its teeth, but the remaining stumps show that it once bore six widely spaced teeth for removing hair tangles on one side, and 14 narrowly spaced teeth for removing lice and eggs on the other.

Further evidence for the comb’s purpose came when researchers examined it under a microscope and identified the tough outer membranes of half millimetre-long nymph stages of head lice.

The letters on the comb spell out seven words that form the first completely deciphered sentence in a Canaanite dialect, written in Canaanite script, said the researchers in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology.

Ancient combs were made from wood, bone and ivory, but the latter would have been expensive, imported luxuries. There were no elephants in Canaan at the time.

The world’s first writing systems originated in Mesopotamia and Egypt around 3200 BCE, but these were not alphabetic.

They relied on hundreds of different signs to represent words or syllables and as such required years to master, said Christopher Rollston, professor of northwest Semitic languages at George Washington University in the US.

Lachish, a leading Canaanite city state in the second millennium BCE.

The earliest alphabet was invented around 1800 BCE by Semitic-speaking people who were familiar with the Egyptian writing system, said Rollston.

Known as Canaanite or early alphabetic the system was used for hundreds of years, particularly in the Levant, and was standardised by the Phoenicians in ancient Lebanon.

It went on to become the foundation for ancient Greek, Latin and most modern languages in Europe today.

“The fact that this inscription is about ordinary life is especially fascinating,” Rollston said.  “Throughout human history lice have been a perennial problem. And this inscription nicely reveals that even the rich and famous in ancient times were not exempt from such problems. We can only hope that this inscribed comb was useful in doing that which it says it was supposed to do – root out some of these pesky insects.”

 This article was amended on 9 November 2022 to clarify in the headline that the discovery is not believed to be the oldest written sentence, but the oldest sentence written in the first alphabet. A reference to the site of the find being in south-central Israel was also added.

9,000-yr-old Site near Jerusalem is the “Big Bang” of Prehistory Settlement

9,000-yr-old Site near Jerusalem is the “Big Bang” of Prehistory Settlement

A huge 9,000-year-old Neolithic settlement — the largest ever discovered in Israel, say archaeologists — is currently being excavated outside Jerusalem, researchers said in mid  2019.

This site, located near the town of Motza, is the “Big Bang” for prehistory settlement research due to its size and the preservation of its material culture, said Jacob Vardi, co-director of the excavations at Motza on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, according to The Times of Israel.

Among the many important findings is that 9,000 years ago, the people of the settlement practiced religion. “They carried out rituals and honored their deceased ancestors,” Vardi, an archaeologist, told Religion News Service.

Dwelling foundations unearthed at Tell es-Sultan in Jericho

Perhaps 3,000 people lived in this settlement near where Jerusalem is today, making it quite a large city for the period that is sometimes called the New Stone Age. The site has “yielded thousands of tools and ornaments, including arrowheads, figurines and jewelry,” said CNN.”

The findings also provide evidence of sophisticated urban planning and farming, which may force experts to rethink the region’s early history, said archeologists involved in the excavation.”

Although the area has long been of archeological interest, Vardi said the sheer scale of the site — which measures between 30 and 40 hectares — only emerged in 2015 during surveys for a proposed highway.

Ashkelon Pre-Pottery Neolithic C site.

“It’s a game changer, a site that will drastically shift what we know about the Neolithic era,” said Vardi in an interview with The Times of Israel. Already some international scholars are beginning to realize the existence of the site may necessitate revisions to their work, he said.

“So far, it was believed that the Judea area was empty, and that sites of that size existed only on the other bank of the Jordan river, or in the Northern Levant. Instead of an uninhabited area from that period, we have found a complex site, where varied economic means of subsistence existed, and all this only several dozens of centimeters below the surface,” according to Vardi and co-director Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily in an IAA press release.

Israelite Temple at Tel Motza.

This site predates the first known settlement in Jerusalem by about 3,500 years. Experts had not thought that people lived in such a concentrated fashion during this time in the region.

During the 16-month excavation, archaeologists discovered large buildings, separated by well-planned alleys, used for residential and public purposes. Some of the buildings contained plaster remnants.

Archaeological excavations near Motza, Israel.

Pieces of jewelry, including bracelets made of stone and mother of pearl, as well as figurines, locally made flint axes, sickle blades, knives, and thousands of arrowheads were also unearthed, said Religion News.

Vardi said the residents buried their dead with care in designated burial locations and placed “either useful or precious objects, believed to serve the deceased” after they died, inside the graves.

“We have decorated burial sites, with offerings, and we also found statuettes and figurines, which indicate they had some sort of belief, faith, rituals,” Vardi said. “We also found certain installations, special niches that might have played a role in ritual.”

Sheds held a large number of well-preserved legume seeds, something the archaeologists called “astonishing” given how much time has passed.

“This finding is evidence of an intensive practice of agriculture. Moreover, one can conclude from it that the Neolithic Revolution reached its summit at that point: animal bones found on the site show that the settlement’s residents became increasingly specialized in sheep-keeping, while the use of hunting for survival gradually decreased,” the antiquities authority said.

Archaeologists Discover and Crack an Intact, 1,000-Year-Old Chicken Egg

Archaeologists Discover and Crack an Intact, 1,000-Year-Old Chicken Egg

Israel Antiquities Authority has discovered a fully intact 1,000-year-old chicken egg during recent excavations in a town named Yavne.

Though researchers repaired the crack, much of the egg’s contents leaked out.

The archaeologists said the thousand-year-old egg was perfectly preserved by being initially pillowed in soft human poop inside the cesspit.

According to IAA, “the egg had a small crack in the bottom so most of the contents had leaked out of it. Only some of the yolk remained, which was preserved for future DNA analysis”.

Alla Nagorsky and her colleagues examined the ancient egg.

The archeologists said that despite the extreme caution with which the egg was removed, the shell of the egg was cracked by picking it up. However, in the IAA’s organics laboratory, a conservationist restored the egg to the state in which it was found.

“Eggshell fragments are known from earlier periods, for example in the City of David and at Caesarea and Apollonia, but due to the eggs’ fragile shells, hardly any whole chicken eggs have been preserved. Even at the global level, this is an extremely rare find,” says Dr. Lee Perry Gal,” said Dr Lee Perry Gal of the IAA.

Gal said, “In archaeological digs, we occasionally find ancient ostrich eggs, whose thicker shells preserve them intact”.

“The egg’s unique preservation is evidently due to the conditions in which it lay for centuries, nestled in a cesspit containing soft human waste that preserved it,” IAA said.

According to Gal, ancient chickens found in the region, as well as their eggs, were smaller than modern ones. “Chickens were domesticated in southeast Asia relatively recently, around 6,000 years ago, but it took time for them to enter the human diet,” Gal noted.

Alongside the egg, three typical Islamic-period bone dolls used as playthings were also discovered, Gal added.

Stone Age village dating back 12,000 Years uncovered beside the Sea of Galilee

Stone Age village dating back 12,000 Years uncovered beside the Sea of Galilee

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a prehistoric village in the Jordan Valley dating from around 12,000 years ago, The Hebrew University revealed on february 2016.

The site, named NEG II, is located in Wadi Ein-Gev, west of the Sea of Galilee and south of the Golan Heights town of Katzrin, and is estimated to cover an area of roughly 1,200 square meters (three acres).

The NEG II site in the Jordan Valley where archaeologists from The Hebrew university have discovered the remains of a 12,000 year old settlement.

In a series of excavations, archaeologists found numerous artifacts pointing to a vast human settlement including burial remains, flint tools, art manifestations, faunal assemblage and stone and bone tools.

Items uncovered at the NEG II dig site in the Jordan Valley where archaeologists from The Hebrew university have discovered the remains of a 12,00 year old settlement.

While other sites from the same period have been unearthed in the area, the Institute of Archaeology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem said that NEG II was unique in that it contains cultural characteristics typical of both the Old Stone Age – known as the Paleolithic period – and the New Stone Age, known as the Neolithic period.

“Although attributes of the stone tool kit found at NEG II place the site chronologically in the Paleolithic period, other characteristics – such as its artistic tradition, size, thickness of archaeological deposits and investment in architecture – are more typical of early agricultural communities in the Neolithic period,” said chief excavator Dr. Leore Grosman.

“Characterizing this important period of potential overlap in the Jordan Valley is crucial for the understanding of the socioeconomic processes that marked the shift from Paleolithic mobile societies of hunter-gatherers to Neolithic agricultural communities,” she added.

The Paleolithic period is considered the earliest period in the history of mankind. The end of that era is marked by the transition to agricultural societies with the emergence of settled villages and domestication of plants and animals.

According to Grosman, NEG II was likely occupied in the midst of the cold and dry global climatic event known as the Younger Dryas, when temperatures declined sharply over most of the northern hemisphere around 12,900–11,600 years ago.

Affected by climatic changes, groups in the area became increasingly mobile and potentially smaller in size, she said.

NEG II, however, shows that some groups in the Jordan Valley may have become larger in size and preferred town-like settlements to a nomadic existence.

Researchers said this shift in settlement pattern could be related to climate conditions that provided the ingredients necessary for prehistoric man to take the final steps toward agriculture in the southern Levant.

“It is not surprising that at a number of sites in the Jordan Valley we find a cultural entity that bridges the crossroads between Late Paleolithic foragers and Neolithic farmers,” Grosman said.

Early Christian Pilgrimage Site Excavated in Israel

Early Christian Pilgrimage Site Excavated in Israel

Archaeologists have unveiled pilgrims’ lamps and other finds from the ”tomb of Salome”, a burial site named after a woman said to have assisted at the birth of Christ.

Inscriptions engraved in stone in ancient Greek including the name of Salome, inside a burial chamber west of Jerusalem.

The tomb was discovered by grave robbers in what is now Tel Lachish national park, west of Jerusalem, in the 1980s.

Subsequent excavations by archaeologists have uncovered a Jewish burial chamber dating back to the Roman period that was taken over by a Christian chapel in the Byzantine era and was still drawing worshippers into the early Islamic period.

An inscription found on the walls of the grotto led the excavation team to conclude it was dedicated to Salome, a figure associated with the birth of Jesus in Eastern Orthodox tradition.

“In the cave, we found tonnes of inscriptions in ancient Greek and Syriac,” said the excavation director, Zvi Firer.

“One of the beautiful inscriptions is the name Salome … “Because of this inscription, we understand this is the cave of holy Salome.”

One of the clay lamps was discovered during the excavations.

Salome’s role as an assistant to the midwife at Christ’s birth is recounted in the Gospel of James, a text dropped from the versions of the New Testament used by most western churches.

“The cult of Salome … belongs to a broader phenomenon, whereby the fifth-century Christian pilgrims encountered and sanctified Jewish sites,” the excavation team said.

Outside the grotto, the team found the remains of a colonnaded forecourt spanning 350 sq metres (3,750 sq ft), suggesting Salome was then a revered figure.

A man shines a light in a cave at the site.

Shops selling clay lamps and other items intended for pilgrims were found around the courtyard, dating from as late as the ninth century, 200 years after the Muslim conquest.

“It is interesting that some of the inscriptions were inscribed in Arabic, whilst the Christian believers continued to pray at the site,” the team said