The dickens you say! ‘Propaganda’ claim over pulled BBC Jerusalem documentary
The Israeli-born director of a documentary that makes controversial claims about Jewish history has criticised the BBC’s decision not to air it as planned.
The film, Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story, was due to be shown on BBC Four last Thursday as part of the channel’s archaeology series. Made by Ilan Ziv, it was to be an abridged version of a documentary that was screened at a Jewish Film Festival in Canada last year.
The documentary pushes a theory that the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD did not send the Jews into the diaspora. “The exile of the Jewish people has played a central role in Christian and Jewish theology,” said the BBC’s synopsis. “But what if the exile never actually happened?”
Well, it probably is technically ‘propaganda’ but then, what isn’t? Documentaries are designed to push a point of view despite their pretensions at depth and objectivity.
2,000-year-old ritual bath found in Jerusalem
Archaeologists in Jerusalem say they’ve found a 2,000-year-old ritual bath with a sophisticated system to keep water pure, Israel’s Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced.
The bath, known as a miqwe or mikveh, was found at a site in southwest Jerusalem’s Kiryat Menachem quarter, and researchers say it had a unique water supply system. The miqwe collected rainwater from three basins, which were cut into the roof of the bath, and sent water into an underground immersion chamber through channels, explained IAA excavation director Benyamin Storchan.
Actually, I take that back; when I read “pure” I was thinking of sanitation, but apparently it’s more concerned with ritual purity, collecting water without human contact. A few years ago there was some argument that these baths could be important disease vectors, as many don’t seem to have been very clean. Alas, it was not to be.
UPDATE: But also see the color photos from the 1930s and ’40s also at that link. I may have linked to these earlier (at another site). Really fascinating to look through. Ripe for then-and-now photos!
Sea Of Galilee’s Underwater Stone ‘Monument’ Puzzles Archaeologists In Israel
A giant “monumental” stone structure discovered beneath the waters of the Sea of Galilee in Israel has archaeologists puzzled as to its purpose and even how long ago it was built.
The mysterious structure is cone shaped, made of “unhewn basalt cobbles and boulders,” and weighs an estimated 60,000 tons the researchers said. That makes it heavier than most modern-day warships.
Rising nearly 32 feet (10 meters) high, it has a diameter of about 230 feet (70 meters). To put that in perspective, the outer stone circle of Stonehenge has a diameter just half that with its tallest stones not reaching that height.
Okay, not aliens. Doesn’t seem like that big of a deal actually. But hey, you read it here first.
Israeli archaeologists discover 1,500-year-old Christian lantern and wine press
Israeli archaeologists say they have unearthed a 1,500-year-old lantern decorated with crosses and a wine press that shed light on life in the Byzantine period.
The Israel Antiquities Authority this week announced the discovery of the rare items, which were found in the ruins of a Byzantine settlement near the city of Ashkelon.
Kind of a short article, but they have a nice photo of the lamp.
UK archaeologists in Iraq find ancient complex near Ur, home of biblical Abraham
British archaeologists said Thursday they have unearthed a sprawling complex near the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, home of the biblical Abraham.
The structure, thought to be about 4,000 years old, probably served as an administrative center for Ur, around the time Abraham would have lived there before leaving for Canaan, according to the Bible.
Literally: Symbolic Metal Bit and Saddlebag Fastenings in a Middle Bronze Age Donkey Burial
Here we report the unprecedented discovery of the skeleton of a ritually interred donkey with a metal horse bit in association with its teeth and saddlebag fastenings on its back. This discovery in the Middle Bronze Age III sacred precinct (1700/1650-1550 BCE) at Tel Haror, Israel, presents a unique combination of evidence for the early employment of equid harnessing equipment, both for chariot bridling (horse bit) and pack animals (saddlebags). The ritually deposited donkey with its unique accoutrements advances our understanding of the broad social and religious significance of equids in the Levantine Bronze Age, previously known mainly from textual and iconographical sources.
Seems relatively, well, dull, but the significance is:
The Tel Haror bit is the earliest known metal bit from a secure MBA context and is the only metal bit of the Bronze Age to have been recorded in context in the mouth of an equid. The bridle bit is the primary implement for directing animals by exerting pressure on sensitive parts of their head , . Thus, the development of the metal bridle bit and its use during the MBA in the Levant provided an effective device for directional control and swift maneuverability and marks a significant technological leap –, –.
The discovery at Tel Haror of a metal bridle bit, which was essential for controlling and steering effectively a horse team traveling at speed , also bears on the early history of the light chariot in the Levant and Egypt and its eventual incorporation into the military organization ,
Good excavation photo of the skeleton, too. Came across this article here.
A Feud Between Biblical Archaeologists Goes to Court
In the Old City of Jerusalem, no one ever went broke underestimating the proof required to help the faithful suspend disbelief — or in a modern twist, allow the skeptical to bolster their heterodoxy. A million-dollar lawsuit in Israel has become the latest vehicle in the unending quest to redefine faith as the substance of things seen.
Simcha Jacobovici, a Canadian documentary maker specializing in biblical archaeology, is suing a retired scientist and former archaeological museum curator named Joe Zias, who has accused him of publicizing scientifically dubious theories.
Ha, I kind of like this Zias guy:
Zias is well known among Near East archaeologists for blasting cranky e-mails from his blog, Science and Archaeology Group, accusing filmmakers and writers of “pimping off the Bible.” He routinely writes Jacobovici’s first name with a dollar sign in place of the S.
I, of course, am above such snarkiness.
Mud may have preserved Turkish city 700 years ago, archaeologists say
In the fourth century A.D., a bishop named Nicholas transformed the city of Myra, on the Mediterranean coast of what is now Turkey, into a Christian capital.
Nicholas was later canonized, becoming the St. Nicholas of Christmas fame. Myra had a much unhappier fate.
After some 800 years as an important pilgrimage site in the Byzantine Empire it vanished — buried under 18 feet of mud from the rampaging Myros River. All that remained was the Church of St. Nicholas, parts of a Roman amphitheater and tombs cut into the rocky hills.
But now, 700 years later, Myra is reappearing.
Couple of nice photos, especially the cross on the altar one, which is a very clever design feature — I wonder if the cross is centered on the altar at some important date in the Christian calendar? It’s apparently also protected by modern buildings.
Israelis find 2,750-year-old temple
Archaeologists have uncovered a 2,750-year-old temple near Jerusalem, along with pottery and clay figurines that suggest the site was the home base for a ritual cult, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.
The discovery was made during excavations at the Tel Motza archaeological site, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) west of Jerusalem, during preparations for work on a new section of Israeli’s Highway 1, the agency said in a statement.
“The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple,” excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz were quoted as saying in the statement.
Another Bethlehem? Archaeologists Say the New One Holds Historical Significance
“O Little Town of Bethlehem” has always been sung by Christians each year as a testimony to remember the birth of Jesus, deemed by Christians to be the Savior of the World, the Lord who was born of the virgin Mary, placed in a feeding trough, and worshipped by eastern astrologers and the angels at His birth. For centuries, Christians have never doubted that Christ was born in “the city of David,” the place known as “Bethlehem”.
New evidence has surfaced from Aviram Oshri, an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist, that seems to suggest a new place of Jesus’ birth: while it is true that the name of the place was “Bethlehem,” it is not necessarily true that the city of Bethlehem is the place. Rather, the Bethlehem in which Jesus was born was the village of Bethlehem in Galilee rather than the city of David.
One thinks others would have noted such a discrepancy by now, but I thought I’d throw it out there anyway. ‘Tis the season and all.