Category Archives: ISRAEL

3000-year-old temple-era gold bead found by 9-year-old Jerusalem boy

3000-year-old temple-era gold bead found by 9-year-old Jerusalem boy

A nine-year-old boy, the Temple Mount Sifting Project (TMSP) revealed earlier this week, found the first-ever Temple-era gold granule bead during wet sifting of earth from the Temple Mount.

In August, while sifting through the soil with his kin, Binyamin Milt, a resident of Jerusalem, unearthed a perfectly preserved small, flower-shaped cylinder, made of four layers of tiny gold balls, unaware that the item he carried was probably forged around 3,000 years ago.

In fact, the bead was so well preserved that when the boy took the bead to the supervising archaeologist, he initially wrote it off as likely to be an unidentified modern object, not even writing down the boy’s contact information before hurrying back to continue sifting.

3000-year-old temple-era gold bead found by 9-year-old Jerusalem boy
First Temple-era gold granule bead

It was only while sorting through the summer’s artefacts in Dr Gabriel Barkay’s backyard that he realized the bead was strikingly similar to several similar items he had found when he excavated burial systems from the First Temple period in Katef Hinnom.

While those beads were made of silver, they were identical to the gold bead in both shape and manufacturing method (called granulation).

Similar beads have been found in several other sites across Israel, dated to various periods, with the overwhelming majority dating to the Iron Age (12th to 6th centuries BCE).

Once the bead’s significance had become clear, TMSP researchers called all the families who participated in the sifting on that specific day, until they made contact with Binyamin.

Pieces of gold jewellery are rarely found among archaeological artefacts from the First Temple period since gold at that time was not refined and generally contained a significant percentage of silver.

Granulation is a technique which demands of the goldsmith a considerable amount of expertise and experience, due to the many components and complex manufacturing stages.

The granules are shaped using tiny metal pieces which are melted on a bed of charcoal or charcoal powder, which absorbs air, preventing oxidation.

Once the metal melts, the surface tension of the liquid produces ball-shaped drops. An alternative method involves dripping the liquid metal from a height into a bowl and constantly stirring the drops.

At this stage, it is not yet clear what purpose the bead served, though initial projections by TMSP members say it could have been part of an ornament worn by an important personage who visited the Temple, or by a priest. More info on the piece will be published once all the artefacts from the summer are processed.

TMSP was founded in response to illegal renovations which were carried out in 1999 by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, disposing of over 9,000 tons of dirt, mixed with invaluable archaeological artefacts, dumping it all into the Kidron Valley.

Archaeologists Dr Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira retrieved the rubble and began sifting through it in 2004, with the goal of understanding the archaeology and history of the Temple Mount, while preserving history.

Over the years, it has grown into an internationally significant project, bringing in over 200,000 volunteers who have helped the researchers find thousands of priceless artefacts.

UK Archaeologist Claims To Have Found Jesus Christ’s Childhood Home In Israel

UK Archaeologist Claims To Have Found Jesus Christ’s Childhood Home In Israel

The stone altar 2,800 years old offers insights into the acquisition of Atroth in Jordan. An archaeologist from Britain sheds new light on a fascinating ancient site under a convent in Nazareth.

Ken Darke, a professor at the University of Reading, investigates the archaeological history of the area underneath the Nazareth Convent, which is said to be the site of the childhood home of Jesus, in his new book, Sisters of the Nazareth Convent.

Research states that a partially rock-cut Early Roman-period house was found at the historic site, as well as Roman-era excavations and burials, a well-preserved cave-church, and prominent surface-level Byzantine And evidence from the Crusader churches was found. .

Cave churches and later churches are believed to be associated with the ancient house.

Dark in 2015 Identified The first century AD house within the crypt or cellar of the Byzantine Church which was later built on top of it. The houses and relics of the Byzantine Church are preserved within the Sisters of the Nazareth Convent.

First century BC The entrance to the house and the only surviving section of the floor in front of it appeared.

“This is certainly a site that throws a lot of light on what was in Nazareth of the first century, and there is no reason to discount the possibility that the people who built the Byzantine Church were probably the first May have been right in identifying — the century home as the childhood home of Jesus, ”Pro Dark told Granthshala News via email.

In his research, Darke states that the first archaeological discovery at the site occurred in the 1880s, leading to a series of excavations by the nuns of the convent until the 1930s.

The site was then examined by Henry Senes, a Jesuit priest and former architect based at the Pontifical Bible Institute in Jerusalem. Senius worked there from 1936 and 1964, drawing detailed descriptions of the structures discovered by the nuns, but according to Dark did not publish any academic papers or research on the site. The site was then largely forgotten by experts.

In 2006, Dark established a new project to reorganize the site and investigate earlier research. The archaeologist found that a first-century house on the site later formed part of the quarry and then rock-cut tombs.

According to research sent to Granthshala News, “a burial on the site, probably in the fourth century, a cave-church was built in the hill adjacent to the first-century house.” “A large surface-built church was built in the fifth century, above the first-century house and the fourth-century cave church.”

The large and elaborate church complex may have been the Byzantine Nazareth church and survived to the fifth and seventh centuries, possibly described as the church’s nurture in the “de locis sanctis”, which was dated to the seventh century by the Irish monk Adomon Work.

“Their description exactly matches the archaeological features of the site,” Dark’s research says. “If so, the first-century house was recognized as the place where Jesus was brought, judging from the cave-church.”

According to research, the cave-church is probably described by the pilgrim Agaria in a fourth-century account of Nazareth.

“There is no archaeological reason that identification is impossible, although it is unable to prove it using any available archaeological or written evidence,” the research says.

Last year, in a separate project, the room was hailed as the Last Supper of Jesus revealed in stunning detail thanks to the stunning 3D laser scanning technology.

Israel uncovers King David-era fortress on Golan Heights

Israel uncovers King David-era fortress on Golan Heights

The Golan Antiquities Authority’s excavations uncovered a fortified complex between the 11th to 10th centuries BCE from the time of King David. This unprecedented fortified complex raises new research concerns regarding the Iron Age settlement of the Golan.

Archaeologists claim that the fort was built by the kingdom of Geshur, an ally of King David, to control the region.

Before constructing the new Hispin neighbourhood, excavations were performed and funded by the Ministry of Construction and Housing and the Golan Regional Council, with the participation of many residents of Hispin and Nov, and students from the pre-military academies at Natur, Kfar Hanasi, Elrom, Meitzar and Katzrin.

According to Barak Tzin and Enno Bron, excavation directors on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, “The complex we exposed was built at a strategic location on the small hilltop, above the El-Al canyon, overlooking the region, at a spot where it was possible to cross the river.

The c. 1.5-m.-wide fort walls, built of large basalt boulders, encompassed the hill. In the excavation, we were astonished to discover a rare and exciting find: a large basalt stone with a schematic engraving of two-horned figures with outspread arms. There may also be another object next to them.”

The Israel Antiquities Authority excavation at the Golan’s Hispin, where a circa 11th century fort was discovered
The Israel Antiquities Authority excavation at the Golan’s Hispin, where a circa 11th century fort was discovered.

A figure carved on a cultic stone stele was found in the Bethsaida Expedition Project in 2019, directed by Dr Rami Arav of Nebraska University, at Bethsaida just north of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

The stele, which depicts a horned figure with outspread arms, was erected next to a raised platform adjacent to the city gate. This scene was identified by Arav as representing the Moon-God Cult.

The Hispin stone was located on a shelf next to the entrance, and not one but two figures were depicted on it. According to the archaeologists, “It is possible that a person who saw the impressive Bethsaida stele decided to create a local copy of the royal stele.”

The cultic stele from Bethsaida discovered in the Bethsaida Excavation Project in 2019.

The fortified city of Bethsaida is considered by scholars to be the capital of the Aramean kingdom of Geshur that ruled the central and southern Golan 3,000 years ago.

According to the Bible, the kingdom maintained diplomatic and family relations with the House of David, and one of David’s wives was Maacah, the daughter of Talmi, king of Geshur.

Cities of the kingdom of Geshur were found along the Kinneret shore, including Tel Ein Gev, Tel Hadar and Tel Sorag, but such sites are rare in the Golan.

Archaeologists will now start researching the possibility that the Geshur kingdom had a more extensive presence in the Golan than was previously thought.

Following this discovery, changes in the development plans will be carried out together with the Construction and Housing Ministry so that the unique fortified complex will not be damaged.

The complex will be developed as an open area along the El-Al river bank, where educational archaeological activities will be carried out, as part of cultural heritage and a link with the past.

This aligns with the authority’s policy that learning the past through working in the field strengthens the younger generation’s bonds with their roots.

Temple where Jesus reportedly healed bleeding woman found in Israel

Temple where Jesus reportedly healed bleeding woman found in Israel

The University of Haifa has excavated an ancient church, claimed by archaeologists to be the site of a biblical “miracle,” at Golan Heights in Israel.

Researchers have unearthed an ancient church -- believed to be the site of a biblical "miracle" -- in Israel.
Researchers have unearthed an ancient church — believed to be the site of a biblical “miracle” — in Israel.

Professor Adi Erlich, referring to a biblical story in which Jesus stops the bleeding of a woman who had been suffering for 12 years, as mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, said, “We suggest that the church uncovered by us may have been this church that was related to the miracle.”

The Christian miracle — in which where the woman touches the back of Jesus’ robes in a bid to get better — takes place while Jesus is on his way to the home of Jairus, whose own daughter was sick, in the Roman city of Caesarea Philippi, previously called Banias

According to the biblical text, when the sick woman touched Jesus’ garments “immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.”

The region is now part of the Banias Nature Reserve in northern Israel where Erlich and her team of archaeologists have been piecing together ancient history.

The ancient church’s tile floor, adorned with a cross

The team of researchers had previously established that a nearby temple from the fourth century was possibly where Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah to his disciple Peter.

The site was built atop a Roman-era shrine to the Greek god Pan from the third century.

Another clue that the dig revealed: a small souvenir-like stone with crosses carved into it. Erlich theorized that the stone was left by religious pilgrims around the year 400 at the site — suggesting it was a memorial to the miracle and not an active temple at the time.

The possibly holy locale features springs, caves and a ritual “cultic pool and a water aqueduct,” according to the academic.

“Once conservation is over, everybody is welcome to come and visit,” said Erlich.

An altar — with a Greek inscription — excavated at Banias.

Jerusalem’s Western Wall yields four 1,000-year-old gold coins

Jerusalem’s Western Wall yields four 1,000-year-old gold coins

Four gold coins were recently found in a pottery jar uncovered during an excavation in West Wall Plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The valuable 1000-year-old coins show the political and historic power change between the two Muslim dynasties that controlled the city at the time.

A little juglet or bottle was discovered about two months ago by inspector Yevgenia Kapil of the Israel Antiquity Authority about two months ago, during preliminary digging as part of a plan by the Jewish Quarter Development Corporation to build an elevator facilitating access to the plaza from the Jewish Quarter.

The four gold coins were discovered in mint condition, stashed away with soil inside a juglet.

Last month, archaeologist David Gellman, director of the excavation, emptied out the dirt inside the juglet and discovered four gold coins in excellent condition.

Robert Kool, the antiquities authority’s coin expert, examined them and determined that they dated from the late 940s through 970s C.E., the early Islamist era.

Two of the coins are gold dinars that were minted in Ramle under the rule of the Caliph Al-Muti’ (946-974) and his regional governor, Abu ‛Ali al-Qasim ibn al-Ihshid Unujur (946-961 C.E.).

The other two coins were minted in Cairo by the Fatimid rulers al-Mu‘izz (953-975 C.E.) and his successor, al-‘Aziz (975-996 C.E.).

Excavation director David Gellman of the antiquities authority pointing to the place where the juglet with the coins was found, opposite the Western Wall Plaza.

“The profile of the coins found in the juglet is a near-perfect reflection of the historical events.

This was a time of radical political change, when control over Eretz Israel passed from the Sunni Abbasid caliphate, whose capital was Baghdad, Iraq, into the hands of its Shiite rivals – the Fatimid dynasty of North Africa,” Dr Kool explains.

Dr. Robert Cool of the antiquities authority examining the coins found in the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem. They date from the late 940s to the 970s C.E.

“Four dinars was a considerable sum of money for most of the population, who lived under difficult conditions at the time.

It was equal to the monthly salary of a minor official, or four months’ salary for a common labourer,” he says, adding that for members of the elite in those days, however, it was a relatively small sum.

“The small handful of wealthy officials and merchants in the city earned huge salaries and amassed vast wealth.

A senior treasury official could earn 7,000 gold dinars a month, and also receive additional incomes from his rural estates amounting to hundreds of thousands of gold dinars a year.” 

Stash of pure, 24-carat gold coins unearthed in Israel

Stash of pure, 24-carat gold coins unearthed in Israel

During the summer break, two Israeli teens discovered a cache of hundreds of gold coins dated back 1,100 years. In an archaeological excavation in Yavne in central Israel, the cache, buried in a clay pot, was uncovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The dig site in central Israel where the coins were unearthed.

The coins date back to the end of the 9th century when the region was under the control of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate, a dynasty that controlled the area from modern Algeria to Afghanistan, Robert Kool, a coin specialist with the IAA, said. The coins, 425 in total, were made of pure 24-karat gold and weighed 1,86 pounds (845 grams).

“With such a sum, a person could buy a luxurious house in one of the best neighbourhoods in Fustat, the enormous wealthy capital of Egypt in those days,” said Kool.

The haul included pieces of gold dinars cut to be used as small change.

The teenagers, who were taking part in pre-military national service, initially thought they had found some very thin leaves buried in a jar.
“It was amazing. I dug in the ground and when I excavated the soil, saw what looked like very thin leaves,” Oz Cohen, one of the youths who found the coins, said in a statement.

Hiker finds the rare gold coin in Israel

“When I looked again I saw these were gold coins. It was really exciting to find such a special and ancient treasure.”

Finding such a large cache of gold coins is exceedingly rare, said the directors of the excavation site, since gold was often melted down and reused by later civilizations.

“The coins, made of pure gold that does not oxidize in air, were found in excellent condition as if buried the day before.

Their finding may indicate that international trade took place between the area’s residents and remote areas,” said Liat Nadav-Ziv and Elie Haddad from the IAA.

“The person who buried this treasure 1,100 years ago must have expected to retrieve it and even secured the vessel with a nail so that it would not move. We can only guess what prevented him from returning to collect this treasure,” they added.

The collection of gold coins contains full gold dinars, but also smaller cuttings of gold coins — used as small change, said Kool.

One of the cuttings is an exceptionally rare piece, he added, showing a fragment of Byzantine emperor Theophilos, which would have been minted in the neighbouring empire’s capital of Constantinople.

X-rated medieval doodles reveal our ancestors had a sense of humour
Kool said the fragment of a Christian emperor found in an Islamic coin hoard speaks to the connections between the empires, both in times of war and peace.

In 2016, a hiker found a 2,000-year-old gold coin carrying the face of a Roman emperor in eastern Galilee.

The coin is so rare that only one other such example is known to exist, experts said at the time.

And in 2015, divers found a trove of nearly 2,000 gold coins in the ancient Mediterranean harbour of Caesarea, which had languished at the bottom of the sea for about 1,000 years.

The largest hoard of gold coins found in Israel was discovered in the seabed of a harbour in the Mediterranean Sea port of Caesarea National Park.

2,000-year-old seal depicting Greek god Apollo found in Jerusalem

2,000-year-old seal depicting Greek god Apollo found in Jerusalem

Archaeologist Eli Shukron told The Times of Israel that the finding of a rare 2000-year-old signet ring carved with the Greek sun god Apollo provides fresh evidence of a pluralistic Jewry walking the streets of ancient Jerusalem during the Second Temple period.

“It helps us to see a Jerusalem that wasn’t an ultra-Orthodox city of any kind, it was more pluralistic,” said Shukron, who is convinced that the ring must have decorated the finger of a Jew. The fact that a Jew wanted a Greek god’s symbol, “shows the wide variety of practices in Jerusalem. Everyone was a Jew, but there were different groups and perspectives,” he said.

The dark brown jasper gem sealing (intaglio) was recently discovered at the Archaeological Sifting Project at Tzurim Valley National Park during the wet sifting of earth taken from ongoing City of David excavations of the foundations of the Western Wall.

Shukron said there is absolutely no doubt that it is Apollo who is engraved on the tiny, oval-shaped, 13 millimetre-long, 11 millimetre-wide, and 3 millimetre-thick sealing. It would usually have been used as a signature stamp on beeswax to seal contracts, letters, wills, and goods or bundles of money, according to a City of David press release.

The profile of Apollo has long flowing hair spilling over his sturdy neck. He has a large nose, thick lips, and small prominent chin, according to the press release. The styled hair is braided above his forehead, with long curls reaching the shoulder.

All of this adds up to the god Apollo in the eyes of a trained archaeologist. “You cannot miss it,” Shukron said.

Illustrative: Eli Shukron, an archaeologist formerly with Israel’s Antiquities Authority, walks in the City of David archaeological site near Jerusalem’s Old City

The question then arises, what is a nice Jewish neighbourhood such as 1st century CE Jerusalem doing with a pagan Greek god?

2,000-year-old seal with the image of Apollo discovered in the City of David near Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

According to Shukron, there are already a handful of archaeological artefacts dated to the Second Temple period in which Apollo plays a starring role: Two other Apollo gem sealings were discovered at Masada and another two were found in Jerusalem, one also from the Western Wall drainage tunnels excavations and one in a tomb on Mount Scopus.

Shukron noted that whereas during the Roman period, other members of the Greek and Roman pantheon make appearances, for the centuries surrounding the turn of the Common Era, only Apollo has been found. The god symbolized light, health and general well-being and success — something everyone generally aspires to, he said, which is why the symbol was considered “kosher” for these Second Temple Jews.

“It’s important to see that Jerusalem is more than conservatism, there are people like this who [as evidenced by his adoption of a pagan symbol as his signature] would have had more freedom in their thinking,” said Shukron. What is also clear, through his very public use of the symbol, is that there would have been a group of Jews who accepted this usage as well.

Expert of engraved gems Prof. Shua Amorai-Stark made an assessment of the sealing and noted that “at the end of the Second Temple period, the sun god Apollo was one of the most popular and revered deities in Eastern Mediterranean regions.

Apollo was a god of manifold functions, meanings, and epithets. Among Apollo’s spheres of responsibility, it is likely that association with sun and light (as well as with logic, reason, prophecy, and healing) fascinated some Jews, given that the element of light versus darkness was prominently present in Jewish worldview in those days,” he said.

It’s likely that a Jewish person owned this ancient carving about 2,000 years ago.

Amorai-Stark said that this polarization of light versus dark is seen in that the craftsman’s choice of a dark stone layered with yellow-golden and light brown.

“The choice of a dark stone with the yellow colouring of hair suggests that the creator or owner of this intaglio sought to emphasize the dichotomous aspect of light and darkness and/or their connectedness,” he wrote.

Whether the craftsman was going for a cup half empty or half full view of the world in his workmanship on the sealing, for Shukron the fact of its existence and use during the Second Temple period is an anchor between Jews of two millennia ago and today.

The first-ever portrait of Jesus Christ in Israel Discovered, 70 ancient books hidden in a cave for nearly 2,000 years

The first-ever portrait of Jesus Christ in Israel Discovered, 70 ancient books hidden in a cave for nearly 2,000 years

The image is eerily familiar: a bearded young man with flowing curly hair. After lying for nearly 2,000 years hidden in a cave in the Holy Land, the fine detail is difficult to determine. But in a certain light, it is not difficult to interpret the marks around the figure’s brow as a crown of thorns.

The extraordinary picture of one of the recently discovered hoards of up to 70 lead codices – booklets – found in a cave in the hills overlooking the Sea of Galilee is one reason Bible historians are clamouring to get their hands on the ancient artefacts.

If genuine, this could be the first-ever portrait of Jesus Christ, possibly even created in the lifetime of those who knew him.

The first-ever portrait of Jesus Christ in Israel Discovered, 70 ancient books hidden in a cave for nearly 2,000 years
Discovery: The impression on this booklet cover shows what could be the earliest image of Christ

The tiny booklet, a little smaller than a modern credit card, is sealed on all sides and has a three-dimensional representation of a human head on both the front and the back. One appears to have a beard and the other is without. Even the maker’s fingerprint can be seen in the lead impression. Beneath both figures is a line of as-yet undeciphered text in an ancient Hebrew script.

Astonishingly, one of the booklets appears to bear the words ‘Saviour of Israel’ – one of the few phrases so far translated.

The owner of the cache is Bedouin trucker Hassan Saida who lives in the Arab village of Umm al-Ghanim, Shibli. He has refused to sell the booklets but two samples were sent to England and Switzerland for testing.

An investigation has revealed that the artefacts were originally found in a cave in the village of Saham in Jordan, close to where Israel, Jordan and Syria’s Golan Heights converge – and within three miles of the Israeli spa and hot springs of Hamat Gader, a religious site for thousands of years.

Precious: This booklet shows what scholars believe to be the map of Christian Jerusalem

According to sources in Saham, they were discovered five years ago after a flash flood scoured away the dusty mountain soil to reveal what looked like a large capstone. When this was levered aside, a cave was discovered with a large number of small niches set into the walls. Each of these niches contained a booklet. There were also other objects, including some metal plates and rolled lead scrolls.

The area is renowned as an age-old refuge for ancient Jews fleeing the bloody aftermath of a series of revolts against the Roman empire in the First and early Second Century AD.

The cave is less than 100 miles from Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, and around 60 miles from Masada, scene of the last stand and mass suicide of an extremist Zealot sect in the face of a Roman Army siege in 72AD – two years after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

It is also close to caves that have been used as sanctuaries by refugees from the Bar Kokhba revolt, the third and final Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire in 132AD.

The era is of critical importance to Biblical scholars because it encompasses the political, social and religious upheavals that led to the split between Judaism and Christianity.

It ended with the triumph of Christianity over its rivals as the dominant new religion first for dissident Jews and then for Gentiles.

In this context, it is important that while the Dead Sea Scrolls are rolled pieces of parchment or papyrus containing the earliest-known versions of books of the Hebrew Bible and other texts – the traditional Jewish format for written work – these lead discoveries are in book, or codex, a form which has long been associated with the rise of Christianity.

The codices seen range in size from smaller than 3in x 2in to around 10in x 8in. They each contain an average of eight or nine pages and appear to be cast, rather than inscribed, with images on both sides and bound with lead-ring bindings. Many of them were severely corroded when they were first discovered, although it has been possible to open them with care.

The codex showing what may be the face of Christ is not thought to have been opened yet. Some codices show signs of having been buried – although this could simply be the detritus resulting from lying in a cave for hundreds of years.

Unlike the Dead Sea Scrolls, the lead codices appear to consist of stylised pictures, rather than text, with a relatively small amount of script that appears to be in a Phoenician language, although the exact dialect is yet to be identified. At the time these codices were created, the Holy Land was populated by different sects, including Essenes, Samaritans, Pharisees, Sadducees, Dositheans and Nazoreans.

One lucky owner: Hassan Saida with some of the artefacts that he says he inherited

There was no common script and considerable intermingling of language and writing systems between groups. Which means it could take years of detailed scholarship to accurately interpret the codices.

Many of the books are sealed on all sides with metal rings, suggesting they were not intended to be opened. This could be because they contained holy words which should never be read.