Category Archives: ISRAEL

The Siloam Pool: Where Jesus Healed the Blind Man

The Siloam Pool: Where Jesus Healed the Blind Man

In Old Jerusalem workers have stumbled upon the ruins of the Siloam Pool, wherein John’s Gospel, Jesus cures a man who is blind from birth — the new find is praised as a discovery that helps to demonstrate the Bible’s historical authenticity.

In 2004, the stepped remains of the ancient Siloam Pool, long thought to be located elsewhere, were uncovered near the City of David. According to the Gospel of John, it was at this sacred Christian site that Jesus healed the blind man.

In the Los Angeles Times, James H. Charlesworth, a New Testament scholar of the Princeton Theological Seminary, had a quote: “Scholars have said that there wasn’t a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit” to illustrate a point…”Now we have found the Pool of Siloam … exactly where John said it was.”

A gospel that was thought to be “pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history,” he added.

Sewer workers discovered the pool some 200 yards from another Pool of Siloam, this one constructed somewhere between 400 and 460 AD by the Empress Eudocia of Byzantium, who, experts say, commissioned the rebuilding of several biblical sites.

Archeologists say that the pool which appears in John’s Gospel was built around the 1st century BC and destroyed by the Roman Emperor Titus in 70 AD.

The sewer line repair which led to the discovery was being overseen by Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority who, according to the LA Times report, was “100% sure it was the Siloam Pool,” when his group saw two steps unearthed by the workers.

The account of the pool in the Gospel of John shows Jesus encountering a man there who had been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples thought that the man was blind because of some sin of his own or his parents.

Jesus then responds that the man is blind so that God’s work might be revealed in him, spits in the dust to make mud and rubs it in the man’s eyes telling him to wash himself in the Pool of Siloam.

The return of the man’s sight makes this story one of the most often recalled in the whole of the Gospels. Now, theologians and biblical scholars are excited that the significance of this miracle can be appreciated in a whole new light.

Artist’s rendering of the Siloam Pool, the Biblical Christian site where Jesus healed the blind man

Misplaced 2,000-year-old ring unearthed in Jerusalem’s City of David

Misplaced 2,000-year-old ring unearthed in Jerusalem’s City of David

Some 2,000 years ago, a Jewish penitent misplaced a bronze ring during his climb of a 600-meter-long (about 2,000 feet) pilgrims’ thoroughfare leading to the Temple Mount.

While the recently recovered ring is today heavily corroded, its central blue semi-precious stone still sparkles.

The ring was recently discovered at the City of David’s Sifting Project in Emek HaTsurim, in a bucket of dirt excavated from a structure on the side of the broad 7.5-meter (24-feet) -a wide road that is thought to have housed a ritual bath, or mikveh. 

According to the City of David archaeologists, the worshiper likely lost the ring when fresh from ritual purification prior to his ascent to the Temple Mount.

For the past seven years at the City of David National Park in Jerusalem, archaeologists have been excavating a now-subterranean stairway that once served as a main artery to the Temple Mount, beginning at the intersection of the Kidron and Ben Hinnom Valleys.

“Every step on this street brought the pilgrims closer to the Temple,” said City of David archaeologist Nahshon Szanton, in a recent video tour of the site.

“Imagine to yourselves the joy, the songs, the prayers, the spiritual journey that these people experience when they know they are just meters away from reaching the gates of the Temple,” he added while climbing the monumental staircase.

The pilgrims’ road, which ascends from the Pool of Siloam to the Jewish Temple, dates to no earlier than 30-31 CE, during the time of the notorious Roman governor Pontius Pilate. In the short video, Szanton emphasized that this was the period when Jesus was sentenced to death.

According to the City of David, the Herodian road was lined with shops and businesses to serve the thousands of pilgrims to Jerusalem on the major holidays.

The broad road is a monumental achievement: Szanton estimates that some 10,000 tons of quarried rock were used in its construction.

The road was built above a complex drainage system, which rebels hid in 40 years after the Pilgrims’ Path’s construction as the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

A 2,000-year-old bronze ring with a solitaire gemstone was uncovered in archaeological excavations in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem.

The drainage channel “was essentially a manmade tunnel,” according to the City of David, and was built underneath the Herodian Road. Its ceiling is made of the rectangular paving stones of the pilgrim’s road above.

The ring is perhaps a testament to a final period of peace, in which pilgrims could still safely climb the path to the Temple Mount and freely worship.

In a statement released by the City of David, archaeologists Szanton, Moran Hajbi, Ari Levy, and Dr. Joe Uziel said, “Just like today, it would appear that in the past, rings and jewelry were removed before bathing, and sometimes forgotten. This phenomenon, perhaps, is behind the discovery of the ring in what appears to be a ritual bath.”

The ring is a very human reminder of the people who ascended the path prior to the temple’s destruction, said the archaeologists.

“This ring allows us to personally connect with an individual’s personal story from 2,000 years ago. The ring, along with other finds, can shed light and expose the lives of people during the Second Temple period,” they said.

Archaeologists have uncovered a stunning 1,600-year-old biblical mosaic in northern Israel.

Mind-blowing 1,600-year-old biblical mosaics paint a new picture of Galilean life

The spectacular biblical mosaic of 1600 years old found in Northern Israel was discovered by archaeologists.

On the site of a Synagogue in Huqoq from the fifth century, the mosaic was discovered, which depicts a scene in the book of Exodus.

Director of Excavation Jodi Magness, Professor in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina, said the mosaic was the first depiction of the episode of Elim from Exodus 15:27 ever found in ancient Jewish art.

“Elim is where the Israelites camped after leaving Egypt and wandering in the wilderness without water,” she explained in a statement, noting that the mosaic is separated into three registers or horizontal strips.

One register showed clusters of dates being harvested by loincloth-clad agricultural workers while another showed a row of wells and date palms, she explained.

“On the left side of the panel, a man in a short tunic is carrying a water jar and entering the arched gate of a city flanked by crenellated towers. An inscription above the gate reads, ‘And they came to Elim’,” Magness added.

Archaeologists also discovered mosaics depicting four beasts described in Chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel. The beasts represented four kingdoms preceding the end of days.

A detail from the Elim mosaic.

“The Daniel panel is interesting because it points to eschatological, or end of the day, expectations among this congregation,” said Magness, in the statement.

“The Elim panel is interesting as it is generally considered a fairly minor episode in the Israelites’ desert wanderings ­­– which raises the question of why it was significant to this Jewish congregation in Lower Galilee.”

The mosaics have been removed from the site for conservation.

Magness and the archaeological team during the summer 2019 dig at Huqoq.
Magness and the archaeological team during the summer dig at Huqoq.

The excavation marked the ninth year of digs at the Huqoq site. The first mosaics were discovered in 2012. Between 2014 and 2017, archaeologists discovered mosaics depicting Noah’s Ark, the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah and the fish and the Tower of Babel, painting a fascinating picture of life at the ancient site.

In 2018 researchers also announced the discovery of a stunning mosaic depicting a biblical scene from Numbers 13:23. Labeled “a pole between two,” the panel showed two spies sent by Moses to explore the biblical land of Canaan.

Another mosaic discovered at Huqoq includes a depiction of Samson. There also has been an ongoing debate about whether a mosaic uncovered in 2016 portrays Alexander the Great.

The purported Alexander the Great mosaic was the first non-biblical story ever found decorating an ancient synagogue.

A mosaic depicting the building of the Tower of Babel.

Experts said the wealth of mosaics show that Jewish life in the surrounding village flourished during Christian rule in the fifth century. This challenges a widely held view that Jewish settlement in the area declined during that period.

“Our work sheds light on a period when our only written sources about Judaism are rabbinic literature from the Jewish sages of this period and references in early Christian literature,” said Magness, who noted it showed only the viewpoint of the men who wrote it. Additionally, early Christian literature generally was hostile to Jews and Judaism.

The parting of the Red Sea mosaic.

“So, archaeology fills this gap by shedding light on aspects of Judaism between the fourth to sixth centuries CE – about which we would know nothing otherwise,” Magness explained. “Our discoveries indicate Judaism continued to be diverse and dynamic long after the destruction of the second Jerusalem temple in 70 CE.”

A mosaic depicting Jonah being swallowed by a fish.

The Huqoq Excavation Project has involved experts from a host of universities, including Baylor University, Brigham Young University and the University of Toronto, as well as the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University.

3,000-Year-Old Hebrew Inscription Discovered

3,000-Year-Old Hebrew Inscription Discovered

Archeologists at Tel Abel Beth Macaah, a joint dig between Azusa Pacific University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have recently exposed a nearly 3,000-year-old jar with the Hebrew inscription.

The ink inscription reads “lbnayo,” meaning “belonging to Benaiyo.” This implies that an Israelite man named Benaiyo lived in Abel Beth Macaah around the 9th century B.C.

This is significant because it is the northern Israelite equivalent of a name found in the Bible (see 2 Samuel 23:20; 1 Chronicles 27:5; 1 Kings 1:8) and indicates that the site may have indeed been an Israelite city at this time (see 2 Samuel 20:29). The name means “Yahweh has built”.

The ink inscription reads “lbnayo,” meaning belonging to Benaiyo, an Israelite name

“Such a discovery advances our understanding of the site and the local region considerably,” said Robert Mullins, Ph.D., co-lead archaeologist of the dig site and chair and professor in Azusa Pacific’s Department of Biblical and Religious Studies.

The jar was found in the lower part of the city, where the team has already found remains from the 9th century, the time of King Ahab.

The new section of the site, Area K, had very little occupation from later periods, which allowed the archaeologists to quickly go below the topsoil and unearth a room containing several broken jars.

The team did not notice the inscription on the jar at first, but when the item was sent for restoration, faint traces of ink on one of the pieces were detected.

The Hebrew script was deciphered through multispectral images taken at the same lab in the Israel Museum that studies the Dead Sea Scrolls. “Any time you find writing on artifacts, that’s important because it can tell us so much about the history of the area,” Mullins said.

One of the other jars had a grape pip and residue in it, indicating the vessel was used to store wine, and the room may have been used for wine storage. Mullins said the team expects to find much more in the area when they resume excavation this summer.

Mullins and the team of archaeologists have excavated ancient artifacts and buildings at the site every summer since 2012. Past finds include silver earrings and ingots, a stone seal, and a small faience head of an ancient king.

Each year, Mullins is accompanied by co-directors Naama Yahalom-Mack, Ph.D. and Nava Panitz-Cohen, Ph.D., from the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University, and their team of archaeologists and scholars, including students from APU and partner schools Cornell University, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Asbury Theological Seminary, and Indiana Wesleyan University.

Scientists find that tin found in Israel from 3,000 years ago comes from Cornwall

Scientists find that tin found in Israel from 3,000 years ago comes from Cornwall, England.

Scientists have revealed tin ingots from more than 3,000 years ago found in Israel. They have established that ancient tin ingots found in Israel actually came from what is now modern-day Britain.

Archaeologists believe it shows that tin was transported over long distances about 3000 years ago. Moreover, the researchers may have solved the mystery of the origin of the tin that was so vital for Bronze Age cultures.

The origins of Bronze-age tin ingots have been investigated by researchers from the University of Heidelberg and the Curt Engelhorn Center for Archaeometry in Mannheim. Tin ingots from the Bronze Age discovered by marine archaeologists off the coast of Israel.

According to, the researchers used “lead and tin isotope data as well as trace element analysis” to identify where the metal was originally mined. What they found was totally unexpected.

The researchers established that the “3,000-year-old tin ingots found in Israel are actually from Cornwall and Devon” reports the Daily Mail.

These areas are in southwest Britain and were the sites of tin mines until modern times. The experts then analyzed tin ingots that were found in Greece and Turkey and they discovered that they had also come from Devon and Cornwall.

The original discovery of the tin ingots.
Map of Eurasia showing the locations of the tin ingots mentioned in the study (green dots), other tin objects in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East before 1,000 BC (yellow dots), and major and minor tin deposits.

Based on the findings it seems that the tin was formed into ingots and exported from Devon and Cornwall. Given the limited technology at the time and the lack of roads, the most plausible way for the ingots to have reached modern-day Israel was by sea.

It seems that “the British Isles had developed maritime trade routes with the rest of the world as early as the Bronze Age ” according to the Daily Mail. These trade routes were probably very complex and covered great distances.

Tin was essential for societies in the eastern Mediterranean and there would have been a great demand for high-quality tin, and this would have encouraged the development of international trade routes. This could have led mariners to travel great distances to secure the metal.

The trade-in tin ingots were probably very dangerous but also very profitable. Other materials that were likely traded along these international trade networks were amber, copper, and luxury items. The fact that Bronze Age merchants could trade over vast distances shows that they were proficient sailors.

Bronze age artifacts which tin was vital for production.

The findings of the research are very important and allow us to have new insights into the trade in the distant past. It identifies for the first time the origin of the tin, that was so important in the Bronze Age.

It strongly indicates that international trade was much more advanced, 3,000 years ago, than widely supposed. The results could also guide archaeological research in the future.

Prehistoric humans ate bone marrow like canned soup 400,000 years ago

Prehistoric humans ate bone marrow like canned soup 400,000 years ago

A new study has found that prehistoric humans have preserved bone marrow in their caves for up to nine weeks as a soup pot.

Researchers previously thought that Paleolithic people lived a hand-to-mouth existence but this research shows they were sophisticated enough to preserve meat using bones like we use modern-day cans. 

The research shows this took place in Qesem cave in what is now Tel Aviv between 420,000 and 200,000 years ago. According to the study published in Science Advances, it is the earliest evidence of delayed food consumption in the world.

The earliest evidence of delayed food consumption

Professor Ran Barkai of the university in Tel Aviv, who was involved in research, said, “The bones were used as ‘ cans ‘ that preserved the bone marrow for a long time until it was time to take off the dry skin, shatter the bone and eat the marrow.

“Bone marrow constitutes a significant source of nutrition and as such was long featured in the prehistoric diet.

“Until now, evidence has pointed to the immediate consumption of marrow following the procurement and removal of soft tissues. In our paper, we present evidence of storage and delayed consumption of bone marrow at Qesem Cave.”

Inhabitants of the cave brought in selected body parts of hunted animal carcasses. 

“The most common prey was fallow deer, and limbs and skulls were brought to the cave while the rest of the carcass was stripped of meat and fat at the hunting scene and left there,” said Professor Jordi Rosell from the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES).

Researchers found deer leg bones had specific chopping marks on them which do not look like marks left from stripping fresh skin.

They believe the bones were left covered in the skin to help preserve them until they needed the meat. 

Scientists have also found people regularly used fire, cooked and roasted meat in Qesem Cave. 

“We assume that all this was because elephants, previously a major source of food for humans, were no longer available, so the prehistoric humans in our region had to develop and invent new ways of living,” said Professor Barkai. 

“This kind of behavior allowed humans to evolve and enter into a far more sophisticated kind of socio-economic existence.”

The cave was discovered 15 years ago during the construction of a road to Tel Aviv. 

A 2010 study into the traces caused controversy in the archaeology world as it questioned the theory of Homo sapiens originating in Africa, but the archaeologists were unable to draw a concrete conclusion from the evidence.

Hoard of 1,200-year-old ‘Arabian Nights’ gold coins in an ancient ‘piggy bank’ discovered in Israel on the fourth day of Hanukkah

Hoard of 1,200-year-old ‘Arabian Nights’ gold coins in an ancient ‘piggy bank’ discovered in Israel on the fourth day of Hanukkah

In the ancient “piggy bank” Israel archeologists have found a small treasure trove of gold coins, which is believed to be the personal savings of a potter that worked in a kiln around 1200 years ago.

They date from the period when the region was ruled by the mighty Abbasid Caliphate and was unearthed at a medieval industrial site. The find was made during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah when Jews exchange gifts and celebrate.

In Yavne in central Israel archeologists discovered gold coins. A team led by Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr. Elie Haddad were excavating an area that will eventually be the location of a new residential neighborhood.

On behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, they conducted the investigation. A significant number of items were discovered by the team, but nothing unusual until they found a small jug

Nadav-Ziv told The Jerusalem Post that she was “cataloging a large number of artifacts found during the excavations when all of a sudden I heard shouts of joy”.

They had come from veteran archaeologist Marc Molkondov, and he directed them to a spot in the dig. He had unearthed a small cracked jug full of a number of coins. This was clearly an important find.

Archaeologists Liat Nadav-Ziv and Marc Molkondov, finder of the gold coins, with the 8 th century Chanukah gelt.

Dr. Robert Kool, a coin expert from the Israel Antiquities Authority examined the coins. There were all from the 7th-9th centuries AD and date to the early Abbasid period. The Abbasid Caliphate is regarded as an Islamic golden age when the arts, industry, and science flourished.

One of the most important coins found was a gold dinar from the reign of Caliph Harun A-Rashid (786-809 AD). He ruled the Abbasid Caliphate at the zenith of its power and wealth and is a “key figure in the classic collection of stories known as the Arabian Nights also known as One Thousand and One Nights” according to The Jerusalem Post.

In the jug were coins not normally found in Israel. Dr. Kool is quoted by the Jewish Press as saying that there “are gold dinars issued by the Aghlabid dynasty that ruled in North Africa, in the region of modern Tunisia”. This dynasty was largely autonomous but was ultimately under the control of the Abbasids, whose capital was in Baghdad.

The coins were discovered during the major Jewish holiday Chanukah, otherwise known as Hanukkah. During this eight-day festival gifts of coins are given, sometimes chocolate gold coins, are exchanged. Kool is quoted by The Times of Israel as saying that “without a doubt, this is a wonderful Chanukah present for us”.

The hoard of gold coins discovered in Yavne.

The excavation at Yavne is not far from a Tel or mound, and a large number of kilns were discovered. The kilns were used in the manufacture of pottery from the late Byzantine to the Early Abbasid period (600 to 900 AD). It appears that the site was once an industrial center and it produced pots, jars, and bowls.

The jug with the treasure trove was unearthed near one of the entrances of the kiln. The Jerusalem Post reports that “it might have been the potter’s ‘piggy-bank’ where he had kept his personal savings”. It is possible that the potter hid the coins at some point and was unable to recover them.

The Yavne site has a long history. Evidence was found that the area was the location of wine production, during the Achaemenid Persian period (5th and 4th centuries BC).

The wine was produced there on a significant scale. Dr. Elie Haddad observed that “the size and number of vats found at the site indicated that wine was produced on a commercial scale, well beyond the local needs of Yavne’s ancient population” reports The Jerusalem Post. It appears that the region exported wine to other areas.

Winepresses found at the same location as the gold coins, dated to the Persian period.

The jug filled with coins is an important find in itself. The discovery helps us to understand more about an important industrial center in the Middle Ages and the region’s role in the international trade network that flourished under the Abbasids. Further excavations at the site are expected to reveal more about Yavneh’s ancient and medieval past.

Neolithic Seawall Discovered in Mediterranean Waters

Neolithic Seawall Discovered in Mediterranean Waters

Scientists have discovered an ancient seawall constructed by the Neolithic people to protect their village from a sea-level rise over 7,000 years ago.

This wall, which is 330 meters off the Carmel coast of Israel, had been constructed over a mile of riverbed stone, in order to build a barrier between the Mediterranean and Tel Heriz settlement.

Researchers led by Ehud Galili from the University of Haifa, Israel, in a study published in PLOS One claim that it represents the oldest known coastal defense system in the world with “a major effort spent by the neolithic villagers to create, organize and construct.”

At the time the settlement existed, sea levels were rising as global temperatures warmed following the end of the last ice age. The Mediterranean was rising by up to seven millimeters (0.27 inches) per year. Over a lifetime, this would have equaled around 20 centimeters.

“This rate of sea-level rise means the frequency of destructive storms damaging the village would have risen significantly,” Galili said in a statement.

Images from the underwater archaeologists investigating the site.
Model showing where the village and wall would have been compared with today.

“The environmental changes would have been noticeable to people, during the lifetime of a settlement across several centuries. Eventually, the accumulating yearly sea-level necessitated a human response involving the construction of a coastal protection wall similar to what we’re seeing around the world now.”

The Tel Hreiz settlement was first uncovered in the 1960s but the seawall was only identified in 2010 after a severe storm exposed it. Galili and his team then set about analyzing the remains of the submerged wall.

They found it was almost 10 feet tall and was built around the same time as the village. Over the course of decades, the seawall would have suffered from marine erosion, the researchers say.

After the sand layer was removed, waves and storms may have eventually dislodged boulders and stones.

Despite this “display of resilience” in the face of sea-level rise, the people of Tel Hreiz eventually left the village and, over time, both the seawall and village were lost to the sea.

“The seawall may have worked for a period,” the team wrote, “however, ultimately it proved futile and the village was eventually abandoned. The Tel Hreiz seawall represents the earliest example of a coastal defense of this type known to date.”

The team points to parallels with the sea-level rise mankind is facing today. While the rate at the moment is considerably lower than what these Neolithic people were facing, it is expected that many of the world’s coastal towns and cities will be impacted in the next century.

“Given the size of coastal populations and modern urban settlements, the magnitude of predicted future population displacement differs considerably to the impacts on people during the Neolithic,” the study said.

“However, many of the fundamental human questions and the decision-making relating to human resilience, coastal defense, local adaptation, technological innovation and decisions to ultimately abandon long-standing settlements remain ominously relevant.”