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Archaeology in Review

3,000-year-old House Preserved

{image_1}Can you imagine the thrill of uncovering a house from the time of Israel’s Golden Age when King David and King Solomon reigned over Israel 3,000 years ago? That’s what Dr. Shay Bar and Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa experienced when they headed an excavation team at Tel Shikmona near Haifa.

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Islamic-era Roman Bathhouse Found

{image_1}Perched atop a small promontory overlooking a Mediterranean beach, a local Don Juan appears to have built a Roman-era style bathhouse atop his fortress. Archaeologists from Tel Aviv University say that their dig at the Yavneh-Yam site, located between the current day cities of Tel Aviv–Jaffa and Ashdod, revealed a beautiful bathhouse with duplex floors, a water-heating system, and underground ducts, all in the classic Roman style.

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Caiaphas Family Ossuary Found Authentic

{image_1}Three years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery acquired an ossuary with an Aramaic inscription on the top edge just below its lid: “Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priests [of] Ma'aziah from Beth ’Imri.” Dr. Boaz Zissu of Bar Ilan University and Professor Yuval Goren of the Tel Aviv University were commissioned to check its authenticity. At the end of June this year, they published the results of their examination—it is, indeed, genuine and ancient.

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Exciting Finds in First-century Water Channel

{image_1}The clearing of Jerusalem’s Second Temple Period water channel, a seven-year project, was reported in our April Dispatch. Now we’re receiving reports of what was found there. The channel runs south from Robinson’s Arch (just south of the Western Wall) along the western edge of the City of David to Siloam Pool (at the end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel). Soon it will open to the public; meanwhile, the exciting finds that were unearthed there breathe new life into the story of the destruction of the Second Temple.

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Beneath Jerusalem, a River Runs Deep

{image_1} Excavators digging for a new railway station deep under the surface of central Jerusalem have discovered what geologists say is the largest underground river ever found in Israel. Professor Amos Frumkin, head of the Cave Research Unit of Hebrew University, told The Media Line, “In terms of Israel, it’s the longest underground stream that we have ever seen. It is a kind of a canyon that has been cut by the stream of the water over a long period of time.”

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Akko’s First Byzantine Find

{image_1} An important 1,500-year old public building dating to the Byzantine Period has been revealed in excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in Akko. Although the exact function of the building has yet to be determined, IAA excavation director Nurit Feig is of the strong preliminary opinion that it might have been a church. The site was discovered near Tel Akko when construction had begun to build a new shopping mall.

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Tourists, Beware of Unauthorized Antiquities Dealers!

{image_1} An extensive campaign was undertaken in May to prevent the illicit trafficking in antiquities excavated and plundered from archaeological sites. In an operation conducted by the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, an American tour guide was identified while selling antiquities to a group of American tourists he was leading in Israel. Inspectors from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) were present at one of the sales that took place in a hotel. Upon conclusion of the sale, the suspect was detained and hundreds of ancient archaeological artifacts were seized.

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Archaeologists of the Future


Archaeology is not just for those who have degrees and skillfully direct the digging of ancient treasure. Many volunteers, unschooled in archaeology, join authorized digs as well. When I participated for a week on a summer dig several years ago, I was surprised to see other volunteers there with their young children. Given the proper tools and a little instruction, it’s not too hard for even children, with adult supervision, to be of help to the professionals (though I’m not sure how often it’s allowed).

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Senseless Vandalism

{image_1}Sadly, it has been reported that the large, 30-foot long (9-meter) mosaic at Hirbet Madras, which we covered in our April Dispatch issue, was vandalized. In late March, vandals destroyed large sections of the mosaic that was in almost pristine condition, described by archaeologist Amir Ganor as “one of the most beautiful mosaics to be uncovered in Israel in recent years,” and estimated to be about 1,500 years old.

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Digging in the West Bank

{image_1} While the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeologists do not work in the West Bank, other Israeli archaeologists do. However, finds within the West Bank  (Judea and Samaria) can be problematic. Though the West Bank is currently under Israeli control, it is “disputed” territory, since much of it is supposedly to become a Palestinian state. If that happens, what happens to everything that has been found in archaeological digs there? If Israelis found it, is it theirs, or since it was found in “Palestinian” territory, will it belong to “Palestine”?

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