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Archaeology in Review

Exquisite 2,200-year-old Gold Coin Found

December 1, 2010

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Excavations being carried out at Tel Kedesh, near the Lebanese border, have revealed an extremely rare 2,200-year old gold coin. Minted in Alexandria by Ptolemy V in 191 BC, it bears the name of the wife of Ptolemy II, Arsinoe Philadephus (II).

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Early Canaanite Village Exposed

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An intriguing find that is fascinating the archaeologists was exposed in archaeological excavations at Ramat Razim, southeast of Safed [overlooking the Sea of Galilee]. The excavations were carried out within the framework of the development of the region in which new neighborhoods, commercial areas, and a medical school are due to be built.

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Oldest Document Ever Found in Jerusalem

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A tiny clay fragment, which contains the oldest written document ever found in Jerusalem, was found in excavations outside its Old City walls led by archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. The 14th-century BC find is believed to be part of a tablet from a royal archives, which testifies to the importance of Jerusalem as a major city in the Late Bronze Age long before its conquest by King David.

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Hand Grenade Inside City Wall

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Although this wasn’t an ancient find, it was, indeed, an unusual one. The Israel Antiquities Authority conservation team working near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem was dismantling fragments of a crushed stone when they discovered a fist-size chunk of metal in the core of the wall.

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Cuneiform Tablet Uncovered in Hazor

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For the first time in Israel, a document has been uncovered containing a law code that parallels portions of the famous 18th-century BC Code of Hammurabi, which was found in Iran over 100 years ago. The Israel code, also dating to the 18–17th centuries BC, was found in Hebrew University archaeological excavations this summer at Hazor in northern Israel. The fragments, written in Akkadian cuneiform script, refer to issues of personal injury law relating to slaves and masters. The laws also reflect, to a certain extent, biblical laws of the type of “a tooth for tooth.”

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12th-century Fresco on Display

{image_1}After three years of renovation, the Israel Museum reopened the end of July, and a large, 12th-century fresco (wall painting) was displayed there for the first time since its discovery in 1999. It was found next to the Garden of Gethsemane in the “Abbey of St. Mary of the Valley of Jehoshaphat.” Because most of the abbey had been destroyed by the Muslim Sultan Saladin (c.1138–93), the excavators were surprised to find that the 9 x 2.7 meter (29.5 x 8.8 feet) painting had survived. The original height was nine meters, so only the bottom third remains.

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100 Ancient Vessels Found

{image_1}Before the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land, which was occupied by pagan Canaanites, God told Moses“…and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them”(Deut. 31:16). This summer, some of the vessels used in the worship of these gods were unearthed by Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA)—intact.

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Arched Aqueduct Bridge Uncovered

{image_1}In the October 2009 issue of the Dispatch, we published an article about parts of Jerusalem’s ancient, lower level aqueduct being uncovered just below the Yemin Moshe community and on the southwestern boundary of Sultan’s Pool (near Hebron Road). Now, more of that same water system has been partially unearthed north of Sultan’s Pool across the street from the Tower of David. It is a spectacular arched bridge holding another part of the aqueduct that conveyed water to the Temple Mount.

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Greetings from Napoleon III

{image_1}Not all archaeological discoveries in Israel go back thousands of years. For instance, earlier this year, an impressive gold coin bearing the likeness of Louis Napoleon III was exposed in an archaeological excavation of the Israel Antiquities Authority [IAA] in Yafo [Jaffa or biblical Joppa, old part of Tel Aviv].

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Teaching Conservation

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Last year, the first international conservation training program in Israel was opened in Acre (or Akko). In an effort to solve the existing shortage of archaeological conservators, “Saving the Stones” provides practical training with Acre—a World Heritage site and one of the oldest ports in the world—as its classroom. Students gain experience in ancient masonry work, fresco treatment, and building conservation using materials and techniques utilized in antiquity.

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GOD’s ROAD MAP

REBECCA J. BRIMMER
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Full color, revised edition introduces the Hebraic roots of Christianity and tells the story of God’s covenant relationship with Israel. Study questions, excellent for small group or personal study.

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