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    "...from the Lishkat HaGazit (on the Temple Mount)..."

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    "...to the Chanut/Chanuyot (stores)..."

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    "...to the City (of Jerusalem)..."

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    "...to Yavne..."

  • Stacks Image 4561

    "...to Usha..."

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    "...to Shefar'am..."

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    "...to Bet She'arim..."

  • Stacks Image 4571

    "...to Zippori..."

  • Stacks Image 4572

    "...to T'verya..."

Sanhedrin Revisited 2014
Wednesday and Thursday September 11, 2014
by David Willner

The time was long overdue. We'd been distracted with the Elah Fortress (Kh. Qeiyafa), pursuit of a degree in archaeology at Tel Aviv University (Barnea), and with TOARCH (Torah & Archaeology) community programs in Chicago and Baltimore.

Our treasured friend Jim Long was visiting Israel, and I figured - he's never seen anything like this - let's grab some cameras and do a two day road trip - in the process updating some of our images and adding some video.

We couldn't have asked for better weather - crystal clear skies, not too hot or humid - perfect weather for the mission at hand. Sadly, all of the venues were still suffering from the a dearth of tourism. But that proved to be a boon for our photographic needs. Some of the pix are in the slide show above. There's loads to report, but this will have to suffice in the short time before Shabbat begins. More will follow next week...
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15th Annual City of David Conference
Thursday September 4, 2014
by Barnea Levi Selavan
The 15th Annual City of David Conference held on September 4, 2014, shared some significant new discoveries, mostly of work-in-progress excavation which will change the history books of a few periods. Scholars also shared fruits of research in their talks in articles published in City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem, Vol. 9, The 15th Conference, by the Megalim City of David Institute for Jerusalem Studies, in conjunction with Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Here are some highlights I gathered by attendance together with Co-Director David Willner, and by reading. 

Doron Ben Ami of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who is a Co-Director of the City of David Givati excavation, shared the year's highlights. At the southern end of the south-eastern spur, as this hill is technically called, a Second Temple period street and market area continues to be uncovered. Features are appearing such as a podium, and objects found on and under the street will allow dating it more accurately. A huge amount of burnt grain was found that raises interesting questions. Excavations are conducted by Joe Uziel and Nachshon Szanton of the Israel Antiquities Authority 

At the top of the hill, this same street, by means of the Byzantine street intact above it, is being excavated under the present-day road. Visitors will walk underground into the Ophel excavations with more to see than they do now. 

In the Givati parking lot which adjoins that road, near the Old City walls, the phases of an Hellenistic building are being clarified, and phases of the Hasmonean period are becoming clear- extremely rare in Jerusalem. Just recently an intact threshold of what appears to be a monumental building of the Iron Age has come to light; an image was shown. An interesting Abassid period oven lined with flint on its floor to absorb heat was shown. Doron ben Ami of HU and Yana Chekhanovets of the Israel Antiquities Authority conduct the Givati dig. 

In the area of the Middle Bronze period fortification protecting the Gihon Spring (the Spring House) more walls of the Bronze Age and of the late Iron Age II have come to light. The positioning of pottery from the Iron Age under fallen Middle Bronze Age building stones, as well as Israelite walls of roughly 2600-2800 years ago adjoining and using the 3800 year old walls, support the contention (Eli Shukron and others) that this fortress was known and used in the Iron Age; at least in the later periods (if I understand the talks and volume correctly; I believe evidence of 3000 year old use may not yet been found; this must be checked). 

David and I separately explored this area of the dig on the special conference tours to sites not yet open to the public (there were 5 to choose from). The area of what seems to be a cultic altar, and unique incision into the bedrock, seemingly related to cultic worship or industrial production, was shown to us. Ronnie Reich of Haifa U concluded based on examination that Kathleen Kenyon's MB wall was not a fortification, but of a building whose purpose is unknown. Walls around the quarry and Round Chamber seem to protect it above. And the dig goes on, following and recovering areas first documented by the infamous Parker expedition early last century, and going further. Some MB foundation walls rose to 7 meters, and a Hebrew inscription on a pot was found in the ruins of the Iron Age. Excavation are being conducted by Joe Uziel and Nachshon Szanton of the Israel Antiquities Authority 

Along the Western Wall's base the actual corner where it turns to the south is now exposed; in excavations conducted by Joe Uziel and Moran Hajbi of the Israel Antiquities Authority. 

Over past year an excavation led by Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University (one of my teachers) has uncovered many layers of garbage fill from the last 70 years of the Second Temple period. Advanced methods employed by fellow TAU MA Student Helena Roth are identifying the stratigraphy and seeking to isolate and identify potential changes in organic matter and in pottery to see if the historical realities can be tracked and revealed in this period. 

These excavations take place where Raymond Weill's and Yigal Shiloh's excavations were executed, and are connecting them; Area D3. Israelite period houses uncovered by Shilo are being connected to buildings excavated further down the slope of the hill. Other sections are slated for excavation as well. There are 8th century BCE buildings which were apparently abandoned, and not destroyed by the Babylonians- why? And is there another section of wall enclosing them, or are thee "extra-mural" houses, as Shiloh called them? Dr. Gadot seeks to find out. The hope is to also reach the southern end of early water systems running on the east side of the hill.

Shalom Paul of Hebrew University offered his understanding of "Jerusalem of"Gold and "city of gold" in ancient literature and a crown generally worn by the queen which was shaped like the battlements of the city. The article brings images and textual analysis. 

Yoel Elitzur reinterpreted the Greek of Josephus to say that "Tyropean" valley does not mean the cheese-makers valley, which would be out of proportion for naming such an important feature running through the city. After reviewing different interpretations and the Greek grammar he offered: the impression of the city and its building with the line running through it was described by Josephus one time as cheese-like! Therefore it is not the name of a city feature - which should have appeared in other descriptions as well. He brought a potential parallel to the use of "Tyropean" in another city.

David Gurevich of Haifa University writes an article tracing what seems to be a Middle Ages reservoir, Birkat St Maryam, that lay alongside and just north of the Lion's Gate, and is currently covered. He traced it from picture and maps beginning in the mid-1800s, as well as text. A wonderful piece of detective work on a largely forgotten feature.  

Avi Solomon and Haim Barbe offer a careful analysis of what was once called the Secret Tunnel, the main entrance today to the Western Wall tunnels. Thanks to excavations conducted in recent years they offer a 4 part development of the construction from Roman-Byzantine times until the early Arab period, arch by arch; including reconstructing Warren's path of discovery. There is both a dramatic and a technical side to their presentation, presented with photographs of each aspect. 

Reuven Peretz of the Hebrew  University offers a thorough examination and classification of 77 capitals found in use or lying on the Temple Mount. He identifies them by material, style and period into 13 classifications and offers an interpretation at least for part of the historical development so the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque. Some were covered with gold, which was the conference theme, Jerusalem of Gold. 

Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University presented the story of the gold menorah medallion's discovery and interpretation. Gabi Barkay of Bar Ilan University gave a review of gold and silver in the Bible and in excavation discoveries, including his own excavation which found the silver rolls with the priestly blessing on them. 

The conference was introduced by various representative of the government and agencies, including Minster Gideon Saar who drove in specially from Tel Aviv, braving a traffic accident and delays to show his support for the Elad organization and City of David 's efforts. 

Many speakers mentioned the addition of Tel Aviv University to the participating institutions uncovering the past here. 

Just about every speaker gave tribute to the recently deceased Shuka Dorfman, IAA Director. Yuval Baruch of the IAA in particular gave an impassioned account of Shuka'a devotion to see to it that excavation here and public presentations continue. He revealed that Shuka had been working on a book regarding the value of archaeology and an account of his involvement in it; and the incredible degree to which these particular excavations preoccupied him. He and another speaker stated that without Shuka's support at the highest levels, various events and challenges would have prevented these finds from being made and presented. 

There were well over 1000 people. For the last speaker, when many had gone home, there were still 200 people. I sat with two IAA excavators, one of whom just trained me this summer. They said this is apparently the largest archaeological conference in Israel. 

Discoveries continue here, and the wonderful thing is that they are steadily shared with the public, and with the academic world. An exhibition of various gold finds here, displayed at the conference will go on display shortly at the Israel Museum (media reporting I saw regarding the dating of the various finds is largely incorrect). 

Shana tova!

Barnea Levi Selavan
Foundation Stone
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In addition, the entire archaeological collection on display in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem is being made available online, a project made possible by a lead gift from Mr. David Rockefeller with additional gifts from Jonathan and Jeanette Rosen and Paul and Eileen Growald.
The National Treasures Online project and the Rockefeller Museum Online project join a number of ambitious digitization projects undertaken by the Israel Antiquities Authority, including the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, the National Archives from 1919 – 1948 and the Survey Maps online, making the priceless information accessible and available to the public.

In its continued efforts to share and make accessible to people around the world the archaeological treasures of the Land of Israel, the IAA created the National Treasures Online website: www.antiquities.org.il/t/Default_en.aspx which offers a selection of thousands of objects from the collections of the National Treasures, ranging from one million BP to the Ottoman period. The site, which currently has some 5,700 artifacts, is updated continuously, and new hi-resolution images of artifacts and information are added on a regular basis. The artifacts on the site are arranged both chronologically (according to archaeological periods) and typologically (according to the type of artifact). The artifact's information card presents detailed archaeological data about the selected artifact, including provenance, type, dimensions, material, site where discovered, dating and bibliography.

Recently, the Israel Antiquities Authority embarked on a major undertaking to make available through the internet, hi-resolution digital images of and information about the rare archaeological collections that are on display in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. This online project is another example of the IAA’s commitment to providing meaningful, unlimited and easy public access to the nation’s archaeological treasures. The project is made possible by a generous lead gift from Mr. David Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller Jr. who established the museum, with additional support from Paul and Eileen Growald and Jonathan and Jeanette Rosen. This is the first time the entire collection on display of a museum in Israel is being photographed and made available online.

On January 13, 1938, The British Mandatory Government of Palestine opened The Palestine Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. Known informally at the time as The Rockefeller Museum, because of John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s gift of two million dollars to erect the building and house the collections properly, the museum continues to hold one of the most important collections of archaeological objects excavated in the Land of Israel during the early part of the Twentieth century. More than 5,000 artifacts are in the collection, managed by the Israel Museum, most of which were excavated during the British Mandatory period in the 1920’s and 1930’s at important sites such as the prehistoric caves in the Carmel Mountain, Jericho, Megiddo, Samaria, Beth Shean, Tel El-Ajjul, Khirbet El Mafjar, and Ovdat. The collection spans more than 1.5 million years, from prehistoric periods to the time of the Ottoman Empire.

Having the hi-resolution images and accompanying information available to millions of people anywhere in the world is of tremendous importance to everyone interested in the archaeology and history of the Land of Israel.
HYPERLINK "http://www.antiquities.org.il/images/press/IAA_090414.zip" Click here to download high resolution pictures HYPERLINK "http://we.tl/5tFpysw99R" http://we.tl/5tFpysw99R : 
1. National Treasures Depositories , Photographic credit: Marianna Salzberger, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
2. The Rockefeller Museum- Photographic credit: Yoli Shwartz, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
3. Woman plaque-pendant, Tell el-Ujjul ,Middle Bronze II-Late Bronze Age, 15th-14th Centuries BCE, Photographic credit: Clara Amit, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
4. Leather Sandal, Masada, Early Roman Period , Photographic credit: Yael Yolovitch, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
5. Bone Necklace, Me'arat a-Nahal , Natufian Period , Photographic credit: Meidad Suchowolski, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
6. Female Figurine, Sha'ar a Golan, Pottery Neolithic, 6th Millenium BCE, Photographic credit: Clara Amit, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
7. Bone Buckle, Atlit, Crusader Period , 12th-13th Century CE, Photographic credit: Clara Amit, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
8. Bullae bearing an inscription, Lachish, Iron Age II Period, 6th Century, Photographic credit: Miki Koren, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
9. Silver Bracelets, Jerusalem Old City, Fatimid Period , 11th century CE, Photographic credit: Clara Amit, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
10. Female Figurine, Lachish, Iron II Age period 8th century BCE, Photographic credit: Clara Amit, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
11. The display Gallery at Rockefeller Museum, Photographic credit: Silvia krapiwko, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

For further details please contact Dr. Michael Sebanne, Chief Director of the National Treasures Department, 972-52-4284453 / Yoli Shwartz, IAA Spokesperson – 972-52-5991888 HYPERLINK "mailto:dovrut@israntique.org.il" dovrut@israntique.org.il
The Rockefeller Museum
The Palestine Archaeological Museum, more commonly known as the Rockefeller Museum, was opened in Jerusalem in 1938 with funds provided by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to the British Mandatory Government. The museum displays one of the most important collections of archaeological objects excavated in the Land of Israel in the early part of the Twentieth century. More than 5,000 objects are on display, most of which were excavated during the British Mandate period in important sites as the prehistoric caves in the Carmel Mountain, Jericho, Megiddo, Samaria, Beth Shean, Tel El-Ajjul, Khirbet El Mafjar, Ovdat and others.

The objects are displayed in two main galleries and are arranged in a chronological order, representing some 1.5 million years, from prehistoric periods to the Ottoman period. Highlights of the collection include:

Pre-historic bone, stone and flint objects, especially the Natufian period objects from the Kebara Caves in the Carmel range – bone pendants, necklaces, bone sickles and blades, carved ivory and bone animals and more.

Pottery vessels representing the finest collection of such vessels excavated in the Land of Israel, from the Neolithic to the Ottoman period.

Gold, silver and bronze objects, especially the fabulous, rare and important collection of gold jewelry from Tell El-Ajjul, dating to the Second millennium BCE.

Seals, ostracons and seal impressions, specifically the collection of the “Lachish Letters” dating to the Israelite period.

Ivory and bone objects, specifically the famous and rare treasure of Ivories from Megiddo, dating to the 12th century BCE and excavated by the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

Pottery, bronze and marble figurines, sarcophaguses, cult stands, carved architectural pieces dating from the Israelite period to the Crusader period, from important sites as Ashkelon, Beit Shean, Tel Mevorach and Jerusalem.