Wild Boar (pigs!) at Caesarea Philippi (Banias, Israel) — with 3 photos


Carl Rasmussen and his group encountered a wild boar pack at Caesarea Philippi. See his photos and note his Bible comments.

HT: Todd Bolen

Originally posted on HolyLandPhotos' Blog:

On a recent trip to Israel our student group was preparing our lunch at the picnic grounds on the site of Banias (NT Caesarea Philippi —think Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ/Messiah—Matthew 16:16 and gospel parallels).  Looking up from our lunch, much to my surprise I saw a herd of about 15 wild boar near another picnic table close to us (adults plus young ones)!!  During my 15 years in Israel I had never seen a wild boar in the wild and here we were IN a Jewish national park and there they were!

Two Adult Wild Boar near a Picnic Table at Caesarea Philippi Click on Image to Enlarge/Download

When we tried to approach them (bad move) they made aggressive moves towards us—in fact some of the students had to run away!  Their aggressiveness was evidently known to the Psalmist who wrote that God’s people were like a…

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Lectures on the Philistines in Kansas City and Chicago

Those in the Kansas City and/or Chicago area have a special opportunity next week to hear lectures by Dr. Aren Maeir, the archaeologist who has excavated ancient Gath since the mid-1990′s.

Bible students will recall Gath as one of the cities of the Philistine pentapolis. Gath was the hometown of Goliath and also one of cities where the captured Ark was taken. David went to Gath on two occasions while fleeing Saul, and was granted asylum on his second attempt.

On next Tuesday, April 22nd, Aren will be at the University of Kansas lecturing at the Jewish Studies Program on the topic, “Canaanites, Philistines, and Others at Tel es-Safi/Gath – the Hometown of Biblical Goliath.”

On Wednesday, April 23rd, he will be at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. He will lecture there on, “New Light on the Biblical Philistines: Recent Study on the Frenemies of Ancient Israel.”

I’ve heard Dr. Maeir speak several times. If you can make it, it will be an enjoyable and interesting experience. His work at Tel es-Safi/Gath has produced a lot of information on the origins and culture of the ancient Philistines, as well as insights into historical events mentioned in the Bible.

Dr. Aren Maeir (center) ill (photo courtesy of www.gath.wordpress.com)

Dr. Aren Maeir (center) clearly enjoying his work at Tel es-Safi/Gath. His lectures are interesting, informative, and highly recommended. (Photo courtesy of http://www.gath.wordpress.com)

So… how much will it cost to temporarily abandon my family and fly up from Florida for these lectures?? After the winter they’ve had up there, I suppose they deserve a few perks.

HT: Joe Lauer

Posted in archaeologists, Biblical Archaeology, General Archaeology, Links to interesting stuff, Museums, Philistines, Speaking engagements | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gihon Spring and Solomon’s Wisdom

My previous post discussed the recently-completed excavations around Jerusalem’s Gihon spring. This spring was the water source for ancient Jerusalem.

The Gihon spring had one weakness. It lay at the bottom of the hill, but for defensive purposes the city was built along the top. How would residents access the water during a siege? The Canaanite solution was to build fortifications down the slope of the hill and around the spring. This blocked enemy access to the water. Underground tunnels to the spring provided city residents with secure access.

The Canaanite defenses around the Gihon appear to have been in use into the period of the Israelite monarchy. Solomon was coronated by the Gihon spring tower in 1 Kings 1. Any Jerusalem king, including Solomon, was fully aware of the Gihon fortifications’ vital role in the city’s protection. To lose the Gihon spring was to lose the city.

Perhaps Solomon was thinking of the Gihon fortifications when he wrote Proverbs 4:23.

Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.

Do we notice the water reference here? We must protect the “springs” of our heart or we risk life itself. Solomon speaks in the context of obtaining wisdom, but he appears to illustrate the point using the Gihon fortifications down the slope from his window.

Did the Gihon spring tower seen below inspire Proverbs 4:23? It is certainly possible.

The Gihon spring tower that may have inspired Proverbs 4:23. (Courtesy of the Ir David foundation)

The Middle Bronze Canaanite tower that continued to protect the Gihon spring during the 10th century BC. This structure may have inspired Proverbs 4:23. (Courtesy of the Ir David foundation)

Bonus: Here is a short promo video of the tour experiences available at the Ir David location. The first portion shows the view of the eastern hill, the Mount of Olives, and the southern end of the Temple Mount as seen from the observation platform. There are also glimpses of the Large Stone Structure, some ruins around the Stepped Stone Structure, the Gihon spring and Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the Roman-era processional street, and bits from the 3D movie visitors get to see.



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15-Year Excavation Completed at Jerusalem’s Gihon Spring (Video)

This short video shows the powerful Canaanite fortifications at Jerusalem prior to David’s time. Anyone who has visited the Gihon Spring in the past 15 years has seen the massive stones along with sandbags and other evidence of excavation. The video shows Joe Uziel (who also works at Tel es-Safi/Gath and Tel Burna) summarizing work at the site.

Some scholars suggest there is sparse evidence the City of David was occupied or fortified for much of the biblical period, particularly in the Late Bronze-Early Iron Periods. (Biblically, these are the Late Judges-Early Kingdom periods.) A recent article proposes that ancient Jerusalem may have been located under the Herodian platform on Mt. Moriah rather than the ridge normally associated with the City of David (Finkelstein:Koch:Lipschits, 2011). As Todd Bolen has pointed out, the existence of these massive fortifications around the Gihon Spring is one of several problems this hypothesis faces.

The biblical record (2 Sam. 5:6-8) indicates Jerusalem had significant fortifications including a “stronghold” around the time of David in the late 11th-early 10th century BC, during the early Iron period. Dr. Uziel’s summary in the video above concludes these Middle Bronze fortifications continued to used into the Iron period. If this is correct, we have physical evidence of Jerusalem that reflects some of the conditions described in the biblical account.

Remains of a Middle Bronze tower protecting the Gihon Spring - ancient Jerusalem's water supply. Materials from the excavation are obvious. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Remains of a Middle Bronze tower protecting the Gihon Spring – ancient Jerusalem’s water supply. Notice the sandbags and locus signage from the excavation. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Notice the size of these Middle Bronze (ca. 3800 bp) fortification stones. Stones this large were not used again in Jerusalem's defenses until Herod's construction in the Roman period. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Notice the size of these Middle Bronze (ca. 3800 before present) fortification stones. Stones of this size were not used again in Jerusalem’s defenses until Herod’s construction in the Roman period. Such massive defenses indicate significant centralized power and resources at the time of construction. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

We look forward to seeing published results in the future. This process often takes years, so some patience is warranted.

Posted in Ancient Architecture, Bible comments, Biblical Archaeology, Israel, Jerusalem, Short videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Join my Bible Lands tour of Israel from October 27 to November 5, 2014

I invite you to join my Bible Lands tour this fall. This tour experience is top quality, and for a very good price. Everything is taken care of so you can devote your full attention to the Bible places we will visit.

Our tour company, Nawas International, has 64 years of experience in planning tours, with top-notch guides and comfortable accommodations. I will contribute insights gained over six seasons of archaeological experience in Israel. This tour is for a lower price than most, but with the experience and breadth few tours can provide.

For Christians, this experience is an investment in one’s understanding of the Bible. No book, sermon, or class provides the insights gain when you walk where they walked. Reserve your place soon on this excellent tour. More details are on my tour website. Send me an email at LukeChandler -at- verizon.net to receive a full brochure with registration information.

Posted in Bible comments, Biblical Archaeology, Galilee, Interesting places to visit, Israel, Jerusalem, Khirbet Qeiyafa, Overseas trips, Publications & Study Materials, Short videos, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Paul’s Missionary Tube Map

If Paul had taken the tube instead of the Roman roads/ships:

Paul's Missionary Tube Map

Paul’s Missionary Tube Map

Kudos to the commenter “hubbit” who advises one to “mind the agape.”

* Reblogged from theologygrams

Posted in Bible comments, Evangelistic Work, Humor, New Testament, Paul | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swimming in Galilee, You See a Lot (video)

The “Sea” of Galilee is more like a lake. You can see across to the other side even on hazy days.

To Bible students, the Sea of Galilee is famous for the time Jesus spent there. He lived in Capernaum for a time. He chose many of His Apostles along the north shore. He occasionally crossed the water by boat, and by foot on one miraculous occasion. He performed countless miracles and spoke many of His most famous words, all in a remarkably small area.

This short video from my 2012 trip illustrates the close proximity of some sites associated with Jesus’ ministry. Enjoy!

Posted in Bible comments, Galilee, Interesting places to visit, Israel, Short videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Christian Science Monitor Cover Story “What Archaeology Tells Us About the Bible”

The newest issue of Christian Science Monitor has its cover story on archaeology and the Bible, highlighting Khirbet Qeiyafa and the debate over David, Solomon, and the ancient Israelite kingdoms. In all, it is one of the more balanced overviews of the discussion that I’ve read.

The article quotes Yossi Garfinkel, Israel Finkelstein, Amihai Mazar, Bill Dever, and other prominent figures involved in the debate over Israel’s ancient kingdom. It surveys the finds at Qeiyafa with summaries of the opposing interpretation. Interestingly, it critiques the accuracy of radiometric (carbon-14) dating, noting that the range of error now includes the current half-century-or-less gap between the biblical High Chronology and proposed Low Chronology to date Israel and Judah’s early kingdoms.

The article is a well-done overview of the opposing viewpoints and where things currently stand. It’s worth a read.

What Archaeology Tell Us about the Bible

Christa Chase Bryant, author of the CSM article, and photographer interview Yossi Garfinkel at Khirbet Qeiyafa. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Christa Chase Bryant, author of the CSM article, and photographer interview Yossi Garfinkel at Khirbet Qeiyafa. (Photo by Luke Chandler)


Posted in 2013 Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation, Biblical Archaeology, General Archaeology, Israel, Khirbet Qeiyafa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Recommended Tour Guide in Israel

I had a free day during my recent Israel trip and wanted to visit biblical sites in the West Bank. For several reasons it was wise to go with someone who knew the area well. A trusted recommendation led me to Tom Powers, an American who has lived in Israel for the past 14 years.

I made arrangements with Tom and had a fantastic day. He took me to ancient Geba/Michmash (where Jonathan scaled the cliffs to fight Philistines), Shiloh (where the tabernacle resided), Tel Balata (ancient Shechem), Jacob’s Well (Jesus and the Samaritan woman), to the new National Park atop Mt. Gerizim (fascinating Samaritan/Byzantine ruins plus a modern Samaritan village), and to the ancient city of Samaria. His explanations brought things to life. Alas, I only had one day to work with but Tom helped me make excellent use of it. Knowledge of the land, history, biblical connections, modern food stops, and driving routes is valuable. I could not have seen or done nearly as much on my own.

Tom has completed the rigorous tour guide program mandated by the Israeli government for licensed guides. He serves tour groups throughout Israel but his specialty is Jerusalem. I recently saw a blog comment about Tom by Prof. Todd Bolen. “There are few people alive who know more about Jerusalem than Tom Powers.” Tom has been published in Biblical Archaeology Review and is a contributor for the Haaretz news agency in IsraelTom’s website includes photos, blog posts and articles on biblical history/archaeology/geography, and contact information.

Tom told me he plans to return to the U.S. later this year. If you are in Israel anytime before November and are interested in a great tour guide for one or multiple days, contact Tom and see if he’s available. If you have a day in Jerusalem, consider Tom Powers to get the best value for your limited time.

Tom Powers at Tel Balata (ancient Shechem. Photo by Luke Chandler

Tom Powers at Tel Balata (ancient Shechem), which turned out to be much more interesting than I had imagined. Tom was extremely knowledgeable but also attentive to my interests and schedule. He packed a lot into one day. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

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Other Khirbet Qeiyafa Discoveries: A Tower and an Idol

After all the attention surrounding the recent “David’s Palace” announcement, here are details on some other finds from the final season at Kh. Qeiyafa. Because I have worked as a volunteer at the site for five years running, the Qeiyafa archaeological staff has graciously given me permission to post these in advance of official reports.

As reported from the dig, I worked in a new spot (“Area W”) down the slope a bit from the ancient city. Area W is an ancient building that was initially thought to be a military watchtower. It is located on the western slope of its hill. Our excavations revealed it to be an agricultural tower for pressing olives, crushing grapes, etc. The pottery we found dates the structure to the period of King Josiah, during the latter half of the 7th century B.C. This is some 350 years +/- after the period of David and Solomon and just a few decades before the destruction of Judah by the Babylonian Empire.

An agricultural tower from the later 7th century B.C. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

An agricultural tower from the later 7th century B.C. We found storage jars and other vessels, but no domestic pottery. This suggests nobody actually lived here. The building seems to have been a public one, possibly used by area farmers/vintners during harvest season. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Isaiah mentions this kind of tower:

My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it. (Isa. 5:1b-2)

An agricultural installation carved into the bedrock inside the building. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

An agricultural installation carved into the bedrock inside the building. Besides the round hole there are circular and rectangular impressions carved into the bedrock. Fruit was crushed here and the juice/oil flowed into a vessel sitting in the round hole. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The pottery assemblage included several rosette handles. Large storage jars were stamped with these on the handle to mark government property such as olive oil or wine. Judah had a tradition of stamping the handles of government-owned storage jars with the phrase LMLK (“belonging to the king”) since at least the late-8th century BC, the time of King Hezekiah. In the latter half or latter third of the 7th century BC, in the time of Josiah, these kinds of jars were stamped with a rosette flower (KOCH/LIPSCHITS 2013). The presence of several rosette handles helps us to date the tower and suggests some portion of this tower’s production was designated for government use.

One of several rosette handles found in and around the Area W tower. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

One of several rosette handles found in and around the Area W tower. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

This tower appears to have been constructed less than 100 years after Isaiah penned those words. The Area W tower at Qeiyafa provides us a near-contemporary example of what Isaiah and others in his time would think of when reading/hearing those words of Isa. 5:2.

We also found a small idol. It may be the broken torso of an Asherah, a fertility goddess mentioned numerous times in the Bible. Although idols such as Asherah were prohibited in the Law of Moses, Israel and Judah joined other Canaanite peoples in Asherah worship from the time of the Judges until the end of the kingdom period.

If we only found the torso, why would we suggest it is the figurine is an Asherah? As it turns out, Asherah has a pretty standard pose.

An Asherah figurine. (Courtesy of the Louvre)

An Asherah figurine. Notice the pose for this fertility goddess. Many Asherah statutes have been found with this standard look. (Courtesy of the Louvre)

Compare the intact statue in the photo with the broken torso from our square in the photo below.

So was the figurine broken by accident or was it an intentional destruction? (Josiah’s religious reforms described in 2 Kings 23?)

These were a few of the more interesting finds from my area this year. Stay tuned and I’ll post something more soon.

The Asherah figurine from Area W near Khirbet Qeiyafa. Though it appears to be of cruder workmanship, it is clearly the standard pose for this goddess. (Photo by Bob Henry)

The possible Asherah figurine from Area W near Khirbet Qeiyafa. Though it appears to be of cruder workmanship, it is a standard pose for this goddess. (Photo by Luke Chandler. Used with permission by the Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation.)

Posted in 2013 Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation, Ancient Architecture, Biblical Archaeology, General Archaeology, Israel, Khirbet Qeiyafa, New Discoveries | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments