My Emerald Ireland tour this fall

My wife and I are leading an 11-day tour to Ireland this fall for only $2495. This price includes round trip flights from the U.S., most meals, first class hotels, all transportation and luggage handling, professional guides, and all taxes/fees. This is a tremendous value for a full service European tour.

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We will visit Galway, Waterford, Killarney, Dublin, and other destinations. Our itinerary allows us to experience magnificent scenery throughout the trip. We will see castles, famous literary works and ancient manuscripts, visit historic Trinity College, and enjoy an immersion in the culture and people of Ireland.

We depart New York (JFK) on October 30th and return November 9th. This is a tour designed for Christians. If this trip interests you, please contact me at “LukeChandler -at- verizon.net” to receive a full brochure or ask any questions.

The City of Dublin.

 

I have led previous tours to Italy, South America, and the Bible Lands. It is a pleasure to travel, but I have found it equally enjoyable to share the experience and time with like-minded people. This kind of trip brings people together to form uplifting relationships and make lifelong memories.

There are still available spaces but our group must be finalized by the end of this month (July). Reserve your place promptly and share this experience with us this fall.

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Fla. Seller of Travel Ref. No. ST37750

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Roman Legions, a Miracle, and Armageddon: Our Last Day in Israel

We are back home now but our last day in Israel was excellent. We visited two of the best sites in the country and made a surprise visit to an excavation that has since been in the news.

So what did we do on our way to the airport?

We drove from the Sea of Galilee to ancient Megiddo. On the way, we passed the village of Nain. Luke 7 records Jesus raising a young man from the dead when He met the funeral procession coming out from the town.

The village of Nain. Jesus raised a woman's son from the dead as the funeral procession came out from the town.

The village of Nain. Jesus met a funeral procession leaving the town and raised a widow’s son from the dead.

We crossed the historic Jezreel Valley to Megiddo. This city sat at a strategic crossroads for traffic between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Its name appears in the Bible and in numerous ancient records. Visitors to the site enter by the city gate that dates to the 15th century BC. It is only wide enough to accommodate typical chariots of the period.

The gate of Megiddo from the 15th century BC. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The gate of Megiddo from the 15th century BC. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Megiddo sits like a sentinel over the Jezreel Valley. This valley is key to controlling the land of ancient Canaan. Nearly every invader in history has fought a battle in the open space before Megiddo. (For a popular military history of this valley, I recommend “The Battles of Armageddon” by Dr. Eric Cline.)

Panorama of the Jezreel Valley from Tel Megiddo. We know of at least 34 different military engagements here throughout history, including those of Deborah, Gideon, Saul, Jehu, and Josiah. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Panorama of the Jezreel Valley from Tel Megiddo. We know of at least 34 different military engagements here throughout history, including those of Deborah, Gideon, Saul, Jehu, and Josiah. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Archaeologists are uncovering a 1st-2nd century AD military camp of the Roman VI Legion immediately south of Tel Megiddo. This is the first complete Roman military base discovered in the eastern Roman Empire and the excavation has just been in the news. We enjoyed a personal tour from two of the co-directors.

Excavations immediately south of Tel Megiddo. This dig, sponsored by the Albright Institute, is uncovering a Roman Legionary base from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Excavations immediately south of Tel Megiddo. This dig, sponsored by the Albright Institute, is uncovering a Roman Legionary base from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

After a good lunch we finished off the afternoon with a visit to Caesarea, the magnificent marble port city built by Herod the Great. Below is a photo of the palace. The area with the columns was for official use, including court cases such as that of the apostle Paul in Acts 24 and 25. The lower section of rocks to the left was actually the living quarters for the governor and his family and included a freshwater swimming pool that is still visible today.

Herod's palace at Caesarea, also used by later Roman governors including Pontius Pilate. Paul likely faced Felix and Agrippa here. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Herod’s palace at Caesarea, also used by later Roman governors including Pontius Pilate. Paul likely faced Felix and Agrippa here. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

These were the perfect experiences to end a wonderful trip. Each of these stops is worthy of a longer post, and perhaps those will come soon enough. In the meantime, consider coming on next year’s trip if you have not already been. If you have traveled here before, there are many new sites and discoveries that merit another visit. One trip is not a complete experience. There is simply too much to see and do.

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Image of Fertility Goddess Unearthed at Lachish

A clay image of a Canaanite fertility goddess was unearthed in my square the other day. Yossi Garfinkel granted permission to post this photo of the find.

A late bronze fertility goddess discovered at Tel Lachish. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

A late bronze fertility goddess discovered at Tel Lachish. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Fertility goddesses were considered influential over the fertility of the womb, making them especially popular among those desiring children. Someone wanting a child likely worshiped this figurine at home or in a temple. The Bible says that Israelites shared in this practice with the Canaanites.

Many biblical passages mention religious images like the one above. Here are two of them.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath.” (Exodus 20:4, ESV)

“Beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female.” (Deuteronomy 4:16)

Archaeology helps us to “get inside the head” of ancient peoples. We see what they saw. We come closer to their perspective, which makes them more relatable for us. Their examples, both good and bad, are more powerful when we understand their world and their surroundings.

Posted in 2015 Tel Lachish excavation, Biblical Archaeology, Israel, Lachish, New Discoveries | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Day in Galilee

We visited several biblical sites today, starting with a synagogue from the 1st century. This building was recently discovered by the Sea of Galilee in the biblical town of Magdala. (Likely the hometown of Mary the Magdalene.) Did Jesus teach in this particular synagogue? There is no specific record, but we do have these texts:

“He went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.” (Matthew 4:23)

“Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.” (Matt. 6:35)

“He went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues.” (Mark 1:39)

“Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.” (Luke 4:14-15)

Would these references include this synagogue in Magdala, located along the principal highway in the region? Personally, I would think so.

The 1st-century synagogue in Magdala.  Jesus probably taught n this room. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The 1st-century synagogue in Magdala. Benches for worshipers can be seen along all four walls. The speaker likely stood in the center area near the decorated stone. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Developers have built a new church building by the synagogue for the benefit of religious tour groups that visit. The pulpit is a large boat designed to simulate Jesus’ speaking venue in the beginning of Matthew 13. I have never seen a church quite like this one.

A church has been built in Magdala with a boat replica for a pulpit. Here I am, making a powerful point.

A church has been built in Magdala with a boat replica for a pulpit. I took the opportunity to make a powerful, profound point about something.

We traveled next to Abel Beth-Maacah, a biblical site along the north border of Israel. This city was famous for an event marking the conclusion of a rebellion against King David. The story involves Joab, an old woman, and a certain man named Sheba who lost his head. You can read this curious little story in 2 Samuel 20.

Abel Beth-Maacah. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Abel Beth-Maacah. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Abel Beth-Maacah is currently in its third season of excavation. We were able to visit while the team was in the field and spoke with Dr. Robert Mullins, co-director of the archaeological expedition. He and some of the volunteers gave us some updates on what they have been finding. They are uncovering interesting things from around the time of the books of Samuel, plus other periods. This will be a good dig to follow over the next few years.

Luke with Dr. Robert Mullins, co-director of the excavation at Abel Beth-Maacah.

Luke with Dr. Robert Mullins, co-director of the excavation at Abel Beth-Maacah.

We traveled just a few miles to the site of ancient Dan. This site is one of my favorite places to visit and has impressive biblical structures. There is too much at Dan to mention in this post, so I will make do with a photo of one of the water springs. Dan is a major source of water for the Jordan River.

On of several rushing springs at Tel Dan. The site is the most significant source of the Jordan River. (Photo by Luke Chandler.)

On of several rushing springs at Tel Dan. The site is the most significant source of the Jordan River. (Photo by Luke Chandler.)

After Dan, we traveled south to Hazor. This was by far the largest city in Canaan prior to the Israelite conquest. Later, Solomon rebuilt the upper city as an administrative center for his government in Jerusalem. It is always enjoyable to walk through the ancient gate.

The "Solomonic" gate at Hazor. The three chambers on the left side are clearly visible. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The “Solomonic” gate at Hazor. Three gate chambers are visible on the left side. There are three more chambers opposite the ones seen here. These chambers had multiple uses including defense, tax collection, worship, courts of law, commerce, and legal matters. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Our last site visit was to Capernaum, along the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. This town is well-known from Jesus’ ministry. This photo show a white limestone synagogue built several centuries after Jesus. It is interesting that this building appears to have been built on top of the synagogue from the 1st century – Jesus’ time.

The late Roman-early Byzantine synagogue at Capernaum. This building is built on top of the 1st century synagogue. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The late Roman-early Byzantine synagogue at Capernaum. This building is built on top of the 1st century synagogue. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

We checked into our Guest House after a long-yet-successful day of sightseeing. Here is the Sea of Galilee as viewed from where we are staying.

The Sea of Galilee viewed from the Poriya Guest House. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The Sea of Galilee viewed from the Poriya Guest House. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Tomorrow is another day to visit biblical sites.

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Steve Forbes Visits Tel Lachish

We had a very nice visit from economist, publisher, and former Presidential candidate Steve Forbes.

Steve Forbes with Luke Chandler at Tel Lachish.

Steve Forbes with Luke Chandler at Tel Lachish.

He visited all of the squares, shook everyone’s hand, and even picked up one of our excavation t-shirts. No doubt he will wear it around the house every evening before bed.

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A First Step in Archaeological Excavation (Video)

A short video intro to one aspect of excavation.

“You call this archaeology?” – Henry Jones, Sr.

Here is the result. (I only deserve partial credit. Steve Braman worked on this with me.)

One of the ancient fortification walls at Tel Lachish, after cleaning.

One of the ancient fortification walls at Tel Lachish, after cleaning. The stones to the left (my right) are collapse in what used to be a gate opening. We’ll figure them out in a future season.

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Invitation to Jerusalem Seminar & Book Launch on “Faith and Cult in the First Temple Period”

A book launch and seminar discussion will be held next Thursday, July 9th, in Jerusalem. The event is free and open to the public. Here is the full text of the invitation:

– – – – – – – – –

You are invited to a seminar on “Faith and Cult in the First Temple Period” for the launch of the book Solomon’s Temple and Palace: New Archaeological Discoveries by Yosef Garfinkel and Madeleine Mumcuoglu 22 Tammuz 5775, July 9th 2015 at the Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem, Jabotinsky Street 23. Professor Amichai Mazar will lead the discussion with:

  • Professor Tallay Ornan, Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Professor Shmuel Ahituv, Israel Prize in Biblical Research
  • Professor Israel Knohl, The Yehezkel Kaufman Chair of Bible Studies, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Professor Yosef Garfinkel, The Yigal Yadin Chair of Archaeology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Doors open at 7:00 pm and the event will begin at 7:30 pm. The event will be held in Hebrew. Free entrance, no parking available at the Institute. * During the last three years new discoveries were revealed in the archaeological excavations of Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Elah Valley and in Motza near Jerusalem. These new data shed light on the architecture of temples in Judah. Every generation has tried to understand the description of Solomon’s Temple in the biblical text. The participants in the panel will discuss faith and cult in the first Temple Period.

– – – – – – – – –

(Reminder: the event is in Hebrew.) All are invited!

Dr. Yosef Garfinkel, co-author of

Dr. Yosef Garfinkel, co-author of “Solomon’s Temple and Palace: New Archaeological Discoveries.” This new book by Garfinkel and Madeleine Mumcuoglu will be presented with a free seminar featuring several leading scholars.

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New Discoveries at Tel Lachish – June 29th Edition

We discovered some nice things at biblical Lachish over the past two days of excavation. Here are photos of some of them.

I will start with a typical oil lamp from Old Testament times. Scorching is visible around the area of the wick.

A mostly-intact oil lamp from the time of the biblical kings. These kinds of lamps were typical light sources in all kinds of buildings. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

A mostly-intact oil lamp from the time of the biblical kings. These kinds of lamps were typical light sources in homes and other buildings. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

We found a beautiful decorative bead made of faience, which is powdered quartz with a special glaze. The bead is powder blue and easily stands out. I am not permitted to post a closer photo at this point, but…

Kaiser holding a small decorative bead made of faience. A closer photo of the object is not permitted at this point, I'm afraid. (Photo - from a distance - by Luke Chandler)

Kasia holding a small decorative bead made of faience. A closer photo of the object is not permitted at this point, I’m afraid. (Photo – from a distance – by Luke Chandler)

… The bead would go nicely with this necklace in the Israel Museum. This necklace was found at Lachish in the 1930’s and dates to the same time period as the faience bead we just found.

A Late Bronze necklace discovered at Tel Lachish in the 1930's. The powder-blue decorations are made of faience, the same material as the decorative bead we found. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

A Late Bronze necklace discovered at Tel Lachish in the 1930’s. The powder-blue decorations are made of faience, the same material as the decorative bead we found. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

We found a very nice pyxis, an imported vessel from ancient Greece. It is in excellent condition after 3,000+ years under the ground. Finds like this help to reveal the state of politics and trade between ancient peoples. It appears Lachish (and other Canaanite cities) had trade relations with Greece during the period of the biblical Judges.

A 3,000+ year-old

A 3,000+ year-old “pyxis” imported from ancient Greece. Evidence of painting is still visible. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Lachish has a well-known gate complex from the time of the later Judahite kings but we are looking for older gates in different parts of the city. Does this intact socket stone indicate anything? A large wooden door post used to sit in this hole. Was it part of a city gate or perhaps some large, monumental building? We will know more soon.

A socket stone for a large door, perhaps part of a gate. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

A socket stone for a large door. Perhaps part of an ancient gate? A large door to an important building? (Photo by Luke Chandler)

We thought we had a sling stone yesterday, but when we took it out we noticed the bottom was flat. Sling stones are perfectly spherical. This little round stone appears to be a weight for measuring quantities on a scale. It has not yet been analyzed but we will eventually discern its unit of weight.

A small weight discovered early this week. We thought it was a sling stone at first, but then we noticed that the bottom was flat. This was likely used to weigh out quantities of food and/or valuable metals.

A small weight discovered early this week. We thought it was a sling stone at first, but then we noticed that the bottom was flat. This was likely used to weigh out quantities of food and/or valuable metals.

I will conclude this update with a photo of the sunset from Lachish. More news and finds to come later, so please check back!

Sunset at Lachish. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Sunset at Lachish. This same sun was producing 100+ degree temperatures in the U.S. but providing us with a gorgeous view to end our day. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

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Biblical Artifacts in the Israel Museum

We are free this weekend and enjoyed 3 hours this morning in one of the world’s great museums for biblical artifacts. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is the repository for many discoveries we see in Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and other materials. It is one thing to view a photo but a much different experience examining an artifact with your own eyes.

A full visit to the museum cannot possibly be summarized in one post. I will start with a few highlights from Lachish, our current dig site.

Fortified cities normally kept large quantities of supplies on hand during attacks. These jars held grain, olive oil, wine, and other supplies collected as taxes. In Judah, these jars were stamped LMLK (“belonging to the king”) on the handle to designate them as government property. Here is a storage jar found at Lachish in a previous excavation. If you zoom in on the center handle, the LMLK stamp is visible.

A typical storage jar from around the time of Hezekiah. These jars were stamped with "LMLK" on the handle, marking them as belonging to the government.

A typical storage jar from around the time of Hezekiah. These jars were stamped with “LMLK” on the handle, marking them as belonging to the government. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Some pottery vessels were specialized. Here is one designed to scoop grains. Notice how the handles are attached off center, making it easier to dip the bowl into a granary or large storage container. Someone at Lachish used this to bring home food for the family each day.

A scooping tray from the time of Judah's kings. Notice how the handles are off center, permitting the front end of the vessel to scoop into a large container of grain. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

A scooping tray from the time of Judah’s kings. Notice how the handles are off center, permitting the front end of the vessel to scoop into a large container of grain. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The inhabitants of Lachish burned incense in their worship. Here are two incense burning stands from the time of the Judges, during the city’s Canaanite period. (I found a portion of a similar incense stand a few days ago at Lachish.)

Incense stands. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Incense stands from the Late Bronze Period. Biblically, this is the time of the Conquest and Judges. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Canaanite Lachish had some remarkable imports. Here is elephant ivory carved into the form of a human arm, complete with closed fist. This was found in the First Lachish Expedition during the 1930’s.

Ivory in the shape of a human arm. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Ivory in the shape of a human arm. Many luxury items existed in Canaanite Lachish. Many expensive imports, including this one, were found in the city’s temples. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

A series of military dispatches from the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s attack in 586 BC were found in the Lachish city gate. Here is Letter #3, on display during today’s visit.

One of the Lachish Letters. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Lachish Letter #3, which mentions an officer of Judah going down to Egypt. There might be a connection with this dispatch and events in Jeremiah 26:20-23.  (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The museum rotates the Lachish Letters that are on display. Last year, we saw Letter #4 that specifically mentions Lachish. Here is a flashback:

MY 2014 group posing with Lachish Letter #4 in the Israel Museum last year.

Our 2014 group posing with Lachish Letter #4 in the Israel Museum last year.

We return to the dig tomorrow afternoon. Things are going very well and we are having an excellent time. More information and photos to come!

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Tidbits from the Tel: The 2015 Dig at Lachish

Busy day with the excavation, but with some nice discoveries. We have nearly completed our first week at this year’s archaeological dig. Here are a few highlights.

First, the new ancient gate.

The ancient gate at Lachish with a newly-constructed visitor's ramp matches the level during the time of the Babylonian conquest, though it is criticized by some archaeologists for distracting attention from the actual ruins. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Dig participants entering the ancient gate at Lachish.  The newly-constructed visitor’s ramp matches the level during the time of the Babylonian conquest, though it is criticized by some archaeologists for diverting attention from the actual ruins. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

My dad is a beast when it comes to heavy tools.

My father broke the sledgehammer while breaking rocks. This may be attributed to the fact that his is a Texan.

My father broke the sledgehammer while breaking rocks. This may be attributed to the fact that his is a Texan.

I found a beautiful piece of pottery today. It was imported from Cyprus and dates to the Late Bronze Age, around 1300 to 1200 BC.

Imported ware from Cyprus, dating to some 32 or 33 centuries ago. The design caught the eye of several senior staff. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Imported ware from Cyprus, dating to some 32 or 33 centuries ago. The design caught the eye of several senior staff. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

How about this nice piece? Another import from ancient Cyprus. The Canaanites made and collected some beautiful pottery. The Israelites, by comparison, were fairly boring with their pottery.

Imported Cypriot ware from the Late Bronze Age. The potter's skill is obvious. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Imported Cypriot ware from the Late Bronze Age. The potter’s skill is obvious. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Speaking of pottery, here is much of the archaeological staff plus some interested volunteers attending the pottery reading. Pottery vessels and fragments such as these tell us the time period(s) in which we are digging.

Daily pottery reading by the archaeologists. Styles and shapes of pottery changed over the course of centuries and are the key tool for archaeologists to date sites. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Daily pottery reading by the archaeologists. Styles and shapes of pottery changed over the course of centuries and are the key tool for archaeologists to date sites. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Evenings are gentle at an excavation. The archaeologists offer free presentations on biblical archaeology.

Dr. Yossi Garfinkel giving an evening lecture on Biblical Archaeology. The excavation offers three lectures each week to dig participants. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Dr. Yossi Garfinkel giving an evening lecture on Biblical Archaeology. The excavation offers three lectures each week to dig participants. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

More to come later!

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