** “St. Nicholas”, the 4th century bishop whose memory was converted into the modern Santa Clause, has undergone facial reconstruction. His relics, including his skull, reside in Bari, Italy. Researchers have digitally reconstructed his face (beard included) using the usual high-tech methods at their disposal. (Is it just me, or is it almost a little creepy how they can do this?) I assume the technology has been tested on people whose likenesses can be independently confirmed.
** Paleo Judaica also posted on a curious study of Samaritan DNA. Samaritan men apparently share some genetic markers with ‘Cohens’, who are believed to descend from the Jewish priests.
The genetic evidence suggests that modern Samaritans are descended from Hebrew men, left behind after the Assyrians conquered ancient Israel, who went on to marry non-Hebrew women.
Tie this in with Ezra 9-10 and Nehemiah 13:23-27 and we have a potentially deeper story.
** The Iraqi authorities are hoping to lure tourists to the ruins of ancient Babylon, among other places. Saddam Hussein “restored” numerous buildings in ancient Babylon in efforts to promote his own greatness, causing great damage to the site. (Are there any significant ancient sites that have not suffered damage from people over the centuries?) Hussein put restrictions on the site when he was in power, and to violate them resulted in a good beating. I look forward to the day when I may be able to see the many historical treasures and sites in that country.
** Archaeology Magazine posts a nice daily update of archaeological news items here.