Here are a few items you may find interesting:
– Archaeologists in 1990 discovered what may be the tomb, ossuary (“bone box”), and remains of Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest and adversary of Jesus. Now it seems they have found the ossuary of a Caiaphas’ granddaughter named Miriam. The ossuary had been plundered from a burial cave before being acquired by the Israeli Antiquities Authority three years ago. Experts ran tests and determined that the inscription with the name is indeed authentic.
The IAA press release concludes with this poignant remark: “The Israel Antiquities Authority is distressed by the fact that this important find, which was plundered from its original provenance, was removed from its archeological context, thus it will never be possible to know the full story of the burial cave. Sadly, the robbers’ desire of monetary gain has erased entire pages of the country’s cultural history.”
– The Tel Burna crew has posted a summary of their two excavation seasons. They have identified levels of the city from the 13th century B.C. (biblical period of the Judges) and the 7th and 8th centuries B.C. (divided kingdom period). I have posted previously on Tel Burna (see here as well as the bottom of this post). I am curious to see how this site unfolds. This city is a candidate for Libnah in the kingdom of Judah.
– Israel has taken its first steps to drill for oil shale at the Ha’ela Junction. This is is the area of the David v. Goliath battle and is literally down the slope from Khirbet Qeiyafa, where I have worked during two seasons. There is some controversy over the environmental and aesthetic impact, but on the other hand the massive shale deposits can boost Israel’s economy and eliminate its need to import fuel. Developers are optimistic about generating large amounts of high-quality oil while leaving a minimal environmental footprint that permits reclamation of the land. I like Todd Bolen’s comment, “The site of David’s victory over Goliath could become the place where Israel achieves oil independence.”
– I am heading to Israel this Monday with 8 other people. We plan to visit biblical sites and join final two weeks of excavation at Khirbet Qeiyafa. Many of the best finds come at the end of a dig season, so maybe one of us will uncover something fascinating! If internet connections permit, I plan to post frequently during the trip. Check back for photos, updates, and perhaps more!