Current Events Articles: July 2018

Evidence of Battle Discovered at Sardis posted by Bryan Windle

Archaeologists excavating at the site of the ancient city of Sardis have uncovered a military shield and bronze arrowheads which they believe may be from the battle against Persia in 546 BC. While the city of Sardis is familiar to Bible students from the New Testament era, as the site of one of the churches of Revelation (Rev. 3:1-6), it was formerly the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia. In the sixth century BC, the Persian army under Cyrus the Great defeated the Lydians at Sardis during the Battle of Thymbra. The artifacts from this battle were unearthed in a section of the site believed to be the palace region. In addition to its fame as the capital of the Lydian Kingdom and the site of one of the churches in the biblical book of Revelation, Sardis is also believed to be the place where coins were first minted.

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Possible Ptolemaic-Era Sarcophagus Opened in Egypt posted by Bryan Windle

A sealed, 30-ton, black granite sarcophagus was recently discovered during a construction survey in Alexandria, Egypt. The burial site was initially dated to the Ptolemaic period (ca. 323-30 BC), although some archaeologists believe that the sarcophagus itself may date to an earlier Egyptian period and was re-used at a later date. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities oversaw the opening of the sealed sarcophagus and discovered that it was filled with sewer water and contained three skeletons. A preliminary examination of the remains by Egyptian mummy specialists suggests the skeletons may belong to three soldiers, as one of the skulls displays indications of an arrow-wound. An alabaster head of a man was also discovered near the burial site, indicating it may represent one of the occupants of the tomb. The Old Testament book of Daniel describes in detail specific prophecies about the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt (i.e., the "kings of the South" in Daniel 11). In the New Testament, Alexandria was hometown of Apollos (Acts 18:24) and an important center of Christianity during the first few centuries of the Church.

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Two Different "Bethsaida" Sites Release Excavation Reports posted by Bryan Windle

Two sites near the north shore of the Sea of Galilee have claimed to be the biblical town of Bethsaida, which Josephus records was later made a Roman polis by Herod Philip and renamed Julias. Et-Tell has been proposed as Bethsaida, although critics have pointed out that it's too far (3km) and too high up from the shore for a fishing village, and it lacks Roman remains from the first century. Last year excavators at El-Araj, located right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, declared it to be the site of Bethsaida/Julias, as they had discovered remains of a Roman bathhouse (reported by ABR HERE). Archaeologists from both sites have released information on this year's digs:

Et-Tell - This year the dig at Et-Tell focused on the gate and city wall that surrounded the site in the 10th-8th centuries BC. Guard towers were discovered along the wall at distances of 20 meters, the earliest examples of such features in Israel. Prof. Rami Arav, the co-director of the dig, hypothesizes that the site may have been the city called Tzer (which is mentioned only in Joshua 19:35) and that it may have been the capital of the region of Geshur. He further suggests that David may have visited the site when he married Maachah, the mother of Absalom, who was from Geshure. He also postulates that Tzer may have been pronounced Tzed, and that Beit-Tzaida may have been an early Hebrew name for Bethsaida.

Et-Tell News Reports:

El-Araj - This year's dig at el-Araj expanded the exploration of the site and examined various levels of occupation, from the Ottoman period back to the early Roman period. Many finds were unearthed, including coins, pottery sherds, and oil lamps, that date the site to the early Roman era, as well as limestone tesserae and marble floor tiles. The final dig report concludes, "We have uncovered multiple layers of human settlement and have brought to light a rich community in the Roman period. Their opulence is attested by the frescoes, bathhouses, beautifully ornamented oil lamps, and much, much more. This year we demonstrated that the settlement was widespread, and not limited to a small area. This was no mean city. What began around 30 CE as Herod Philip's transformation of a Jewish fishing village into a polis, evolved over the centuries into a wealthy community. The continuity of settlement reaching back into the Roman period continues to strengthen the claim that el-Araj is the best candidate for the historical site of Bethsaida-Julias."

El-Araj Excavation Reports:

NEWS RELEASE: Dr. Scott Stripling / Featured Guest on The 700 Club / July 16, 2018 posted by Lien Voong

ABR is excited to announce that Dr. Scott Stripling, Director of Excavations for ABR, will be interviewed on The 700 Club on Monday, July 16th. Dr. Stripling will be sharing his extensive experience and archaeological research from his most recent excavation at the ancient biblical city of Shiloh, Israel. Dr. Stripling will discuss how the dig brings further light on the Bible, affirming what God has revealed on the pages of Scripture.


Early Bronze Age Tomb Displays Evidence of Child Sacrifice posted by Bryan Windle

Archaeologists investigating a Bronze Age tomb in ancient Mesopotamia have uncovered signs of child sacrifice. The tomb chamber, which was discovered in 2014, contained the bodies of two 12-year-olds – a boy and a girl, along with hundreds of bronze arrow heads. The remains of eight other people, aged 11-20 years old, were also found carefully arranged outside of the door to the main chamber. Two of these displayed evidence of skeletal trauma from stabbing or cutting, leading researchers to conclude that the eight would have been retainer sacrifices – people sacrificed to accompany and serve the important deceased in the afterlife. Human "retainer" sacrifices like this have been found at the Royal Cemetery of Ur, the hometown of Abraham. Given the presence of retainer sacrifices and the large number of quality items buried in the main chamber, researchers believe the two 12-year-old children were from a family of high social standing. They have linked this burial with the rise in the hierarchical centralized societies in Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC.

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