Abel Beth Maacah: A 3,000-Year-Old Oracle Cult in Ancient Israel

A shrine to a “wise woman” fulfilling an oraculor role. By Philippe BohstromArchaeologist The town of Abel Beth Maacah was known in biblical times as a place for conflict resolution, we may divine from references in scripture. Now archaeologists have found a strange shrine that they think may have been associated with the “wise woman” of the[…]

Medieval Jerusalem: A Period of Decline

After about 1244 CE, the city remained a backwater of the late medieval Muslim empires and would not again exceed a population of 10,000 until the 16th century. Introduction The history of Jerusalem during the Middle Ages is generally one of decline; beginning as a major city in the Byzantine Empire, Jerusalem prospered during the[…]

The Archaeological Excavations at Magdala

According to historical sources and archaeological facts, Magdala was an important town with social and economic development. Introduction Magdala, known as Migdal in Hebrew (מִגְדָּל: tower) and also as Taricheae (Ταριχέα, from the Greek Τάριχος or tarichos: preserved by salting or drying fish), was an important fishing town during the first century CE on the western shore[…]

Dead Sea Scrolls: Esoteric Code Reveals Ancient Priestly Calendar

Painstaking reconstruction of fragments of text has revealed the working draft of an ancient Jewish calendar and priestly duty schedule. About 1,000 Dead Sea Scrolls discovered just over 70 years ago near Khirbet Qumran on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea have been officially published since the turn of the millennium. But in the case of[…]

A Brief Overview of the History of the Dead Sea Scrolls – and Forgeries

Five of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of Bible were found to be forged. The scrolls are considered priceless. Here’s why. The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., has removed five Dead Sea Scrolls from exhibits after tests confirmed these fragments were not from ancient biblical scrolls but forgeries. Over the last decade, the Green family,[…]

The Zealot Temple Siege against Rome, 68 CE

After freeing the Zealots from the Temple, the Edomites and Zealots massacred the common people. Introduction The Zealot Temple Siege (68 AD) was a short siege of the Temple in Jerusalem fought between Jewish factions during the Great Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire (66–70 AD). According to the historian Josephus, the forces of Ananus ben Ananus, one[…]

Literary Archaeology at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

A literary alternative to the murderous, supersessionist versions of the story that animates the site. Given the amount of blood that has been spilled, it may be hard for anyone who does not live there to believe that Palestine and Israel together constitute an area roughly the size of Massachusetts with a population nearly twice[…]

Dome of the Rock: Religious Significance, History, and Architecture

Completed in 691 CE, the Dome of the Rock is the oldest extant Islamic building in the world. Introduction The Dome of the Rock (Arabic: مسجد قبة الصخرة, translit.: Masjid Qubbat As-Sakhrah, Hebrew: כיפת הסלע, translit.: Kipat Hasela) is an Islamic shrine and a major landmark in Jerusalem. It was completed in 691 C.E., making it the oldest extant Islamic building in the[…]

The Mar.tu: A History of the Ancient Amorites

The Amorites occupied large parts of southern Mesopotamia from the 21st century BCE to the end of the 17th century BCE. Introduction The Amorites (Sumerian MAR.TU) were an ancient Semitic-speaking people[1] from Syria who also occupied large parts of southern Mesopotamia from the 21st century BC to the end of the 17th century BC, where[…]

The Ancient Land of Canaan

Human habitation of the land of Canaan goes far back with both Cro-magnon and Neanderthal skeletons having been unearthed from Paleolithic times. Introduction Canaan is an ancient term for a region approximating present-day Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, plus adjoining coastal lands and parts of Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Canaanites are mentioned extensively in the Bible, as well as in[…]

The Bar-Kochba Revolt: A Final Confrontation with Rome

This followed a long period of tension and violence, marked by the first Jewish uprising which ended with the destruction of the Second Temple. By Benjamin Kerstein Introduction The Bar Kochba Revolt (132–136 CE) was the third and final war between the Jewish people and the Roman Empire. It followed a long period of tension and violence, marked[…]

The Maccabean Revolt: The Seleucid Fall and Rise of the Hasmonean Dynasty

The outcome was the formation of the Hasmonean Dynasty, an autonomous Jewish rule over Palestine that would last a generation. By Harry Oates Introduction After the death of Alexander the Great, his Kingdom was divided into four; Egypt, the Seleucid Empire, the Kingdom of Pergamon and Macedon (including Greece). Egypt, governed by Ptolemy I Soter[…]

King Solomon: History, Mythology, or Both?

The story of King Solomon begins with his father, King David, and his mother, Bathsheba. Introduction According to biblical tradition (and some say myth), King Solomon was the third and last king in the ancient United Kingdom of Israel. Other faiths, such as Islam and Rastafarianism, also embrace the notion of Solomon as a sagacious king and powerful[…]

The Diaspora in Ancient Israel and Rise of the Synagogue

The ancient synagogue represents an inclusive, localized form of worship that did not crystallize until the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Introduction A unique and fundamental aspect of ancient Judean society in both Israel and the Diaspora, the ancient synagogue represents an inclusive, localized form of worship that did not crystallize until the destruction[…]

A History of Early Jericho

Jericho started as a popular camping ground for the hunter-gathers of the Natufian culture dating to 10000 BCE. By Art RamosHistorian Introduction The city of Jericho is remembered for the story in the Book of Joshua in the Bible regarding its destruction by the Israelites. Excavations have revealed that Jericho is one of the earliest[…]

Ancient Canaan: In Search of Identity

Whoever the ancient Canaanites were, their identity was lost in the successive invasions by foreign people interested in controlling an important hub of commerce. Introduction Canaan was the name of a large and prosperous ancient country (at times independent, at others a tributary to Egypt) located in the Levant region of present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel. It was also known as Phoenicia. The[…]

A Brief History of the Kingdom of Israel before the Assyrian Captivity

Israel was a regional superpower, but unable to retain its independence in the face of Assyrian imperialism. According to the Bible (the only thorough source for this period of Israel), the united kingdom of Solomon was divided after his death in ca.931. His son Rehoboam, we are told, increased the taxes, and provoked a rebellion[…]

Why Did Lord Balfour Back the Balfour Declaration?

Arthur Balfour was a complex character, hard to read. His reasons for backing Zionism may have been multiple. By Philip AlexanderLiverpool John Moores University In early November 1917 Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild received at his home at number 148 Piccadilly, London, a letter from Lord Arthur James Balfour, a letter which famously stated that “His[…]

Palestine before World War I

Zionism began to take shape in 1881 when Russian revolutionaries assassinated Tsar Alexander II. The land called Palestine gave no indication, early in the twentieth century, that it would become the world’s cockpit. Rather, if anything, the reverse. A century ago it was merely a strip of territory running along the east coast of the[…]

Priestly Lineages in the History and Rhetoric of Ancient Israel

In the religious politics of the Second Temple period, the Aaronide priestly dynasties were the Mushite priesthood. Differentiating priestly families earlier in Israel’s history raises questions about methodology and purpose as well as evidence. A comparison of Cross’s reconstruction of the Oniad high priestly line with his Mushite theory lays the basis for re-evaluating historical[…]

The Roman Siege of Masada, 73-74 CE

The siege of Masada, chronicled by Flavius Josephus, was one of the final events in the First Jewish–Roman War. Introduction The siege of Masada was one of the final events in the First Jewish–Roman War, occurring from 73 to 74 CE on and around a large hilltop in current-day Israel. The siege was chronicled by Flavius Josephus, a Jewish rebel leader captured[…]

Herodium: ‘Mountain of the Little Paradise’

Herodion, the palace fortress and highest peak in the Judaean Desert, is the only site that is named after King Herod the Great. Introduction Herodium (Latin), Herodeion (Ancient Greek: Ἡρώδειον), best known in Israel as Herodion (Hebrew: הרודיון‬) and in Arabic as Jabal al-Fureidis (Arabic: هيروديون‎, lit. “Mountain of the Little Paradise”); also Har Hordos is a truncated-cone-shaped hill, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) south of Jerusalem and 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) southeast of Bethlehem,[…]

The ‘Land of Pales’, an Overview of Ancient Palestine

The region of Palestine is among the earliest sites of human habitation in the world. Introduction Palestine in the ancient world was part of the region known as Canaan where the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah were located. The term `Palestine’ was originally a designation of an area of land in southern Canaan which the[…]

The Empire of the Amorites Revisited

Examining the period during which the empire of the “Amorites” over their environment, their culture and their neighbors came to maturation. By Dr. Albert F. NaccacheProfessor Emeritus of ArchaeologyLebanese University En dehors de notre existence dans l’histoire, nous n’avons aucun fil d’Ariane conduisant à la réalité. Karl Jaspers The Trust Since the days when they[…]

The Architectural Patronage and Political Prowess of Herod the Great

Herod created architecture that implemented Roman technology, designs, and styles, while co-mingling them with his existing Hellenistic style of architecture. Abstract After supporting Marc Antony in the Battle of Actium (31 B.C.), King Herod, fearful of losing his power, went to Rome, apologized to Augustus and assured him that he was his biggest supporter. Augustus,[…]

Herodian Judea: Games, Politics, and Kingship in the 1st Century BCE

Examining the kingship of Herod the Great in Judea and his enrollment of Greco-Roman architecture and culture during his reign in the first century BCE. By Cody Scott AmesUniversity of Leicester Abstract This article will detail the kingship of Herod the Great in Judea and his enrollment of Greco-Roman architecture and culture during his reign[…]