Friday, December 21, 2007

BAR Highlights: 12/21/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Herod in Jordan
German excavators have uncovered a monumental building that indicates that King Herod’s control extended further into ancient Jordan than previously known.

A Pea in Tut’s Pod
A pea from the Carnarvon estate in England thought to have come from King Tut’s tomb has been saved from extinction. The fifth Earl of Carnarvon sponsored the expedition that discovered the tomb.

Grappling over Judas

Scholars at a recent meeting argued over the portrayal of the disciple in the Gospel of Judas.

Temple Mount Project to Resume
Israel’s cabinet has instructed the Israel Antiquities Authority to restart work on a new walkway to the Temple Mount. The project had been halted in the wake of violent protests by Muslims who claimed the walkway would damage the Mount.

Spartan Myth
A study of a large pit with human remains suggests that the ancient Spartans did not throw deformed babies away.

A Peek Inside
At the behest of the British Museum, a London hospital has performed a CT scan of a mummy inside a linen and plaster coffin.

Vani, Vidi, Vici
“Wine, Worship & Sacrifice: The Golden Graves of Ancient Vani,” a just-opened exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC, focuses on the civilization that once flourished in what is now the Republic of Georgia.

A Glimpse Inside the Museum
Officials led a small group of visitors through the Iraq National Museum to highlight restoration efforts and the recovery of looted artifacts.

Sale of Prehistoric Sculpture Smashes Record
The Guennol Lioness, a 5,000-year-old carving barely 3 inches tall and considered by many as one the world’s great works of art, sold for more than $57 million—by far the most ever for a sculpture.

Response on Judas
One of the translators of the Gospel of Judas and an official of the National Geographic Society respond to Prof. April DeConick’s recent criticism of their work.

Ancient Weapons of Mass Destruction

A molecular biologist suggests that rams and donkeys infected with rabbit fever (tularemia) were used as bioweapons in the Anatolian wars 3,300 years ago.

Retrieving a Treasure

Scholars in Israel have called for the return of all fragments of the Aleppo Codex, considered the finest example of the traditional Hebrew text of the Bible. One such fragment, saved from a synagogue in Aleppo, Syria, that had been set on fire by rioters, was recently returned to Israel and scholars think there are more pieces in private hands.

Infant Burial

Archaeologists in Syria have recovered an ancient glass jar containing the ashes of a child. The find was made at Palmyra, home of spectacular Roman-era remains.

The Ark—In Ethiopia?
Smithsonian magazine investigates the claim, popular in some circles, that the Ark of the Covenant is secreted in Africa.

Facts and Anti-Facts

An Israeli scholar writes that the recent granting of tenure to Nadia Abu El-Haj by Barnard College has ramifications well beyond the archaeology of Israel.

Queen’s Palace Found

Archaeologists working just outside Jerusalem’s Old City Walls have uncovered a major structure that they believe was the palace of Queen Helena, who converted to Judaism in the first century.

Several photos of the site and the artifacts found there can be viewed at

A short video report appears at the Jerusalem Post.