Top Three Reports in Biblical Archaeology – June 2019

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In June 2019, news reports from the world of biblical archaeology came from Egypt, Rome, and Israel. Many of the spring digs in the Holy Lands were in operation throughout the month, leading to the expectation that announcements of finds will begin being made in the coming months.  For now, here were the top three news reports of discoveries from June 2019:

3. Military Fortress of Ramses II Excavated in Egypt

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Artifacts discovered in a fortress dating to the time of Ramses II at Al-Beheira. Photo Credit: Egyptian Antiquities Ministry

Archaeologists working at Al-Beheira, northwest of Cairo, have uncovered the remains from a fortress of Ramses II dating from 1279 to 1213 BC.  Two buildings attached to the fortress were excavated, revealing storage silos and a residence for guards.  The structures were both surrounded by a square, mud-brick wall, and were separated by a rectangular courtyard.  Within the buildings, archaeologists discovered animal and fishbones, as well as pottery kilns and vessels.  Experts have suggested that the ancient Egyptians would roast their grain to rid it of insects and moisture so that it would last longer in the silos.   According to biblical chronology, Ramses II was a pharaoh who reigned during the period of the Judges, and not during the exodus as some have suggested.

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2. Marble Head of Dionysus Unearthed in Rome

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The head of a 2000-year old statue thought to depict the god Dionysus. Photo Credit: EPA-EFE/Municipality of Rome

The head of an ancient statue of Dionysus was recently discovered near the ancient Forum in Rome. Archaeologists had been excavating a medieval wall when they happened upon the white marble head which had been reused in the construction of the wall. They believe the head to be from a 2000-year-old marble statue of Dionysus. The hollowed-out eyes were once likely filled with glass or precious stones. While the marble bust has not yet undergone a thorough cleaning, the excavators believe traces of the original color may be visible in the band around the hair. Dionysus was worshiped widely in the ancient world as the god of wine, winemaking, theater and revelry. In ancient Greece he was one of the 12 Olympians and was later incorporated into the Roman pantheon as Bacchus. Temples to Dionysus have been discovered in numerous biblical cities, including Athens and Pergamon.

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1. Watchtower from the Reign of King Hezekiah Excavated

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An ancient watchtower dating to the time of King Hezekiah (8th century BC) which was recently excavated on a Paratrooper Base in Southern Israel. Photo Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

Israeli soldiers working with archaeologists have excavated the remains of a watchtower on a paratroopers’ training base in southern Israel.  Pottery discovered at the base of the watchtower, dates it to the reign of King Hezekiah in the 8th century BC.  The ruins, which include massive stones weighing as much as eight tons, measure 3.5m by 5m at its base.  Based on these dimensions, the original watchtower likely stood at least 4m high.  According to archaeologists, the watchtower went out of use in 701 BC, when King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah and destroyed many cities and villages.  The location of the tower, overlooking the Hebron and Judean hills, as well as the coastal area near Ashkelon, suggest that it was an observation tower that likely used smoke and fire as beacons to warn of impending enemy attacks.  Both the Lachish letters and the Bible (Jer. 6:1) describe such signals.

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Stay Up-To-Date

Each month new discoveries are made and reports are published that add to our knowledge of the people, places and events described in Scripture.  These help to both illuminate and affirm details in the biblical text.  You can stay up-to-date on latest news reports relating to the archaeology of the Bible by reading my weekly current events posts for the Associates for Biblical Research here: https://biblearchaeology.org/current-events-list

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