News (or studies) of significant finds dominated the media this past month, including important discoveries in Jerusalem, Shiloh, and El-Araj (biblical Bethsaida?). Here were the top three reports in biblical archaeology in August 2022.
3. Roman Ballistics Study Affirms Josephus’ Account of the Destruction of Jerusalem
An archaeologist in Jerusalem claims that his computer analysis of Roman ballista stones unearthed in excavations at the Russian Compound near Jerusalem’s Municipal Building affirms the accuracy of Josephus’ description of the fall of the city in AD 70. By mapping the exact location of each ballista uncovered, and taking into consideration the city as it looked 2000 years ago, Kfir Arbiv used computer modeling to calculate the launching angles, and throwing distances of the stones. The results demonstrate that Josephus’ description of the positions and distances of the Roman siege engines were accurate. Jesus Himself prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem in Matthew 24.
2. City Gate Discovered at Shiloh
The remains of a city gate were unearthed in excavations at Shiloh, Israel, led by the Associates for Biblical Research. Scott Stripling, the director of the excavations, identified the gate system based on a variety of factors. The team had discovered that the glacis, or defensive embankment, against the city wall ended at a certain point along the northern perimeter wall. This gap corresponded with the city’s entrance, which had an intentionally terraced slope up to it. This year, the ABR team discovered the gate’s piers and socket stones. A gate in the northern wall makes sense, as the main spring for ancient Shiloh was located a kilometer north of the city. This may have been the gate where Eli died upon hearing the news that the Ark of the Covenant had been captured in battle (1 Sam. 4:18).
1. Mosaic Inscription Unearthed at El-Araj that Refers to Peter
The El-Araj Excavation Project has announced the discovery of a mosaic inscription referring to Peter in a Byzantine church at the site. El-Araj is one of two sites (the other being et-Tell) that claims to be biblical town of Bethsaida, which later became a city and was renamed Julias. Dig Director, Mordechai Aviam, from the Kinneret Institute for Galilee Archeology at Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, and Academic Director, Steven Notley from Nyack College believe the Byazntine structure they have unearthed is the church at Bethsaida described by the pilgrim Willibald in A.D. 724that was said to have been built over the home of Peter and Andrew. The recently-discovered mosaic inscription begins with the phrase, “Constantinos, the servant of the Messiah,” assumed to be the donor and references the “Head and Leader of the Heavenly Messengers,” a phrase used by Byzantine Christians to refer to the Apostle Peter. The researchers at El-Araj believe this discovery indicates the church was dedicated to Peter and that this is further evidence that El-Araj is the site of biblical Bethsaida, the hometown of Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44) and the village that Jesus actively ministered in (Matt. 11:21).
BONUS: Download my article from Bible & Spade – “Where is Biblical Bethsaida?” – https://bryanwindle.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/where-is-biblical-bethsaida_winter-2020-article-extracted-1_compressed.pdf
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