archaeology

Dead Sea Scrolls discovery: Fragments thought to be blank reveal text

Four Dead Sea Scroll fragments long thought to be blank have revealed their text. The fragments, which are housed at the University of Manchester in the U.K., shed more light on the famous scrolls. Some 51 fragments were imaged front and back, with six identified for further investigation. Of these, four were found to have readable Hebrew/Aramaic text written in carbon-based ink. “The most substantial fragment has the remains of four lines of text with 15-16 letters, most of which are only partially preserved, but the word Shabbat (Sabbath) can be clearly read,” explained the University of Manchester in a statement. The text may be related to the biblical book of Ezekiel (46:1-3), it added. “One piece with text is the edge of a parchment scroll section, with sewn thread, and the first letters of two lines of text may be seen to the left of this binding,” the university said in the statement. The fragments were studied at King’s College London. “Looking at one of the fragments with a magnifying glass, I thought I saw a small, faded letter – a lamed, the Hebrew letter ‘L’,” said Professor Joan Taylor of King’s College London, in the statement. “Frankly, since all these fragments were supposed to be blank and had even been cut into for leather studies, I also thought I might be imagining things. But then it seemed maybe other fragments could have very faded letters too.” “With new techniques for revealing ancient texts now available, I felt we had to know if these letters could be exposed,” Taylor added. “There are only a few on each fragment, but they are like missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle you find under a sofa.” Experts from the Faculty of Theology of Lugano in Switzerland and the University of Malta also participated in the study. The first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1946 and 1947 in the Qumran caves in the Judean desert. Further scrolls were found in subsequent years, up to 1956. In total, 1,000 ancient religious manuscripts were discovered. The delicate fragments of parchment and papyrus were preserved for 2,000 years thanks to the dark, dry conditions in the caves. The fragments held in the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library were given in the 1950s by the Jordanian government to Ronald Reed, a leather expert at the U.K.’s University of Leeds. “It was assumed that the pieces were ideal for scientific tests, as they were blank and relatively worthless,” explained the University of Manchester, in its statement. “These were studied and published by Reed and his student John Poole, and then stored safely away.” The collection was donated to the University of Manchester in 1997. The Dead Sea Scrolls continue to be a source of fascination. In 2018, for example, experts in Israel harnessed sophisticated imaging technology to reveal hidden script in some of the scrolls. The technology, which was originally developed for NASA, identified new letters and words, giving experts fresh insight into the historic texts. One of the fragments may even indicate the existence of a previously unknown manuscript, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority, which conducted the research. Also in 2018, researchers at Israel’s University of Haifa translated one of the last two parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Scrolls in the collection of the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. have also been in the spotlight in recent years. Research revealed the scrolls to be fake.

Fascinating!!     🙂

Neanderthals ate dolphins and seals, researchers reveal

More than 80,000 years ago, Neanderthals were eating a wide range of food from the sea, according to the latest research, even hunting dolphins and seals. The study, which was led by the University of Gottingen in Germany, sheds new light on our extinct relatives. Excavation of a cave at Figueira Brava in Portugal provided evidence that Neanderthals looked to the sea for their food, as well as the land. “Their diet included mussels, crustaceans and fish as well as waterfowl and marine mammals such as dolphins and seals,” the researchers explain in a statement. A paper on the research has been published in the journal Science. Scientists were able to study deposits of calcite, a mineral, during the excavation of the cave, nearly 19 miles south of Lisbon. This meant that experts were able to date the excavated layers of the Figueira Brava cave to between 86,000 and 106,000 years, during the Neanderthal era. “The use of the sea as a source of food at that time has so far only been attributed to anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) in Africa,” the researchers explain. “Food from the sea is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other fatty acids that promote the development of brain tissue.” The findings increase our knowledge of Neanderthals. “The recent results of the excavation of Figueira Brava now confirm that if the habitual consumption of marine life played an important role in the development of cognitive abilities, this is as true for Neanderthals as it is for anatomically modern humans,” the researchers explained. The scientists have also noted that, more than 65,000 years ago, Neanderthals made paintings in three caves in the Iberian Peninsula. They also said that perforated and decorated seashells can be attributed to Neanderthals. In another recent study, experts analyzed seashells fashioned into tools that were discovered in Italy in 1949 to reveal how some Neanderthals had a much closer connection to the sea than was previously thought. In a separate study released last year, a team led by anthropologist Erik Trinkaus of Washington University reported that many Neanderthals suffered from “swimmer’s ear,” bony growths that form in the ear canal through regular exposure to cold water or chilly air. Experts have been gaining new insight into Neanderthals in recent years. In 2018, for example, archaeologists in Poland identified the prehistoric bones of a Neanderthal child eaten by a large bird. In another study released in 2018, scientists suggested that climate change played a larger part in Neanderthals’ extinction than previously thought. Last year researchers in France reported that climate change drove some Neanderthals to cannibalism. The closest human species to homo sapiens, Neanderthals lived in Eurasia for around 350,000 years. Scientists in Poland report that Neanderthals in Europe mostly became extinct 35,000 years ago. However, there are a number of theories on the timing of Neanderthals’ extinction, with experts saying that it could have occurred 40,000, 27,000 or 24,000 years ago.

Fascinating!!  …until they just had to throw in the climate change part, without explaining how, or backing it up.  Typical..

Ancient 3,000-year-old tablet suggests Biblical king may have existed

The study of an ancient tablet that dates back nearly 3,000 years suggests that the biblical King Balak may have been an actual historical figure. Published in Tel Aviv: The Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, the study looks at the Mesha Stele and makes the determination that after looking at new photos of the cracked tablet, Balak existed, though the researchers are not 100 percent certain of it. “After studying new photographs of the Mesha Stele and the squeeze of the stele prepared before the stone was broken, we dismiss Lemaire’s proposal to read (‘House of David’) on Line 31,” the researchers wrote in the study’s abstract. “It is now clear that there are three consonants in the name of the monarch mentioned there, and that the first is a beth. We cautiously propose that the name on Line 31 be read as Balak, the king of Moab referred to in the Balaam story in Numbers 22–24.” It’s Line 31 that is tempering the researchers’ enthusiasm. There are “[a]bout seven letters are missing from the beginning of the line [31], followed by the words (“sheep/small cattle of the land”),” the study’s abstract adds. The abstract continues: “Next there is a vertical stroke that marks the transition to a new sentence, which opens with the words (“And Hawronēn dwelt therein”). Evidently a name is expected to follow. Then there is a legible beth, followed by a partially eroded, partially broken section with space for two letters, followed by a waw and an unclear letter. The rest of the line, with space for three letters, is missing.” The Mesha Stele, which is also known as the Moabite Stone, is an inscribed tablet that dates back to 840 B.C. and was discovered in 1868 by researcher Frederick Augustus Klein. It had previously been theorized that Line 31 was a reference to the House of David. However, the researchers, led by the study’s lead author, Israel Finkelstein, believe the letter “B” is there and it is not a reference to “beth,” the Hebrew word for “house,” but rather Balak. Although the study’s authors, Finkelstein, Nadav Na’aman and Thomas Römer, have theorized that Balak may have been an actual person, their “proposal is very tentative,” Ronald Hendel, a professor of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, told Live Science. Hendel was not involved in the study. Hendel also told Live Science that according to the Bible, King Balak existed 200 years prior to the tablet’s creation, so a reference to him is unlikely. The researchers have acknowledged this discrepancy, with Finkelstein telling Live Science: “[T]he study shows how a story in the Bible may include layers (memories) from different periods which were woven together by later authors into a story aimed to advance their ideology and theology. It also shows that the question of historicity in the Bible cannot be answered in a simplistic ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.” Researchers have attempted to reconstruct the tablet, which was smashed after a dispute between its previous owners, Bedouins, and a group that was attempting to purchase the stone, Live Science adds, but time and destruction have made it hard to read. It’s now housed in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Fascinating!!     🙂

Archaeologists in Egypt discover mummification workshop

Archaeologists in Egypt stumbled upon a new discovery dating back to more than 2,500 years ago near Egypt’s famed pyramids at an ancient necropolis south of Cairo. The discovery which includes a mummification workshop and a shaft, used as a communal burial place, is located at the Saqqara necropolis of Memphis, the first capital of ancient Egypt. Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its vast necropolis are home to a wide range of temples and tombs as well as the three renowned Giza pyramids. The latest find, announced at a press conference Saturday, belongs to the Saite-Persian Period, from 664-404 B.C. The site, which lies south of the Unas pyramid, was last excavated more than 100 years ago, in 1900. In the mummification workshop, an embalmer’s cachette holding a large collection of pottery vessels, bowels and measuring cups were found. Archaeologists believe the findings will reveal more about the oils used in the mummification process in the 26th Dynasty. “We are in front of a goldmine of information about the chemical composition of these oils,” said Ramadan Hussein, the head of the German-Egyptian mission, at the press conference. Among the artifacts found were fragments of mummy cartonnages, canopic cylindrical jars and marl clay and faience cups. Many will be displayed in the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum, the first phase of which is expected to be inaugurated later this year. Archaeologists also found a gilded silver mask on the face of a mummy in a badly-damaged wooden coffin. The mask, the first to be discovered since 1939, belongs to a priest. “The finding of this mask could be called a sensation,” Hussein said. “Very few masks of precious metals have been preserved to the present day, because the tombs of most Ancient Egyptian dignitaries were looted in ancient times.” Down the 30-meter-deep shaft is a host of burial chambers carved into the bedrock lining the sides of two hallways. There lie several mummies, wooden coffins and sarcophagi. “It’s only the beginning,” added Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani. He told reporters that the sites will likely yield more discoveries after further excavation. Egypt has gone to great length to revive its vital tourism industry, still reeling from the political turmoil that followed a 2011 popular uprising. The Antiquities Ministry has boosted discoveries in recent years in the hopes of bolstering tourism, a major pillar of foreign currency.

Very cool!!    🙂

King David’s city discovered? Ancient site linked to biblical kingdom, archaeologists say

Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered an ancient site that may offer fresh insight into the ancient biblical kingdom of David and Solomon. Researchers from Bar-Ilan University have been excavating the remains of a large house dubbed the “Governor’s Residence” that was destroyed by a fire in an 8th century B.C. Assyrian military campaign. The impressive four-room home, located at Tel ‘Eton in the Judean foothills, had at least two stories and its ground floor extended over 2,420 square feet. Occupying high ground at the top of a mound, the house was carefully built with deep foundations. Large masonry stones were placed in the corners and entrances of the building and high-quality building materials were used, according to experts. The discovery could shed new light on the joint kingdom ruled by David and his son Solomon, which is described in the Hebrew Bible, but has long divided historians. Also known as the united monarchy, the territory is said to have included the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. While some experts believe that the kingdom existed in the 10th-century B.C., others have questioned its existence, citing a lack of evidence of royal construction at the center of the region where the kingdom is said to have existed. However, part of the building at Tel ‘Eton has been dated to a period in history that coincided with the supposed joint kingdom, according to Prof. Avraham Faust and Dr. Yair Sapir. The archaeologists recently published their findings in the journal Radiocarbon. “Surprisingly, radiocarbon dates from within the floor make-up and from within a foundation deposit that was placed below the floor indicate that the building had already been erected in the 10th century BCE, between the late 11th century and the third quarter of the 10th century BCE. This date is in line with other finds related to the construction, like the foundation deposit itself,” said Prof. Faust, in a statement. The construction of such a major residence at the top of a mound, with commanding views over the local area, marks an important event in the site’s history, according to Faust and Sapir, particularly when viewed in the context of the ancient city’s growth. However, the archaeologists note that “the association with David is not based on direct archaeological evidence, but solely on circumstantial grounds.” Nonetheless, the erection of the residence and the growing size of Tel ‘Eton could make a link to the David plausible, the researchers say, noting that the King is said to have existed in the nearby Judean highlands. Another site at Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Judean highlands, about 12.5 miles north of Tel ‘Eton, has also been linked to David, Haaretz reports. Jerusalem and other biblical cities such as Hebron, are also located in the Judean hills. There have been a number of fascinating finds in the region in recent years. A trove of bronze coins, the last remnants of an ancient Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire, were recently discovered near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In February, archaeologists announced the discovery of a clay seal mark that may bear the signature of the biblical Prophet Isaiah. Last November, new evidence dated Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Roman era, matching historical records. Other finds include the skeleton of a pregnant woman, dating back 3,200 years, in Israel’s Timna Valley, at a place once called King Solomon’s Mines. At the site of an ancient city on the West Bank, archaeologists are also hunting for evidence of the tabernacle that once housed the Ark of the Covenant. Some experts also believe they have found the lost Roman city of Julias, formerly the village of Bethsaida, which was the home of Jesus’ apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip.

Fascinating!!  To see some photos, click on the text above.    🙂

NASA to investigate 10,000-year-old mystery rock that ‘shows paintings of UFOs and aliens’

A NUMBER of prehistoric drawings have sparked a local government to seek the help of NASA after the images appeared to depict extraterrestrial life. Discovered in Charama, India, the images appear to show aliens and UFOs, similar to scenes of a sci-fi movie. According to local archaeologist JR Bhagat it is unclear as to what the images reveal. He said: “The findings suggest that humans in prehistoric times may have seen or imagined beings from other planets which still create curiosity among people and researchers. He said: “The findings suggest that humans in prehistoric times may have seen or imagined beings from other planets which still create curiosity among people and researchers. “Extensive research is needed for further findings. “Charama presently doesn’t have any such expert who could give clarity on the subject.“ He also revealed that some of the features of the paintings were unclear and the characters appeared to be wielding weapons. He added: “The paintings are done in natural colours that have hardly faded despite the years. “The strangely carved figures are seen holding weapon-like objects and do not have clear features. “Specially, the nose and mouth are missing. “In few pictures, they are even shown wearing space suits. We can’t refute possibility of imagination by prehistoric men but humans usually fancy such things.” The video was uploaded to YouTube channel The Lost History Channel on Sunday and has already received more than 7,000 views. One comment read: “Evidence is everywhere, we need opened eyes, that’s all.” And another claimed: “We dont need to find aliens, they are already here all around us.” The archaeologists have contacted NASA and ISRO to help solve the mystery.

Things that make ya go, “hmmm..”   To see the video in question, and see photos, click on the text above…and you be the judge.      🙂

Dead Sea Scrolls discovery: Obscure fragments deciphered

One of the last two parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls has finally been translated, thanks to researchers at the University of Haifa. Dr. Eshbal Ratson and Prof. Jonathan Ben-Dov of the Department of Bible Studies managed to put together 60 tiny fragments over more than a year, obtaining fresh insight into a festival that marked the changing of the seasons. First discovered in a cave in Qumran in 1947, there are 900 scrolls which make up the Dead Sea Scrolls; together, the collection is considered to be the oldest copy of the Bible in known existence, thought to have been created around the 4th century B.C. The majority of the scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956, and have since been restored and published. Also included in the newly discovered fragment is a part that deals with the 364-day calendar, celebrated by the ancient Judean Desert sect. It’s unclear who created the Dead Sea Scrolls, but some researchers have suggested a group known as the Essenes are responsible. The Essenes existed from the 2nd century B.C. to the 1st century A.D. The festivals that were used to celebrate the changing of seasons include the festival of New Wheat, New Wine and New Oil, related to the Jewish festival of Shavuot. According to the calendar, the wheat festival took place 50 days after the Shabbat that followed Passover. Fifty days later, the wine harvest festival came and 50 days after that was the oil harvest festival. The scroll also said there was a special day for the changing of the seasons, known as Tekufah, which in Hebrew translates to “period.” “This term is familiar from the later Rabbinical literature and from mosaics dating to the Talmudic period, and we could have assumed that it would also be used with this meaning in the scrolls, but this is the first time it has been revealed,” Dr. Ratson and Prof. Ben-Dov explained in a press release. “The lunar calendar, which Judaism follows to this day, requires a large number of human decisions,” the researchers added. “People must look at the stars and moon and report on their observations, and someone must be empowered to decide on the new month and the application of leap years. By contrast, the 364-day calendar was perfect. Because this number can be divided into four and seven, special occasions always fall on the same day,” they wrote. Interestingly enough, Dr. Ratson and Prof. Ben-Dov were able to decipher the code from annotations made in the margins, by correcting omissions from the original author. “What’s nice is that these comments were hints that helped me figure out the puzzle — they showed me how to assemble the scroll,” Dr. Ratzon said in an interview with Haaretz.

Fascinating!!   🙂