23 September 2018 - 14 Tishri 5779 - י"ד תשרי ה' אלפים תשע"ט
A 3,300 year old coffin exposed in Jezreel Valley E-mail

During a recent salvage excavation in the Jezreel Valley, the Israel Antiquities Authority has uncovered part of a burial site dating to the Late Bronze Age (thirteenth century BCE) at the foot of Tel Shadud.

According to the excavation directors, Dr. Edwin van den Brink, Dan Kirzner and Dr. Ron Be’eri of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “During the excavation we discovered a unique and rare find: a cylindrical clay coffin with an anthropoidal lid (a cover fashioned in the image of a person) surrounded by a variety of pottery consisting mainly of storage vessels for food, tableware, cultic vessels and animal bones. As was the custom, it seems these were used as offerings for the gods, and were also meant to provide the dead with sustenance in the afterlife.”

The skeleton of an adult was found inside the clay coffin and next to it were buried pottery, a bronze dagger, bronze bowl and hammered pieces of bronze. “Since the vessels interred with the individual were produced locally”, the researchers say, “We assume the deceased was an official of Canaanite origin who was engaged in the service of the Egyptian government”.

Another possibility is that the coffin belonged to a wealthy individual who imitated Egyptian funerary customs. The researchers add that so far only several anthropoidal coffins have been uncovered in the country. The last ones discovered were found at Deir el-Balah some fifty  years ago. According to the archaeologists, “An ordinary person could not afford the purchase of such a coffin. It is obvious the deceased was a member of the local elite”.

The graves of two men and two women who may have been members of his family were also located near the coffin. The discovery of the coffin at Tel Shadud is evidence of Egyptian control of the Jezreel Valley in the Late Bronze Age.

During the period when the pharaohs governed the country, Egyptian culture greatly influenced the local Canaanite upper class. Signs of Egyptian influence are occasionally discovered in different regions and this time they were revealed at Tel Shadud and in the special tomb of the wealthy Canaanite. A rare artifact that was found next to the skeleton is an Egyptian scarab seal, encased in gold and affixed to a ring. The scarab was used to seal documents and objects.

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Pope Francis makes landmark visit to Israel E-mail

Pope Francis made an historic three day trip to the Middle-East between 24-26 May 2014. Pope Francis was the fourth pope to visit the Holy Land. Previous visits were; Pope Paul VI in January 1964, Pope John Paul II in March 2000, and more recently Pope Benedict XVI in May 2009.

The Pope Francis trip was to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic visit of Pope Paul VI. The Pope announced his pilgrimage to the Holy Land on 5 January to commemorate the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, which took place on 5 January, exactly 50 years ago.

The Pope first landed in Amman, Jordan where he was met with the King and Queen of Jordan and held a Holy Mass at the International Stadium in Amman. He then departed by helicopter on 25 May for Bethlehem and met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holding a Holy Mass in Manger Square and then onto a private visit to the Grotto of the Nativity. He then arrived at Ben Gurion Internatonal Airport by helicopter from Bethlehem and was warmly greeted by Israel’s President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a packed itinerary the Pope first went to Mount Scopus in Jerusalem having a private meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I at the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem, to coincide with the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I.

The Pope visited the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein in the building of the Great Council on the Esplanade of the Mosques.

He then visited the Western Wall. The pontiff prayed at the Western Wall and placed his hand on the ancient stones and put a note in the cracks between the stones. The text read “Our Father” prayer written in his native Spanish. Pope Francis wrote in the Kotel guest book, “I came to learn from the older brothers the significance of the place. I came to pray for peace all over the world.”

He visited the grave of founder of modern day Israel, Theodor Herzl and laid a wreath at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

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Excavations from the Hasmonean period discovered E-mail

For the first time a building dating to the Hasmonean period was discovered in archaeological excavations in the City of David, in the walls around Jerusalem National Park.

A few months ago remains of an impressive building from the Hasmonean period (second century BCE) are being unearthed in excavations by Israel Antiquities Authority. The excavations are sponsored by the “Friends of City of David”. Although Josephus wrote about Hasmonean Jerusalem, it is only now that remains of a building are being exposed from this period in the city’s history.

The building stands 4 metres high and covers an area of 64 square metres. The building’s broad walls (more than one metre thick) are made of roughly hewn limestone blocks that were arranged as headers and stretchers, a construction method characteristic of the Hasmonean period.

Although numerous pottery vessels were discovered inside the building, it was mainly the coins that surprised the researchers. These indicated the structure was erected in the early second century BCE and continued into the Hasmonean period, during which time significant changes were made inside it.

According to Dr Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, Excavation Directors explained that the importance of this discovery is primarily because of the conspicuous paucity of buildings from the Hasmonean city of Jerusalem in archaeological research, despite the many excavations that have been conducted to date.

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