Archaeology: The Stones Cry Out!

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey he faced an interesting exchange with the religious Pharisees. Crowds gathered to adore and honour Jesus. The Pharisees were deeply offended. They rebuked him and suggested he should not be received and honoured with such adoration and dignity. In the midst of this spectacle Jesus answered very distinctly. He turned and indicated his disciples saying, if they did not praise him, the stones would do it! (See Luke chapter 19, verse 40) He might have said, My creation would declare Me!

October has been a rocks crying out month in Israel. It is as though the world makes an absurd declaration and creation screams, “Rubbish!”

Papyrus

images-1In October, the Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled a 2,700 year old papyrus that predates the Dead Sea Scrolls by centuries. In fact radiocarbon dating has determined the papyrus is from the 7th century BCE.

Immediate debate over the authenticity began. A Professor Rollston from George Washington University said, ‘Ancient papyrus is readily available for purchase online. No modern forger worth his or her salt would forge an inscription on modern papyrus.”

A professor from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem debunked the criticism pointing out the wording used on the papyrus was very rare.

Amor Ganir (Antiquities Authority) said the writing was the first mention in Hebrew of the city of Jerusalem, outside the New Testament. It proved, he said, ‘Jews were in the city 2,700 years ago.”

Temple Mount

Another October gem was uncovered when Israeli and Muslim authorities worked together on the Temple Mount. The artifacts unearthed were the first dated to the time of the First Temple, more than 2,600 years ago. The limited scientific excavations were the first of their kind since the British Mandate.

“It’s the first time that we’ve found artifacts from this period in situ on the Temple Mount,” said Yuval Baruch, the head of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The digs were carried out between 2007 and last year after the Waqf requested authorization from Israel to perform maintenance work on infrastructure servicing the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Baruch teased further information will be published including findings uncovered while working on Solomon’s Stables.

Titus

A breach uncovered in the Third Wall of Jerusalem was the very place the Roman armies broke through in 70CE. That incursion led to the destruction of the Second temple.

Archaeologists discovered the remains of a tower jutting from the city wall. Opposite the tower’s western façade were scores of ballista and sling stones that they attribute to Roman forces firing from catapults.

“This is a fascinating testimony of the intensive bombardment by the Roman army, led by Titus, on their way to conquering the city and destroying the Second Temple,” concluded Dr Rina Avner and Kfir Abib, excavation directors for the Israel Antiquities Authority.

 Jesus’ Tomb

images-2The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a prominent attraction for Christian visitors to Israel. It is also known as the Church of the Resurrection for some. A discovery, archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert called ‘astonishing’ came about through renovation work.

Working in the innermost chamber of the site, a restoration team peeled away a layer of marble to what is believed to be the rock surface on which the body of Jesus Christ was placed.

National Geographic is partnering with experts to document the work.

The circumstances leading to this treasure was sparked when Israeli police briefly shut down the building when it was declared unsafe by Israel Antiquity Authorities. This prompted the Christian denominations who share the space to OK the necessary repairs.

A media report gave a first hand account (“Restoration workers peel back ancient layers surrounding cave said to be Jesus’ tomb in Jerusalem”, October 29, 2016, news.com.au)

“David Grenier, secretary of a group that oversees Roman Catholic church properties in the Holy Land, stood with a few other Franciscan friars, watching the work crew in awe. “What happened here 2000 years ago completely changed the history of the world,” he said. “To be able to dig, let’s say, to the rock where the body of Jesus was laid … it’s overwhelming joy.”

At one point, a National Geographic film crew documented the site as clergy burned incense around them in a daily church rite.

After the film crew cleared out, a pair of clergymen in brown frocks, and an Israeli policeman stationed at the church to help keep the peace, clambered over a pile of work tools, electrical wires and a yellow hard hat on the Edicule floor to lean into the inner chamber and snap cell phone photos of the exposed tomb.

“It’s a historic moment, huh?” the policeman said.

Clifford Wilson asked: “Does Archaeology Support the Bible” He wrote; “… archaeology has done a great deal to restore confidence in the Bible as the revealed Word of God. It has thrown a great deal of light on previously obscure passages and has helped us to understand customs, culture, and background in many ways that seemed most unlikely to our fathers in a previous generation. Archaeology is highly relevant for understanding the Bible today..”

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