Tag Archives: archaeology

Naked Bible Podcast Episode 158: The Fate of the Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant is well-known because of the popular Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. That pop culture film offers just one of over a dozen theories on what happened to the Ark of the Covenant. The question arises because the ark is not one of the artifacts taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in the biblical account of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 586 BC, nor is it listed among the temple treasures returned to Israel in Ezra 1, the account of the release of the captive Judeans. This episode surveys the more interesting and important theories as to the fate of the ark.

The episode is now live.

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Kenneth Kitchen’s Ancient Orient and Old Testament Available as Free PDF

This book is an important, though slightly dated, contribution to understanding the OT in its ancient Near Eastern context. It is also quite useful for addressing a range of attacks on the integrity of the OT.

Prof. Kitchen was for many years an Egyptologist in the UK, but his training and contributions extended into biblical studies. His book is reproduced by his permission here.

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American Moundbuilders and Earthworks: Textbook Pseudo-Archaeology

Here’s a link to a short essay that outlines the basic “techniques” for pseudo-archaeological analysis. While the essay notes the flawed thinking of Glenn Beck in regard to the Newark Earthworks, the essay ought to be a cautionary piece for all Christian Middle Earth researchers who are prone to same basically the same things about lost tribes and the presumed need for nephilim descendants to explain such mounds. Again, this is a basic survey of how real archaeologists expose flawed thinking. The Moundbuilder issue, with all its racially-charged messaging (i.e., Native Americans were too backward or stupid to build these things on their own), has gotten considerable attention from real archaeologists. They could shoot all sorts of holes in the sort of North American nephilim moundbuilder thinking many readers will be familiar with. Doing pseudo-archaeology and thinking poorly don’t build a reputation for honesty and careful research, something Christians should want.

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American Moundbuilders and Earthworks: Textbook Pseudo-Archaeology

Here’s a link to a short essay that outlines the basic “techniques” for pseudo-archaeological analysis. While the essay notes the flawed thinking of Glenn Beck in regard to the Newark Earthworks, the essay ought to be a cautionary piece for all Christian Middle Earth researchers who are prone to same basically the same things about lost tribes and the presumed need for nephilim descendants to explain such mounds. Again, this is a basic survey of how real archaeologists expose flawed thinking. The Moundbuilder issue, with all its racially-charged messaging (i.e., Native Americans were too backward or stupid to build these things on their own), has gotten considerable attention from real archaeologists. They could shoot all sorts of holes in the sort of North American nephilim moundbuilder thinking many readers will be familiar with. Doing pseudo-archaeology and thinking poorly don’t build a reputation for honesty and careful research, something Christians should want.

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Ancient City Gate Associated with the Time of Hezekiah Under Excavation

Here’s the story.

Here’s how the piece begins:

An ancient city gate and shrine that King Hezekiah ordered to be destroyed during the eighth century B.C., according to the Hebrew Bible, are seeing the light of day following an excavation in Israel, archaeologists reported.

The so-called gate-shrine is likely evidence of actions taken by King Hezekiah, the 12th king of Judea, to abolish idols, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, was known as a godless man, and as soon as Hezekiah ascended the throne, he ordered the destruction of all of the false idols (objects, other deities or animals that people worshipped) in the kingdom …

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The Sphinx 800,000 Years Old? A Good Lesson on How Alternative Historians Select Their Data

You may have seen this item enthusiastically recently reported on the Ancient Code site: “Scientists: Geological evidence shows the Great Sphinx is 800,000 years old.” Ancient Code is a repository of fringe archaeology. Surprise!

What Ancient Code doesn’t tell you is revealed in this essay by Jason Colavito: “Why Are So Many Interested Now in a 2008 Claim about the Sphinx’s Age? Colavito writes in part:

. . . the two authors did not conduct any field testing to reach their conclusions. Instead, they say that they re-dated the monument based on a “visual investigation” (i.e. visiting the Sphinx and looking at it) and “reading the literary sources.” They based their conclusion on a comparison of the Sphinx, in a desert environment, with rock walls around the Black Sea, in an environment that differs in pretty much every conceivable way. Nevertheless, they argue that the undulating pattern of erosion on the Sphinx is not the work of wind and sand working differentially on rock layers of different hardness but rather the work of waves that accomplished the same task in a time when Giza was flooded.

They conclude that when the Sphinx was carved, Giza must have been like the Black Sea is today, and therefore this could only have occurred 750,000 years ago. The argument runs thus: If we assume that waves were necessary to create the erosion pattern (because it looks similar to the erosion pattern on the Black Sea coast), then we would need a water level at least 160 m higher than the current sea level to flood the Sphinx;therefore, this could only have occurred 750,000 years ago, the last time the sea was so high. As you can see, the problem is the initial if, based as it is on a “looks like therefore is” line of reasoning, without geochemical or any other type of proof to substantiate it.

They also do not explain how the Sphinx, which continues to deteriorate and erode in the desert environment to this day, survived 750,000 years almost intact while undergoing much more damaging erosion in historical times except that they feel that sand erosion, which is known to have occurred, was much more damaging than their proposed hundreds of thousands of years of water erosion.

When you drill down into their paper, it becomes clear that they never considered alternative hypotheses, nor did they attempt to find proof that only submersion in a giant lake could achieve the erosion they describe.

Sigh.

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Graham Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods: A Review

I encourage all of you to read Jason Colavito’s lengthy review of Hancock’s latest tome devoted to alternative history. But if you want the short version, Colavito offers this summary thought:

Speaking as someone who found Fingerprints of the Gods to be entertaining and engaging, even when it was wrong, I can say that Magicians of the Gods is not a good book by either the standards of entertainment or science. It is Hancock at his worst: angry, petulant, and slipshod. Hancock assumes readers have already read and remembered all of his previous books going back decades, and his new book fails to stand on its own either as an argument or as a piece of literature. It is an update and an appendix masquerading as a revelation. This much is evident from the amount of material Hancock asks readers to return to Fingerprints to consult, and the number of references—bad, secondary ones—he copies wholesale from the earlier book, or cites directly to himself in that book.

I hope you all won’t settle for that, as Jason’s review includes some telling observations and critique of Hancock’s sources and method.

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Review of Edited Volume of Papers Delivered at Jerusalem Conference on the Alleged Jesus Family Tomb

The Society of Biblical Literature’s Review of Biblical Literature just published a review of James H. Charlesworth’s edited volume, The Tomb of Jesus and His Family? Exploring Ancient Jewish Tombs Near Jerusalem’s Walls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013). The review is by Jodi Magness, who begins the review this way:

This  volume  contains twenty-six papers  (plus  an  introduction  and  conclusion  by  the editor)  presented  at  a  conference  that  was  held  Jerusalem  in  January  2008  on  “Jewish Views  of  the  After  Life  and  Burial  Practices  in  Second  Temple  Judaism:  Evaluating  the Talpiot  Tomb  in  Context.” Although  most  of  the  papers  focus  on  some  aspect  of  the Talpiyot (or Talpiot)tomb and its ossuaries and/or the “James ossuary,” they are written by scholars with widely varying perspectives and fields of expertise, including archaeology, epigraphy  and  paleography,  theology,  social  history,  biology,  statistics,  New  Testament, rabbinics, religious studies, geology, women’s studies, and mathematics.

For  those  who may  not  remember,  in  March  2007the  Discovery  Channel  broadcast  a documentary by  Simcha  Jacobovici in  which  he  claimed that  the  lost  tomb  of  Jesus  and his family had been discovered in Jerusalem (also published in a related book). This was none other than the Talpiyot tomb (so-called after the Jerusalem neighborhood in which it is located), which was excavated by archaeologists in 1980 after it was discovered during construction  work. A  final  report  on  the  Talpiyot  tomb  excavation  was  published  in ‘Atiqot in 1996. The tomb contained ten ossuaries, six of them inscribed (five in Aramaic and   one   in   Greek),   while   the   remaining   four   are   plain   (one is now   missing). Archaeologists  noted  that  some  of  the  names  in  the  inscriptions  (e.g., Yeshua  son of Yehoseph;  Marya;  Mariam/Mariame;  Yoseh  [apparently  a  diminutive  of  Yehosef])  recall individuals  associated  with  Jesus  in  the  NewTestament  accounts but  considered  this  a coincidence, as  these  were  common  names  among  the  Jewish  population  at  the  time. However, in the documentary Jacobovici claimed that the inscriptions identify this as the tomb  of  Jesus  and  his  family, marshalling an  array  of  supporting  evidence that includes statistical  and  DNA  analyses. The  implications  of this  claim  are  that  Jesus  was  not resurrected  (as  his  physical  remains  were  placed  in  an  ossuary), that  he  was  married  to Mary Magdalene (who supposedly is named in one of the inscriptions), and that he had a son  named  Judah  (as  one  of  the  ossuaries  is  inscribed  Yehudah  bar  Yeshua). Jacobovici also has attempted to prove that an adjacent, unexcavated tomb (the Patio tomb) contains the remains of followers of Jesus and that the James ossuary (which has no archaeological provenience but surfaced in a private collection) is the tenth (now missing) ossuary from the Talpiyot tomb.

The review isn’t long, but it’s informative. Highly recommended.

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