BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY ANNUAL TOP TEN LISTS

Compiled from ARTIFAX magazine and The Book & The Spade Radio program

Top Ten 2014 Discoveries

   My list for 2014 was posted by Christianity Today:
  1. Herod's Gate at Herodium
  2. Khirbet Summeily Bullae
  3. Sheshonq’s Scarab
  4. Stone Rejected by the Builders and Western Wall Coins
  5. Temple at Tel Burna
  6. Rosh Ha-‘ayin Farmhouse
  7. Oil from 8,000 Years Ago
  8. Tablet that said the Ark was Round
  9. Theater where Polycarp was martyred
  10. Tomb of St. Stephen

Top Ten 2013 Discoveries

   My list for 2013 was posted by Christianity Today:
  1. Khirbet el-Maqatir Egyptian scarab
  2. Jezreel winepress
  3. Tel Kabri palatial wine cellar
  4. Royal public buildings at Khirbet Qeiyafa
  5. Sphinx of Menkaure at Hazor
  6. Ophel Gold Hoard from the Byzantine era
  7. Roman Legion Base in the Galilee
  8. Mt. Zion Priestly Mansion
  9. An unexpected destruction level at Gezer
  10. Stone pyramid under the Sea of Galilee

Top Ten 2012 Discoveries

#1 Huqoq Synagogue Mosaics, located three miles west of the Sea of Galilee shore sites of Magdala and Capernaum. Excavated by archaeologist Jodi Magness, the mosaic floor of this synagoue is of the highest quality, depicting Samson tying the tails of foxes together and also showing two faces around an inscription. This synagogue dates several centuries after the time of Christ.

#2 Cult Shrines from Khirbet Qeiyafa were actually discovered in 2011 excavations, but announced in the late spring of 2012 by archaeologist Yosel Garfinkel. The shrines are evidence of worship that predates Solomon's Temple by 30-40 years; shrines without cultic images that are different from Canaanite shrines.

#3 First Temple Period Reservoir, located near the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount, under Robinson's Arch. This discovery, with its 66,000 gallon capacity, provides new information about water consumption in the First Temple era of Jerusalem.

#4 Bethlehem Bullah, a seal impression with three lines of script, this is the earliest mention of Bethlehem outside of the Bible, dating to the First Temple Period. It was found during the sifting of material from City of David excavations. It is a fiscal bulla, related to tax shipments during the reign of a king around the time of Hezekiah, Manasseh, or Josiah.

#5 Jerusalem Seal, which says "Belonging to Matanyahu Ben Ho... This seal was found near Robinson's arch in the ruins of a building from the First Temple Period.

#6 An Egyptian scarab, found in Jerusalem just before the Passover. The scarab depicts the image of a duck, which is the name of the sun god Amon-Ra. It is dated to the 13th century BC, just after the Amarna period.

#7 The Kiryat Gat Hoard was found near Ashkelon and contains 140 gold & silver Roman coins dating to late first and early 2nd century AD. The hoard included a gold earring and a ring with a seal depicting a winged goddess.

#8 The Neo Hittite sculpture at Tel Tayinat. The sculputure inscription records events of reign of Suppiluliuma, who probably faced Shalmaneser III in 858 BC. Important excavation in Turkey, 22 miles east of Antakya (Antioch) on the road to Aleppo. University of Toronto archaeologist Tim Harrison believes this is the neo-Hittite kingdom of Patina, which may also be the Calno referred to in Isaiah 10:9-10.

#9 3400-year old wheat from Hazor was discovered in 14 clay jugs. The wheat had been burned 3400 years ago. This is one of the most important excavations, at the site of one of most important ancient cities in Israel.

#10 At Akko Harbor archaeologists are exposing the remains of the Hellenistic harbor, from the third and second centuries BC. This was the most important port in Israel at that time.

Reaction to the 2012 list from Leen Ritmeyer .

Top Ten 2011 Discoveries

#1 Horned Stone Altar at Tell es-Safi/Gath. This well-preserved stone altar was found in destruction dating to the second half of the 9th century It's 3.5 feet tall and 19 inches on each side.

#2 Seal from the Second Temple period found near the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount in an area of the first century Jerusalem street under Robinson's arch. The seal has two Aramaic words, which mean "Pure for God." Earlier in the year it was announced that a golden bell that may have been attached to the hem of a priest's robe had also been found in this area.

#3 Ossuary belonging to a grandaughter of Caiaphas, the high priest. The ossuary was recovered three years ago from antiquities thieves in the Valley of Elah, and announced in 2011. The inscription reads: ‘Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests [of] Ma'aziah from Beth ’Imri.

#4 The Tomb of the Apostle Philip at Hierapolis, Turkey - Italian Professor Francesco D'Andria announced the discovery at the site of a recently excavated Christian church near Philip's Martyrium at Hierapolis, located about 75 miles east of Ephesus.

#5 A Roman Sword and the engraving of a menorah on stone found in the City of David Water Channel. The channel begins at the Western Wall and runs under the street about 600 yards to the Pool of Siloam, where the Kidron Valley and the Tyropean Valley connect. Josephus reports Jewish refugees hid from Roman soldiers in this tunnel during the destruction of Jerusalem, 70 AD. Parts of the leather scabbard and belt were also found.

#6 The mosaics from the Church of Zechariah. The church was found in the Judean Shephelah, southwest of Jerusalem at a site called Horbat Midras.

#7 Hercules, in statue form, discovered at Sussita/Hippos, a site overlooking the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and also at Horvat Tarbenet, where laborers working on the Jezreel Valley Railway Project, found an 18 inch marble statue.

#8 Lion at the Gate from Tel Tayinat, in SE Turkey.

#9 Sabbath Marker found at Timrat in the Galilee, a village about four miles west of Nazareth.

#10 Byzantine Church at Acre - The church was discovered as part of a construction project for a new shopping mall parking lot, near Tel Akko, the oldest part of Acre.

Top Ten 2010 Discoveries

#1 Herod's royal theater box at Herodium, just east of Bethlehem. Its colorful frescos are an example of Herod's luxurious lifestyle. It was covered over so that Herod could built his tomb next to it.

#2 Jerusalem's oldest writing, a fragment believed to be from a royal archive, found just outside old city walls. In size it is 3/4" by 1" with a cuneiform inscription dates to 14th century B.C. It testifies to the importance of Jerusalem in the late Bronze Age.

#3 Clay tablet fragments with parallels to portions of the code of Hammurabi found at Tel Hazor.

#4 A Philistine Temple found at Tell es-Safi/Gath, similar to the temple that Samson destroyed in Gaza with two central pillars.

#5 The heaviest and most valuable gold coin ever found in Israel, found at Tel Kedesh in far northern Israel. It's 2200 years old, minted in Alexandria by Ptolemy V, and bears the name of the wife of Ptolemy II, Arsinoe Philadelphus. It weighs almost one ounce, about six times as much as an ordinary gold coin.

#6 A Samaritan city being excavated on top of Mt. Gerizim, for past 20 years, unbeknown to most archaeologists because its in the west bank, and falls under the army's authority. About 10,000 people lived there 2,000 years ago, worshipping in their Samaritan temple rather than in the Jerusalem temple. The city has paved streets and high quality houses, some with beautiful mosaics and heated baths.

#7 A large fortified city at Tel Husn in Jordan (ancient Pella) dating to 3400-3200 BC. This city was developing at same time as civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but a disaster in 2800 BC wiped out the city.

#8 Horvat Kur Synagogue, 1600 years old, being excavated within two miles of the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

#9 A rare bronze signet ring with the impression of the face of the Greek sun god Apollo found at Tel Dor. This ring is very small, only 1 cm in length.

#10 Cultic vessels, 3500-years old, removed from a pit near Tel Yoqneam in the Jezreel Vally near Megiddo. Nearly 100 in all, they were used for cultic sacrifices.

Top Ten Excavations of 2009

#1 Khirbet Qeiyafa, the Elah fortress, overlooking the Elah Valley. Archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel says the evidence indicates this is mostly a one period site in the Iron Age (Iron IIa-roughly the time of King David). One of the most important finds announced by Garfinkel from the first season of excavation was an inscription, perhaps the oldest Hebrew writing yet known.

#2 Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene, along the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. Excavators have uncovered the ruins of a large synagogue that dates to the first century.

#3) Tel Dor, an ancient harbor on the Mediterranean, south of Haifa and north of Caesarea. Excavations have been going on at Tel Dor for several decades. While clearing out a dusty corner in 2009 a volunteer found a gemstone engraved with the image of Alexander the Great.

#4 Jerusalem! Today, the attention has focused on the City of David, or Ir David, the oldest area of Jerusalem. Archaeologist Eilat Mazar believes that she has discovered what she believes to be the ruins of David's palace.

#5 In the Gihon spring area of Jerusalem archaeologists have discovered a huge Canaanite wall.

#6 Just outside of Jerusalem's Dung Gate is the Givati Car Park excavation. Archaeologists have recently found the remains of a palatial residence from the Roman period, the time when Jerusalem was known as Aelia Capitolina. In the ruins of this mansion have been found a cache of gold coins, a golden earring, and a small weight in the image of a boxer.

#7 Jerusalem's Temple Mount Sifting Project is the closest thing to an excavation of the Temple Mount that's possible in today's world. In a tent in the Emek Tzurim National Park on Mt. Scopus, overlooking the Temple Mount, volunteers are sifting tons and tons of dirt carted out of the Temple Mount in 1999 to create the entrance to the Marwani Mosque, as it's called.

#8 Herodium, about nine miles south of Jerusalem, where archaeologist Ehud Netzer finally discovered the tomb of King Herod, after a 30-year search. The excavations continue.

#9 On the southern edge of Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, archaeologists are excavating a Roman theater.

#10 On the opposite shore is a site called Hippos/Sussita, right above kibbutz Ein Gev. Archaeologists are excavating several Byzantine churches, and an odeon (small theater) has just been discovered.

Looking back at the 20th Century

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