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Top 10 Jesus-Related Archaeological Discoveries

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      NHNE: Top 10 Jesus-Related Archaeological Discoveries
      Wednesday, September 24, 2003
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      THE TOP TEN ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES FOR EXCAVATING JESUS
      By John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed
      BeliefNet
      Wednesday, September 24, 2003

      http://secure.agoramedia.com/index_jesus3.asp?promo=6F4BA31E-7423-4988-8D79-
      4CDAD7A09F2A&email=

      The top ten archaeological discoveries involve both specific objects and
      general places. The first five items listed are specific objects -- with
      direct links to gospel texts -- that also encapsulate major aspects of their
      contemporary worlds. The next five are pairs. In each case the tandems point
      to a specific phenomenon more visible in the pairing than in either one
      alone: the Roman-Herodian kingdom atop the Jewish homeland, the urbanization
      of Galilee, Jewish resistance to Rome, Jewish village life, and especially
      Jewish religion as indicated by purity observances. The last item is a set
      whose importance is internally and externally cumulative. The set's
      significance arises not from any single example or even from any single
      category alone, but from the number of cases in each category and from those
      categories combined.


      1. THE OSSUARY OF THE HIGH PRIEST JOSEPH CAIAPHAS

      http://inside.bard.edu/religion/facultyproj/temple/image_collection/imagea5.
      htm

      In November 1990, construction workers building near a water park in the
      Peace Forest, south of Jerusalem's Old City between the Haas Tayelet and Abu
      Tor, broke through a burial cave sealed since the Roman war in 70 C.E. On an
      otherwise ornately decorated ossuary, a box hewn of soft limestone in which
      bones of the deceased were reburied after the flesh decomposed, the name
      Caiaphas was crudely scratched in Aramaic. His name, and the names of family
      interred with him, make it clear that the small shaft tomb was the family
      resting place for the high priest Caiaphas, mentioned by name in Mathew 26
      and John 18 for his role in the crucifixion. This is a direct link to the
      gospel stories of Jesus' execution.


      2. THE INSCRIPTION OF THE PREFECT PONTIUS PILATE

      http://www.kchanson.com/ANCDOCS/latin/pilate.html

      In 1962 Italian archaeologists, clearing sand and overgrowth from the ruined
      theater at Caesarea Maritima, longtime seat of Roman power on the eastern
      Mediterranean shore, uncovered an inscription bearing the name of Pontius
      Pilate. Turned upside down and reused in the theater's renovation in the
      fourth century C.E., it was hidden and preserved up to the present. The
      Latin inscription boasts that Pilate had dedicated a Tiberium, a public
      structure built in honor of the Roman emperor Tiberius, just as the city
      itself had been built to honor his predecessor, Caesar Augustus. The
      inscription settled scholarly quibbles over Pilate's exact title and ruling
      authority by naming him a perfect rather than an inferior procurator, but
      was more celebrated as the first physical witness to such a prominent New
      Testament figure.


      3. THE HOUSE OF THE APOSTLE PETER AT CAPERNAUM

      http://www.bibleplaces.com/capernaum.htm

      Octagonal ruins on land in Franciscan custody at Capernaum were first
      discovered in 1906. It was the Byzantine church converted from "the house of
      the chief of the apostles" written about by ancient pilgrims. From 1968 to
      1985 the Franciscan archaeologists Virgilio Corbo and Stanislao Loffreda
      worked in and around that octagonal structure and excavated its complex
      layers. An octagonal church was built in the fifth century C.E. atop a house
      church dating to the fourth century, which lay atop a simple courtyard house
      initially constructed in the first century B.C.E. Striking examples of
      Christian invocations in Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Syriac had been
      scratched into the plaster of one room as early as the second century C.E.
      Because it lacked any domestic artifacts and had been replastered several
      times, the first generations of Christians must have deemed the room of some
      significance. The excavator's conclusion: It was the house of the apostle
      Peter.


      4. THE FISHING BOAT FROM THE SEA OF GALILEE

      http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0gc00

      Severe droughts in the mid-1980s caused a dramatic drop in the Sea of
      Galilee's water level. When it was at its lowest level in January 1986, two
      members of Kibbutz Ginnosar noticed the outlines of boats buried in the mid
      of the newly uncovered shore. The water and mud preserved the boat for the
      Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists, but once it was exposed,
      conservators raced against time and the rising waters to save it. An
      improvised dike and water pumps held off the rising tide, and a plaster
      casing then floated the boat ashore. Today the 8-by-26-foot boat lies in a
      climate-controlled facility at the kibbutz. Pots and lamps within the boat
      dated it to the first century C.E., and the carbon-14 dating on the wooden
      planks confirmed that date. It was a boat from the time of Jesus, the type
      commonly used for fishing or crossing the lake. It could certainly hold
      thirteen people. It is now usually called the "Jesus Boat".


      5. THE SKELETON OF THE CRUCIFIED YEHOCHANAN

      http://www.tfba.org/finds.php

      In June 1968 Vassilios Tzaferis of the Israel Antiquities Authority
      excavated some burial caves northeast of Jerusalem, at a place called Givat
      Hamivtar. Within the necropolis, a first-century C.E. rock-hewn family tomb
      with five ossuaries was discovered, one of which contained the bones of two
      men and a young child. The right heel bone of one of the men, 5 feet, 5
      inches tall and in his mid-twenties, had been pierced by a 4-1/2 inch nail.
      A small wooden board had been nailed to the outside of his heel to prevent
      him from tearing his leg off the nail's small head. But the nail had bent as
      it was hammered into the hard olive-wood upright of the cross and could not
      be easily removed after his death, so it and wooden board were still
      attached to his body when taken off the cross. His arms had been tied, not
      nailed, to the crossbar and his legs were not broken. Contrary to common
      practice, his body was allowed off the cross for proper family burial. The
      ossuary contained the name of the deceased, Yehochanan (Hebrew and Aramaic
      for John), the Crucified Man.


      6. CAESAREA MARITIMA AND JERUSALEM: CITIES OF HEROD THE GREAT

      Over twenty years of excavations at Caesarea Maritima
      <http://digcaesarea.org/> and more than that around the Temple in Jerusalem
      <http://www.bibleplaces.com/southerntm.htm> have unearthed enough artifacts
      to fill museums and tax the storage capacities of the Israel Antiquities
      Authority. The most striking finds, however, are the enormous monumental
      structures built by Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.E.), the architectural legacy
      of his kingdom building. Caesarea Maritima, on the one hand, was transformed
      from a tranquil beach without a natural harbor or fresh-water source into
      the eastern Mediterranean's busiest and most modern port. Adorned with a
      magnificent temple housing statues of the emperor Augustus and the goddess
      Roma, the city itself was named in honor of Caesar. At Jerusalem, on the
      other had, Herod beautified and expanded the Jewish Temple. He made the
      Temple Mount the largest monumental platform in the Roman Empire; and with
      massive finely cut and carefully squared stones, striking porticoes, and
      decorated columns, he made what ancient eyewitnesses describe as the most
      beautiful structure ever seen. These joint projects show both his loyalty to
      Rome and his dedication to the Jewish God, but above all else they were a
      tribute to himself and his kingdom.


      7. SEPPHORIS AND TIBERIAS: CITIES OF HEROD ANTIPAS

      SEPPHORIS:
      http://www.centuryone.org/sepphoris-site.html

      TIBERIAS:
      http://digtiberias.org/excavation.htm

      Like his father, Herod Antipas rules as a client of Rome (4 B.C.E. - 39
      C.E.), not as a king, but as an inferior tetrarch, and not over all the
      Jewish homeland, but only over Galilee and Perea. Like his father, he built
      cities, but neither on the scale nor with the grandeur of his father. Herod
      Antipas was neither as rich nor as powerful as Herod the Great. But he
      urbanized Galilee with the building of Sepphoris and Tiberias, the latter
      named in honor of the Roman emperor. Although Tiberias today is a sprawling
      seaside resort that permits only limited excavation, the ancient ruins of
      Sepphoris lie uninhabited and have been excavated by as many as four teams
      over the past decades. Spectacular discoveries such as a Roman-style
      theater, a massive underground aqueduct, and the Dionysiac mosaic,
      discoveries from throughout the Roman period, raise the question of the
      extent to which Antipas had earlier imposed a Greco-Roman architectural
      veneer onto the life of the Jewish population, and the impact of his kingdom
      building in Galilee. Sepphoris was, after all, only 4 miles from Jesus'
      hometown, Nazareth.


      8. MASADA AND QUMRAN: MONUMENTS OF JEWISH RESISTANCE

      MASADA:
      http://www.busstop.org/birthright/09/image27.htm

      QUMRAN:
      http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/scrolls/intr.html

      Two sites off the remote and desolate western shore of the Dead Sea
      excavated in the 1950s and 1960s, respectively, bear witness to Jewish
      resistance against Rome in the first century C.E Masada, a clifftop
      fortress-palace built by Herod the Great, was taken over by the Jewish
      Sicarii at the beginning of the revolt in 66 C.E and fell to the Roman
      legions some four years after the Temple's destruction in 70 C.E
      Archaeology's discovery of Roman siege works and the Jewish historian
      Josephus's story of the Sicarii's suicide vividly illustrate their violent
      resistance to Roman domination. A monastery complex built by a Jewish sect
      atop a marl terrace, Khirbet Qumran preserves the ruins of a different kind
      of resistance, communal and nonviolent, where withdrawal, study, and purity
      were weapons against foreign influences and moral decay. Both sites are
      monuments of Jewish resistance.


      9. GAMLA AND JODEFAT: FIRST-CENTURY JEWISH VILLAGES IN THE NORTH

      http://faculty.smu.edu/dbinder/gamla.html

      Two villages, one atop a knoll in Lower Galilee, and the other atop a ridge
      in the Golan Heights to the east, were destroyed by Roman legions in 67 C.E
      and lay buried and undisturbed until Israeli archaeologists excavated them
      this past century. Aside from confirming their catastrophic ends as recorded
      by Josephus, Moti Aviam at Jodefat and Shmarya Gutmann at Gamla exposed
      frail defenses and unearthed daily life in these two Jewish sites. Neither
      sites are mentioned in the gospels, so no commemorative church, monastery,
      or shrine was ever built on top of either of them. This ironically,
      preserved until now an archaeological snapshot of Jewish life.


      10. STONE VESSELS AND STEPPED, PLASTERED POOLS: JEWISH RELIGION.

      Stone vessels of varying shapes and sizes, carved or lathe-turned from soft
      white chalk stone, along with stepped and plastered pools chiseled into
      bedrock, called miqwaoth (singular, miqweh) and referred to in this book as
      ritual baths, are both found wherever Jews lived in Galilee as well as
      around Jerusalem in Judea. These particular items signaled Jewishness to
      their contemporaries and identified them as a distinct people. Both stone
      vessels and ritual baths are connected to Jewish purity concerns. Neither of
      these artifacts is prominent in the gospels, although stone vessels are
      mentioned anecdotally in the story of the wedding in Cana (John 2:6). But
      their prevalence in the archaeological layers of that era tells us much
      about what was taken for granted in the gospels concerning Jewish religion
      and Jewish distinctiveness at the time of Jesus.

      Those ten discoveries, and all others yet to come, must be placed in their
      total archaeological environment. Remember, sometimes a find becomes a great
      discovery through the items found nearby, a tiny bronze coin beside it, or
      several sherds of broken pottery beneath it. Such apparently valueless
      items, within their full comparative charting alongside all other ancient
      coins and ceramics, date the item in question and put in a context that
      makes it not just one more discovery, but one of the top ten for the moment.

      .............

      The foregoing is excerpted from:

      EXCAVATING JESUS: BENEATH THE STONES, BEHIND THE TEXTS:
      REVISED AND UPDATED
      By John Dominic Crossan (Author), Jonathan L. Reed (Author)

      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060616342/newheavenneweart

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      RELATED LINKS, ARTICLES & RESOURCES:

      IN SEARCH OF JESUS WEBSITE:
      http://www.insearchofjesus.org/

      IN SEARCH OF JESUS NEWS LIST:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/insearchofjesus/

      IN SEARCH OF JESUS NEWS LIST ARCHIVE:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/insearchofjesus/messages

      "JESUS BOX" IS A FAKE, ISRAELI EXPERTS RULE (6/19/2003):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/insearchofjesus/message/50

      UNEXPECTED DISCOVERY AT TOMB OF JESUS (4/24/2001):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/insearchofjesus/message/18

      IMPORTANT ARCHEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES IN THE HOLY LAND (4/12/2001):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/insearchofjesus/message/7

      The TOMB OF JESUS (4/12/2001)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/insearchofjesus/message/11

      OTHER IMPORTANT ARTICLES ON JESUS:
      http://www.insearchofjesus.org/articles.html

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