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Israel Archaeology Update: Temple Mount Mystery & A New Church

Over the past month, a number of incredible archaeological discoveries have been found in Israel. Unknown gates on the Temple Mount, a Byzantine church near Caesarea Phillippi, ancient boundary stones and weights, a signet ring with the seal of Apollo, perhaps the world's first furnace and more. As your resident tour guide of Israel, it is my pleasure to recap all of them for you here...

It's amazing that this had never been noticed before: Two blocked-up arches which were set into the raised stone wall platform on the Eastern side have recently been discovered. Where did these doors lead to? Is it possible to the underground music room where the Levites stored their instruments during the late Second Temple times? For more check out the link here:

"A 2,700 years old ancient limestone-made weight (dating to the Iron age - the First Temple period) was discovered in an archaeological excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in conjunction with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation beneath Wilson’s Arch. According to Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Tehillah Lieberman, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority: “The weight is dome-shaped with a flat base. On the top of the weight is an incised Egyptian symbol resembling a Greek gamma (γ), representing the abbreviated unit ‘shekel.’ Two incised lines indicate the double mass: two shekalim. According to previous finds, the known weight of a single shekel is 11.3 grams, thus a double shekel should way close to 23 grams – exactly as this weight does.

The accuracy of the weight attests to advanced technological skills as well as to the weight given to precise trade and commerce in ancient Jerusalem. Coins were not yet in use during this period, and payment was made with chunks of silver or gold, therefore accuracy of the weight played a significant role in business.

Year-round and especially during the times of pilgrimage, the area at the foot of the Temple Mount was sure to be busy. Locals and pilgrims would have traded for sacrifices and offerings as well as for food, souvenirs, and other commodities. A weight such as the one discovered would have been used to measure accurate amounts of products at the market.”

Think the ancient town of Megiddo has no new secrets to spill after numerous excavations of the 30+ layer tel? Well now Professor Eric Cline’s - who dug at the site for two decades - has written a book about the archaeologists from a century ago and their search for one of Solomon's cities. It's called “Digging up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon. I hope he talks about the fact that the archaeologists in the 1920's brought in the first Western toilet seats and the first tennis courts to the land.... and then proceeded to build all their buildings on the lower parts of the city, having no idea how large the city really was. You can learn more about the new book here (including listening to an interview with the author):

In the area of Caesarea Phillippi - also known as Banyas or Panyas - a church from the Byzantine period dating to around 400 CE was discovered. It was near here that Peter recognized Jesus as the Messiah during the story of the Transfiguration. The town itself was a Greek/Roman town dedicated to the god Pan. "During the excavation, researchers found niches, altars and other items indicating that the site was previously a sacred Roman complex [like many early churches] open to the sky used for worship of the god Pan." The Arabs' inability to pronounce the letter P led it to be called Banyas today. For more on this incredible find click here:

"Salvage excavations of a 14th century Mamluk roadside inn near the IDF’s Nafah army base have unveiled the first Roman border stone found in the central Golan with a place name that is known and identified today." The stone marked the boundary of the town for taxation purposes at the time of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. The Nafah base has been in the news For more on this cool discovery linking the past with the present, check out the links here:

To check out the aforementioned new TV series about the Yom Kippur War [I've been watching and it's great - the fourth chapter is tonight]: click here:

Has the furnace been invented in Israel?

"In 2017 a 6,500-year-old copper workshop has been uncovered during an archaeological excavation of Israel Antiquities Authority in Neveh Noy neighborhood of Beer Sheva.

A new study by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority shows that this site may have made the first use in the world of a revolutionary apparatus: the furnace!" For more click here:

An incredibly rare 2000-year old signet ring from the late Second Temple Period has been found in Jerusalem. The unique aspect to it? It has an image of Apollo. It's a reminder that Jerusalem wasn't only a religious Jewish city - it was more cosmopolitan, with - according to Josephus - a theater, amphitheater and other Roman buildings.

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