“See the place where they laid Him”

We blogged about the excavation of what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  When the marble cladding was removed over the place where the body would have been laid, there was a layer of debris.  Under that was another marble covering.  The researchers removed that, exposing the original limestone burial slab.

The researchers only had permission to study the slab for a short time, but they collected and recorded all the data they could.  They continue to study the rest of the tomb.  They have determined that the site, which also encloses six other rock tombs, was, in fact, a Jewish cemetery at the time of Jesus.

After the jump, read the latest details.  And click the link for PICTURES.  (They are copyrighted by National Geographic, so I’d better not copy them here.)
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Excavating the empty tomb

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is traditionally considered to be the site of Christ’s tomb from which He rose from the dead.  That claim is actually well-attested by historians.

In the course of a restoration project in the church, workers have removed the marble covering that had been installed in 1555 over the place where Jesus’s body supposedly had been laid.  They found a rock surface that is apparently the “burial shelf” that is a feature of ancient Jewish tombs.  Archaeologists plan to excavate the site.

Some of the evidence that supports the church as the site of Christ’s tomb is that the building, erected over an ancient stone quarry, has been found to enclose other tombs of the period.  This one is empty.

Details after the jump, with pictures at the link. [Read more…]

Hezekiah’s toilet

Archaeologists have excavated a site identified with the rule of Hezekiah.  It includes a shrine with horned altars with the horns knocked off.  Also in the shrine:  a stone latrine.  Scientists have determined that it had never been used, so it was apparently put in just to desecrate the shrine.

This would seem to be evidence of Hezekiah’s crackdown on idolatrous worship.  In fact, there is a Biblical text about it:

“Then they demolished the pillar of Baal, and destroyed the temple of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day” (2 Kings 10:27).

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Proof of literacy in Bible days

Liberal scholars arguing for a late date for the texts of the Old Testament say that the Hebrews couldn’t have been literate until after the Babylonian exile.  (Circular reasoning, anyone?)  But archaeologists have discovered a trove of letters written on pottery from a remote military installation.  They are dated around 600 B.C., shortly before Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem.   The 18 letters come from at least six different writers, showing that even ordinary soldiers of the day could read and write. [Read more…]

3rd century fragment of John’s gospel offered on eBay

A priceless fragment of the Greek New Testament, a text from St. John’s gospel, was discovered on eBay, with an opening bid of $99.  (Similar texts have sold for $500,000.)  A relative of a deceased Bible scholar and collector came into possession of the document, not really knowing what he had.  Another scholar saw the eBay offering, contacted the seller, and persuaded him to pull the auction and make it available for study.  It turns out that the fragment is especially significant because it appears to come from a scroll, whereas all other ancient New Testament texts are from the book-like pages of a codex. [Read more…]

The seal of Hezekiah discovered

Archaeologists have discovered the seal of King Hezekiah near the Temple Mount.  It is a small piece of clay bearing the imprint of a ring, inscribed with various symbols and the words  “Belonging to Hezekiah, [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah.”  The seal must have been placed on a document ratified by the king’s ring, on the finger of a Biblical hero, one of Judah’s most godly rulers. [Read more…]