Jewish Revolt Coins Discovered
During work on the expansion of the Jerusalem to Tel Aviv highway, a rescue dig by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) uncovered a previously unknown village of the Roman period. In the corner of one room a cache of 114 bronze coins was discovered. The coins are all dated to year four (69/70 CE) of the Jewish Revolt. They are all the same denomination of one-quarter or one-eighth shekel value, and must have been hidden just before the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, according to Pablo Betzer and Eyal Marco, directors of the dig. The coins are marked “Geulat Zion” on the obverse and show a lulav and citrons with date 4 on the reverse. The village, now called Hirbet Mazruk, was destroyed by the Romans, partly rebuilt and destroyed again at the Bar Kochba revolt seventy years later. It is planned to preserve the village remains as part of the landscape works beside the new highway.
Rare Roman Coin Found at Bethsaida
A bronze coin of the reign of Agrippa II, great-grandson of Herod the Great, was found at Bethsaida, the site on the north shore of Lake Kinneret, which is being dug under the direction of Rami Arav, who dates the coin to 85 CE. It was minted at Caesarea Maritima and has the head of Roman Emperor Domitian on one side and a palm tree on the reverse.
Ancient Game Board Found at Tel Gezer
An inscribed game board, about 25cm long × 6cm wide, with three counters and two dice was recently uncovered at Tel Gezer, a Solomonic site 25 km. south-east of Tel Aviv. In spite of continued rocket fire from Gaza, the mainly United States student volunteers have refused to leave and have continued work on the site, and jump into their excavation pits when the sirens wail, according to joint directors Steve Ortiz of SW Baptist Theological Seminary of Fort Worth, Texas and Sam Wolff of the IAA.
Threat of Erosion to Western Wall
A recent study at the Hebrew University has shown that the interstices between the stones of the outer wall of the Jerusalem Temple, the site known as the Western Wall, a major tourist and religious attraction, are causing unusually high erosion of the limestone blocks that make up the wall.
The cause was due to “rapid dissolution along micron-scale grain boundaries followed by mechanical detachment of tiny particles from the surface” according to the researchers.
They add that it may be possible to develop materials that bind the tiny crystals into the rock and thus counteract the rate of erosion. In contrast, the air of Jerusalem is rather dusty with particles of sand blowing in from the Judean desert, and my scientific advisor says that this leaves a grainy deposit on the buildings that generally helps to preserve the ancient stonework.
Death of the IAA Director-General, Joshua Dorfmann
On 31st July of this year Joshua (Shuka) Dorfmann passed away. He was aged 64 and had been Director-general of the IAA since 2000. He had been appointed from the Army, where he was the principal artillery officer of the Israel Defence Forces with the rank of brigadier. He had an MA degree from Haifa University in Political Science and in his time at the IAA he had organised a large expansion of rescue digs throughout the country. His position will be filled by his deputy Dr. Uzi Dahari, until a new Director General can be appointed.
Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg,
W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem