Archive for September 2009

Ritual Bath Discovered Near the Western Wall

September 23, 2009

A ritual bath, or mikveh, has been uncovered only 20 meters from the Western Wall. This mikveh must have served the many pilgrims who came to Jerusalem and purified themselves before ascending to the Temple Mount.

According to the IAA:

In his book The War of the Jews, Josephus Flavius writes there was a government administrative center that was situated at the foot of the Temple. Among the buildings he points out in this region were the council house and the “Xistus”- the ashlar bureau. According to the Talmud it was in this bureau that the Sanhedrin – the Jewish high court at the time of the Second Temple – would convene. It may be that the superb structure the Israel Antiquities Authority is presently uncovering belonged to one of these two buildings.

This discovery is only the beginning of the excavation of this structure and chances are there are more surprises to come.

Shana Tova from the IAA

September 21, 2009

The Israel Antiquities Authority has posted an online presentation of holiday symbols from antiquity. Included are menorahs, lulavs, pomegranates and the Temple. The artifacts span the period from King David through the Byzantine period.

Click here to view the presentation.

Portrait of Alexander the Great

September 15, 2009

According to the University of Haifa:

A rare and surprising archaeological discovery at Tel Dor: A gemstone engraved with the portrait of Alexander the Great was uncovered during excavations by an archaeological team directed by Dr. Ayelet Gilboa of the University of Haifa and Dr. Ilan Sharon of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Despite its miniature dimensions – the stone is less than a centimeter high and its width is less than half a centimeter – the engraver was able to depict the bust of Alexander on the gem without omitting any of the ruler’s characteristics” notes Dr. Gilboa, Chair of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Haifa. “The emperor is portrayed as young and forceful, with a strong chin, straight nose and long curly hair held in place by a diadem.”

Amazingly, archaeologists have been digging at Tel Dor for 30 years! Dor was a major port city until Caesarea replaced it during the Roman period. Alexander the Great passed through Dor on his way from Tyre to Egypt in 332 BCE.

Long-Lost Relatives Find Each Other Through Yad Vashem

September 7, 2009

An amazing story of a family’s reunification is being told on the Yad Vashem website. A woman doing research for her son’s bar mitzvah project found a picture of her great-grandfather on the Yad Vashem website. Since neither she nor anyone in her family had uploaded this picture she set out to find out who did and found a whole family of cousins living in Israel.

An excerpt from the article:

“Cynthia Wroclowaski, Outreach Manager of Yad Vashem’s Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project, arranged a special visit for the family to Yad Vashem. On August 31, 2009, the two families had an emotional reunion at Yad Vashem that included a moving memorial ceremony in the Synagogue. The family recited the names of relatives murdered in the Shoah, celebrated the new ones they had found, and marked the occasion of Matthew’s Bar Mitzvah in the city of Jerusalem.”