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Archaeology: 2016 – a year of proving God’s promises

The Gregorian calendar is fast drawing to a close summing up a year of discoveries in Israel in the field of archaeology that provide evidence of God’s promises and Jewish ties to Israel, their biblical and historic homeland.

Officials announced earlier this month the discovery of an almost 2000 year old coin from the time of the first Jewish-Roman War, found in Jerusalem. Sponsored by the City of David in conjunction with the Israel Antiquities Authority, an excavation was carried out on what is known as “the pilgrims’ road.” This was the main thoroughfare for Jewish pilgrims, stretching from the Pool of Siloam to The Temple Mount.

An employee of the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport found the coin which experts say is mintage 67 AD, during “The Great Revolt.” The coin bears distinct Jewish symbolism: one side imprinted with a vine leaf and the Hebrew words “the freedom of Zion” and the other side displaying a goblet with the Hebrew script “second year of the Great Revolt.”

Days before Hanukkah began an archaeological dig at the Tower of David in Jerusalem unearthed another ancient coin minted in Israel between 172 and 168 BC. That places the coin back to the time of the Maccabean Revolt that lasted from 167 to 160 BC. The timing of the find was uncanny as the coin bears the image of the Greek King Antiochus IV Epiphanes who called for the annihilation of the Jewish people. This paved the way for the Jewish rebellion spurred on by Judah Maccabee, subsequently leading to the liberation of the temple and to what is now celebrated as the holiday of Hanukkah.

Digging underneath a parking lot, also in Jerusalem, archaeologists found fragments of a limestone bowl, dating 2,100 years ago and bearing a Hebrew inscription, a common Hasmonean period name Hyrcanus. It is unknown if the vessel belonged to an ordinary civilian or a high-ranking official but in a press release, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Bar-Ilan University said the bowl is one of the earliest examples of chalk vessels like these to appear in Jerusalem. The fragments were found underneath the foundations of a mikvah, a ritual purification bath used by Jewish people of both genders since the time of the Mosaic Law. It is clear where the vessel was used and by whom over two millennia ago because according to the experts: “In the past, these vessels were widely used mainly by Jews because they ensured ritual purity.… They were considered vessels that cannot become ritually unclean.”

An underwater discovery has also provided some excitement for Haifa University researchers from the Coastal Archaeology Laboratory. During an archaeological dive in the Mediterranean 18 miles south of Haifa at Dor Nature Reserve, they came across a 1,300-lb. slab of rock with Greek inscriptions dating back to the Bar Kokhba revolt of the middle of the 2nd century. In the seven-line script there is mention of the name Gargilius Antiquus also stating that his position was governor of Judea. This is significant because revisionism erases the name Judea.

“The stone probably formed the base of a sculpture from the Roman period,” Professor Assaf Yasur-Landau, the University of Haifa archaeologist who led the excavation, said in an official statement. “As far as we know, this is the longest inscription found underwater in Israel.

“Immediately after the Bar Kokhba revolt, the Romans decided to abolish the province of Judea and to obliterate any mention of its name. The province was united with Syria to form a single province called Syria-Palestine, so what we have here is an inscription dated to just before Judea ceased to exist as a province under that name. Of the two inscriptions mentioning the name Judea, this is the latest, of course. Because such findings are so rare, it is unlikely that we will find many later inscriptions including the name Judea.”

I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:3

Israeli-born Dee Catz is a Jewish believer in Yeshua, happily married with children. She has an interest in cooking and baking and all things Biblical. History, Geography, and Archaeology are some of her favorite hobbies, as well as touring Israel's national parks and landmark sites with her family and friends. She has been contributing to Kehila News Israel since December 2015.

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