Tag Archives: Israel

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Upgraded & Expanded

A portion of the Isaiah Scroll, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A portion of the Isaiah Scroll, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library. The upgraded version provides 10,000 additional high resolution images as well as more supplementary texts to allow users to understand the material in context.

The new website also provides better search features, better explanations, additional translations in German and Russian, and more. The website continues to get updates and will become more robust as it progresses. If you would like to check it out, be sure to visit the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library. To learn more about the new features, check out the Israel Antiquities Press Release.

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Free Tel Aviv University MOOC: The Fall & Rise of Jerusalem

This Fall, Tel Aviv University will be offering a free MOOC about the period of Juda under Babylonian rule (the period of exile) during the 6th century. The course will be taught by Professors Oded Lipschits, Ph.D. and Ido Koch, Ph.D. The course description is as follows:

The period of the demise of the Kingdom of Judah at the end of the sixth century B.C.E., the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, the exile of the elite to Babylon, and the reshaping of the territory of the new province of Judah, culminating at the end of the century with the first return of exiles – all have been subjects of intense scrutiny in modern scholarship. This course takes into account the biblical textual evidence, the results of archaeological research, and the reports of the Babylonian and Egyptian sources and provides a comprehensive survey and analysis of the evidence for the history of this 100-year-long era. The course includes a detailed discussion by Prof. Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University, with guest lectures by leading scholars dealing with the archaeological and biblical aspects of this debated topic.

You can also see a video course description here:

As a MOOC, the course is offered entirely free of charge. To enroll in the course, please check out the Coursera page here. You can also learn more about the course and the professors leading it on this article by Biblical Archaeology Review.

Auschwitz Survivor Turns to Facebook to Find his Identical Twin

Birkenau_gateMenachem Bodern (born Eli Gottesman in the Ukraine) left Auchwitz on January 27, 1945 with an adopted father who took him to Israel. Now 73 years old, the survivor of the Third Reich’s most notorious death camp has turned to Facebook in the hopes of finding out what happened to his twin brother, Jeno Gottesman.

Equipped only with his faded Auschwitz ID number (A7733) and limited Nazi records, Menachem has sought assistance from Social Media to finally learn the fate of his identical twin brother. The search has turned up some promising but also disturbing news. Both boys were subject to twin testing by the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele (a fate that Menachem fortunately does not remember).  Additionally, he learned that he had a younger brother that died at Auschwitz along with their father. However, amongst the sad news there is also a ray of hope, that his brother Jeno was officially declared healthy and alive by medical staff at Auschwitz on February 9, 1945.

Menachem and his family have set up a facebook page, A7734 (the number given to his brother Josef). To learn more about his journey, please visit his page on Facebook and the story on CNN.

Google Makes Dead Sea Scrolls Available Online

Qumran cave 4, in which ninety percent of the scrolls were found. (courtesy of Wikimedia)

Qumran cave 4, in which ninety percent of the scrolls were found. (courtesy of Wikimedia)

Google paired with the Israel Antiquities Authority to publish the entirety of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls, primarily discovered in the 1940’s, are documents of both historical and religious significance. The scrolls, which date to the fourth and fifth centuries CE, are the earliest surviving copies of biblical and peri-biblical documents in existence.

“The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Library offers an exceptional encounter with antiquity. Using the world’s most advanced imaging technology, the Digital Library preserves thousands of scrolls fragments, including the oldest known copies of biblical texts, now accessible to the public for the first time.” — Statement on the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Library website.

Visitors can browse the collection by geography (archaeological site at which they were found), language (my Aramaic is a bit rusty I must admit), or by topic (scripture, history, etc). The collection includes detailed information on the history and provenance of the texts.

Who ‘Owns’ the Past? Israel & Palestine Battle Over Antiquities.

A few weeks ago, I highlighted an article in Biblical Archaeology Review in my article “Archaeology & the Holy Lands.” In the modern world, nothing embodies the battle of the ownership of the past than the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

As new peace talks are underway, including possible significant negotiations over territory and state lines, the issue of ‘ownership’ and material culture are yet again at the forefront.

Framing such ongoing and explosive disputes are long unresolved questions of borders and who owns cultural heritage. In principle, archaeology and cultural heritage, like other issues, were to be worked out in Israeli-Palestinian final status negotiations. Every round of peace talks failed though, before archaeology was ever seriously discussed. The heritage committee mandated by the Oslo Accords is non-existent; the void has helped maintain intractable Israeli and Palestinian positions and discouraged co-operation.

Antiquities in this region of the world do not only tie in with national and cultural pride, but for many people have a significant religious implications. Archaeologists, primarily in non-governmental institutions, are working behind the scenes to try to find compromises that protect and recognize the importance of the antiquities themselves – albeit unsuccessfully.

The Art Newspaper highlights this conflict in a well written article.