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.
A recent find by archaeologists during a tomb exploration in Jerusalem uncovered what could be the earliest archaeological evidence for Christianity in Jerusalem. One ossuary, an object similar to a coffin or sarcophagus, contains a four line Greek Inscription that refers to God “raising up” someone. An ossuary next to it depicts an inscription of an individual in the mouth of a large fish – perhaps a reference to the Biblical figure Jonah, akin to other examples of early Christian art.
The ossuaries have been sent to the Israeli State Collection and are waiting authentication. If the ossuaries prove to be authentic (there are many fakes, most famous the Jesus Ossuary and the James Brother of Jesus Ossuary), then they would represent (by centuries) the earliest evidence for Christianity. The objects would predate the gospels by centuries.
The Holy Sepulchre is one of the most revered location in all of early Christian History. It is recognized by many Christians as the site of the resurrection of Christ. A virtual 3D tour has been produced by 360tr (an organization in Turkey). It’s an excellent piece. You can view different areas of the church and surrounding area, pan, zoom, and examine from different angles. Check it out here.
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.