Travel: Secrets from the Byzantine city of Shivta

How did cities come to flourish in the Negev Desert? George Nash has gone in search of Shivta’s former glory. The Negev Desert of southern Israel holds many secrets from the distant past. Its landscape and environment are no longer what they were during the Byzantine period, which roughly extended from the 5th century AD […]

Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Israel’s church-shaped lantern: shedding light on the past

Archaeological work ahead of the construction of an events garden at Hamei Yoav, Israel, has uncovered an unusual church-shaped lantern, as well as a 1,500-year-old wine press. The rare artefact, comprising a ceramic model of a church decorated with cross-shaped ‘windows’ and a sloping roof, was found by the Israel Antiquities Authority during the investigation of […]


Mismatched objects

Clay cylinders from the Jordan Valley, traditionally interpreted as 8,000-year-old ritual ‘phallic objects’, have been reassessed as the earliest-known fire-drills. There is evidence for humans making fire up to a million years ago (see CWA 53), mostly limited to the remains of the fires themselves, but Prof. Naama Goren-Inbar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem […]


Canaanite cache discovered

Archaeologists from Tel Aviv University have discovered a 3,000-year-old hoard of jewellery while cleaning a prehistoric pot. The vessel was found in 2010 at Tel Meggido, an important Canaanite city-state in northern Israel, but remained uncleaned while awaiting molecular analysis of its contents. When conservators emptied the pot, however, they found a cache of well-preserved […]


Earliest Christian Arabic text

Archaeologists have discovered the only Crusader-period Christian inscription to be written in Arabic. The marble engraving, once part of the city wall at Jaffa in Israel, was long-believed to date to the Ottoman period (1517-1917). Now Professor Moshe Sharon and Ami Shrager, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have shown that the text, a unique […]


Paradise lost and found

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have uncovered an ancient royal garden at the site of Ramat Rachel, in the Judean Hills, some two miles from the Old City of Jerusalem. The site dates back to the 7th century BC, and is remarkable for its intricate irrigation system. Features include open channels and closed tunnels, stone […]


Feasting marks the start of the Neolithic

Archaeologists have found the remains of 71 tortoises and three wild cattle while excavating Hilazon Tachtit Cave, in Galilee, northern Israel. The remains date from 12,000 years ago and are believed to be the earliest evidence yet found for communal feasting. The meat from the tortoises alone would have fed at least 35 people, it […]

church of holy sepulchre

Holy Land In praise of crusader churches

In the morning of 15 July 1099, the starving knights of the First Crusade broke through Jerusalem’s defences and stormed the Holy City. Their victory was bloody, and its legacy profound: the foundation of a new Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem that endured for almost two centuries. While the capital shifted between Jerusalem, Tyre and Acre […]

Tomb of the Shroud: Latest News

The DNA of a man who died between 1 and 50 AD, and who was buried in a tomb on the edge of the Old City of Jerusalem, has revealed that he suffered from leprosy – the earliest proven case of the disease. In addition, the shroud in which the leprosy sufferer was buried provides […]


Elah city-fortress, Khirbet Qeiyafa

Five lines of faded characters written in ink and divided by black lines on a scrap of pottery measuring 15 by 15cm are being claimed as the earliest example of Hebrew text yet found.

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