Posts Tagged With: Archaeology

Couple Finds 2,000-Year-Old Archaeological Treasures Under Their House

Love this article.

All rights belong to The Blaze, Sharona Schwartz, and Yahoo!

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The Blaze

Sharona Schwartz September 16, 2013 11:12 AM

When Miriam and Theo Siebenberg purchased a plot of land for their new home in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City that Israel had just a few years before captured from Jordan, they had no idea of the antiquity treasures dating back from Jesus’ time and before that lay underneath.

Before the Siebenbergs built their house in a neighborhood where archaeological finds were regularly cropping up, Israeli Department of Antiquities inspectors examined the site, but found nothing of historical significance that would have stopped construction.

.The Couple That Found 2,000 Year Old Archaeological Treasures under Their House

Siebenberg-Museum-Tazpit

Descending into history at the Siebenberg House (Photos Credit: Tzuriel Cohen-Arazi/Tazpit News Agency)

In 1970, they moved into the new home and were soon to discover how wrong the inspectors had been.

At the time, archaeologists from the Hebrew University were excavating all around the Jewish Quarter.

“I went over one day and asked the archaeologists if they had checked the area where my house was,” Theo Siebenberg told the New York Times in 1985. “They said they had and that they were sure nothing was there.”

But to Siebenberg, that answer didn’t seem right.

“I would stand here and picture myself in the Second Temple Period. The temple was just over there,” he told the Times, pointing to the nearby Western Wall, the most holy site in Judaism. “Why wouldn’t Jews have built here then? Every inch of land near the Temple must have been very valuable.”

.The Couple That Found 2,000 Year Old Archaeological Treasures under Their House

Siebenberg-House-Digging

The enormously challenging digging project in the early 1970s (Photo courtesy: Siebenberg family)

So he took matters into his own hands. He approached the engineers who had built his new house, asking if he and his wife could conduct an archaeological dig underneath. They told him that if an excavation upset the stability of the land, it could cause the neighborhood to slide down the hill.

Still, he didn’t give up.

Engineers came up with a pricey plan to construct a restraining wall held down by steel anchors which would secure his neighbors’ homes. A wealthy man, Siebenberg was able to fund the project independently, according to media accounts 30 years ago, and to guarantee his neighbors that he would pay for any damage the dig might inflict on their homes.

So the wall was built and the Siebenbergs were able to embark on their treasure hunt. They hired a team of architects, engineers, archaeologists, laborers and even donkeys to bring the rubble up from down below.

It was only after eight months of digging that they found their first artifact, a bronze key ring from the era of the Second Temple which may have been used as a key to a jewelry box.

.The Couple That Found 2,000 Year Old Archaeological Treasures under Their House

Siebenberg-Second-Temple-Era-Ring-Tazpit

The first find: a bronze key ring from the Second Temple period (Photos Credit: Tzuriel Cohen-Arazi, Tazpit News Agency)

Soon after, they came across an abundance of ancient archaeological treasures. Among them: the wall of a 2,000-year-old home, two mikvehs (Jewish ritual baths), arrowheads possibly used by Jews defending themselves from the Romans, a Byzantine water cistern, an ivory pen and an ink well. Encouraged by their finds, they dug further. Sixty feet below, they found empty burial chambers believed to be at least 2,600 years old, dated to the First Temple.

“The Siebenberg excavation is not only a monument to determination and plain bull-headedness, but an engineering and structural marvel,” wrote Biblical Archaeology Review in a 1982 article about the project.

.The Couple That Found 2,000 Year Old Archaeological Treasures under Their House

Siebenberg-Arrowhead

Arrowheads on display at the Siebenberg House (Photo courtesy: Siebenberg family)

After digging for 18 years, they converted the lower levels of their house to a museum where visitors can view the ancient treasures and descend into the excavation to feel what it was like to dig into ancient history.

For Theo, the project was motivated by his personal quest to find his roots. At age 13, he was forced to flee Belgium to escape the Nazis. After moving around Europe and eventually to the U.S., he felt he was missing a connection with Jewish history. His wife Miriam tells TheBlaze that he dedicated his life to finding a true home he felt he had lost in Europe.

The project “was motivated by wanting to find his roots. My husband was born in Antwerp. He felt like a boy without a home. He was searching for a spiritual home,” Miriam says.

“All of the investment and the dedication and effort were aimed at finding the home he was looking for his whole life. That was the idea, finding the historical continuity,” she adds.

The Siebenbergs decided to one day donate the museum and its contents to the Israeli public. They have set up a non-profit organization for that purpose.

You can view many more photos of the museum and collection on their Facebook page.

(H/T: Tazpit News Agency)

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Massive Submerged Structure in Sea of Galilee

My boss brought this to my attention and I thought it was worth sharing. I will go back to posting updates from my trips this weekend. Needed a break for a bit.

All rights belong to the Daily News

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Massive submerged structure in Sea of Galilee stumps Israeli archaeologists

A massive circular structure at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee has puzzled Israeli researchers who have been unable to excavate it. Now archaeologists are trying to raise money to allow them access to the submerged structure, which is made of boulders and stones.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Friday, May 24, 2013, 2:00 PM

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File - In this April 14, 2011 file photo, a boat is by the jetty of the Capernaum National Park in the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.  The monumental structure, made of boulders and stones with a diameter of 70 meters, was found through a sonar scan at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee in 2003. Now, archaeologists are beginning to put together grant proposals and funding requests in a bid to permit them access to the submerged stones.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

Bernat Armangue/AP

A boat on the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. A massive structure, made of boulders and stones with a diameter of 230 feet was found through a sonar scan at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee in 2003.

The massive circular structure appears to be an archaeologist’s dream: a recently discovered antiquity that could reveal secrets of ancient life in the Middle East and is just waiting to be excavated.

It’s thousands of years old — a conical, manmade behemoth weighing hundreds of tons, practically begging to be explored.

The problem is — it’s at the bottom of the biblical Sea of Galilee. For now, at least, Israeli researchers are left stranded on dry land, wondering what finds lurk below.

The monumental structure, made of boulders and stones with a diameter of 230 feet, emerged from a routine sonar scan in 2003. Now archaeologists are trying to raise money to allow them access to the submerged stones.

“It’s very enigmatic, it’s very interesting, but the bottom line is we don’t know when it’s from, we don’t know what it’s connected to, we don’t know its function,” said Dani Nadel, an archaeologist at the University of Haifa who is one of several researchers studying the discovery. “We only know it is there, it is huge and it is unusual.”

Archaeologists said the only way they can properly assess the structure is through an underwater excavation, a painstakingly slow process that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And if an excavation were to take place, archaeologists said they believed it would be the first in the Sea of Galilee, an ancient lake that boasts historical remnants spanning thousands of years and is the setting of many Bible scenes.

In contrast, Israeli researchers have carried out many excavations in the Mediterranean and Red Seas.

Much of the researchers’ limited knowledge about this structure comes from the sonar scan a decade ago.

Initial dives shortly after that revealed a few details. In an article in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology published earlier this year, Nadel and fellow researchers disclosed it was asymmetrical, made of basalt boulders and that “fish teem around the structure and between its blocks.”

The cone-shaped structure is found at a depth of between three and nine and 40 feet beneath the surface, about 1,600 feet from the sea’s southwestern shore. Its base is buried under sediment.

The authors conclude the structure is man-made, made of stones that originated nearby, and it weighs about 60,000 tons. The authors write it “is indicative of a complex, well-organized society, with planning skills and economic ability.”

The rest is a mystery.

Yitzhak Paz, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority who is involved in the project, said that based on sediment buildup, it is between 2,000 and 12,000 years old, a vast range that tells little about it. Based on other sites and artifacts found in the region, Paz places the site’s origin some time during the 3rd millennium B.C., or about 5,000 years ago, although he admits the timeframe is just a guess.

“The period is hard for us to determine. No scientific work was carried out there, no excavations, no surveys. We have no artifacts from the structure,” Paz said.

Archaeologists were also cautious about guessing the structure’s purpose. They said possibilities include a burial site, a place of worship or even a fish nursery, which were common in the area, but they said they wanted to avoid speculation because they have so little information.

It’s not even clear if the structure was built on shore when the sea stood at a low level, or if it was constructed underwater. Paz reckons it was built on land, an indication of the sea’s low level at the time.

In order to fill in the blanks, archaeologists hope to inspect the site underwater, despite the expense and the complexities.

Nadel noted that working underwater demands not only a skill such as scuba diving, but also labor-intensive excavations that are particularly difficult in the Sea of Galilee, which already has low visibility and where any digging can unleash a cloud of sediment and bury what’s just been uncovered.

Also, divers can remain under water only for a limited amount of time every day and must choose the best season that can provide optimal conditions for excavating.

“Until we do more research, we don’t have much more to add,” Nadel said. “It’s a mystery, and every mystery is interesting.”

Here’s another article. All rights belong to Scotsman.com:

Mystery of giant structure under Sea of Galilee

Sonar of the mysterious object. Picture: compSonar of the mysterious object. Picture: comp

Published on 24/05/2013 08:28

Archaeologists are keen to explore a massive structure which was discovered beneath the biblical Sea of Galilee near Israel, which could reveal the secrets of ancient life in the Middle East.

The mysterious object, said to have a diameter of around 230 metres, is a large circular conical shape and was initially discovered in 2003, but scientists are looking to explore the area on the seabed in what would be an expensive feat.

Constructed from giant boulders, the unknown structure has archaeologists and historians stumped, as the area features several times in various biblical tales.

Estimates have put the age of the structure anywhere between 2000, and 12,000 years old, and is indicative of a highly organised society.

A sonar sweep in 2003 showed the monument, but it is thought that an underwater excavation would be the only way to learn more about it, a process which could prove lengthy and expensive.

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Gate to Hell Discovered in Turkey

Scientists reportedly discover gate to hell

By Claudine Zap

It sounds like something out of a horror movie. But Italian scientists say that the “Gate to Hell” is the real deal—poisonous vapors and all.

The announcement of the finding of the ruins of Pluto’s Gate (Plutonium in Latin) at an archeology conference in Turkey last month, was recently reported by Discovery News. Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy, who has been excavating the ancient Greco-Roman World Heritage Site of Hierapolis for years, led the research team.

D’Andria told Discovery News he used ancient mythology as his guide to locate the legendary portal to the underworld. “We found the Plutonium by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring. Indeed, Pamukkale’ springs, which produce the famous white travertine terraces originate from this cave.”

Scribes like Cicero and the Greek geographer Strabo mentioned the gate to hell as located at the ancient site in Turkey, noted Discovery, but nobody had been able to find it until now.

“Pluto’s Gate” has been documented in the Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, which noted in its description of ancient Hierapolis, “Adjoining the temple on the SE is the Plutoneion, which constituted the city’s chief claim to fame. It was described by Strabo as an orifice in a ridge of the hillside, in front of which was a fenced enclosure filled with thick mist immediately fatal to any who entered.”

Strabo (64 B.C.- 24 B.C.) wrote, “This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.”

The portal to the underworld seems just as bad for your health today. The professor said, “We could see the cave’s lethal properties during the excavation. Several birds died as they tried to get close to the warm opening, instantly killed by the carbon dioxide fumes.”

According to Discovery News, the fumes emanated from a cave below the site, which includes ionic columns with inscriptions to Pluto and Kore, gods of the underworld. Also discovered: the remains of a temple, and a pool and stairs placed above the cave. D’Andria is now working on a digital rendering of the site.

Amazingly, this isn’t the first entry to the underworld in the world. In the Karakum Desert, reports the Daily Mail, a fiery pit that’s been lit up for over 40 years has inspired visitors to Derweze in Turkmenistan—and on the Web. Geologists drilling in the area came across a natural gas cavern. Hoping to burn off the gas, they set it on fire. The flames continued to burn, leading locals to dub the site the “door to hell.”

Digital reconstruction of “Pluto’s Gate” (Francesco D’Andria)

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