Weekly Summary: 21st - 27th February, 2023

Every week, Studies of Biblical Interest provides a brief summary of significant discoveries, current affairs, and advancements in our specific areas of expertise. If you have a news story you would like us to showcase, please send the details to editors@biblicaljournal.org.

Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 3,700-year-old Phoenician seal impression in the ancient Canaanite temple of Nahariya in northern Israel. The 1.8cm pottery artifact depicts three waves that form a spiral and resembles expressions of Phoenician art. The discovery is evidence of the arrival of people from the northeastern Mediterranean to the Nahariya area and is a testament to maritime trade. The Phoenicians were a seafaring people who settled along the eastern Mediterranean shores from the third millennium BCE and left behind the Phoenician alphabet, which influenced the Greek, Latin, Arabic, Cyrillic, and Hebrew alphabets.

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of two brothers buried beneath the floor of a building in Megiddo, Israel. The brothers were elite members of society and lived during the Late Bronze Age. The remains show that both brothers had extensive bone remodeling consistent with chronic infectious disease, and one of them also had evidence of cranial trephination. The researchers propose that their elite status allowed them to endure the infectious disease, which they suggest was caused by a shared epigenetic landscape. The study suggests that the trephination procedure may have been used to treat deteriorating health, and that it was only accessible to selected individuals. Despite their elite status, the brothers were buried with the same rites as others in their community, demonstrating their continued integration in society even after death.

A family from Tzur Yitzhak in central Israel discovered a 1,400-year-old decorative clay figure while hiking through the hills south of Modiin. The artifact was the face of a candle holder dating back to the 6th-7th Century in the Byzantine era. The family contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority and handed over the artifact, which was collected by an archaeologist. Although not a rare find, the clay candle holder was considered a “fine” object, according to the IAA. Eli Eskosido, director of the IAA, thanked the family for their “act of good citizenship” and called on the public to report any ancient finds to the authority.

Ancient graves from the Roman period were desecrated at the Tel Kedesh historical site in Israel's Upper Galilee, with symbols and graffiti sprayed on them. Sarcophagi were among the vandalized property, and it is not the first instance of a crime being committed against Israel’s antiquities. Robbery of antiquities from different archaeological sites is a common phenomenon that could yield criminals a large profit. It also damages artifacts and causes irreversible damage. The police are working against antiquities thieves who are looting excavation sites and historical places in Israel.

Archaeologists in Saudi Arabia have discovered one of the longest inscriptions in Musnad, an ancient Arabian script, at the Al Ukhdud excavation site. The 7.5-foot-long and 1.5-foot-wide plaque is believed to have belonged to Wahib Eil bin Magan, a local water carrier whose biography is described in the carving. Three gold rings, a bronze bull's head, ceramic jars, and a pot were also uncovered at the site. The bull's head, which symbolised power, fertility, reproduction, wisdom, and divinity in pre-Islamic kingdoms of southern Arabia, is currently being restored.