Weekly Summary: 7th - 13th February, 2023

Each week, Studies of Biblical Interest brings you a brief summary of the discoveries, news items, and advances across the fields on which we focus. If you have a story you'd like us to share, please email the details to editors@biblicaljournal.org.

A tiny gold bead dating back to 1,600 years ago has been discovered in a Roman-era building in the City of David. The bead, which was crafted using tiny golden balls, was part of a larger necklace or bracelet. The find is considered significant due to the complex technique used to create the composite shape, which is rarely seen. The building, believed to have belonged to a wealthy family, was located along the Pilgrimage Road in the City of David. Other finds from the building include imported vessels and mosaic floors.

A coin found in a cave in the West Bank has provided the first evidence to support historical accounts of Muslim refugees fleeing Mongol forces as they headed toward Egypt in the 13th century. The coin, which was one of 27 discovered in the cave, is dated to between 1242 and 1259, the year before the Mongols arrived. The cave, known as el-Janab, was explored from 2014 to 2017 as part of a joint survey project between Bar-Ilan and Ariel universities and Israel’s Staff Officer for Archaeology in Judea and Samaria. The cave may have sheltered as many as dozens of people during the late Persian/early Hellenistic period, and Jews during the First Jewish Revolt or the Bar Kochba Revolt. The finds from the Late Ayyubid and Early Mamluk periods, including the Mongol coin, speak of Muslims fleeing the Mongols and seeking shelter.

This article discusses the history and origins of the name YHWH, also known as the Tetragrammaton. William Tyndale translated the word into the name Jehovah in the 16th century but was unaware of the true pronunciation and meaning behind it. The true pronunciation of YHWH remains a topic of debate, with some believing it to be Yahweh. The origins of Yahweh worship is also uncertain. By the 10th century BCE, Yahweh had become a significant deity to the people of Israel and Judah.

In the author's book, Creating God: The Birth and Growth of Major Religions, they took a secular approach to examining how archaeology complements historical texts when looking at the creation and growth of major monotheisms. The author identified two themes in their research: the role that the absence of archaeology plays in our understanding and the impact that the archaeology of absence has on our understanding. In some contexts, the absence of evidence from decades of careful excavation can provide important information. For example, after the Islamic conquest of the Byzantine and Sasanian territories in the 7th century CE, the historical record suggested a major change to the lives and material culture of the conquered peoples, but archaeological research shows a lack of significant impact, with the continuation of pottery styles, synagogues and churches, and a slow and unforced transformation into Islamic culture. In other cases, such as at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, religious and political sensitivities have prevented excavation, leaving the deep history unclear.

Scientists have found evidence of the oldest tools made by early humans, called Oldowan tools, in Kenya. These tools are about 3 million years old and were found over 1,300 km from where similar tools had before been discovered in Ethiopia. The scientists also found evidence that these early humans hunted and ate animals, like hippopotamuses, and processed plants for food. They also found teeth from a related species of early humans called Paranthropus, which suggest they ate food that was rich in a certain type of carbon. This discovery shows that early humans were more widespread and capable of processing a variety of foods, including large animals, than before thought.