Ethics, Archaeology, and Open Access

By: Eric Kansa

The issue of open access to scholarly works recently gained renewed attention following the tragic suicide of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist charged with felony computer and intellectual property crimes involving the mass download of articles from JSTOR. ASOR uses JSTOR as a repository for the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR) and Near Eastern Archaeology (NEA)*.

Eric Kansa, a member of ASOR and the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) wrote the following opinion piece regarding the implications of Swartz’s death for scholarly communications in archaeology. The following reposts Eric’s discussion and a response from Fred Limp, President of the SAA. Both were originally posted here:
http://www.alexandriaarchive.org/blog/?p=891 and here: http://www.alexandriaarchive.org/blog/?p=899

Eric directs Open Context, an open data publication service for archaeology. He originally discussed open access issues in NEA (2007) with his colleagues Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Jason Schultz. He also co-edited (with Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Ethan Watrall) Archaeology 2.0, an open access book about new modes of scholarly communication published with the Cotsen Institute Press (UCLA). His most recent contributions exploring open access in archaeology are published in a special of World Archaeology (2012) edited by Mark Lake, and in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies (in press). Continue reading

“Jonah” Ossuary Discussed in Print in 1981

By Eric M. Meyers and Christopher Rollston, ASOR Blog Guest Editors for March 2012

It has come to the attention of the ASOR Blog that a newspaper article about the so-called “Patio Tomb” in East Talpiyot was published in Hebrew in DAVAR on May 22, 1981 (this tomb has also been called “Talpiyot Tomb B”). The article was entitled, “Haredim Prevent Removal of Ossuaries from Ancient Tomb,” written by the late archaeologist and journalist, Zvi Ilan. Within the article, Ilan notes that religious extremists prevented the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in 1981 from excavating the tomb. Although Amos Kloner (the excavator for the IAA) wished to excavate the tomb, he was not permitted do to so, nor was he even permitted to remove artifacts from the tomb (although he managed to remove a small ossuary belonging to a child). In fact, he was forced to abandon his attempt to write a full scientific report. Kloner’s incomplete report is mentioned briefly in Tabor and Jacobovici’s book.

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PHILOLOGY, ‘MARA,’ AND THE ‘JESUS DISCOVERY’ BOOK AND DOCUMENTARY

 By Dr. Christopher A. Rollston, Toyozo Nakarai Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Emmanuel Christian Seminary, Tennessee

 INTRODUCTION[1]

Recently I have posted on the blog of the American Schools of Oriental Research my readings, and some plausible renderings into English, of the four-line (fourteen letter) Greek inscription from Talpiyot, along with images visually demonstrating that this inscription does not refer to “Yahweh” (i.e., the tetragrammaton), but rather to “bones.”  Thus, this inscription is just the sort of thing that is well attested in Late Second Temple and Early Post-Biblical funerary contexts (here is this article: http://asorblog.org/?p=1989 ).  Continue reading

A Response to Chris Rollston’s Reading of the Ossuary from Talpiot Tomb B

By: H. Gregory Snyder, Professor of Religion, Davidson College

Back in October, James Tabor invited me to join in a conversation that was underway between himself, Richard Bauckham, and Jim Charlesworth. Tabor submitted eleven photos of the ossuary bearing the four-line inscription for our inspection, and all of us engaged in a lengthy debate about possible readings.

For the record, Bauckham and I were not given the so-called Jonah image until later, when the people at the Discovery Channel forwarded an advance copy of the film for our scholarly comment. At that time, I expressed the opinion that the figure on that ossuary represents an amphora or a vessel of some kind, however non-standard, and cannot be taken as an image of Jonah, and nothing has occurred to dissuade me from that judgment. I say this to make it clear that in nearly all matters of consequence, I do not share the conclusions presented in the book or the film. But James Tabor has been forthcoming and above-board in all our exchanges, and we have enjoyed a productive conversation.

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THE FOUR-LINE GREEK INSCRIPTION FROM A TALPIYOT TOMB: EPIGRAPHIC NOTES AND HISTORICAL DISCUSSIONS

Christopher A. Rollston, Toyozo Nakarai Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Emmanuel Christian Seminary

Introduction

The publication of a four-line Greek inscription from a tomb in East Talpiyot (Jerusalem) has generated substantial interest, especially because of the dramatic claims surrounding it (Tabor and Jacobovici 2012).  James Tabor has argued that this inscription reads as follows: “DIOS IAIO UPSŌ AGB.”  He translates it as “Divine Jehovah Lift up, Lift up.” He believes this to be a Christian tomb (in fact, he states that it is arguably that of Joseph of Arimathea) and that this inscription is to be understood as reflective of an early Christian confession of a belief in the resurrection (and he has also argued that some of the ornamentation on a different ossuary from the same tomb is distinctively Christian).  Continue reading

SOME CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT THE ICTHYOMORPHIC DRAWING ON OSSUARY 6:3 FROM EAST TALPIOT TOMB (TALPIOT B OR “PATIO” TOMB), IN JERUSALEM

Juan V. Fernández de la Gala, Forensic Anthropologist and Zooarchaeologist, Associate Professor of History of Medicine, Universidad de Cádiz, Spain, delagala@telefonica.net

SUMMARY: Professor Tabor’s team has recently explored a first century Jewish tomb found in Jerusalem. One of the ossuaries showed a nicely carved icthyomorphic design on its front façade that Professor Tabor interpreted as Jonah’s whale and suggested that it was related to the closest followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

The finding has provoked an increasing interest in mass and professional media. In the last days, some archaeologists have already questioned Tabor’s interpretation and its consequences. Dr. Fernández de la Gala, professor of History of Medicine at the University of Cádiz (Spain), a forensic anthropologist interested in zoological symbolism in funerary contexts, has analyzed and discussed the case and proposes that a reasonable  interpretation of the drawing is that is a funerary neck amphora instead, as other scholars have also indicated.

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The Four-Line Ossuary Inscription from Talpiyot Tomb B – an Interpretation

Richard Bauckham, www.richardbauckham.co.uk

Preamble: I should first explain that in the autumn of 2011 I took part in a lengthy email correspondence about this inscription with James Tabor, Greg Snyder and Jim Charlesworth. It was a profitable conversation in which we made real progress in both reading and interpreting the inscription, though we certainly did not reach full agreement, especially on the interpretation. (Tabor’s references to me in footnotes to his article, ‘A Preliminary Report …,’ recently published on the internet, reflect that conversation.) We were all bound by a non-disclosure agreement until last week, when the material was made public. At that time Greg Snyder and I had not seen the so-called ‘Jonah’ image and we did not discuss it until much more recently and then much more briefly. Our efforts were focused intensively on the inscription, for which we had the benefit of a number of photos, not only those that have now been published in the book (Tabor and Jacobovici 2012) and on the internet. My own interpretation of the inscription developed through that conversation, but I have modified it very recently (so that some of my argument in what follows is not already known to Tabor, Snyder and Charlesworth).

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The Talpiot Tomb and the Beatles

By: Mark Goodacre, Dept of Religion, Duke University

The current discussion of Talpiot Tomb B, the “patio tomb”, has largely centered on the interpretation of the picture on one of the ossuaries.  But Tabor’s and Jacobovici’s argument that this tomb is linked with Jesus and his disciples is related to their earlier claims about Talpiot Tomb A, the “garden tomb”.  The case that this is the Jesus family tomb was made in 2007 in a book, a film and a website.[i]  It was largely based on a claim about statistics — this cluster of names, bearing so close a relationship to the names of members of Jesus’ family, was most unlikely to have occurred by accident. Continue reading

A Reply from Prof. Tabor—A Jonah Fish Image or a Tower Tomb Monument?

James D. Tabor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

 I want to thank ASOR’s executive director Andy Vaughn, guest editors Eric Meyers and Christopher Rollston, and participating colleagues, for devoting time and space to a special consideration of the ideas expressed in the non-specialist book, The Jesus Discovery as well as the more technical paper I have published at the web site The Bible and Interpretation, “A Preliminary Report of an Exploration of a Sealed 1st Century Tomb in East Talpiot, Jerusalem” during the month of March. Whether damned or praised—and so far there has been much more of the former than the latter—it is an honor to have ones ideas considered by colleagues. Continue reading

Prof. Robin Jensen Refutes Any Claim that She Concurs with the Interpretation in “The Jesus Discovery”

From Prof. Robin Jensen, Vanderbilt University

In December, 2010, I was asked to participate in a National Geographic film project that—I was led to believe—would investigate the image of Jonah in early Christian art. I was asked to fly to Rome in January in order to be filmed in the catacombs and comment on the figure of Jonah as it appeared in the iconographic décor of those underground cemeteries. It was made clear that my expertise in ancient Christian art, especially in regard to representations of Jonah, was the reason for this invitation.
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On ‘Absalom’s Tomb’ in Jerusalem and Nephesh Monument Iconography: A Response to Jacobovici and Tabor by Robert Cargill

By:
Robert R. Cargill (robert-cargill@uiowa.edu)
Assistant Professor of Classics and Religious Studies, The University of Iowa

Images of the 'Tomb of Absalom' (1 C. CE Jerusalem) flank an image carved into a burial ossuary.

Images of the 'Tomb of Absalom' (1 C. CE Jerusalem) flank an image carved into an ossuary. Photo credits: Left: Brian796 (http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/brian796/2/1264692913/the-tomb-of-absalom.jpg/tpod.html). Center: MSNBC Cosmic Log (http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/27/10521007-new-find-revives-jesus-tomb-flap) Right: Ariel Horowitz on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Avtomb.JPG).

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Reflections of an Epigrapher on Talpiyot Tombs A and B: A Detailed Response to the Claims of Professor James Tabor and Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici

Professor Christopher A. Rollston (crollston@ecs.edu) Professor of Semitic Studies, Emmanuel Christian Seminary

I. THE CLAIMS OF TABOR AND JACOBOVICI: THE NEW BOOK[1]

Here are the basic claims of James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici: “Talpiyot Tomb B contained several ossuaries, or bone boxes, two of which were carved with an iconic image and a Greek inscription.  Taken together, the image and the inscription constitute the earliest archaeological evidence of faith in Jesus’ resurrection.”  They go on and state that these ossuaries “also provide the first evidence in Jerusalem of the people who would later be called ‘Christians.’  In fact, it is possible, maybe even likely, that whoever was buried in this tomb knew Jesus and heard him preach.” Continue reading

Brief Reflections of an Epigrapher on Talpiyot Tombs A and B

Professor Christopher A. Rollston, Emmanuel Christian Seminary

Much can, and no doubt will, be said about the proposal (and new volume) of Professor James Tabor and Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici that Jesus of Nazareth was married to a woman of Magdala named Mary, that they had a son named “Judas” and that their tomb has been found in East Talpiyot (Jerusalem).  Of course, this all started several years ago with the same individuals proposing the same basic thing about a tomb dubbed “Talpiyot Tomb A.”  Recently, these same scholars investigated a tomb that they have dubbed “Talpiyot Tomb B,” and they believe that this new tomb demonstrates the veracity of their previous conclusions. Continue reading

Archaeology, Bible, Politics and the Media: Duke “Office Hours” with Professors Carol and Eric Meyers

Drawing on their decades of experience on archaeological digs in Israel, Duke University Professors Carol and Eric Meyers take questions from online viewers about the charged combination of archaeology, the Bible, politics and the news media, during an “Office Hours” conversation September 1, 2011. Learn more at http://www.dukeofficehours.com.

Archaeology in the News

Here are some links to recent news from the world of Archaeology!

  • It looks like the artifacts in the Cairo museum are now being protected, but not all of them.
  •  Here is an interesting YouTube video of the looting at the Cairo museum.  
  • Other sites around Egypt need protecting as well.
  • The preservation of Babylon made the New York Times.
  • A pilgrim road has been uncovered in Israel.  Super Bowl feasts may have their origin in preagricultural peoples.
  • A sealed jar has been discovered at Qumran.
  • Berlin’s Pergamon museum has restored Tell Halaf Artifacts devastated during World War Two.
  • Recently discovered artifacts suggest and earlier human exit from Africa than previously thought.
  • A Roman Legion lost in China?
  • Lots left to discover at Göbekli Tepe.
  • Subterranean chamber discovered in Syria.
  • Don’t forget to check out ASOR’s most recent digital content on the Dig-it-al website!

If you find something interesting on the internet that you would like to share, please email the link to asorpubs@bu.edu.

ASOR 2010 Annual meeting featured in Science Magazine

The 2010 ASOR annual meeting has been featured in a “Meetings Brief” in Science Magazine. The conference report by Andrew Lawler summarize papers or sessions on research projects headed up by Israel Finkelstein and Steve Weiner, Greg Mumford, and Roy King. Check out the following links for summaries of the reports (full download require access to Science):

  • http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6010/1472.1.summary
  • http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6010/1472.2.short
  • http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6010/1473.short

As a reminder, new session proposals and individual paper proposals are currently being accepted for the 2011 ASOR annual meeting to be held Nov. 16-19 in San Francisco, CA. The deadline for new session proposals is December 15, 2010. The deadline for individual paper proposals is February 15, 2011. Details on session proposals and individual proposals can be found at the following URL:

    http://www.asor.org/am/call-for-papers.html

More Rebuttals of the “Discovery” of Noah’s Ark

Tim Harrison on CTV: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20100429/noahs-ark-found-100429/20100429?hub=CanadaAMV2

Eric Cline on Fox News: http://video.foxnews.com/v/4171840/wheres-the-actual-site

Eric Cline in Time Magazine: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1985830,00.html

Robert Cargill at RobertCargill: http://robertcargill.com/2010/04/28/no-you-didnt-find-noahs-ark/

Riddles of the Sphinx on PBS

Posted by T. Barako
For over 4000 years, the Great Sphinx at Giza has puzzled all who have laid eyes on it. What is this crouching lion, human-headed creature? Who built it and why? To unlock its secrets, two teams of archaeologists and sculptors must immerse themselves in the world of ancient Egypt—a land of pharaohs and pyramids, animal gods and human sacrifice, and sun worship and solar alignments.

Watch Providence Pictures’ “Riddles of the Sphinx” on Tuesday, January 19 at 8:00 pm ET on PBS/NOVA (check local listings).

And visit www.providencepictures.com for bonus scenes not available anywhere else and to sign up for future announcements.