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For 800 years of the early Church's history, Pilgrims and Crusaders, made extended journeys to the Holy Land, returned to Europe with religious items they believed had supernatural powers. Nothing seemed too inconsequential to them so long as it had a religious connection; thus even dust from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over Jesus' alleged tomb, was worthy of veneration. Only in the thirteenth century, when the Eucharist and its powerful symbolism became central to Christian faith, did the obsession with relics subside. The Holy Land tells the story of their findings, together with the discoveries of many other travellers, pilgrims and explorers, who ventured to this land and whose revelations have added to the fascination of this area.… (mer)

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Looks at the history, geography, and ancient cultures of the Holy Land, describes modern archeological techniques, and looks at the ruins and artifacts of the region's various ancient cultures
  riselibrary_CSUC | Jun 4, 2020 |
Great pictures. Discusses the archaeological work in Palestine. Special sections on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Masada, and Jerusalem. ( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
Excavators working in 2,600 year old tombs in Jerusalem in 1983, found a silver scroll case used in the 7th century BC with the characters yod-he-waw-he. This is the oldest Tetragrammaton yet found, and no other had ever been found on an archealological object in Jerusalem.[14]

The oldest scripture is from the Dead Sea Scrolls, dated only to 150 BC. This scroll contained the verses from Numbers: "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."
Now we now that people have been uttering this blessing in Jerusalem for 2,600 years. [15]

It remains controversial how much Biblical/Torah text is "historical". A lot of archeology is simply beyond the scriptural narrative. [16]

Jericho was one of the worlds' first fixed settlements, and its stone tower, one of the oldest examples of monumental architecture. [17] "Almost alone among ancient national histories, the Bible recounts defeats as well as victories" in a region of almost nonstop turbulence. Through these trials, the Israelites believed that Jahweh had made a covenant with them.

In AD 324, a general in the Roman army became emperor and made Christianity the state religion. Emperor Constantine's mother, Helena, traveled to the Holy Land to find the places where Jesus lived. [18] Each site she found, with divine help, was commemorated with a grand basilica. Palestine became sacred ground.

Islamic armies overran the area in AD 638. Where the Jewish Temple once stood, the Muslims built a mosque, the Dome of the Rock. [18] Beginning in the 11th century and continuing into the 13th, Christian knights tried to reclaim the Holy Land, but the attempts repeatedly failed. As Islamic control solidified with the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century, pilgrimages grew difficult and dangerous.

Edward Robinson was one of the first in a long line of talented persons who would gain an understanding of the biblical world by the mid-20th century. [20] His student, Eli Smith, was a protestant missionary in Beirut and spoke fluent Arabic. {Gay relationship}.

With an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible and related texts, he and Smith mapped the local place names still spoken by the Arabs and matched them to Biblical events -- more than 100 in all. For but one example, Hezekiah's water tunnel connecting the Gihon spring with the Pool of Siloam. This was part of the water supply that enabled Jerusalem to resist the siege of the Assyrian Sennacherib late in the 8th century BC. [22]

In 1829, Victor Hugo enthused: "The whole continent is leaning toward the East!" [27] With a passion for art, scholarship, literature, and archeology! Richard Burton led explorations in 1878. And sexual adventure--Gustave Flaubert. Herman Melville and Mark Twain sailed into Beirut. Most were shocked to find filth and poverty, and widespread corruption.

The earliest known Hebrew inscription is a list of agricultural activities composed in the 10th century BC, the time of Solomon. [33]

The Bible remains a primary text, but it is ambiguous and contradictory. For example, the famous and irreconcilable two accounts of taking Canaan: In the Exodus, through the Book of Joshua, Joshua prepares for holy war, then seizes the country in three whirlwind campaigns, after which he divides the spoils among the 12 tribes. The subsequent Book of Judges, however, provides long lists of Canaanite cities that were not captured at all, and Joshua does not destroy any of them except Hazor, and even that, not until much later. [59] Deborah takes charge, and eventually the city is taken after its general is murdered by treachery. In Judges, which was actually written before Exodus, the Israelites live peacefully with their neighbors, intermarrying them and sharing their culture.

The bone-stone evidence is that Israelites and other Semitic tribes lived side by side, arriving in small bands, filling uninhabited spaces [65]. There is no evidence of Patriarchs, or an Exodus from Egypt [68]. {citing Mendenhall, 1962} [65] There is no observable Canaanite/Israelite altercation, at any time.

The Philistines brought the new skill of iron smelting. [The world's first ironworks were in Kush/Africa.] Philistines are not native to the Levant, but part of the great Bronze Age migration across the waters of the Mediterranean--the "Sea Peoples". [68-69] Their arrival coincides with the end of Egypt's lordship over Canaan. [70] At excavations of the coast, we find clear signs of destruction in the late 13th century, followed by an abundance of Aegean-style Philistine-made chards in the layer dating immediately after the destruction. [70]

Saladin's decision to destroy Askelon, with its long history of neutrality and peace, theatres and gardens, was "a very painful thing for him". He said he would rather be bereaved of all his children. But the Sultan wanted more to deprive the Crusaders of a harbor, so they destroyed this along with all other ports in the Holy Land they themselves controlled. [82]

Of all the architectural grandeur of the Biblical description of Solomon's city, and the Temple of Jerusalem, not one stone has been found. [93]. Jerusalem is filled--a "veritable cascade" -- with pagan figurines: talismanic objects resembling Canaanite goddesses, horses with solar symbols, incense burners for Baal. Whatever Temple may have been built, Jerusalem worshiped many gods for many centuries. [94-95]

Nor is the Biblical account of the destruction of Jerusalem at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar accurate. [99] A Jewish presence in Jerusalem never disappeared from the city [100] although it languished.

In 445 BC a Jewish courtier serving the Persian ruler, Artaxerxes, gained permission to rebuild Jerusalem from decay. [101] Jerusalem in fact was repeatedly saved by the Persians in its long history.

In 333 BC Alexander the Great seized control of the Near East, but a decade later his generals were left to split the spoils, and the Ptolemies took Egypt. Judea's new overlords were the descendants of Seleucus, who had Syria. [102] Antiochus IV banned the worship of Yahweh and substituted Zeus. The Jews rebelled, and led by Judah Maccabee, from a Hasmonean family, they liberated Jerusalem for another 100 years. After the Hasmoneans made themselves kings, their own dynastic quarrels led to fratricide. In 63 BC, the Roman general Pompey, accepted the invitation to mediate. By 37 BC, Judea was a client state of imperial Rome. [102] Herod, an Edomite Arab converted to Judaism, and with a marked Hellenistic outlook, was appointed monarch. He accomplished what no others had done, and he rebuilt the Temple at Jerusalem. [104] Josephus, the scion of a priestly family, grew up in the shadow of the rebuilt shrine, and describes it in great detail, much of which is corroborated by other writers such as Tacitus and Florus.

A fragment, reading "To the place of trumpeting" [104-105] The shofar announced the beginning and ending of Sabbath. Roman legions demolished the Temple complex in 70 AD.

The Wadi Qumran is a dry riverbed winding down to the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. In 1947, a Bedouin boy of the Tamireh tribe found a library hidden in the cliffs almost 1,900 years ago. Excavations continue, under six feet of bat guano, in a total of 11 caves. We now have found every book of the OT except Esther, as well as numerous other works, now in 75,000 pieces. The Palestine Archaeological Museum convened an "all-Christian" international team of scholars [113], and they took until 1960 just to clean them. By 1956, a scriptorium and waterworks was also excavated, although no living quarters have been found.[114] Although controversy abounds, an obscure sect known as the Essenes has emerged. They were ascetic pacifists who believed in predestination and an imminent apocalypse. [114] By 1991, only about half of the trove had been translated and issued. [116] Since most of the team are Catholics, accusations of conspiracy, and suppression of information damaging to Faith are widely believed. [116] In 1991, the Huntington Library announced a complete photographic collection of scroll material would be available to scholars.[117]

In the Footsteps of "Jesus"? Thousands of Jews were crucified by the Romans. According to Josephus, this mass crucifixion of 3,600 Zionists in AD 66 helped spark the final rebellion that led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. [121] We now have a single piece of physical evidence of crucifixion in biblical times--a bone of a young Jew's heel with a blunted nail embedded in it, although the victim was dead at the time of the insertion [120].

The Gospels were written 40 to 70 years after his death, from secondhand sources. {??}[122] In translating the Gospels into Latin, in the fourth century, St. Jerome wrote that "none can doubt what is written". Thomas Jefferson wrote a biography of Jesus that discarded most of the Gospel passages for the true words were "imbedded as diamonds in dunghills" [122]. We also have an inscription from the Caesarea coast indicating that Pilate was a first-century governor.

The Sicarii, or daggermen, in the hills around Galilee, killed Romans and all who collaborated with them. [124] Herod's tax burdens were severe and laid heavily upon the poor. They led the 960 men, women and children to the holdout of Masada. The Essenes, among others, were preparing for the final "War between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness". Many looked for a Messiah to free Israel.

Nazareth is not mentioned in the OT or in any sources outside the New Testament. [125]
  keylawk | Jan 14, 2013 |
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For 800 years of the early Church's history, Pilgrims and Crusaders, made extended journeys to the Holy Land, returned to Europe with religious items they believed had supernatural powers. Nothing seemed too inconsequential to them so long as it had a religious connection; thus even dust from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over Jesus' alleged tomb, was worthy of veneration. Only in the thirteenth century, when the Eucharist and its powerful symbolism became central to Christian faith, did the obsession with relics subside. The Holy Land tells the story of their findings, together with the discoveries of many other travellers, pilgrims and explorers, who ventured to this land and whose revelations have added to the fascination of this area.

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