Monday, 4 November 2013

I've got the sea, I've got the secret: groundbreaking discoveries at the Sea of Galilee

Column capital and column shaft fragments by the side
of the street in modern Migdal
The Sea of Galilee is quite the hot bed of archaeological activity these days - two articles recently published in Tel Aviv and Palestine Exploration Quarterly have caused a bit of a stir in the archaeology and heritage communities.

'Archaeological Evidence For A Previously Unrecognised Roman Town Near The Sea Of Galilee' by Ken Dark suggests the remains of Dalmanoutha have been discovered, the Biblical town on the shores of the Sea of Galilee mentioned in the Gospel of Mark as the destination of Jesus after he fed 4,000 people with a few fish and a few loaves of bread. The article has been picked up by a number of outlets including, The Independent, NBC News and The Huffington Post.

Professor Dark offered us his reaction to all the attention:

"My recent paper ‘Archaeological Evidence For A Previously Unrecognised Roman Town Near The Sea Of Galilee’ in Palestine Exploration Quarterly was very widely reported in the world media. While these reports generally accurately summarised the archaeological material, the tentative identification of the site with Biblical Dalmanoutha in my paper is over-emphasised in many of them, sometimes giving the impression that the search for Dalmanoutha was the focus of my research. In fact, the site reported in my paper was found in fieldwork undertaken as part of a far wider multi-period project examining the landscape around the Sea of Galilee, rather than as site-centred ‘Biblical Archaeology’.

What I said about the identification of the site was just that, as this seems to be a large, probably urban, settlement on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, it is logical to suppose that it is mentioned in textual sources. Historians working on this region in the Roman period had suggested that there were textually-attested towns called Tarichaea, Gennesaret, Dalmanoutha and Magadan/Magdala on the coast. As Tarichaea seems to have been south of Tiberias (and so far from this site), Magadan/Magdala is usually said to be the site currently being excavated just south of this ‘new’ settlement, and Gennesaret may be a region-name rather than a locality, that leaves Dalmanoutha. However, I stressed in the conclusion to my paper that this wasn’t the only possible identification."

The Sea of Galilee is Israel's largest salt water lake
'Climate and the Late Bronze Collapse: New Evidence from the Southern Levant' by Dafna Langgut, Israel Finkelstein and Thomas Litt has been published in the latest issue of Tel Aviv and presents a study of fossil pollen grains in sediments extracted from the bottom of the Sea of Galilee which reveals evidence of a climate crisis that traumatised the Near East from the middle of the 13th to the late 12th century BCE. It is claimed the crisis brought about the collapse of the great empires of the Bronze Age. The article was the focus of a lengthy piece in the New York Times as well as being picked up by National Geographic and  

"In a short period of time the entire world of the Bronze Age crumbled," explains one of the authors, Prof. Finkelstein. "The Hittite empire, Egypt of the Pharaohs, the Mycenaean culture in Greece, the copper producing kingdom located on the island of Cyprus, the great trade emporium of Ugarit on the Syrian coast and the Canaanite city-states under Egyptian hegemony – all disappeared and only after a while were replaced by the territorial kingdoms of the Iron Age, including Israel and Judah.

>> Download ‘Archaeological Evidence For A Previously Unrecognised Roman Town Near The Sea Of Galilee for free

>> Download 'Climate and the Late Bronze Collapse: New Evidence from the Southern Levant' for free

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