Many an excavation in Israel and the world resumed in 2021 after the serial coronavirus lockdowns of the year before. Despite the constraints, there were some startling discoveries, and it was also an opportunity to consider the deeper meaning of discoveries – or the lack thereof.
Here are some of my favorite archaeology stories of the year.
Starting about 2.6 million years ago, no archaic human would leave the cave without one. What was this tool and why didn’t it evolve, while we definitely did?
Archaeologists reported on a stone circle over 6,500 years old, mostly submerged in the Mediterranean. An ancient site of mysterious Stone Age ritual? Solstice something? Or the world's first pickled olive factory?
The year is 853 B.C.E. and two vast armies are lined up on a plain in front of the ancient city of Qarqar, in today’s Syria. What happened next contains lessons pertinent to this day.
Israeli researchers get potty-mouthed over whether a 2,800-year-old shrine in Lachish was really desecrated by installation of a lavatory
You are a Gittite. Your eyes sting from sweat and blood. The water is gone, the spring captured by the enemy. Gath is lost and all this picture of despair arises, archaeologists say, from exactly one enigmatic weapon.
Meet Homo Nesher Ramla, the strangely archaic being found in a limestone quarry in central Israel, who upsets the paradigm of Neanderthal evolution.
Some postulate that it’s the ancestor of the Neanderthals. Some do not agree.
We learned that the civilizations around the Mediterranean may have collapsed 3,200 years ago and ancient Egypt may have been brought to its knees – but not to its grave.
When God gives you lemons… Arguably, the archaeologists excavating the Philistine city of Gath had that saying in mind when hailing the discovery of, well, nothing, attesting to the savagery of the Aramean assailants. You read it here first.
The giant camels carved into the great sandstone cliffs in northern Saudi Arabia had been assumed to be quite modern, made say in the last two thousand years. Not so.
Okay to be fair it's impossible to say that fly fishing was invented on the banks of the River Jordan 13,000 years ago but go ahead, find an earlier site.
Pfoo. Yuck. Do you seriously expect me to eat that deer, a slob from the hills who ate leaves as opposed to one that supped daintily on fresh green grass (viridi herba) by the river between two and four in the afternoon - what am I, an animal?
There was the Great Temple in Jerusalem, house of centralized sacrifice and ritual. And there were local small synagogues, not for worship purposes. We knew that; yet in December archaeologists were somewhat startled to discover that Magdala (Migdal), home of Mary Magdalene, had not one synagogue but two.