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Original Article:

Livescience.com

By Laura  Geggel

 

A previously overlooked inky inscription on a pottery shard found in Israel calls for the delivery of more wine, according to a new study, showing that not much has changed in 2,600 years for humanity, at least when it comes to wetting our whistles.

The pottery fragment — called an ostracon, or an ink-inscribed shard — was found in 1965 at the desert fortress of Arad in Israel. The shard was in poor condition, but researchers were able to date it to around 600 B.C., right before Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, destroyed the kingdom of Judah.

After discovering the shard, researchers noticed an ink inscription on its front, which begins with a blessing of Yahweh (a Hebrew name for God), then describes money transfers. Biblical scholars and archaeologists have extensively studied this inscription, so researchers were taken aback when they found the overlooked message on the ostracon’s backside.

While its front side has been thoroughly studied, its back was considered blank,” study co-principal investigator Arie Shaus, a doctoral student of applied mathematics and archaeology at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel, said in a statement.

Revealing hidden text
The research team used multispectral imaging, a technique that uses different frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum to capture data from an image. Study co-researcher Michael Cordonsky, a physicist at TAU, noticed the scribbled note on the ostracon’s backside.

“To our surprise, three new lines of text were revealed.” Shaus said.

Using the results from the multispectral imaging, the team deciphered 50 characters making up 17 words on the back of the shard, which had been on display at the Israel Museum for more than 50 years.

“The content of the reverse side implies it is a continuation of the text on the front side,” study co-principal investigator Shira Faigenbaum-Golovin, a doctoral student of applied mathematics at TAU, said in the statement.

Send wine
The newly discovered and translated inscription says, “If there is any wine, send … If there is any-thing (else) you need, send (= write me about it). And if there is still … gi[ve] them (an amount of) Xar out of it. And Ge’alyahu has taken a bat of sparkling (?) wine.”

“The new inscription begins with a request for wine, as well as a guarantee for assistance if the addressee has any requests of his own,” Shaus said. “It concludes with a request for the provision of a certain commodity to an unnamed person, and a note regarding a ‘bath,’ an ancient measurement of wine, carried by a man named Ge’alyahu.”

The note is “an administrative text, like most of the Arad inscriptions,” study co-researcher Anat Mendel-Geberovich, an archaeologist at TAU, said in the statement. “Its importance lies in the fact that each new line, word and even a single sign is a precious addition to what we know about the First Temple period.”

As for who the request was being made to, Mendel-Geberovich said that “many of these inscriptions are addressed to Elyashiv, the quartermaster of the fortress.”

The finding shows the power of multispectral imaging, especially its use on artifacts that have already been studied, but might have had overlooked components, the researchers said.

“This is ongoing research,” study co-researcher Barak Sober, a doctoral student of applied mathematics at TAU, said in the statement. “The future may hold additional surprises.”

The study was published online June 14 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Original article on Live Science.

 

 

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The Sima del Elefante site. Image: University of York

Original article:

New research conducted by scientists at the University of York and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona reveals for the first time that Europe’s earliest humans did not use fire for cooking, but had a balanced diet of meat and plants – all eaten raw.

Studying dental plaque from a 1.2 million year old hominin (early human species), recovered by the Atapuerca Research Team in 2007 in Sima del Elefante in northern Spain, archaeologists extracted microfossils to find the earliest direct evidence of food eaten by early humans.

These microfossils included traces of raw animal tissue, uncooked starch granules indicating consumption of grasses, pollen grains from a species of pine, insect fragments and a possible fragment of a toothpick.

All detected fibres were uncharred, and there was also no evidence showing inhalation of microcharcoal – normally a clear indicator of proximity to fire.

Fiery debate

The timing of the earliest use of fire for cooking is hotly contested, with some researchers arguing habitual use started around 1.8 million years ago while others suggest it was as late as 300,000-400,000 years ago.

Possible evidence for fire has been found at some very early sites in Africa. However, the lack of evidence for fire at Sima del Elefante suggests that this knowledge was not carried with the earliest humans when they left Africa.

The earliest definitive evidence in Europe for use of fire is 800,000 years ago at the Spanish site of Cueva Negra, and at Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, Israel, a short time later.

Taken together, this evidence suggests the development of fire technology occurred at some point between 800,000 and 1.2 million years ago, revealing a new timeline for when the earliest humans started to cook food.

Diet implications

Dr Karen Hardy, lead author and Honorary Research Associate at the University of York and ICREA Research Professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, said: “Obtaining evidence for any aspect of hominin life at this extremely early date is very challenging. Here, we have been able to demonstrate that these earliest Europeans understood and exploited their forested environment to obtain a balanced diet 1.2 million years ago, by eating a range of different foods and combining starchy plant food with meat.

“This new timeline has significant implications in helping us to understand this period of human evolution – cooked food provides greater energy, and cooking may be linked to the rapid increases in brain size that occurred from 800,000 years ago onwards.

“It also correlates well with previous research hypothesising that the timing of cooking is linked to the development of salivary amylase, needed to process cooked starchy food. Starchy food was an essential element in facilitating brain development, and contrary to popular belief about the ‘Paleodiet’, the role of starchy food in the Palaeolithic diet was significant.”

Dr Anita Radini, PhD student at the University of York said: “These results are very exciting, as they highlight the potential of dental calculus to store dietary and environmental information from deep in the human evolutionary past. It is also interesting to see that pollen remains are preserved often in better conditions than in the soil of the same age. Overall this is a very positive step in the discipline, in terms of preservation of material in the calculus matrix.”

Diet and environment 1.2 million years ago revealed through analysis of dental calculus from Europe’s oldest hominin at Sima del Elefante, Spain is published in Naturwissenschaften. To read, visit: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00114-016-1420-x

 

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A large and impressive winery dating to the Roman or Byzantine period with a pressing surface paved with a white mosaic was uncovered at the site which served the residents of a large manor house who engaged in wine production.

Alex Wiegmann, excavation director, views winepress uncovered in Schneller Compound

Alex Wiegmann, excavation director, views winepress uncovered in Schneller Compound

Terra cotta pipes indicate the existence of an ancient bathhouse

Terra cotta pipes indicate the existence of an ancient bathhouse

Original Article :

mfa.gov.il

 

A large and impressive winery dating to the Roman or Byzantine period with a pressing surface paved with a white mosaic was uncovered at the site which served the residents of a large manor house who engaged in wine production.

Unexpected finds more than 1,600 years old were uncovered during archaeological excavations financed by the Merom Yerushalayim Company, which the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in Schneller Compound prior to the construction of residential buildings for Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox population.

Schneller Orphanage operated in Jerusalem from 1860 until the Second World War. During the British Mandate, its German inhabitants were expelled and a military base was established there. After the British withdrawal in 1948 the compound was turned over to the Hagana and later served as an army base used by the Israel Defense Force until 2008.

Interesting and assorted finds from Jerusalem’s past were discovered in the archaeological excavation, most notably a large and impressive winery dating to the Roman or Byzantine period, some 1,600 years ago. The complex installation includes a pressing surface paved with a white mosaic. In the center of it is a pit in which a press screw was anchored that aided in extracting the maximum amount of must from the grapes. Eight cells were installed around the pressing surface. These were used for storing the grapes, and possibly also for blending the must with other ingredients thereby producing different flavors of wine. The archaeologists believe that this winery served the residents of a large manor house whose inhabitants made their living by, among other things, viticulture and wine production.

Evidence was unearthed next to the impressive winepress which indicates the presence of a bathhouse there. These finds included terra cotta pipes used to heat the bathhouse and several clay bricks, some of which were stamped with the name of the Tenth Roman Legion. This legion was one of four Roman legions that participated in the conquest of Jewish Jerusalem, and its units remained garrisoned in the city until c. 300 CE. Among the Roman legion’s main centers was the one in the vicinity of Binyanei Ha-Uma, located just c. 800 meters from the current excavation, where a large pottery and brick production center was situated. The archaeologists suggest that the Schneller site, in the form of a manor house, constituted an auxiliary settlement to the main site that was previously exposed at Binyanei Ha-Uma. As was customary in the Roman world, here too in the Schneller Compound, a private bathhouse was incorporated in the plan of the estate.

The current archeological exposure is actually a continuation of the salvage excavations that were carried out at the site half a year ago when evidence was uncovered there of a Jewish settlement that dated to the Late Second Temple period.

According to archaeologist Alex Wiegmann, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Once again, Jerusalem demonstrates that wherever one turns over a stone ancient artifacts will be found related to the city’s glorious past. The archaeological finds discovered here help paint a living, vibrant and dynamic picture of Jerusalem as it was in ancient times up until the modern era.”

According to Amit Re’em, the Jerusalem district archaeologist, “This is an excellent example of many years of cooperation and deep and close ties with the Haredi community. The general public is used to hearing of the clashes between the archaeologists and the orthodox community around the issue of the graves, but is unaware of the joint work done on a daily basis and the interest expressed by the ultra-orthodox sector. The Israel Antiquities Authority is working to instill our ancient cultural heritage in this population, as it does with other sectors.”

(Israel Antiquities Authority)

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Qesem Cave

Qesem Cave

Original Article:

eurekalert.org

AMERICAN FRIENDS OF TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY, Feb 2016

 

New discovery at Tel Aviv University excavation of Qesem Cave reveals tortoises played a supplementary role in the diets of early humans 400,000 years ago

Grilled, boiled or salted? Turtles, or tortoises, are rarely consumed today, but a select few cultures, primarily those in East Asia, still consider turtle soup, made from the flesh of the turtle, a delicacy.

According to a new discovery at Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv, the site of many major findings from the late Lower Paleolithic period, they are not alone in their penchant for tortoise. Tel Aviv University researchers, in collaboration with scholars from Spain and Germany, have uncovered evidence of turtle specimens at the 400,000-year-old site, indicating that early man enjoyed eating turtles in addition to large game and vegetal material. The research provides direct evidence of the relatively broad diet of early Paleolithic people — and of the “modern” tools and skills employed to prepare it.

The study was led by Dr. Ruth Blasco of the Centro Nacional de Investigacion Sobre la Evolucion Humana (CENIEH), Spain, and TAU’s Institute of Archaeology, together with Prof. Ran Barkai and Prof. Avi Gopher of TAU’s Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations. Other collaborators include: Dr. Jordi Rosell and Dr. Pablo Sanudo of Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) and Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES), Spain; and Dr. Krister T. Smith and Dr. Lutz Christian Maul of the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, Germany. The research was published on February 1, 2016, in Quaternary Science Reviews.

“Culinary and cultural depth” to the Paleolithic diet

“Until now, it was believed that Paleolithic humans hunted and ate mostly large game and vegetal material,” said Prof. Barkai. “Our discovery adds a really rich human dimension — a culinary and therefore cultural depth to what we already know about these people.”

The research team discovered tortoise specimens strewn all over the cave at different levels, indicating that they were consumed over the entire course of the early human 200,000-year inhabitation. Once exhumed, the bones revealed striking marks that reflected the methods the early humans used to process and eat the turtles.

“We know by the dental evidence we discovered earlier that the Qesem inhabitants ate vegetal food,” said Prof. Barkai. “Now we can say they also ate tortoises, which were collected, butchered and roasted, even though they don’t provide as many calories as fallow deer, for example.”

According to the study, Qesem inhabitants hunted mainly medium and large game such as wild horses, fallow deer and cattle. This diet provided large quantities of fat and meat, which supplied the calories necessary for human survival. Until recently, it was believed that only the later Homo sapiens enjoyed a broad diet of vegetables and large and small animals. But evidence found at the cave of the exploitation of small animals over time, this discovery included, suggests otherwise.

Open questions remain

“In some cases in history, we know that slow-moving animals like tortoises were used as a ‘preserved’ or ‘canned’ food,” said Dr. Blasco. “Maybe the inhabitants of Qesem were simply maximizing their local resources. In any case, this discovery adds an important new dimension to the knowhow, capabilities and perhaps taste preferences of these people.”

According to Prof. Gopher, the new evidence also raises possibilities concerning the division of labor at Qesem Cave. “Which part of the group found and collected the tortoises?” Prof. Gopher said. “Maybe members who were not otherwise involved in hunting large game, who could manage the low effort required to collect these reptiles — perhaps the elderly or children.”

“According to the marks, most of the turtles were roasted in the shell,” Prof. Barkai added. “In other cases, their shells were broken and then butchered using flint tools. The humans clearly used fire to roast the turtles. Of course they were focused on larger game, but they also used supplementary sources of food — tortoises — which were in the vicinity.”

The researchers are now examining bird bones that were recently discovered at Qesem Cave.

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Tel Aviv University (TAU) is inherently linked to the cultural, scientific and entrepreneurial mecca it represents. It is one of the world’s most dynamic research centers and Israel’s most distinguished learning environment. Its unique-in-Israel multidisciplinary environment is highly coveted by young researchers and scholars returning to Israel from post-docs and junior faculty positions in the US.

American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU) enthusiastically and industriously pursues the advancement of TAU in the US, raising money, awareness and influence through international alliances that are vital to the future of this already impressive institution.

 

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151223053059-wine-of-jesus-liebermann-pkg-00011315-exlarge-169

 

Orignal Article:

cnn.com

By Oren Liebermann, CNN
December 23, 2015

 

Jerusalem (CNN)The Bible is full of references to wine: Noah gets drunk on it after the flood. Jesus turns water into wine. It is praised in Ecclesiastes and reviled in Proverbs. Yet nowhere in Scripture is the type of wine identified — until now.

A small but growing number of wineries in Israel and the West Bank are trying to recreate the wine of the Bible, combining ancient grape varietals with modern science to identify and produce the wine consumed thousands of years ago in the Holy Land.

“People are very enthusiastic about drinking a wine that King David had on his table, or for the same matter, Jesus or any other biblical figure,” says Eliyashiv Drori, who started a boutique winery near his home in a West Bank settlement. “They all grew here, they all lived here, and they all ate and drank wine here.”

Drori, a wine researcher at the Samaria Regional R & D Center at Ariel University, examines preserved grapeseeds found in archaeological digs to identify the types of grapes used to make wine.

He says there were different varieties of wine in biblical times: red and white, dry and sweet. But he says they likely didn’t make wine from specific grapes, such as modern-day cabernet sauvignon and merlot.

His research has identified 120 varieties of grapes unique to the region, of which about 20 are suitable for making wine.

“For me, reconnecting to that is actually reconnecting to our roots, to our history, to the way of life of our ancestors. That’s a big thing for me,” Drori says.

Ottoman rule, French grapes
Winemaking was strictly limited in the Holy Land for hundreds of years under the Ottoman Empire.

The grapes that survived were table grapes, but not all table grapes make good wine.

When Baron Edmond de Rothschild restarted Israel’s wine industry in the 1880s, he did so with grapes imported from France.

Today, Israel’s 300 or so wineries produce 36 million bottles of wine. Winemakers say imported grapes will only take the wine industry so far. Indigenous grapes bring new marketing potential to local winemakers.

Recanati Winery in northern Israel has started making wine from marawi grapes. The winery makes 1 million bottles of wine a year. So far, only 2,500 bottles are marawi, but the owners hope the new old wine takes off.
“This marawi is our own unique, indigenous species that’s been grown in Israel for hundreds of years. This is our chance to bring something new to the world and to show the world that we are innovative and we have tradition in this industry,” says Recanati winemaker Gil Shatsberg.

Recanati’s bottle has English, Hebrew, and Arabic on the label as a way of acknowledging the different people behind the wine. “Since the grape is Arabic origin and the grower is Palestinian, we gave respect for everybody,” says Recanati CEO Noam Yacoby.

Unique to the region
In the valley between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the cities that mark the beginning of Christ’s life and the end, Cremisan Winery was the first to make wine using only grapes indigenous to the region, starting in 2008.

It uses grapes such as dabouki, hamdani, jandali and baladi. These are not well-known types of wine, but Cremisan hopes that will change. In the highly competitive wine market, offering a unique product can make a major difference.

“To stay strong in the market, you need unique wines such as these,” says Ziad Bitar, sales manager for Cremisan. “We are talking about grapes that were here for thousands of years. We weren’t here, but we can imagine that they drank this type of wine.”

His winemaker, Fadi Batarseh, chimes in: “And we hope that Jesus is happy with our wine!”

 

 

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Netivot: Wine presses used in the commercial production of wine

Netivot: Wine presses used in the commercial production of wine

Copyright: Assaf Peretz, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

Tools uncovered in Netivot Copyright: Anat Rasiuk, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

Tools uncovered in Netivot
Copyright: Anat Rasiuk, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

 

 

Original Article:

mfa.gov.il

November 2015

The excavation revealed the remains of a late Byzantine period village dating to the 6th and 7th centuries. One of the most impressive finds of the excavation is a sophisticated wine press that was used to mass-produce wine.

(Communicated by the Israel Antiquities Authority)

In the course of preparations for the construction of a new residential neighborhood in the town of Netivot in the Negev, the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted a salvage excavation of the site. Youths from Netivot and Ashkelon were encouraged to volunteer in the dig, along with a group of future IDF recruits currently performing a year of community service in the area.

The excavation revealed the remains of a late Byzantine period village dating to the 6th and 7th centuries C.E., including a workshop, various buildings and two wine presses. Fragments of marble latticework in the form of a cross and flowers indicate the existence of a public building. Other findings include tools used in daily life, such as clay cups, oil candles and seals.

Ilan Peretz, who supervised the dig for the IAA, noted that one of the most impressive finds of the excavation is a sophisticated wine press that was used to commercially produce wine. He described the process: “First, the grapes were pressed. Then the juice was funneled through canals to a pit where the sediment settled. From there, the wine was piped into vats lined with stone and marble, where it would ferment until it was stored in clay bottles called ‘Gaza jugs'” – hundreds of which have been found on the site.

On the basis of a cross etched into seashells adorning one of the vats of the wine press, the researchers determined that the site served the Christian community living there 1400-1500 years ago.

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Opium Poppy

Opium Poppy

Cumin plants

Cumin plants

Original article:

sciencedaily.com

Date: August 28, 2015
Source:
Bar-Ilan University

New findings show that Philistine culture had a major and long-term impact on floral biodiversity in Israel and may assist ecologists in dealing with invasive species.

A new study describes the bio-archaeological remains of the Philistine culture in Israel during the Iron Age (12th century to 7th century BCE). The results of this research indicate that the ca. 600 year presence of the Philistine culture had a major and long-term impact on local floral biodiversity.

One of the most pressing issues in modern biological conservation is “invasion biology.” Due to unprecedented contacts between peoples and culture in today’s “global village” certain animal and plant species are spreading widely throughout the world, often causing enormous damage to local species.

Recent studies have shown that alien species have had a substantial impact not only in recent times but also in antiquity. This is exemplified in a study published in the August 25th issue of Scientific Reports by a team led by archaeologists from Bar-Ilan University’s Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology (Suembikya (Sue) Frumin, Prof. Ehud Weiss and Prof. Aren Maeir) and the Hebrew University (Dr. Liora Kolska Horwitz), describing the bio-archaeological remains of the

Philistine culture during the Iron Age (12th century to 7th century BCE). The team compiled a database of plant remains extracted from Bronze and Iron Ages sites in the southern Levant, both Philistine and non-Philistine. By analyzing this database, the researchers concluded that the Philistines brought to Israel not just themselves but also their plants.

he species they brought are all cultivars that had not been seen in Israel previously. This includes edible parts of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) which originates in western Europe; the sycamore tree (Ficus sycomorus), whose fruits are known to be cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean, especially Egypt, and whose presence in Israel as a locally grown tree is first attested to in the Iron Age by the presence of its fruit; and finally, cumin (Cuminum cyminum), a spice originating in the Eastern Mediterranean. Sue Frumin, a PhD student at Prof. Ehud Weiss’s archaeobotanical lab, Bar-Ilan University, explains that “the edible parts of these species — opium poppy, sycamore, and cumin — were not identified in the archaeobotanical record of Israel prior to the Iron Age, when the Philistine culture first appeared in the region. None of these plants grows wild in Israel today, but instead grows only as cultivated plants.”

In addition to the translocation of exotic plants from other regions, the Philistines were the first community to exploit over 70 species of synanthropic plants (species which benefit from living in the vicinity of man) that were locally available in Israel, such as Purslane, Wild Radish, Saltwort, Henbane and Vigna. These plant species were not found in archaeological sites pre-dating the Iron Age, or in Iron Age archaeological sites recognized as belonging to non-Philistine cultures — Canaanite, Israelite, Judahite, and Phoenician. The “agricultural revolution” that accompanied the Philistine culture reflects a different agrarian regime and dietary preferences to that of their contemporaries.

The fact that the three exotic plants introduced by the Philistines originate from different regions accords well with the diverse geographic origin of these people. The Philistines — one of the so called Sea Peoples, and mentioned in the Bible and other ancient sources — were a multi-ethnic community with origins in the Aegean, Turkey, Cyprus and other regions in the Eastern Mediterranean who settled on the southern coastal plain of Israel in the early Iron Age (12th century BCE), and integrated with Canaanite and other local populations, finally to disappear at the end of the Iron Age (ca. 600 BCE).

The results of this research indicate that the ca. 600 year presence of the Philistine culture in Israel had a major and long-term impact on local floral biodiversity. The Philistines left as a biological heritage a variety of plants still cultivated in Israel, including, among others, sycamore, cumin, coriander, bay tree and opium poppy.

The Philistines also left their mark on the local fauna. In a previous study also published in Scientific Reports in which two of the present authors (Maeir and Kolska Horwitz) participated, DNA extracted from ancient pig bones from Philistine and non-Philistine sites in Israel demonstrated that European pigs were introduced by the Philistines into Israel and slowly swamped the local pig populations through inter-breeding. As a consequence, modern wild boar in Israel today bears a European haplotype rather than a local, Near Eastern one.

As illustrated by these studies, the examination of the ancient bio-archaeological record has the potential to help us understand the long-term mechanisms and vectors that have contributed to current floral and faunal biodiversity, information that may also assist contemporary ecologists in dealing with the pressing issue of invasive species.

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Journal Reference:

Suembikya Frumin, Aren M. Maeir, Liora Kolska Horwitz, Ehud Weiss. Studying Ancient Anthropogenic Impacts on Current Floral Biodiversity in the Southern Levant as reflected by the Philistine Migration. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 13308 DOI: 10.1038/srep13308

 

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