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Monday, June 6, 2011

Day Six - יום שישי

I have spent the last two days at the Israel Museum. I scarcely know where to begin. Because they do not allow photography, I am posting public pictures from their website, which is itself a museum-quality curration.

I began yesterday in the Archeology wing, starting with the Dawn of Civilization. Here were the material remains of the first peoples to inhabit the Land (as it is called), long before there were such peoples as Canaanites and Israelites. I was most struck by pear-shaped mother goddesses such as this one from the Neolitic period, some 6500-11500 years ago.
Next it was the Land of Canaan. The life-size, adult size sarcophagi were amazing.
The Israel and the Bible section was overwhelming. There were so many of the artifacts about which I teach in my in/famous slideshows. Together, before my eyes.
I was most impressed with the full-size fortress gate from Hazor dating to the time of Ahab. That was new to me. I had seen the design of the capitals before but had not realized how wide-spread their use was, including in model shrines. I was also really excited by the inscriptions. My favorites were Sennacherib's account of beating Hezekiah and the Dan inscription that mentions "the house of David" for the first time.
Next up was the Early Hebrew Writing exhibit. That may be the one space where I didn't see anything "new" (to me).
The Greeks, Romans and Jews exhibits had amazing ossuaries, only a few of which are online. This image is from the Biblical Archaeology Society. The carving in the limestone is so delicate, yet when names were chiseled in it was clear that the stone-cutters (and perhaps their customers) were either barely literate and didn't care whether the letters were uneven.
Next the Under Roman Rule exhibit (seems not to have representative images on line). The stories of the Jewish revolts against Rome (66-70 and 132-135 CE) are very powerful. I'm always amazed that after the destruction of the temple in 70 that Bar Kokhba was able to muster another rebellion.
For me, the Muslim and Crusader period was well-represented by gold. While not underestimating religious motivations for Jerusalem and the Holy Land were valuable real estate.
The last section was the Holy Land section focusing on Christian pilgrimage. This baptismal font is deep enough for  the water to reach the waist but too narrow for immersion.
One day, one gallery...

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