Antandros — Was the ship that Paul traveled on to Rome constructed here?

AntandrosAntandros is a Greco- Roman City located on the north side of the Gulf of Adramytium in Turkey about 19 mi. east of Assos and 19 mi. west of Adramytium (modern Edremit).  On his voyage to Rome Paul boardered a ship from nearby Adramyttium:

Acts 27:1    When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment.  2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea.

Because of the nearby forests, Antandros was famous throughout antiquity for shipbuilding.  It is very probable that the shipbuilders at nearby Adramyttium secured their timber from Mount Ida via Antandros.

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Mosaic from the floor of the Terrace House at Antandros — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Antandros has been under excavation since the early 21st century by Turkish archaeologists. One of the more significant finds is that of a Roman Villa, called the “Terrace House,” that was built in the fourth century AD and continued in use through the sixth or seventh century AD.

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One of the Frescos on the Wall of the Terrace House at Antandros — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The “Terrace House” at Antandros is somewhat similar to the more famous Terrace Houses of Ephesus!

For the history and/or legends surrounding Antandros see the excavation website and conveniently Wikipedia.

To view additional free images of Antandros Click Here.

Travel: USA Security (TSA) and Customs

This email is for USA citizens who do some traveling abroad—and the USA—based upon my recent trip to Israel.

Because we travel a bit overseas and upon reentry, to the USA we often face long lines for Passport Control and then USA Customs and then (sometimes) TSA Security before boarding a connecting flight, I thought I would share my impressions.

Because of long lines (see above) we decided to apply for Global Entry (it includes TSA PreCheck).  The online application was straight forward but because the next (required) interview here in Minneapolis was SEVEN months in the future we actually had our interview in Milwaukee while on a visit to relatives there.

Departure from the USA.  At the Minneapolis airport (MSP) the TSA PreCheck went fine (did not need to open my bags, but did need to empty pockets and remove jacket).  For my transfer in Newark (ERW) departing for Israel, there was no extra security check.

On the way back home this is where it became interesting.  At Newark, using Global Entry at passport control (entry to the USA) was a breeze.  There was no waiting, a machine scanned my face to see that it was really me, and then printed out an entry/customs pass.  This was checked by a person as I exited.  I walked directly to the baggage claim.  BUT by the time that the baggage arrived the people who did not have Global Entry were already there as well—and so I don’t know what I really gained timewise with Global Entry.

With my customs pass in hand, I walked out of the baggage claim area in a special Global Entry line, but it did not seem much quicker than the normal exit line.

After rechecking my luggage to MSP I began the TSA Security check.  Based upon the signs at Newark, the TSA PreCheck line that I was in, had a 10 t0 15-minute wait—a lot of people evidently have TSA PreCheck!  The normal TSA Security line was 15 to 20 minutes.  This did not seem like a big time-saver to me.

BUT, the “Clear” line for the Security Check was almost empty!

Based upon one experience, it almost seems to me that it might be better to get a “Clear” pass rather than a Global Entry one.  If I were traveling more in the USA and making many connections, I think the “Clear Pass” would be the way to go (but it really looks pricey)

The Global Entry pass costs $100 for 5 years.

https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/

The CLEAR pass costs $179 for 12 months (pricey).

https://www.clearme.com/enroll/?p=BINGBRAEX&msclkid=bfc5b3e8ee041fd02945edf2f112a9a9&gclid=CO2iuauh_OYCFRmexQIdQ7QKFA&gclsrc=ds

Why Not A New Year’s Question, Instead of a Resolution?

It is that time of year when many of us think about making “New Year’s Resolutions”—only to find that after the third week in January we have forgotten all about them (sigh)!

One resolution that some make is that “I will read through the Bible in One Year.”  And so, they print out a year schedule.  If they follow it, they will indeed read through the Bible in a year.  BUT, I think almost all folk miss a day or two and then get frustrated and give up on the whole “project.”  So why not ask the question How can I read through the Bible in a Year?”

I have found a reading program that helps me avoid the above frustration and that keeps me on track.  It is based upon 5 days of reading each week—instead of 7.  That way I have found it is easier to “catch up” when necessary.  This reading program includes both the Old Testament and New Testament readings each day, and about 3 Psalms a week.  It is arranged chronologically so this means, for example, that when you are reading Ezra and Nehemiah, you will also be reading Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi—and some post-exilic Psalms.  I like this!

The folk over at BibleClassMaterial.com have produced such a 5–day a week reading plan on two, 8.5 x 11 inch, sheets.  It can be downloaded free of charge in pdf format HERE.

They write:

This special Bible reading system allows you to read the entire Bible (or just the New Testament) in one year while only reading five times a week. Five readings a week gives room to catch up or take a needed day off, and makes daily Bible reading practical and do-able. Many people have successfully reached their goal of regular Bible reading using this schedule. Further, reading the Bible in chronological order (even the Psalms have been placed chronologically when possible) aids understanding of the Bible story, and helps the reader to look
forward to reading God’s Word.
Even if you have to “drop out” for some reason, just begin at the week of the year that you are in.  Because of these features, I have found the 5-day plan to be very useful and do-able.

The Earliest Synagogue in Israel? Used by the Maccabees?

First of all — Happy Hanukkah!
A SYNAGOGUE USED BY THE MACCABEES?

The folk over at Bible History Daily have drawn attention to  an article “Modi’in: Where the Maccabees Lived Have excavations uncovered the hometown [synagogue?] of the Maccabees, heroes of Hanukkah’s Maccabean revolt?”  Just in time for Hanukkah!

I don’t believe that any tour groups stop at this site so I thought I would share two images of the site (Umm el–’Umdan; Arabic for “Mother of the Columns”).

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View looking west at the synagogue at Umm el–’Umdan (Arabic for “Mother of the Columns”.

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The red “c’s” are column bases. Note the remains of the courtyard, entrance, and benches.

Excavations conducted in the past decade at Umm el-‘Umdan (Arabic for “Mother of Columns”) by authors Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah and Alexander Onn (recently deceased) revealed a previously unknown synagogue—featuring eight imposing columns—likely built during the reign of King Herod. But what about earlier? What was at Umm el-‘Umdan during the time of the Maccabees and the Maccabean revolt?

Directly beneath the Herodian synagogue lies a smaller synagogue constructed during the Hasmonean period, and beneath this was a structure securely dated to the end of the third or beginning of the second century B.C.E. According to the excavators, this structure must have been contemporaneous to the time of the Maccabees and the Maccabean revolt. While this Early Hellenistic building influenced the location and shape of the two synagogues built atop it in subsequent centuries, the excavators believe that there is not enough information at the time to conclude that the Early Hellenistic building was also a synagogue.

If the excavators are correct in their interpretation and dating of the above mentioned three structures, then structures two and three (earliest) might well be the earliest synagogue(s) discovered in Israel!   They seem to suggest that structure 2 is a synagogue.

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A more detailed view of Umm el–’Umdan.

For more evidence confirming Umm el-‘Umdan’s Jewish identity in antiquity as well as a discussion of the linguistic relationship between the Hebrew name Modi’in and the Arabic name Umm el-‘Umdan, see “Modi’in: Hometown of the Maccabees” by Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah and Alexander Onn in the March/April 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Happy Hanukkah!

New Museum at Caesarea Maritima

On a recent visit to Caesarea Maritima I had a chance to visit the recently opened museum.

This photo is of the exterior of the new museum at Caesarea Maritima

The museum is built into four of the fourteen vaults that Herod the Great built to support the platform of the temple of Augustus and Roma.  To the left (north) of the museum, reconstruction work continues—note the reconstructed staircase that leads up to where the Temple stood.

This is what the area looked like back in the 1970s.  And also Here 2000s.

Inside of the second vault is a theater where a short, 12-minute, movie on the life of Herod the Great and the construction of Caesarea Maritima is shown.

This photo is of the interior of the theater of the new museum at Caesarea Maritima.

The other three vaults contain artifacts, or replicas of artifacts from the excavations at Caesarea Maritima.

One of the displays, in the first vault, is composed of sequencing images of the layout of Caesarea Maritima at various stages in its history.

This image is of one of the rotating displays of the city of Caesarea Maritima at various periods. This image seems to depict the city in the early Byzantine Period.

To view additional images of Caesarea Click Here.

The REAL Saint Nicholas! December 6

On December 6 the feast of Saint Nicholas is celebrated and so I thought I would bring back this oldie but goodie.

On the outskirts of the Turkish town of Demre is a church that is associated with Saint Nicholas—Father Christmas, a.k.a. in northern Europe as Santa Claus!

Saint Nicholas StatueSt. Nicholas was born in nearby Patara about A.D. 300 and served as the bishop of Myra later in his life.  A number of miracles are attributed to this revered bishop, including his providing a dowry to the three daughters of a local baker.  Thus he is associated with “gift giving!”  He was also the patron saint of sailors and was prayed to for protection at sea—note that Myra is very near the Mediterranean Sea.  He died about A.D. 345.

It is said that he was buried in this church, but that his relics (bones) were taken to Bari, Italy, about A.D. 1088, although other claims are made that the Venetians took them.

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View looking down at the altar area from the top of the synthronon
Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Every 6 December, the feast day of St. Nicholas, Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christians celebrate the Divine Liturgy here.

To view (or download) additional images of the Church of Saint Nicholas Click Here.

A Visit to the “real” Bethsaida — el-Araj

On a recent trip to Israel, I decided to try to visit the site of el-Araj that is located on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, just east of the Jordan River.  This site has been much in the news recently because it is a much better candidate for the Bethsaida mentioned in the New Testament, Josephus and other sources than “et-Tell.”

The Jordan River and Lagoon by el-Araj (Bethsaida/Julias).

According to the New Testament the disciples Philip, Andrew, and Peter were from the town (John 1:44; 12:21). In addition, Jesus performed mighty works there (e.g., healed a blind man [Mark 8:22], and fed 5,000 in the vicinity [Matt 14:13; Mark 6:30ff]) yet the town was cursed by him because of unbelief (Matt 11:21; Luke 10:13).

Steven Notley and Mordechai Aviam have conducted four seasons of excavations at the site and have found a bathhouse and a residence from the Roman Period.  In addition, they have found the remains of a large Byzantine Church that they believe was The Church of the Apostles that was mention by Willibald in A.D. 725 as having been built over the house of Peter and Andrew.

My first visit to the site was with a group of adult learners from the Jerusalem University College.  We turned off the main road east of the Arik Bridge at dusk and our bus took us partway in.  We “debussed” quickly and set off at a brisk pace to try to reach the site before we lost all our daylight.  We were surprised to find that there were already THREE tourist busses at the site—those of a large group led by Jonathan Cahn (of “Harbinger” fame).  I have no idea why they were interested in the site, but we did hear them finish their “devotional” with the blowing of the shofar.  Hmm . . . .

My second visit, a few days later, was with a group from the Biblical Archaeological Society that was being led by Ofir Dror and myself.

Our BAS Group hiking into el-Araj.

The tricky part in accessing the site was due to the fact that the Israelis were busy clearing minefields in the area.  It was about a 12 minute walk in from where our bus parked.

Heavy equipment clearing minefields west of el-Araj.

Once we arrived at that excavations, we had a great time looking at the main place of excavation—Area A.

Area A of el-Araj—looking east.

I also had a chance to peek at Area C, about 100 yards to the north of Area A, where they have begun to uncover remains of a residence that dates to the Roman Period.

Area C — the area where a Roman residence has been partially excavated.

Finds from the house date from the first to the third centuries CE and include pottery, coins, fishing net weights, and a cooking oven.

For additional images of el-Araj you are invited to check out HolyLandPhotos.org.

The official website for the el-Araj excavations can be found Here.  And there you will find numerous links to related newspaper articles.  There are also a number of good videos of the site that have been posted on YouTube see Here for example.