The Gateway to Hell at Hierapolis

One of the most visited sites in Turkey is the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Hierapolis–Pamukkalle—famous for its glistening white travertine formations.  Hierapolis is a huge archaeological site and one of the places we like to visit is the Temple of Apollo and the nearby Plutonium.  Usually, we visited the following place that was considered to be the Plutonium.

View looking north-northwest at the foundations and the staircase that led up to the Temple of Apollo.

To the right of the foundations a small arch is visible, this is where many thought the Plutonium was located—detail below.

View looking at the remains of the “so–called” Plutonium that is located on the right side of the image—the “shell–shaped” opening.

However, in March of 2013 Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento and excavator at Hierapolis announced that he had excavated the well–known, to ancient authors at least, Plutonium at Hierapolis—known as the gate to the Underworld.

This past January I made a special effort to find D’Andria’s excavations.  This site is located about 50 yards south-southeast of the Apollo Temple.  Unfortunately, the area is fenced off and is not yet open to the public.

View looking southeast at the recent excavations of the “New Plutonium.

Note the doorway on the lower left, and the reflections on the water partially visible in the center of the image. There are apparently five long stairs to the left of the water. Evidently, people could watch rites associated with the Plutonium from these stairs.  According to ancient authors poisonous vapors were emitted from the opening.

The following reconstructed image is from a very useful article in “seeker.com” that describes the discovery in detail.  The following view is from the opposite direction than the image above.

Artistic reconstruction of the Plutonium from “seeker.com.”

To read the extensive, descriptive article on the Plutonium Click Here.

Wednesday Weddings

As we have traveled in Israel and Turkey we have noticed that many about–to–be–married couples like to have a “photo shoot” at Antiquity Sites!  I thought I would share a few images that I have accumulated.

This past January (2017) we visited Laodicea on a beautiful day.  A bride and her groom were there as well—and they had their own priorities!

The blushing bride and the happy groom on the “Syrian Street” at Laodicea.

The “Syrian Street” at Laodicea.

Click Here for archaeological images of this street—if you are interested! ;-)!

A bride in the necropolis (city of the dead) of Hierapolis. She did not look too happy—it was an overcast day!@#@!

Bottles on the Chimneys = Marriageable Daughters?

In a village a few miles west of Hierapolis (Turkey) they evidently have the custom (according to our guides) of putting bottles on the chimneys of their houses to show that there are one, or more, daughters that are of marriageable age.

Note the bottles on the chimneys of this house.

It looks like there are two marriageable daughters live in this house.

Pergamum (Turkey) Library

One of my favorite places to visit in Turkey is the site of Pergamum.  Its dramatic citadel setting and the lower city and the Asclepion are fantastic.  When we visit the acropolis, our guides point to the general location of the “library.”

According to Strabo (xii.624) the library contained 200,000 volumes and was second in size only to the one in Alexandria Egypt—although many doubt that it really contained this many volumes. The volumes were carried off to Egypt by Mark Antony as a gift to Cleopatra after Julius Caesar had damaged the library in Alexandria.

This past fall I decided that I wanted to track down what actually still existed of the library that the Germans had excavated.  So, this past January I did.

View looking west at one of the four rooms of the Library (in the foreground) and the Courtyard of the Temple of Athena in the distance (see below).

Another view of the same room of the “Library.” On the right side of the image, the northeast corner of the large courtyard (temenos) of the Temple of Athena can be seen.

On the far wall of the library notice the “holes” in the wall. The excavators believe that these held dowels that in turn supported shelves on which the scrolls were kept. In this room, a large statue of the Athena was discovered.

This large marble statue of the goddess Athena was found in the Library. It is a copy of the one that was in the Parthenon in Athens!

The statue is now displayed in the room in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin where the entrance (propalea) of the Temple of Athena is located.

Well, the library itself was located at the northeastern corner of the temenos of the Sanctuary of Athena—the chief deity of Pergamum.  It was actually on the second “floor” of the north stoa of the temenos.

On the plan, the Temple of Athena is in the lower left, and the library is composed of the four rooms on the north labeled the “Bibliothek.” The Germans say it was entered from the upper, not the lower level.

View from the east looking west at the large courtyard associated with the Temple of Athena.  The Temple of Athena is in the distance, beyond the central tree.  To view see link below.

In the foreground (east) and on the right (north) notice the double row of columns. These Doric columns supported the roof of the porticos that surrounded the courtyard on three sides (north, east, and south).  The library was located on the platform on the far right side of the image.  It overlooked the courtyard.  (To view the temple of Athena, Click Here)

To view additional images of the acropolis of Pergamum including the Zeus Altar, the Temple of Trajan, the Theater, etc. Click Here.

Sea of Galilee lowest in 97 years

Ynetnews has an article “How low can you go: Sea of Galilee lowest in 97 years.”

Visually, compare the water–levels at the Church of the Primacy, that is located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, during non–drought and drought years.

Staircase on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee during non–drought year.  Note the water of the Sea of Galilee lapping at the foot of the Staircase.

Compare the same area in recent years:

The same area during a time of drought. Note the same Staircase and the distance to the shore of the Sea of Galilee (on the right side of the image)

A statement put out by the authority said that last May’s recording showed the lowest water level since May 1920, when official measurements of the Sea of Galilee were first recorded.

The Sea of Galilee’s dire condition was made worse in recent years, due to a rare, four-year sequence of droughts in the north, which have caused water pumping from the Sea of Galilee to almost completely stop.

According to the article, the water level of the Sea of Galilee now stands at -214 meters!  FWIW — in the day’s of Jesus (aka Second Temple Times) the level, based upon the level of harbors from this period, was two meters higher—at -212 meters.

The Six Days War — Fifty Years Ago Today (June 5, 1967)

Fifty years ago today, 5 June 1967, according to the Gregorian Calendar, the Six Days War began.  At the time my wife Mary and I were students at the Institute of Holy Land Studies (now the Jerusalem University College) which then was located in a Christian Missionary Alliance building on 55 Street of the Prophets.  Much has been written about this war (see below for a great book on the subject) but I thought I would share eight pictures that I took at that time.

The spring class of 1967 at the Institute of Holy Land Studies (now “Jerusalem University College”) at 55 Street of the Prophets in then west Jerusalem.

In the center middle Gorgina “Snook” Young and behind her, to the right, Dr. G. Douglas Young (founder and visionary of the Institute of Holy Land Studies). Carl Rasmussen (red shirt on left) content provider to this site, and his wife Mary, blue dress front left.  Below and to the right of Dr. Young, Dr. Donald Dayton. Back left, Dr. Paul Ferris and below him to the right his wife Lois.

There were no “bomb shelters” in our area so we gathered in the lowest level of our three–story building.  Most of the other houses in the area were one–story tall, so the neighbors gathered in our building for protection.

The well-dressed lady with the poodle is Gorgina “Snook” Young, the wife of the founder of the IHLS, Dr. G. Douglas Young in our “shelter.”

The first night of the war the shelling was rather intense in our area.  Some plaster was falling off the walls but we were never directly hit.

Makeshift sleeping conditions in the basement.  My wife Mary is on the right side of the image.  The dresser is positioned to help prevent shattering glass from hitting the area.

Jerusalem city buses (that had transported troops who were fighting in the Old City and elsewhere). Note the blacked out headlights.

The Israel Defense Forces had called up all kinds of civilian vehicles to transport troops.

Looking down at one of the army vehicles outside our building.

During the war some of the Israeli troops rested during the daylight hours.  We offered them refreshing juice (mitz).

My wife Mary at the entrance to the YMCA in “West Jerusalem.”

The “joke” in Mary’s family is that two of her brothers served in the USA military, but Mary has been though 2 wars (yes, we were in Israel for the Yom Kippur War).

Sandbags in the windows of the hospital next to our school.

Sidelight: during the (1967) war Mary and I went to help at a hospital called Misgav Ladach.  Later, in 1977, our third son Andrew was born in that same hospital!

For a well–researched (and written) book on the war see Oren, Michael B. Six Days of War — June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

And for a recently disclosed Israeli Go Nuclear Option see Here  (I am glad we missed this one!).

“Assured Results” of Archaeology

I love archaeology, and love having the chance to share my passion with others.  But as my teacher and later colleague Professor Anson Rainey use to say: “archaeology is the science of digging a hole and spinning a tale about it.”  One example of a change in the interpretation of finds follows.

Temple to Augustus or ???

Years ago the above structure was interpreted as possibly the Temple to the Roman Emperor August that Josephus mentions as being by the harbor at Caesarea Maritima.

But now, a Nymphaeum (monumental fountain), not a Temple.

Today, the structure is interpreted as being a monumental fountain that is located at the northwestern corner of the podium on which the Temple to Augustus stood.

Thus, as research continues, the interpretation, and dating of finds can change: think at Timna—Solomon’s Mines, Not Solomon’s Mines, and now, Solomon’s Mines.  Hmm.

For an article on the projected “visitor upgrades” at Caesarea Maritima see Here.

Free Zondervan Atlas of the Bible Images

Greetings.  In June of 2010 Zondervan published a new, completely revised edition of my (now titled) Zondervan Atlas of the Bible.  To assist those who are using the atlas in a variety of classes, I have posted all the images that are included in the atlas.

Wadi Ram/Rum (Jordan) — Page 63 in Zondervan Atlas of the Bible

These images are available as free downloads for individuals to use in their private presentations—for reasonable rates for commercial publication please contact me directly.  Here is the link to the pictures.  Click on the folders on the left side of the page.  The folders are geared to the chapters in the Atlas.

Enjoy!

Click Here to view the Atlas at amazon.com, for the Kindle Version,  or Here for an electronic version.