Understanding the past can sometimes come through written documents, but unlike our modern culture in which technology enables us to record (and broadcast) every moment we consider significant, the vast majority of ancient history was unrecorded.
Here are a few tidbits from the world of archaeology and ancient studies that readers might find interesting:
In Yemen, the country’s two-year-old civil war endangers not only the living (an estimated 10,000 killed so far), but is claiming victims that are already dead. A dozen mummies from a lost civilization some 2,500 years old are rotting because their caretakers don’t have electricity to run dehumidifiers or chemicals necessary to control bacteria in the mummified bodies. Even if specialists in the archaeological museum of the country’s main university are able to obtain needed funding, it’s unclear if the needed chemicals could make it through the war zones.
The biblical “Queen of Sheba” came from a land within the current country of Yemen. Sheba was a primary source of frankincense and myrrh — specialty items that merchant caravans traded throughout the ancient Near East. Now, the blockade of trade prevents other specialty items from preserving the bodies of some of those ancient people. For more, read this report from VOA.
In Jordan, ongoing excavations at a copper mining camp known as Khirbet en-Nahas are providing evidence that the biblical kingdom of Edom was more advanced at an earlier age than previously thought. It has often been thought that Edom did not develop as a full-fledged Iron Age kingdom until the 6th or 7th century BC, but Carbon 14 dating evidence suggests two peaks of copper-producing activity, the first around 1200 BCE and the second during the 9th century. Traditions from the book of Genesis speak of the Edomites as being descended from Esau, and the book of Numbers contends that Edomites prevented the Israelites from traveling through their territory en route from Egypt to Canaan. Obadiah condemned the Edomites for joining the Babylonians in looting Jerusalem after its destruction in 587 BCE. Read more from the Jordan Times.
Travelers with the Bible Lands Study Tour co-sponsored by Nurturing Faith Experiences and Campbell University Divinity School will be visiting the Idumean city of Petra and driving through the land once occupied by Edom on Thursday, May 18. If you’d enjoy a vicarious tour through parts of Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank, keep checking here: our first day in Israel will be Sunday, May 14. Since Israeli time is seven hours ahead, the first blog will probably appear early Monday morning, May 15.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.