Ancient history

Cool, calm and collectable

By Peter Rosengard, March 28, 2014

I got an email on Tuesday from someone called Phil from Wales. “Please can I come and have a look at your watering can?”


The tablet that altered the story of Noah's Ark

By Sandy Rashty, February 17, 2014

The story of Noah’s Ark has always captivated the minds of children. Many have walked animal miniatures two-by-two into toy boats, as they imagine the vessel that saved believers from 40 rainy days and nights of flood.


Norwich to bury bones — Jewish or not

By Simon Rocker, March 7, 2013

Norwich’s Jewish community is planning to bury the excavated remains of 17 people from medieval times — despite expert doubts over whether or not they are Jewish.

The intermingled bones, including those of 11 children, were found at the bottom of a 12th-century well in the centre of the city four years ago.


Oxford, Cambridge work together to preserve Jewish texts

By Jennifer Lipman, February 11, 2013

Oxford and Cambridge universities are putting aside an historic rivalry in a bid to acquire thousands of rare texts that give insight into Jewish life and culture from the medieval era until the 19th century.


Afghan cave find is ‘monumental’

By Sarah Pilchick, January 10, 2013

Thousand-year-old documents found in an Afghan cave are shedding light on the region’s ancient Jewish community.


How Jewish astrologers used astrolabes to predict the future

By Jennifer Lipman, December 21, 2012

If you are reading this over Shabbat, then it is safe to assume that the world did not come to an end on December 21, despite the predictions of the Mayan calendar.


Was King Saul’s reign really a tragedy?

By Robert Segal, December 10, 2012

The story of Saul, the first king of Israel, begins with a demand by the Israelites — led until then by judges, the last one being Samuel: “When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel… Yet his sons did not follow in his ways… Then all the elders gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him… Appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations


Roman synagogue unearthed in Israel archeological dig

By Mark Robins , July 2, 2012

An archaeological dig in Northern Israel has uncovered new fragments of an ancient synagogue dating back to the Roman Period.

Experts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and of the Israel Antiquities Authority unearthed the structure in the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq.


Please come back: Mohamed is looking after the synagogue

By John Pollock, March 29, 2012

In Yefren, high in Libya's Nafusa mountains, a 2000-year-old shul is guarded by Muslims.

It is one of the seven Ghriba - "wondrous" - synagogues of the Maghreb. The most famous, in Djerba, Tunisia, attracts thousands each year to its magnificent 19th century building. By contrast, the tiny ancient Yefren shul is barely visited.


Hercules statue found in Israel dig

By Jennifer Lipman, August 16, 2011

A unusual statue of a Roman god famed for his strength has been discovered by Israeli excavators

The smooth white marble statue of Hercules, found at a recently opened dig in the Jezreel Valley, is about 50 centimetres tall. It is thought to be from the second century AD.