BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Porcupine Digs Up 1,400-Year-Old Oil Lamp in Israel

Archaeology news

lamp-horbat-siv

A porcupine dug up this Byzantine-period oil lamp in central Israel. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority.

While patrolling the Roman-Byzantine ruins at Horbat Siv in central Israel, anti-antiquities-theft inspectors with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) found a 1,400-year-old oil lamp that had apparently been dug up by a porcupine. The intact lamp, which was discovered at the edge of a porcupine burrow, has burn marks, indicating that the object was once used.

As porcupines create underground burrows, which can stretch as long as 50 feet, objects in the rodents’ path can make their way to the surface.

Artifacts discovered along the ground, removed from their original archaeological context, are considered surface finds. These types of finds can signal, among other things, the possible presence of an archaeological site or confirm the presence of one that has already been identified.


The free eBook Life in the Ancient World guides you through craft centers in ancient Jerusalem, family structure across Israel and ancient practices—from dining to makeup—throughout the Mediterranean world.


 

indian-crested-porcupine

The Indian crested porcupine is Israel’s largest rodent. Photo: Courtesy natureisrael.com.

According to the IAA, the oil lamp unearthed by the porcupine sheds light on the time frame in which Horbat Siv had been inhabited.

In a press release, written in Hebrew and translated in part by The Jerusalem Post, the IAA playfully put out a warning to all amateur porcupine archaeologists:

“The IAA calls on all porcupines to avoid digging burrows at archaeological sites and warns that digging at an archaeological site without a license is a criminal offense.”


 

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Spelunkers Find Cache of Jewelry and Coins of Alexander the Great in Israel

Hoard of Gold Coins Found in Caesarea Harbor


 

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3 Responses

  1. JPMarichal says:

    Here’s a translation into Spanish of this interesting article: http://biblicomentarios.com/puercoespin-descubrimiento-arqueologico-en-israel/

  2. Puercoespin realiza un descubrimiento arqueologico en Israel says:

    […] Fuente: Porcupine Digs Up 1,400-Year-Old Oil Lamp in Israel – Biblical Archaeology Society […]

  3. Kurt says:

    A “Pim” Testifies to the Bible’s Historicity
    THE word “pim” occurs only once in the Bible. In the days of King Saul, the Israelites had to get their metal tools sharpened by Philistine smiths. “The price for sharpening proved to be a pim for the plowshares and for the mattocks and for the three-toothed instruments and for the axes and for fixing fast the oxgoad,” states the Bible.—1 Samuel 13:21.
    What was a pim? The answer to that question remained a mystery until 1907 C.E. when the first pim weight stone was excavated at the ancient city of Gezer. Bible translators of earlier dates had difficulty translating the word “pim.” The King James Version, for example, rendered 1 Samuel 13:21: “Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.”
    Scholars today know that a pim was a weight measure averaging 7.82 grams, or approximately two thirds of a shekel, the basic Hebrew unit of weight. A pim measure of silver scrap was the price the Philistines charged the Israelites for sharpening their tools. The shekel weight system went out of use with the fall of the kingdom of Judah and its capital, Jerusalem, in 607 B.C.E. So how does the pim measure testify to the historicity of the Hebrew text?
    Some scholars argue that the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures, including the book of First Samuel, date to the Hellenistic-Roman era, even as late as from the second to the first century B.C.E. It is claimed, therefore, that “they are . . . ‘unhistorical,’ of little or no value for reconstructing a ‘biblical’ or an ‘ancient Israel,’ both of which are simply modern Jewish and Christian literary constructs.”
    Referring to the pim measure mentioned at 1 Samuel 13:21, however, William G. Dever, professor of Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology, says: “[It] cannot possibly have been ‘invented’ by writers living in the Hellenistic-Roman period several centuries after these weights had disappeared and had been forgotten. In fact, this bit of biblical text . . . would not be understood until the early 20th century A.D., when the first actual archaeological examples turned up, reading pîm in Hebrew.” The professor continues: “If the biblical stories are all ‘literary inventions’ of the Hellenistic-Roman era, how did this particular story come to be in the Hebrew Bible? One may object, of course, that the pîm incident is ‘only a detail.’ To be sure; but as is well known, ‘history is in the details.’”
    http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200274482

Write a Reply or Comment

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3 Responses

  1. JPMarichal says:

    Here’s a translation into Spanish of this interesting article: http://biblicomentarios.com/puercoespin-descubrimiento-arqueologico-en-israel/

  2. Puercoespin realiza un descubrimiento arqueologico en Israel says:

    […] Fuente: Porcupine Digs Up 1,400-Year-Old Oil Lamp in Israel – Biblical Archaeology Society […]

  3. Kurt says:

    A “Pim” Testifies to the Bible’s Historicity
    THE word “pim” occurs only once in the Bible. In the days of King Saul, the Israelites had to get their metal tools sharpened by Philistine smiths. “The price for sharpening proved to be a pim for the plowshares and for the mattocks and for the three-toothed instruments and for the axes and for fixing fast the oxgoad,” states the Bible.—1 Samuel 13:21.
    What was a pim? The answer to that question remained a mystery until 1907 C.E. when the first pim weight stone was excavated at the ancient city of Gezer. Bible translators of earlier dates had difficulty translating the word “pim.” The King James Version, for example, rendered 1 Samuel 13:21: “Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.”
    Scholars today know that a pim was a weight measure averaging 7.82 grams, or approximately two thirds of a shekel, the basic Hebrew unit of weight. A pim measure of silver scrap was the price the Philistines charged the Israelites for sharpening their tools. The shekel weight system went out of use with the fall of the kingdom of Judah and its capital, Jerusalem, in 607 B.C.E. So how does the pim measure testify to the historicity of the Hebrew text?
    Some scholars argue that the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures, including the book of First Samuel, date to the Hellenistic-Roman era, even as late as from the second to the first century B.C.E. It is claimed, therefore, that “they are . . . ‘unhistorical,’ of little or no value for reconstructing a ‘biblical’ or an ‘ancient Israel,’ both of which are simply modern Jewish and Christian literary constructs.”
    Referring to the pim measure mentioned at 1 Samuel 13:21, however, William G. Dever, professor of Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology, says: “[It] cannot possibly have been ‘invented’ by writers living in the Hellenistic-Roman period several centuries after these weights had disappeared and had been forgotten. In fact, this bit of biblical text . . . would not be understood until the early 20th century A.D., when the first actual archaeological examples turned up, reading pîm in Hebrew.” The professor continues: “If the biblical stories are all ‘literary inventions’ of the Hellenistic-Roman era, how did this particular story come to be in the Hebrew Bible? One may object, of course, that the pîm incident is ‘only a detail.’ To be sure; but as is well known, ‘history is in the details.’”
    http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200274482

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