Sep 2, 2009

An Archeology Update

Chuck MisslerBy Chuck Missler

While they do not often carry whips or get chased by massive boulders, archeologists still get to dig in dusty parts of the earth and uncover little bits of history. To some a summer home, or a piece of a woman's cosmetic palette from 3000 BC might seem petty, but to others, they can open up a whole slough of information about ancient times.

Emperor Titus Vespasian made ripples again recently when a summer villa believed to be his was discovered in the mountains northeast of Rome. Archeologist Filippo Coarelli of the University of Perugia led the digs which uncovered the huge marble villa with its baths and beautiful mosaic floors. There is nothing specific about the building to designate its owner, but it was constructed just outside the town of Falacrinae, Vespasian's birth place.

Most people remember Vespasian as the emperor who built the Colosseum in Rome and who cleaned up the empire after Nero died. Jews remember Vespasian for another reason; the Temple no longer stands in Jerusalem because in AD 70, Roman legions led by Vespasian's son Titus set the Temple on fire (against orders) and tore it apart stone by stone in order to get at the gold that had melted into the cracks. King David is remembered for killing Goliath, Noah is remembered for building the ark, and Vespasian built the Colosseum using gold from the Jewish Temple.

In the meanwhile, a shard of an ancient plaque bearing Egyptian signs was discovered at a dig in the Jordan valley where the Jordan River leaves the Sea of Galilee. The piece bears an arm with a hand holding a scepter and an early form of the ankh and dates back 5000 years to Egypt's First Dynasty, some 900 years before Abraham. The signs on it are of a royal quality, and nothing like it has been found outside of Egypt. It was known that there had been comings and goings between the Egyptian royal court and that part of the Jordan Valley, but the piece indicates that the interaction was even more significant than previously thought.

A little farther north, clear up in Cambridge, archeologists are working quickly to uncover the remnants of second-century wealthy Roman farms. They don't have a lot of time, the plot of land where they are digging is getting prepared for an expansion of Cambridge University. The team has found a variety of Roman remnants, including tiles from hypocaust heating systems and pieces of some very upscale ancient dishes at the site, and they expect to find many more items before their time is up.

"What's interesting about Cambridge is that with these tracts of land bequeathed to the university, you have a lot of preserved green space coming in close to the city centre," says Chris Evans, head of the Cambridge unit. "It hasn't been developed in the intervening centuries. There are iron-age and Roman farmsteads literally every 200-300 meters." Evans suggests there may be 10,000-15,000 artifacts in all.
The Roman Empire did not stop at Jerusalem or Spain, but stretched clear up into the British Isles and down into Africa. A "revived Roman Empire" would take up all of Europe and a significant part of the near Middle East. also partially thanks to Titus Vespasian, who did a lot to expand the Roman Empire into England.

Related Links

Emperor Vespasian’s villa unearthed - Euro News
Summer Home of Vespasian, Coliseum Builder, Found, Stampa Says - Bloomberg
The Roman foundations of Cambridge - The Guardian
New discovery links ancient Egypt and Jordan valley site - The Jerusalem Post
Europe: An Empire Reborn? - Koinonia House (Radio)
The Archaeology of the Bible - Reuven Dorot (DVD)
Stones and Stories: An Introduction to Archeology and the Bible - Don C. Benjamin (Book)