Friday, January 18, 2008

Yet more crap archaeology

Yet more crap archaeology from Israel, again funded by the right-wing Zionist Shalem Center.  The same archaeologist involved in the highly questionable ‘discovery’ of the wall of Nehemiah has now ‘discovered’ an old Persian seal with additional letters on it representing the name of one of the families which came from Persia with Nehemiah.  This is supposed to prove the Biblical account of the building of the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah (and of course, at this politically delicate time, shore up Jewish claims to Jerusalem).

There is something intrinsically weird about this.  From the Jerusalem Post:

“The seal, which was bought in Babylon and dates to 538-445 BCE, portrays a common and popular cultic scene, Mazar said.

The 2.1 x 1.8-cm. elliptical seal is engraved with two bearded priests standing on either side of an incense altar with their hands raised forward in a position of worship.

A crescent moon, the symbol of the chief Babylonian god Sin, appears on the top of the altar.

Under this scene are three Hebrew letters spelling Temech, Mazar said.

The Bible refers to the Temech family: "These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city." [Nehemiah 7:6]... "The Nethinim [7:46]"... The children of Temech." [7:55].

The fact that this cultic scene relates to the Babylonian chief god seemed not to have disturbed the Jews who used it on their own seal, she added.

The seal of one of the members of the Temech family was discovered just dozens of meters away from the Opel area, where the servants of the Temple, or "Nethinim," lived in the time of Nehemiah, Mazar said.”

The Book of Nehemiah is greatly concerned with the sins of the local Jewish population, including blasphemy.  Do you think a prominent family from the reformist group accompanying Nehemiah from Persia would use a pagan blasphemous seal as their personal seal? 

The artifact looks to me like an old Persian seal on which someone has scratched letters.  This scratching could have been done at any time, including last week,  Given the history of such forgeries in Israel and the political ideology of the people involved, I would not give this story any credibility.