Mar 13, 2014

Potters Marks Found

Here is an example of a potters mark on a piece of Terra Sigillata fine or red Ancient Roman pottery with glossy surface slips. This pottery from the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire were called  African Red Slip wares or Eastern Sigillata. As yet I have been unable to identify the potters mark. There are 300,000 potters marks identified in Terra Sigillata in Hartley, Brian R., Brenda M. Dickinson, and Geoffrey B. Dannell, eds. Names on Terra Sigillata: An Index of Makers’ Stamps & Signatures on Gallo-Roman Terra Sigillata (Samian Ware). 9 vols. London, U.K.: Institute of Classical Studies, 2008. Iliffe, John Henry. Sigillata Wares In the Near East: A List of Potters’ Stamps. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1936. If anyone has access to these volumnes at their library I'd be grateful if you find something.

Mar 12, 2014

Arabic Umyyad Inscriptions Found

This appears to be a part of a bowl. It has an Arabic inscription on the side which reads بسم الله, It translates as "By the name of Allah." This is part of the phrase recited before each sura (chapter) of the Qur'an. The Jordanian staff were able to read it even though the vowel pointings of the old script were not used. Several independent staff were shown the inscription and all read the same thing.

 Terry one of our workers was clarifying the wall (I have my foot on it) when I walked over to see how he was doing. I looked down and said "Terry do you know that you have an inscription on the wall?" He said "No I've been working so close to it that I didn't see it." There was a large stone covering part of it and there was some controversy over what it said. Therefore we decided to take out more of the soil to see what the inscription would reveal.

Here is the final inscription. Like the oil lamp, the stone to the right stated: "By the name of Allah." The stone to the left translates as "By his prophet Mohammed." This would date to the Umyyad period (638-750 AD) as the building and city of Livias were destroyed in the earthquake of 749 AD (see evidence for the date below) that took out many of the cities in the Jordan Valley including Khirbet Mefjer near Jericho, Pella, Capernaum, Sussita-Hippos, and Bet Shean-Scythopolis.

Tsafrir and Foerster document that in:
Bet Shean much evidence was found of the tremendous earthquake that destroyed the city. One of the best examples is an arcaded commercial street of the Byzantine and early Arab period, which collapsed completely. Underneath the debris of the shops many artifacts were discovered that confirm the dating of the collapse to the mid eighth century, among them pottery, glass and metal vessels, as well as balances, jewellery and coins. Not one of the coins found dates from later than the first half of the eighth century. Most significant is a hoard discovered in one of the shops which included, among other finds, 31 gold dinars. The earliest coin in this hoard is dated A.H. 78 (March 697-March 698 C.E.) and the latest was minted in A.H. 131 (31 August 748-19 August 749). This coin is the latest in date of those found hitherto under the ruins of the earthquake by the excavation. Its discovery supplies a clear terminus post quem for the earthquake no earlier than the end of August 748. Clearly this coin, which has survived in mint condition, had found its way into the hands of the trader a very short time before it was buried by the earthquake of 18 January in the year 749.
Tsafrir, Yoram, and Gideon Foerster. “The Dating of the ‘Earthquake of the Sabbatical Year’ of 749 C. E. in Palestine.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 55, no. 2 (1992): 231–235.

The conquest of the Byzantine empire took place at the Battle of Yarmouk between the Muslim Arab forces of the Rashidun Caliphate just north of us near the Yarmouk River in August 636. The Muslim presence at Livias was only 113 years but in that time they cut this inscription into the inside wall of the building designating their ownership of the bath complex.

Mar 11, 2014

Pottery Puzzle

This is the display of just 2 weeks of excavation. We would average about 10 buckets of pottery a day. Once the pottery was washed by our pottery washing team we would separate the body shards from the diagnostic pieces (handles, bases and rims). You will notice that on the table nearest you are the various handles many of them with the rim still intact. We separated the diagnostics and shards to see if we could find some mendable pieces (my wife is holding one of them). We did manage to put many pieces together like a giant jig saw puzzle. From this selection we choose the publishable which are registered and later published in the official pottery book on Roman and Byzantine pottery. The pottery from the Bronze and Iron age are read separately pail by pail. It took the team an entire day to read the pottery from the rest of the dig. The Roman building we are excavating was backfilled by local farmers over the years so the pottery was mixed and therefore there was no logical stratification in our area. The Roman pottery was on the top of the Byzantine and Umyyad. To read the balk in our area one would have to stand on their head. Glen (at the end of the table in the photo) has a patch over his eye because of an eye problem he acquired while in Jordan, not from looking at all the pottery. :-)

Jar of the Day Feb 13, 2014

A large commercial "bag-shaped" Roman storage jar common in Palestine and Dead Sea area.
Jodi Magness states:
"This type [bag-shaped storage jars] dates to the second half of the first century and first half of the second century and is well represented at sites around the Dead Sea and in the Bar Kokhba caves." Jodi Magness, “The Pottery from the 1995 Excavations in Camp F Masada.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 353 (2009): 79.
We were able to find enough pieces to complete part of the shoulder and rim. We were unable to make the handle fit and we did have another complete rim of a similar jar. It might belong to the the other jar.

Magness goes on to describe our style of jar:
"A different type of locally produced, bag-shaped storage jar dating to the first century and first half of the second century is represented by a small number of specimens (figs. 4:2-3; 8:6). These jars are made of hard-fired, orange or orange-brown ware, some times with a light brown or light orange slip. They have an everted neck with a thickened, ledge-like rim and a ridge at the base of the neck. These are often referred to as "bell-shaped jars," identified as Type SJ5 at Ein Boqeq (where it is the second most common storage jar type), Group 13 at Machaerus (see Fischer and Tal 2000: 36-37; Loffreda 1996: 47), and Type M-SJ13 at Masada (Bar-Nathan 2006: 62-65)."  Jodi Magness, “The Pottery from the 1995 Excavations in Camp F Masada.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 353 (2009): 79.

During a visit to the New Archaeological museum in Amman I spotted this vessel (right) which is a similar style.
However, the label over the two jars at the Amman Museum stated they are Byzantine period (5th-6th century AD) jars. The Jordanian Museum may have mislabeled these jars as Byzantine when in fact they are from the Roman period although the form may have carried over into the Byzantine period.

Jars of the Day - Jars of the Season

The day ended with this pottery hoard. Tucked in under a tree and into the baulk there were three visible jars which we had to remove before we left or they would not be there in the morning (night diggers). They appeared to be whole vessels. We were hoping.

 Here my wife (Irina) is holding one of the complete jars, a beautiful spouted wine jug. Five other vessels are in the black gouffa's. First there was one, then two, and by the time we were finished we had excavated six whole vessels. A couple were broken but we had most of the parts to mend them.
Byzantine strainer jug.This double handled vessel was beautifully painted with red paint. The neck contained a five hole strainer.
Roman terracotta wine jug ca.1st-2nd century AD. Sometimes the handle is on the side but here it is in the back.
Roman terracotta wine jug ca.1st-2nd century AD. This one is similar to the one above but the handle was missing and made of a lighter clay.

Roman terracotta wine jug ca.1st-2nd century AD. This is the third of this type found together in the same area.
Byzantine double handled ribbed vessel. The jar was laying together but broken so it was easily mended.

Byzantine single handled ribbed pitcher.

Find of the Day Feb 24, 2014

Here is the room all cleaned out. Irina and her team removed every gouffa of dirt from the room and swept the floor. The floor was a beautiful red tinted color. The walls are plastered with a mixture of terracotta pottery crushed and mixed into the compound. There were vents in the wall above the floor to allow for water to escape.
 You can see a doorway in the upper right hand side with a raised threshold so we know that there was another floor laid on top (perhaps a mosaic floor since we did discover some tessera). The door frame was installed during the Byzantine period as there was plaster between the door frame and the wall.
Here in the corner of the floor (upper right hand corner) is where we found a Byzantine oil lamp. (It was found turned over). We keep saying the good stuff is in the corners and here is a good example.

Here is the close up of oil lamp which was found in the corner of the room. Adler states "common motif is a candlestick, which is sometimes referred to as a palm branch or a Menorah design."  Noam Adler, Oil Lamps of the Holy Land from the Adler Collection (Jerusalem: Old City, 2005), 146 Nos. 933-940. Stylized menorah on spout: six candles flanking central pole, the spout of the lamp acts as the 7th candle when lit! It dates to the second half of the fourth cent. to the fifth cent. AD. Some of these style also have the Greek inscription "Jesus light shines for all" which we have on our site. LINK This example may have two of the Greek letters on the side but it is not clear whether it was a decoration or the Greek Letters.

Vessel of the Day Feb 18, 2014

A complete Byzantine oil lamp with a Maltese cross. Pear shaped with nozzle as part of the body with double rim. Even lines around the body with the cross on the nozzle. It has a ring base. It is very rare to find these in one piece. Several small pieces of other similar oil lamps were discovered.
Dates to the second half of the 4 cent. to the 5th century AD.  Noam Adler, Oil Lamps of the Holy Land from the Adler Collection (Jerusalem: Old City, 2005),147. style No. 907.

Two years ago (Feb 2012) we discovered a part of an oil lamp with a Greek inscription from a bit later period (end of the 5th to the 7th or 8th century AD). It reads "Jesus light shines for all."

Jar of the Day Feb 11, 2014

On Feb 11 this was the vessel of the day. It is a Roman Terracotta Trefoil Spouted Wine Pitcher, 3rd cent. AD.
This is it after it was cleaned up. You can see where the handle attaches. Unfortunately we did not recover the handle.

This is another similar jar which we also found. this one has part of the handle still attached to the rim and the trefoil spout is in good condition. There is a picture of the full jar at this LINK. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the jar. It is the last piece of pottery displayed.

Jar of the Day Feb 10, 2014

One of two handles with the rim attached that we excavated Feb 10th in the corner of the square (16B1) from the Roman Bath complex building. We found several pieces in the same area so we bagged them for possible mendable.
I'm holding the jar of the day admiring its size and shape. Tall el-Hammam is visible in the background over the top of the jar.

Once we washed up the pieces we found that much of the top of the jar was mendable. It really helps to see the stance of the jar once the pieces are put together.

A few days later I was visiting the new St. Lot Museum at the southern end of the Dead Sea and spotted this same style vessel. It is a similar Byzantine transport amphora jar that dates to the 6th century AD. Such pots were used to store honey, a product of monasteries. Amihai Mazar, an Israeli archaeologist and Professor at the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, also had just lectured for us on his discovery of the 30 unusual ancient Beehives at the ancient city of Rehov. It was interesting to see a reference to honey from the land of Milk and Honey.

Start of Season 9 of Tall el-Hammam Excavation

This is the two squares after we cleaned off the top layer of dirt and debris.
The picture to the right is how it looked after one month of excavations. The team removed a room full of dirt however the crew in the corner room were slowed down by the amount of pottery we discovered (See the following posts for pictures of the wonderful pottery that would be there waiting for us to uncover).

Mar 10, 2014

Aerial view of the Roman Area Building

My apologies for not posting updates from the Tall el-Hammam excavation this season, but I was unable to access my blog from Jordan as it was blocked for security reasons outside of my usual location. I am now back in Portugal and can now access my bog and will attempt, in the next few days, to bring you up to date on the various discoveries of this years excavation of the Roman Bath Complex.

These photos are aerial shots of the Roman area (2010) that we are excavating. The south wall of the Bath complex is visible along with the black covered (for protection) bath installation in the center of the photograph. The building is 35 meters by 40 meters. I have highlighted the photo to the right to help identify the walls as they are under trees but we have identified all four corners of the building. We excavated two squares highlighted in yellow this season (2014). The excavation revealed another room with plastered walls and a reddish stone cut floor. There will be more photos to follow of our progress this season and what we discovered.

Here is a larger map that may help locate us in Jordan. LINK

Books by David E. Graves

I currently have three books published and working on my fourth on Sodom.

The first was the publication of my PhD dissertation by Gorgias Press in 2009 under the title The Seven Messages of Revelation and Vassal Treaties: Literary Genre, Structure, and Function. in their Gorgias Dissertations Biblical Studies series 41., Gorgias Press and Eisenbrauns.

The second volume came out in 2013 and is self-published under the title of The Key Themes of the Old Testament: A Survey of Major Theological Themes. CreateSpace, 2013 available on CreateSpace eStore, and Barnes and Nobles. Surveys 12 Old Testament themes written for the undergraduate audience from a themes perspective. The themes include history of the English Bible, biblical revelation, inspiration, transmission of the text, creation context, sovereignty of God, sin and the human condition, protoevangelium, covenant, biblical law, Israelite worship, and prophets.  ISBN-13: 978-1478122692; ISBN-10: 1478122692.

The third book was self-published through Create Space in Jan of 2014 under the title of  The Key Themes of the New Testament is now available at Createspace eStoreAmazon. com and Barnes and Nobles. Themes covered include the kinds of biblical literature, birth and early years of Jesus, the ministry of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the founding, development, formation and future of the Church. At over 440 pages and over 100 photos, maps and charts this book will complete the Biblical Themes series. ISBN-10: 1490922741; ISBN-13: 978-1490922744.

The fourth volume coming this year will be the Key Facts for the Location of Sodom: Navigating the Maze of Arguments, CreateSpace, 2014. Forthcoming.

Jan 25, 2014

Map of the Dead Sea with Southern and Northern location of the Pentapolis

Northern and Southern location for the Cities of the Plain
To assist my student working on the proposed sites for the northern and southern location of the five Cities of the Plain (Pentapolis), I have created this map of the sites. Note that the Southern cities were destroyed in the Early Bronze Age (EB ca. 2350 BC), while the Northern locations were destroyed in the Middle Bronze Age (MB ca. 1600 BC). Most evangelical scholars place Abraham in the period of the Middle Bronze Age (1950 and 1550 BC). See Kenneth A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2003, 313-72 and Price, J. Randall. The Stones Cry Out: What Archaeology Reveals About the Truth of the Bible. Eugene, Oreg.: Harvest House, 1997, 106. Here is another close-up map of just the Northern end of the Dead Sea. LINK

Jan 23, 2014

Liberty Students - Online Resources

Liberty Students - Online Resources Doing an online courses can be difficult, especially when the local library does not have a good selection of resources on the Bible or archaeology. Perhaps you are on a ship deployed in the middle of the Pacific or a housewife living in a small town. You don't have access to a good theological library and where can you go to find resources. Here is a list of sources that will help, which are academic and accessible from anywhere you have the internet. Now you have no excuse for producing quality research. Liberty Students: Be sure to set up an off campus access account and use the Ezproxy login to gain access to many online articles and books.


  • My Blog. Your looking at it!! Check out the right column for books and links under these headings.
    • Sources on Archaeology: with links to good books for research in alphabetical order. Click on the book or article to download the file. You will need either Acrobat Reader for the PDF or WinDJview for the DJVU files (download the software to read DJVU at LINK).
    • Archaeology: with links to museums and websites related to archaeology.
    • Research: with links to ancient documents, abbreviations, Journals, and maps.
  • My Books. Key Themes of the Old and New Testament are full of side bar sections on archaeology.
  • Google Books and Search for a book and use the Look Inside feature. This can be a big help. Use the table of contents of the book. You will need to set up a Google account to view the pages but this is free. Sometimes if the page is not available on one Amazon it is in Google books so make sure to check both sites if you don't see what you need. You do need to watch carefully the quality of the books.  (From a reputable publisher with University in the name i.e., Oxford University Press, Harvard, etc.). Don't use "Archaeology for Dummies!!!" it does exist!!
  • Internet Archive. This site has the largest collection of scanned (PDF) works in the world. Almost anything that is prior to 1923 is available because of the copyright laws.
  • Wikipedia. Don't use it!!! The material is notorious for being unreliable and inaccurate. If you do look at an article like Jericho in the link check out the footnotes and bibliography at the bottom where they will often have links to PDF files you can download or books you can look up in Google books or get at the Library. NEVER place Wikipedia in your bibliography.

Website Bible Tools

  • Many of their works are modern and helpful for research. See a complete list with user instructions on my BLOG
  • Much of the older material is repeated from other sites.
  • Rob Bradshaw's  To make high quality theological material available throughout the world. Digitising and uploading in co-operation with authors and publishers, rare and out-of-print theology books and articles. Over 18,000 articles (PDF) are now available for free download here or via the subject menus on the left hand side of the page.
  • Almost all their works are older and out of date for research but good for searching the Bible.
  • StepTools by Tyndale. Very Powerful online tool. Various Bible Translation and language helps along with older commentaries and dictionaries.
  • Christian Information Ministries provides information on Noah's Ark research by Bill Crouse but many other issues.

Ancient Texts


These books are suitable for doing research in archaeology and the complete books are available in either PDF or DJVU format. The DJVU reader can be found at LINK. Use the index in the book or search using the Adobe Edit/Find feature (Ctrl+F).


Most Journal articles will be available through the Liberty Library online.

Bible and Spade 1972 Bible and Spade 1992
Bible and Spade 1973 Bible and Spade 1993
Bible and Spade 1974 Bible and Spade 1994
Bible and Spade 1975 Bible and Spade 1995
Bible and Spade 1976 Bible and Spade 1996
Bible and Spade 1977 Bible and Spade 1997
Bible and Spade 1978 Bible and Spade 1998
Bible and Spade 1979 Bible and Spade 1999
Bible and Spade 1980 Bible and Spade 2000
Bible and Spade 1981 Bible and Spade 2001
Bible and Spade 1982 Bible and Spade 2002
Bible and Spade 1983 Bible and Spade 2003
Bible and Spade 1987 Bible and Spade 2004
Bible and Spade 1988 Bible and Spade 2005
Bible and Spade 1989 Bible and Spade 2006
Bible and Spade 1990 Bible and Spade 2007
Bible and Spade 1991 Bible and Spade 2008

Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

  • Archer, Gleason Leonard. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1982. PDF Excellent treatment of difficult passages of the Bible from a conservative perspective.
  • Negev, Avraham, ed. Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. 3rd ed. New York, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1996. * Not to be confused with this Encyclopedia which is not online. Stern, Ephraim, Ayelet Levinson-Gilboa, and Joseph Aviram, eds. The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. 4 vols. New York, N.Y.: MacMillan, 1993.
  • Berenbaum, Michael, and Fred Skolnik, eds. Encyclopedia Judaica. 22 vols. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: MacMillan, 2006. Available online through Liberty Library search.
  • Blaiklock, Edward M., R.K. Harrison, eds. The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1983. Available on Campus
  • Butler, Trent C., ed. Holman Bible Dictionary. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman, 1991. Not to be confused with the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (2003), which is expanded and updated, but this original work is packed full (6,672 entries) of good material.
  • Carson, Thomas, ed. The New Catholic Encyclopedia. 15 vols. 2nd ed. Detroit, Mich.: Gale, 2003. Written from a Roman Catholic perspective. Not to be confused with the older outdated online work: Pallen, Condé Bénoist, Charles George Herbermann, and Edward Aloysius Pace, eds. The Catholic Encyclopedia. 19 vols. New York, N.Y.: Appleton Company, 1913. also at New Advent
  • Collins, John J., and Daniel C. Harlow, eds. The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2010.
  • Easton, Mathew George. Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson, 1897. Older research available on many sites but good for an overview of previous views.
  • Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. 2nd ed. Baker Reference Library. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 1996. Standard dictionary on biblical theology from an evangelical perspective.
  • Freedman, David Noel, Gary A. Herion, David F. Graf, and John David Pleins, eds. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. 6 vols. New York, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1992. Often minimalist in its conclusions but good academic research and good bibliographies. Use their Search *
  • Freedman, David Noel, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid B. Beck, eds. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000.
  • Hastings, James, and John A. Selbie, eds. A Dictionary of the Bible. Single Volume. New York, N.Y.: Scribner’s Sons, 1909. LINK Not to be confused with the 5 volume edition which completely different articles. Hastings, James, and John A. Selbie, eds. A Dictionary of the Bible: Dealing with Its Language, Literature and Contents Including the Biblical Theology. 5 vols. New York, N.Y.: Scribner’s Sons, 1911.
  • Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1996.
  • Orr, James, and Melvin Grove Kyle, eds. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 5 vols. Howard-Severance Co., Chicago, 1915; Grand Rapids, Mich..: Eerdmans, 1989. Also available at StudyLight and Gospel Hall Bible Search
  • Pfeiffer, Charles F, Howard Frederic Vos, and John Rea, eds. The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia. 2 vols. Chicago, Ill.: Moody, 2005. Standard conservative Encyclopedia of more than two hundred biblical scholars that was begun in 1959.
  • Singer, Isidore, Cyrus Adler, Gotthard Deutsch, Kaufmann Kohler, and Emil G. Hirsch, eds. The Jewish Encyclopedia. 12 vols. New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls, 1906. Research from a Jewish perspective. Not to be confused with this less academic, single volume work. Bridger, David, and Samuel Wolk. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. Springfield, NJ: Behrman, 1962.
  • Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. London, U.K.: Murray, 1875. Standard reference work for many years, although outdated it is still a valuable source if handled carefully and with common sense.
  • Tenney, Merrill C., and Moisés Silva, eds. Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vols. 1-5. Revised, Full-Color ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2009. *

Bible Commentaries

Many older commentaries such as John Gill, John Calvin, Matthew Henry, Scofield's Notes, Adam Clarke, etc. and available online are great for devotions and sermon preparation but not suitable for academic research. Here are a few that are suitable and online.

Maps and Charts

Archaeological Excavations

  • Okeanos list of archaeological excavations by region.

Turabian Format

The Chicago-Turabian (also called Society for Biblical Literature - SBL) format, used in biblical studies courses around the world, MUST be followed for all footnotes (not end-notes or APA)  and bibliography used in ALL paper submitted in Liberty Online courses I teach.

  • Liberty Turabian Guide
  • The Liberty Online Writing Center
  • Libery InfoRM Learn how to use resources and write academic papers.
  • Alexander, Patrick, John F. Kutsko, and Shirley Decker-Lucke. The SBL Handbook of Style: For Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Early Christian Studies. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1999. There is a Society for Biblical Literature (SBL) Student Supplement for Turabian for biblical studies PDF that is helpful for students.
  • ETURABIAN: This is a great tool to help put your footnotes in the proper format. The Service is free but you will need to set up a username and password.
  • ZOTERO: A helpful footnote tool is the free Firefox plug-in called Zotero. It is used for automatically inserting footnotes into your papers and automatically creating your bibliography and keeping it up to date with any new footnotes you add. You can follow the instructional videos online to set it up. There are also YouTube videos that will help. There are also a necessary word processor plugins, available for Microsoft Word and LibreOffice, OpenOffice and NeoOffice. This will allow you to place footnotes into your papers automatically. Word processor plugins are available here. Gather bibliographic information off of sites like and insert the footnote into your paper with a few clicks of your mouse. If you use Zotero then select their Citation Style: "Chicago Manual of Style (full note)."

Modified April 7, 2014 Copyright © 2014 Dr. David E. Graves