Thursday, January 26, 2012

Link between Asians and early Native-Americans

A tiny mountainous region in southern Siberia may have been the genetic source of the earliest Native Americans, according to new research by a University of Pennsylvania-led team of anthropologists.

Lying at the intersection of what is today Russia, Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan, the region known as the Altai "is a key area because it's a place that people have been coming and going for thousands and thousands of years," said Theodore Schurr, an associate professor in Penn's Department of Anthropology. Schurr, together with doctoral student Matthew Dulik and a team of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, collaborated on the work with Ludmila Osipova of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia.

Among the people who may have emerged from the Altai region are the predecessors of the first Native Americans. Roughly 20-25,000 years ago, these prehistoric humans carried their Asian genetic lineages up into the far reaches of Siberia and eventually across the then-exposed Bering land mass into the Americas.

"Our goal in working in this area was to better define what those founding lineages or sister lineages are to Native American populations," Schurr said.

The team's study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, analyzed the genetics of individuals living in Russia's Altai Republic to identify markers that might link them to Native Americans. Prior ethnographic studies had found distinctions between tribes in the northern and southern Altai, with the northern tribes apparently linked linguistically and culturally to ethnic groups farther to the north, such as the Uralic or Samoyedic populations, and the southern groups showing a stronger connection to Mongols, Uighurs and Buryats.

Schurr and colleagues assessed the Altai samples for markers in mitochondrial DNA, which is maternally inherited, and in Y chromosome DNA, which is passed from fathers to sons. They also compared the samples to ones previously collected from individuals in southern Siberia, Central Asia, Mongolia, East Asia and a variety of American indigenous groups. Because of the large number of gene markers examined, the findings have a high degree of precision.

"At this level of resolution we can see the connections more clearly," Schurr said.

Looking at the Y chromosome DNA, the researchers found a unique mutation shared by Native Americans and southern Altaians in the lineage known as Q.

"This is also true from the mitochondrial side," Schurr said. "We find forms of haplogroups C and D in southern Altaians and D in northern Altaians that look like some of the founder types that arose in North America, although the northern Altaians appeared more distantly related to Native Americans."

Calculating how long the mutations they noted took to arise, Schurr's team estimated that the southern Altaian lineage diverged genetically from the Native American lineage 13,000 to 14,000 years ago, a timing scenario that aligns with the idea of people moving into the Americas from Siberia between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago.

Though it's possible, even likely, that more than one wave of people crossed the land bridge, Schurr said that other researchers have not yet been able to identify a similar geographic focal point from which Native Americans can trace their heritage.

"It may change with more data from other groups, but, so far, even with intensive work in Mongolia, they're not seeing the same things that we are," he said.

In addition to elucidating the Asia-America connection, the study confirms that the modern cultural divide between southern and northern Altaians has ancient genetic roots. Southern Altaians appeared to have had greater genetic contact with Mongolians than they did with northern Altaians, who were more genetically similar to groups farther to the north.

However, when looking at the Altaians' mitochondrial DNA in isolation, the researchers did observe greater connections between northern and southern Altaians, suggesting that perhaps females were more likely to bridge the genetic divide between the two populations.

"Subtle differences here both reflect the Altaians themselves — the differentiation among those groups — and allow us to try to point to an area where some of these precursors of American Indian lineages may have arisen," Schurr said.

Moving forward, Schurr and his team hope to continue to use molecular genetic techniques to trace the movement of peoples within Asia and into and through the Americas. They may also attempt to identify links between genetic variations and adaptive physiological responses, links that could inform biomedical research.

For example, Schurr noted that both Siberian and Native American populations "seem to be susceptible to Westernization of diet and moving away from traditional diets, but their responses in terms of blood pressure and fat metabolism and so forth actually differ."

Using genomic approaches along with traditional physical anthropology may lend insight into the factors that govern these differences.

Following genetic footprints out of Africa

A new study, using genetic analysis to look for clues about human migration over sixty thousand years ago, suggests that the first modern humans settled in Arabia on their way from the Horn of Africa to the rest of the world.

Led by the University of Leeds and the University of Porto in Portugal, the study is published today in American Journal of Human Genetics and provides intriguing insight into the earliest stages of modern human migration, say the researchers.

"A major unanswered question regarding the dispersal of modern humans around the world concerns the geographical site of the first steps out of Africa," explains Dr Luísa Pereira from the Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto (IPATIMUP). "One popular model predicts that the early stages of the dispersal took place across the Red Sea to southern Arabia, but direct genetic evidence has been thin on the ground."

The international research team, which included colleagues from across Europe, Arabia and North Africa, analysed three of the earliest non-African maternal lineages. These early branches are associated with the time period when modern humans first successfully moved out of Africa.

Using mitochondrial DNA analysis, which traces the female line of descent and is useful for comparing relatedness between different populations, the researchers compared complete genomes from Arabia and the Near East with a database of hundreds more samples from Europe. They found evidence for an ancient ancestry within Arabia.

Professor Martin Richards of the University of Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences, said: "The timing and pattern of the migration of early modern humans has been a source of much debate and research. Our new results suggest that Arabia, rather than North Africa or the Near East, was the first staging-post in the spread of modern humans around the world.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Stamp with the Temple Menorah was Uncovered in Excavations near Akko

The tiny stamp was used to identify baked products and it probably belonged to a bakery that supplied kosher bread to the Jews of Akko in the Byzantine period

General view of the excavation

A 1,500 year old seal bearing an image of the seven-branched Temple Menorah was discovered near the city of Akko.

A ceramic stamp from the Byzantine period (6th century CE) was discovered in excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is currently conducting at Horbat Uza east of Akko, prior to the construction of the Akko-Karmiel railroad track by the Israel National Roads Company. This find belongs to a group of stamps referred to as “bread stamps” because they were usually used to stamp baked goods.

According to Gilad Jaffe and Dr. Danny Syon, the directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “A number of stamps bearing an image of a menorah are known from different collections. The Temple Menorah, being a Jewish symbol par excellence, indicates the stamps belonged to Jews, unlike Christian bread stamps with the cross pattern which were much more common in the Byzantine period”.

According to Syon, “This is the first time such a stamp is discovered in a controlled archaeological excavation, thus making it possible to determine its provenance and date of manufacture. The stamp is important because it proves that a Jewish community existed in the settlement of Uza in the Christian-Byzantine period. The presence of a Jewish settlement so close to Akko – a region that was definitely Christian at this time – constitutes an innovation in archaeological research”.

The excavators add, “Due to the geographical proximity of Horbat Uza to Akko, we can speculate that the settlement supplied kosher baked goods to the Jews of Akko in the Byzantine period”.

The stamp is engraved with a seven-branched menorah atop a narrow base, and the top of the branches forms a horizontal line. A number of Greek letters are engraved around a circle and dot on the end of the handle. Dr. Leah Di Segni, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem suggested this is probably the name Launtius. This name was common among Jews of the period and also appears on another Jewish bread stamp of unknown provenance. According to Dr. Syon and Gilad Jaffe, “This is probably the name of the baker from Horbat Uza.”

Horbat Uza is a small rural settlement where clues were previously found that allude to it being a Jewish settlement: a clay coffin, a Shabbat lamp and jars with menorah patterns painted on them were discovered there.

Dr. David Amit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who has made a study of bread stamps, adds, “A potter engraved the menorah image in the surface of the stamp prior to firing it in a kiln, whereas the owner’s name was engraved in the stamp’s handle after firing. Hence we can assume that a series of stamps bearing the menorah symbol were produced for Jewish bakers, and each of these bakers carved his name on the handle, which also served as a stamp. In this way the dough could be stamped twice before baking: once with the menorah – the general symbol of the Jewish identity of Jewish bakeries, and the private name of the baker in each of these bakeries, which also guaranteed the bakery’s kashrut.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ancient Popcorn Discovered in Peru

People living along the coast of Peru were eating popcorn 1,000 years earlier than previously reported and before ceramic pottery was used there, according to a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences co-authored by Dolores Piperno, curator of New World archaeology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and emeritus staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

These ancient corn cobs date roughly from 6,500-4,000 years ago. A is Proto-Confite Morocho race; B, Confite Chavinense maize race; and C is Proto-Alazan maize race. (Credit: Tom D. Dillehay)

Some of the oldest known corncobs, husks, stalks and tassels, dating from 6,700 to 3,000 years ago were found at Paredones and Huaca Prieta, two mound sites on Peru's arid northern coast. The research group, led by Tom Dillehay from Vanderbilt University and Duccio Bonavia from Peru's Academia Nacional de la Historia, also found corn microfossils: starch grains and phytoliths. Characteristics of the cobs -- the earliest ever discovered in South America -- indicate that the sites' ancient inhabitants ate corn several ways, including popcorn and flour corn. However, corn was still not an important part of their diet.

"Corn was first domesticated in Mexico nearly 9,000 years ago from a wild grass called teosinte," Piperno says. "Our results show that only a few thousand years later corn arrived in South America where its evolution into different varieties that are now common in the Andean region began. This evidence further indicates that in many areas corn arrived before pots did and that early experimentation with corn as a food was not dependent on the presence of pottery."

Understanding the subtle transformations in the characteristics of cobs and kernels that led to the hundreds of maize races known today, as well as where and when each of them developed, is a challenge. Corncobs and kernels were not well preserved in the humid tropical forests between Central and South America, including Panama -- the primary dispersal routes for the crop after it first left Mexico about 8,000 years ago.

"These new and unique races of corn may have developed quickly in South America, where there was no chance that they would continue to be pollinated by wild teosinte," Piperno says. "Because there is so little data available from other places for this time period, the wealth of morphological information about the cobs and other corn remains at this early date is very important for understanding how corn became the crop we know today."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Medieval Jewish manuscripts discovered in Afghanistan include an unknown work by Saadia Gaon

Complete article

This much is known: rare, medieval Jewish manuscripts have been discovered along the fabled Silk Road in Afghanistan and are for sale.

Are they authentic? Scholars who have examined them say they are.

The rest — who found them, where they came from, whether there are more to unearth — remains a mystery.

But the discovery of the 200 or more documents, some in good condition and others crumpled or in fragments, has excited academic interest around the world.

“For the first time we have concrete evidence of Jewish existence (in Afghanistan), not only in the material sense of tombstones or household artifacts, but documents that (tell us) about the spiritual world of the people who lived there 1,000 years ago,” says Haggai Ben-Shammai, academic director of the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem...

Many of the pages are torn from books and are in a variety of languages, including Judeo-Arabic and Judeo-Persian, both written in Hebrew script. They include biblical commentaries, books of Jewish law, liturgical poems, previously unknown work by Saadia Gaon, one of the most influential thinkers of the Middle Ages, as well as business letters and trading documents, such as deeds of sale.

“I have no doubt these are genuine,” says Shaul Shaked, professor emeritus at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The pages will be of particular interest to those who study the development of languages such as Judeo-Persian. Jewish communities tended to preserve forms of speech typical of earlier periods.

The documents describe a Jewish community that lived, permanently or temporarily, in a trading station between the Muslim conquest and the Mongol invasion. “We had some idea there were Jewish communities in Afghanistan, but this is the first time we have original documents written by them,” say Shaked, an expert in Judeo-Persian.

It was a turbulent period, he says, when a sect known as the Karaite — which rejected the Talmudic or rabbinic tradition and accepted only the Torah as holy scripture — was active...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First Physical Evidence of Tobacco in a Mayan Container

High Technology Uncovers an Ancient Habit

A scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an anthropologist from the University at Albany teamed up to use ultra-modern chemical analysis technology at Rensselaer to analyze ancient Mayan pottery for proof of tobacco use in the ancient culture. Dmitri Zagorevski, director of the Proteomics Core in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) at Rensselaer, and Jennifer Loughmiller-Newman, a doctoral candidate at the University at Albany, have discovered the first physical evidence of tobacco in a Mayan container. Their discovery represents new evidence on the ancient use of tobacco in the Mayan culture and a new method to understand the ancient roots of tobacco use in the Americas.

Their research will appear in the journal Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, in an article titled “The detection of nicotine in a Late Mayan period flask by GCMS and LCMS methods.”

In recent years, archaeologists have begun to use chemical analysis of residues from ancient pottery, tools, and even mummies in an attempt to piece together minute clues about ancient civilizations. Among the potential problems with isolating a residue for analysis is preservation and contamination. Many vessels serve multiple purposes during their lives, resulting in muddled chemical data. Once the vessels are discarded, natural processes such as bacteria and water can destroy the surface of materials, erasing important evidence. Additionally, researchers must be attentive to archaeological field handling and laboratory treatment of the artifacts that might lead to cross contamination by modern sources.

To make their discovery, the researchers had a unique research opportunity: a more than 1,300-year-old vessel decorated with hieroglyphics that seemingly indicated the intended contents. Additionally, the interior of the vessel had not been cleaned, leaving the interior unmodified and the residue protected from contamination.

The approximately two-and-a-half-inch wide and high clay vessel bears Mayan hieroglyphics, reading “the home of his/her tobacco.” The vessel, part of the large Kislak Collection housed at the Library of Congress, was made around 700 A.D. in the region of the Mirador Basin, in Southern Campeche, Mexico, during the Classic Mayan period. Tobacco use has long been associated with the Mayans, thanks to previously deciphered hieroglyphics and illustrations showing smoking gods and people, but physical evidence of the activity is exceptionally limited, according to the researchers.

Zagorevski used the technology within CBIS at Rensselaer, usually reserved to study modern diseases and proteins, to analyze the contents of the vessel for the chemical fingerprint of tobacco. The technology included gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) and high-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LCMS). Both are analytical chemistry techniques that combine the physical separation capabilities of gas or liquid chromatography with the analysis capabilities of mass spectrometry. The latter is used to determine molecular weights of compounds, their elemental composition, and structural characteristics.

Zagorevski and Loughmiller-Newman’s analysis of the vessel found nicotine, an important component of tobacco in residues scraped from the container. Both techniques confirmed the presence of nicotine. In addition, three oxidation products of nicotine were also discovered. Nicotine oxidation occurs naturally as the nicotine in tobacco is exposed to air and bacteria. None of the nicotine byproducts associated with the smoking of tobacco were found in the vessel, indicating that the vessel housed unsmoked tobacco leaves (possibly powered tobacco) and was not used as an ash tray. No other evidence of nicotine has been found, at this time, in any of the other vessels in the collection.

This discovery “provides rare and unequivocal evidence for agreement between a vessel’s actual content and a specific ichnographic or hieroglyphic representation of that content (on the same vessel),” Loughmiller-Newman states in the paper. She is in the anthropology department at the University at Albany, studying ritual food stuff consumed by the Mayans.

Both Loughmiller-Newman and Zagorevski would like to see this technique used to analyze a greater variety of vessel types.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

More on item that was probably used as a “voucher”

Certifying the ritual purity of an object or food in the Temple

Layers of soil covering the foundations of the Western Wall, c. 15 meters north of the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount, were excavated beneath Robinson’s Arch in archaeological excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden. On top of these layers, dating to the first century CE (the late Second Temple period), was paved the Herodian street which was the main road of Jerusalem at that time. From the very start of the excavations in this area the archaeologists decided that all of the soil removed from there would be meticulously sifted (including wet-sifting and thorough sorting of the material remnants left in the sieve). This scientific measure is being done in cooperation with thousands of pupils in the Tzurim Valley National Park, and is underwritten by the Ir David Association. It was during the sieving process that a tiny object of fired clay, the size of a button (c. 2 centimeter in diameter) was discovered. The item is stamped with an Aramaic inscription consisting of two lines – in the upper line "דכא" and below it "ליה". "דכא" or "דכי" in Aramaic means pure. Following the preposition "ל" in the word "ליה" is the shortened form (two of the four letters) for the name of the G-d of Israel.

According to the excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, archaeologists Eli Shukron of the IAA and Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa, “The meaning of the inscription is “Pure for G-d”. It seems that the inscribed object was used to mark products or objects that were brought to the Temple, and it was imperative they be ritually pure. This stamped impression is probably the kind referred to in the Mishnah (Tractate Shekalim 5: 1-5) as a "חותם" (seal). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that such an object or anything similar to it was discovered in an archaeological excavation and it constitutes direct archaeological evidence of the activity on the Temple Mount and the workings of the Temple during the Second Temple period”.

Tractate Shekalim tells of the administration procedures on the Temple Mount in which our object was used, “Whoever required libations would go to Yohanan who was in charge of the stamps give him [the appropriate amount of] money and would receive a stamp from him in return. He would then go to Ahiyah who was in charge over the libations, give him the stamp and receive the libations from him”. There can be no doubt that this is a very exciting find.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In Ancient Pompeii, Trash and Tombs Went Hand in Hand

Cemeteries in ancient Pompeii were “mixed-use developments” with a variety of purposes that included serving as an appropriate site to toss out the trash.

That’s according to findings from University of Cincinnati research at Pompeii to be presented Jan. 7, 2012, at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America by UC doctoral student Allison Emmerson.


Emmerson’s research counters long-held assumptions about how and why tombs around Pompeii have been found piled high with ancient trash deposits in and around the structures, including butchered and charred animal bones, dog and equine bones, broken pottery and broken architectural material. These garbage materials in cemeteries were found within and alongside tomb structures, even those of one story which were preserved nearly as they existed in AD 79 because of the thick, hardened coating of ash and lapilli (small stones) that covered and preserved them due to the AD 79 eruption of Vesuvius.

The 19th century excavators at Pompeii assumed that the excavated tombs filled with ancient refuse and garbage (as well as covered in graffiti) must have fallen into decline and disrepair almost two decades prior to the AD 79 catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius. They (and later excavators) theorized that Pompeii’s tombs were covered in garbage due, in part, to a powerful AD 62 earthquake at Pompeii and that the tombs were abandoned and neglected after the earthquake as the city must have been in decline and inhabitants focused on more pragmatic concerns..

It was a theory, according to Emmerson, that was likely adopted because the 19th century researchers working at Pompeii (as well as later excavators) would have found it unthinkable that cemeteries were places appropriate for tossing out the trash.

However, recent scholarship of the last 15 years or so has proven that Pompeii had rebounded after the earthquake of AD 62 and was in a period of rejuvenation by AD 79 as an important city in one of the wealthiest regions of the Roman Empire.

“Which,” according to UC’s Emmerson, “Left the question of why so much trash was found in the cemeteries. These were not abandoned locales as of AD 79 . People had not abandoned the maintenance of their burial spaces and structures any more than they had abandoned public spaces.”


As Emmerson began excavations at Pompeii in 2009, as part of a long-term team of UC faculty and students working there, she noted the placement of Pompeii’s tombs – located not in secluded park-like areas set off by a fence (as are our cemeteries today) but prominently placed along well-used, high-traffic roads and thoroughfares of the time.

She also noted what we would consider an extremely “casual” treatment of trash and waste.

“For instance,” she explained, “I excavated a room in a house where the cistern (for storing drinking water and water for washing) was placed between two waste pits. Both waste pits were found completely packed with trash in the form of broken household pottery, animal bones and other food waste, like grape seeds and olive pits.”

A room at Pompeii excavated by UC's Allison Emmerson. Note that the cistern (for storing drinking water and water for washing) was placed between two waste pits.

In addition, researchers have commonly found that garbage was casually deposited on the floor of homes, in the streets and alleys outside of homes (sometimes at significant layered depths) and at the urban edge, along city walls (in large quantities over time).

In fact, there is no evidence that Pompeii had any centrally managed system for garbage disposal, and so, it’s likely people lived in very close proximity to their refuse as an accepted part of life.

And Pompeii’s cemeteries and tombs were simply another place for trash – as were almost any part of a home’s interior or exterior as well as alleys, streets and major roadways.

Tombs and cemeteries were certainly considered appropriate for the placement of “advertisements” of the time, everything from political “vote for me” material, promotions for sporting events or boasts of sexual conquest.

“In general, when a Roman was confronted with death, he or she was more concerned with memory than with the afterlife. Individuals wanted to be remembered, and the way to do that was a big tomb in a high-traffic area. In other words, these tombs and cemeteries were never meant to be places for quiet contemplation. Tombs were display – very much a part of every day life, definitely not set apart, clean or quiet. They were part of the ‘down and dirty’ in life.”

When it comes to why so much trash is found at tombs at Pompeii, Emmerson added that her research findings contrast with the theories of early excavators at Pompeii because those first excavators couldn’t conceive of trash placed at tombs as just a normal part of everyday life since its was so foreign to their (and our own) value systems. It seems, she said, so disrespectful by modern standards; however, evidence within the walls of Pompeii shows that the people lived close to their waste, and we can’t be sure that trash in tombs would have been seen as a problem.

“And frankly,” she added, “The early excavators at Pompeii just weren’t that interested in the trash and what it might tell us about daily life and cultural attitudes.”

Tomb at Pompeii with graffiti painted in red. Ancient garbage was found surrounding this tomb.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered!

The Armstrong International Cultural Foundation announces the world premiere of two of the most significant archaeological artifacts ever discovered in Jerusalem. The artifacts, which date back to the time of the prophet Jeremiah, will be displayed in an interactive multimedia exhibition in the grand lobby of Armstrong Auditorium beginning January 16, 2012.

It was an epic decision. For years Judah’s king had been caught in the middle of a bitter struggle between a brave, faith-filled prophet and a cabal of ambitious princes. Now the Babylonian army was closing in. Judah’s princes did not want to surrender. But the Prophet Jeremiah defied them. He warned that Jerusalem would go into captivity, and only those who surrendered would live. The king had to choose. Should he heed the prophet’s counsel, surrender Jerusalem and save his people? Or should he capitulate to his princes and kill the prophet? Judah’s fate rested on his verdict.

This gripping story is found in the book of Jeremiah, Chapter 38. Prominent in this account are two of Jeremiah’s worst persecutors: Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, and Gedaliah, son of Pashur. What if tangible evidence of these princes existed? It would corroborate Jeremiah’s account—and be colossal proof of the accuracy of the Bible.

In 2005, archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was digging into the northern section of the City of David when one of her colleagues spotted a small piece of clay lying in the dust. It had originally been made to seal a cord tied around a papyrus scroll. The tiny bulla bore a three-line Paleo-Hebrew inscription: “Belonging to Yehucal, son of Shelemiyahu, son of Shovi.” This was the seal of Jehucal.

In 2008, Dr. Mazar and her team were enlarging the dig, wet-sifting debris they had excavated just a few yards from the location of the Jehucal bulla. After washing away 2,600 years of dirt and dust from another seal, Dr. Mazar found herself reading “le Gedalyahu ben Pashur”—”belonging to Gedaliah, son of Pashur.”

Rarely do science and the Bible converge as dramatically as with the Jehucal and Gedaliah bullae. Unearthed near the palace of Judah’s king and scientifically dated to the time of Jeremiah, these artifacts resurrect the life and commission of one of the great prophets of scripture.

Now, the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation is delighted to invite you to the world premiere of these bullae from the City of David. They join dozens of ceramic artifacts from Jerusalem during the First Temple period—including figurines, royal seal impressions, and one of the largest ancient vessels ever found in Jerusalem.

Come see these remarkable artifacts and discover the inspiring story of ancient Israel’s dramatic rise under King Solomon, its tragic collapse under King Zedekiah—and the faith-filled work of Jeremiah.

“Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered” is an archaeological exhibition that will enable visitors to view, touch and discover the history of ancient Israel’s rise under King Solomon, its collapse under King Zedekiah—and the work of the prophet Jeremiah.

Items on display will include nearly three dozen artifacts from Jerusalem’s First Temple period, including figurines and royal seal impressions from the City of David excavations, and one of the largest ancient vessels ever found in Jerusalem from the excavations at Solomon’s wall.

“The real stars of the show are two of the exhibit’s tiniest pieces,” said Brad Macdonald, curator for the exhibit. “Two clay seals, each about the size of a dime, embody some incredible history.”

Discovered by archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, the clay seals, called bullae, were found only a few yards apart. According to their inscriptions, the seals belong to two princes mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1, a chapter that describes the attempt by the princes to kill the prophet Jeremiah.

“It’s not often that such discoveries happen in which real figures of the past shake off the dust of history and so vividly revive the stories of the Bible,” Mazar said.

Edmond’s Herbert W. Armstrong College provided support for Dr. Mazar’s City of David excavations where the seals were found.

“We are honored to be involved in Dr. Mazar’s work. These tiny artifacts validate Jeremiah’s account and provide overwhelming proof of the accuracy of the biblical record,” stated college president Stephen Flurry.

The “Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered” exhibition is free and open to the public. It will run January 16, 2012 through October 16, 2012, at Armstrong Auditorium.