Beneath The Roman Roads

Roman Britain - campaigns 43 to 84Many young Earth creationists contend that humans are getting dumber, and have been doing so since the Fall. They also believe that non-creationists believe that humans were dumber in the past. This is not completely untrue: our ancestors a million or so years ago had relatively smaller brain sizes to their bodies, a quality which seems to predict intelligence reasonably well. But when talking about the more recent past – the last few tens of thousands of years, say – this does not hold. Nobody is saying that a hunter gatherer 15,000 years ago, or a peasant farmer from late antiquity/the “dark ages,” was inherently less intelligent than somebody today. Continue reading

Solnitsata: The Oldest, Richest Town in Europe

Some of the Varna treasure, believed to be associated with SolnitsataFor today’s article we have ‘Oldest’ European Town News Misses the Obvious, by Brian Thomas. This is one of those rare archaeology articles, which tend to be unusual in other aspects beyond simply their broader subject matter.

The background here is that the ruins of (what is believed to be) the oldest known ‘town’ in Europe have been discovered in the Varna province of Bulgaria, near to the present-day city of Provadia. The town’s economy is believed to have been based around it’s salt mines, salt having been a very important commodity in the fifth millennium BC. Indeed, the value of said mineral cannot be overstated – the BBC article that Thomas uses as one of his references notes:

[The town’s] discovery in north-east Bulgaria may explain the huge gold hoard found nearby 40 years ago.

Salt really was worth something back in the day. Continue reading

James the Just

"The James ossuary was on display at the Royal Ontario Museum from November 15, 2002 to January 5, 2003." -- as the liscencing condition for this image demands that I tell you.Thomas writes: ‘James…Brother of Jesus’ Ossuary Is Rock Solid. What’s the cause of this horrible punnery?

Thomas’ intro is accurate until his final sentence:

In 2002, the Biblical Archaeological Society and the Discovery Channel announced in Washington, D.C. that an ancient inscription on a 2,000-year-old ossuary with the inscribed Aramaic words “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” was genuine. However, controversy and a lawsuit over the veracity of the inscription followed. That’s all over now, and the verdicts are in.

Well, sort of. Continue reading

Is Jerusalem Bulla Really the Oldest Evidence of Bethlehem?

A vaguely contemporaneous bullaArchaeologists discovered a clay “bulla” in an excavation around the walls of Jerusalem. ICR News called this “the oldest indication of Bethlehem among archaeological artifacts.” But clear evidence shows that other artefacts hold the real record.

Researchers have gleaned a wealth of information from the small fragment of clay. For example, they have determined that the bulla had an administrative purpose, being used to mark goods being sent to Jerusalem as tax payment. They have also pinned down the date that it was used – the seventh year of a King, either Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah. This dates it to the seventh or eighth century BCE.

But mentions of a town called Bethlehem from even earlier have been discovered by archaeologists. The Armarna letters, from the 1300s BCE, refer to a rebellion in “Bit-Lahmi.” … Continue reading