#ReiventingCitiesCompetition; #CarbonNeutral; #Resilient; #UrbanDevelopmentProjects;
Italy, Jan 31 (Canadian-Media): A call had been issued to all architects, designers, urban planners, entrepreneurs, artists, environmentalists and innovators to enter the Reinventing Cities competition, media reports said.
Proposals from multidisciplinary teams of development experts and professionals, with their comprehensive plans, have been invited by nine cities – Cape Town, Chicago, Dubai, Madrid, Milan, Montreal, Singapore, Reykjavik, and Rome -- to reimagine 25 outdated, these cities' underused areas, into carbon-neutral, resilient urban development projects.
Reinventing Cities competition. Image credit: Facebook
Due to the increasing urgency of the threat posed by the climate emergency, Reinventing Cities serve to accelerate the decarbonisation of cities around the world and create new, more sustainable models of urban development.
About half of C40 cities’ greenhouse gas emissions are caused by buildings which consume more than 30 percent of global resource for common construction materials like steel and concrete. Reinventing Cities channels call for the whole reimagining of how we build and structure communities with their innovation and creativity of businesses and individuals to illustrate the promise of cleaner, smarter development.
Inspiring projects and proposals that will fundamentally change the way people live and work were generated in the first Reinventing Cities competition, launched in 2017.
The largest wooden building in Iceland, the first zero carbon community in Paris, the largest urban solar farm in Texas, and the first zero-carbon social-housing project in Italy were the winning proposals.
#StolenLimestoneSculptureRecovered; #Kabul #NationalMuseumOfAfghanistan; #BritishMuseum
London (England), Jan 24 (Canadian-Media): Recovery of a limestone sculpture stolen from the National Museum of Afghanistan some 30 years ago at a London auction house will be on display at the British Museum before it is returned to Kabul, media reports said.
Limestone sculpture. Image credit: Facebook
Limestone statue, known as the Surkh Kotal Bull had been part of a second century A.D. ceremonial frieze in a temple at the site of Surkh Kotal, was excavated in northern Afghanistan in the 1950s and put on display at the museum.
It was spotted by the members of the Art Loss Register, while reviewing items, and offered it for sale.
In 2001, Taliban sledge-hammered the frieze along with about 75 percent of the museum’s artifacts. “It is the only one to be recovered,” said St. John Simpson of the British Museum. “All of the other limestone blocks—more than a dozen—are still missing.”
#AncientPainting; #Indonesia; #EarliestPictorialRecordOfStorytelling; #JournalNature
Indonesia, Dec 12 (Canadian-Media): Revelation of eight therianthropes, or humans with animal characteristics, appearing to chase and kill six animals using what seem to be spears and ropes, found in a cave painting in Indonesia's island of Sulawesi, was considered to be the earliest known pictorial record of storytelling, a study by Australian and Indonesian researchers said which was published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, media reports said.
A portion of a narrative scene painted on an Indonesian cave wall shows tiny hunters corralling a dwarf buffalo with ropes or spears. Image credit/ Ratno Sardi
"We think of the ability for humans to make a story, a narrative scene, as one of the last steps of human cognition," says the study's lead author, Maxime Aubert, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Nathan, Australia. "This is the oldest rock art in the world and all of the key aspects of modern cognition are there."
"I thought, ‘Wow, it's like a whole scene,’" Aubert said. "You've got humans, or maybe half-human half-animals, hunting or capturing these animals … it was just amazing."
Dozens of caves on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi had been explored for the past 5 years by Aubert and colleagues, and hundreds of hand stencils, cave paintings, red pigment crayons, and carved figurines have been found. Archaeological data is suggestive of fact that the artists came with an early wave of modern humans some 50,000 years ago.
Nicholas Conard, an archaeologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany who wasn't involved in the work, says that scenario makes sense given that every modern human society has its own creative and mythic traditions. "These depictions underline the great antiquity of narratives and storytelling," he says. "It is encouraging to find concrete evidence for narrative depictions at this early date."
The Indonesian cave painting also provided some of the earliest evidence of human spirituality.
"Therianthropes occur in the folklore or narrative fiction of almost every modern society, and they are perceived as gods, spirits, or ancestral beings in many religions worldwide," said Adam Brumm, one of the study's co-authors, an archeologist at Australia's Griffith University.
Until now, the oldest rock art showing a character with the characteristics of an animal had been an ivory sculpture found in a cave in Germany. Thought to date back 40,000 years, it depicts a human body attached to a feline-like head.
The research was done in collaboration with Indonesia's National Research Centre for Archaeology, and scientists from the culture heritage department of Makassar, the provincial capital.
The Griffith researchers said cave art in Sulawesi was first discovered in the 1950s, with at least 242 caves and shelters containing such imagery documented since.
Indonesian rock art expert Adhi Agus Oktaviana, a PhD student at Griffith, said some of the caves had sustained damage that could threaten the art and pointed to threats from salt, dust, peeling, microbes and smoke
"It would be a tragedy if these exceptionally old artworks should disappear in our own lifetime, but it is happening," said Oktaviana.
April Nowell, an archaeologist at the University of Victoria in Canada said these findings should help dispel the outdated and mistaken opinion that humanity first became fully modern in Europe and said,
"We have long known this view is no longer tenable, and the richness of [this and other recent findings] continues to underscore … the importance of the record outside Europe."
Library of Congress' a new photography exhibition “L.A. Murals,”documents murals painted on the streets of Los Angeles
#LibraryOfCongress; #L.A.Murals; #NewPhotographyExhibition; #LosAngeles
Washington, Nov 16 (Canadian-Media): “L.A. Murals,” a new photography exhibition from the Library of Congress (LoC), documents murals painted on the streets of Los Angeles, LoC reports said.
L.A. Murals: Courtesy of Library of Congress
LoC, the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office, is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States and from around the world both on-site and online.
The exhibition, which went on view in Los Angeles in September and will close in September 2020, is free and open to visitors of the The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in the Library of Congress Ira Gershwin Gallery, which was made possible by a generous gift from the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Trust for the benefit of the LoC.
The photographs displayed were created between 1997 and 2016, recording the work of recognized artists, as well as those whose paintings were created as signage, commercial art, homages and memorials.
“Los Angeles is home to a flourishing artistic community with a number of highly talented street artists and muralists whose work portrays the many cultures of our vibrant county and provides a vibrant backdrop to our daily lives,” said Rachel Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center. “The Music Center is thrilled to be able to provide a platform that highlights this artform and the many murals that are part of the fabric of LA.”
“L.A. Murals” features 30 photographs curated from the archives of photographers Carol M. Highsmith and Camilo José Vergara, which are part of the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division of more than 14 million photographs documenting America. The focus of the exhibition was inspired by the vitality of the visual arts and creativity of LA. Library curators organized the exhibit.
“Our national library holds an incredible collection of more than 14 million photographs documenting our culture, including the creativity and diversity of Los Angeles,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “We are so pleased to showcase part of this collection in the new photography exhibition, ‘L.A. Murals,’ at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.”
Among the thousands of photographs in their archives, over 100 photographs were created by Highsmith and Vergara.
Other works from both photographers also were featured in a 2018 exhibition of photographs from the LoC at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles.
A wide variety of images, including religious icons, a memorial honoring a victim of gun violence, city storefronts and businesses, and heroic figures, such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. along with Kobe Bryant and James Worthy of the LA Lakers, are depicted by the murals.
Funds raised will go towards Arts and Cultural Programs in Markham
Markham (ON), Nov 11 (Canadian-Media): More than $20,000 were raised by the Markham Arts Council (MAC) Fundraising Gala held recently in Markham. The resplendent evening entitled An Affair with the Arts with the Wonders of the World had a number of dignitaries, Business Entrepreneurs, Professionals, artists, Corporations and members of the community.
The evening of glitz and glamour presented a gallery showcasing diverse local art and artists during the Cocktail hour and began with the singing of the national anthem followed by a presentation of the evening’s theme focused on the Wonders of the World. Hosted by Markham’s local celebrity Amin Dhillon, the black tie evening presented diverse entertainment to reflect the varied elements of visual and performing arts that included a Chinese collective and Opera as well as a taste of Vivaldi Four Seasons and Bollywood.
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti was designated the Honorary Chair of the fundraising Gala.
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti
“Arts and Culture are vital to creating a strong and vibrant community, giving us a better understanding of each other and of the world around us,” said Mayor Scarpitti at the Crystal Fountain on November 8 congratulating the MAC team for exceptional leadership on this initiative, and for their commitment to the enhancement of the Arts in Markham.
MAC, celebrating its 15th year anniversary in 2019, also released a souvenir program book at the Gala. As well, an array of Silent Auction items and a Live Auction along with raffle and door prizes created distinctive appeal and attention for the more than 300 guests present.
Release of a souvenir program book at the Gala
“Markham is one of Canada’s most diverse cities and through this fundraising initiative, we hope to cultivate, encourage and promote the work of professional and emerging literary, visual and performing artists,” said Deepti Aurora, Chair of MAC and co-chair of the Gala Committee. “Art enriches the lives of its citizens by educating, developing and supporting a vibrant cultural community that champions the arts.”
Gala Co chairs Councillor Amanda Collucci and Deepti Aurora, chair Markham Council.
"My heartfelt thanks to all the sponsors, artists, friends and community stakeholders who dedicated their time, energy and creativity to make this event a success,” said Councillor Amanda Colluci, co-chair of the Gala Committee.
ABOUT MARKHAM ARTS COUNCIL (MAC)
Markham Arts Council serves the City of Markham and enriches the lives of its citizens by educating, developing and supporting a vibrant cultural community that champions the arts, while promoting the work of professional and emerging literary, visual and performing artists.
For more information, contact (905) 947-9054 / email@example.com or visit www.markhamartscouncil.com.
#Victoria, #BritishColumbia; #Dinosaurs; #DonosaursNewSpeciesDiscovered
Victoria (BC), Nov 7 (Canadian-Media): A new dinosaur species unique to British Columbia (BC) had been discovered by researchers in the northern wilderness of B.C., media reports said.
The fossilized bones of the dinosaurs have actually been there for years but weren't correctly identified until now.
The handful of bones discovered in 1971 by a geologist near the Sustut River in B.C.'s north-central Interior and were eventually donated to Dalhousie University in 2005 before winding up in the Royal BC Museum in 2007.
Victoria Arbour, curator of paleontology at the museum, has been studying the fossils and was able to determine that they belong to a whole new kind of dinosaur and confirmed that this being a unique species found only in British Columbia.
Ardour's research was published Thursday in the scientific journal PeerJ: The Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences.
"For the first time, we've got a set of dinosaur bones from British Columbia that's unique to this province," Arbour said.
The fossilized remains have been given the nickname "Buster," and are now on display at the Victoria museum.
“This is an exciting scientific milestone for our province and I encourage everyone to come see the fossils for themselves," said B.C.'s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Lisa Beare.
Arbour’s peer-reviewed article, “A new leptoceratopsid dinosaur from Maastrichtian-aged deposits of the Sustut Basin, northern British Columbia, Canada,” was co-authored by David Evans from the Royal Ontario Museum.
#GandharaBudhaScroll; #LibraryOfCongress; #Washington
Washington, Nov 4 (Canadian-Media): The ancient Gandhara Buddha scroll, one of the oldest Buddhist manuscripts known to the world, arrived at the Library of Congress encased in a Parker Pen box, radiocarbon dated to between the first century B.C to the first century A.D., Library of Congress reports said.
Preservationists at work on the Gandhara scroll. Credit: Library of Congress
Because of its fragility, the scroll resided in the Library’s climate-controlled “top treasures” vault for years
After digitizing the piece this year, the library and placed it online and became a source to scholars and Buddhist communities worldwide access to a little-known part of Buddhist history.
The origin of the scroll is from Gandhara, an early Buddhist center located in what is now the northern border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In 1990s A group of materials buried high in the arid mountains was unearthed there.
In 2013 The Library acquired this birch-bark scroll from the collection and it is the oldest holding in the Library’s Asian Division.
The pen box that held the scroll during shipping. Credit: Library of Congress
“This is a rare, unique item because it is very old, No. 1, and, No. 2, it does bring us, historically speaking, relatively close to the lifetime of the Buddha,” said Jonathan Loar, the division’s South Asia specialist. “It’s also one of the oldest among the couple hundred other Gandharan manuscripts known to scholars, so even within its own unique collection it stands out.”
The story of buddhas who came before and after Siddhartha Gautama is told by the scroll.
Siddhartha Gautama is the sage who reached enlightenment under a Bodhi tree in eastern India in the sixth or fifth century B.C. and who became known as the Buddha.
The narrative is in the first person and direct teaching of the Buddha regarding his divine lineage is recounted by the scribe.
When the scroll arrived in the Library, it presented servious conservation challenge even to the expert staff because of its fragility.
“It was the most fragile thing I’ve ever worked on,” said Holly Krueger, who recently retired as head of paper conservation. “It was completely unique, unlike anything I’ve ever encountered.”
The Library had to obtain the the assistance of the British Library, which had successfully unrolled some 30 related scrolls, and its chief conservator, Mark Barnard to unroll the scroll.
Special tools, including bamboo implements and glass weights, were crafted by Kruger's team, to keep the scroll down. Then, for three days in advance, it was gently humidified.
Piecing the scroll together. Credit: Library of Congress
The conservation lab in which Krueger and Barnard worked was an area with the fewest air currents because the slightest movement could cause pieces to dislodge.
After four hours of painstaking process it was ultimately successful.
The scroll was then encapsulated between two pieces of glass, and their edges sealed.
Individual fragments were placed between separate pieces of glass, and the scroll was then imaged. Earlier this year, the Conservation Division re-digitized the scroll and its fragments using advanced ultraviolet and infrared imaging.
Although the scroll lacks a title, a beginning and an end, but still retains about 75 to 80 percent of the original text.
Still today it is considered one of the world’s best-preserved examples of a Gandharan scroll.
the availability of Gandharan scrolls for study sheds new light on the earliest Buddhist literature and is beneficial to scholarly and Buddhist communities and augments what we currently know about the religion’s formative history.
#SALA2019 #artforumsf #SALAfestival
Toronto, Sep 12 (Canadian-Media): Curated by Montalvo Arts Canter and Art Forum, the South Asian Literature and Arts Festival (SALA) would be held at the Montalvo Arts Centre, Saratoga from the Oct 6 – 13, 2019, media reports said.
A non-profit organization, Montalvo Arts Centre and Art Forum SF is responsible for objectively promoting different kinds of creative expressions from the South Asian countries for nearly a decade.
The SALA Festival aims to bring together the artists, their creations, their talks in their respective fields, reflecting their affiliations with the South Asian region followed by presentations and interactive sessions allowing the audience to have an immersive experience.
"The South Asian Literature and Art Festival is a wonderful platform to showcase the rich and diverse ‘contemporary’ work coming from the South Asian diaspora. There is a plethora of award-winning work in both literature and art, which usually goes unnoticed but a festival
like this raises the profile of such work. We would really encourage you to come and experience this array of contemporary work at Montalvo Arts Centre,” Ambika Sahay, Director Art ForumSF stated during a discussion.
The crucial process of selecting these practitioners was based on portraying and justifiably presenting the contemporary practices and the constantly evolving culture.
A few of the writers and poets that would present during this festival would be: Vikram Chandra, Vikramaditya Motwane, Varun Grover, Shanthi Sekaran, Minal Hazratwala, Athena Kashyap, Tanu Wakefield, Siddharth Dube, Raghu Karnad, Nayomi Munaweera, Mitali Perkin, Naheed Hasant Senzai and Moazzam Sheikh, director Anurag Kashyap, actor and artist,
Also present would be the artist Rekha Rodwittiya, from the field of contemporary art and Dipti Mathur and Priyanka Mathew, from the contemporary players in the art market infrastructure to provide their insights on their field of expertise.
The panel discussions on their individual works would provide an understanding of the varied relations migrant communities share through their own practices and individual histories.
It is also to be noted that this event is not a one-time portrayal of the art with their artistic works and talents but is a continuous process of transforming the cultural practices and expressions from the South Asian region.
The participants move away from the conventional understanding of the diaspora culture, usually expressed through stereotypical traits like nostalgia, roots, homeland/soil, memory etc; and explore further to exemplify the assimilation and absorption of various local and global
sources in their works.
Various talks would be moderated by experts from the respective fields to provide the audience with an opportunity to interact with the speakers.
“The soft powers of the world, Art, Literature, Music and Dance allows people to express themselves and how they view the world. SALA embodies these powers,” said Kiran Malhotra with conviction, founding BOD - Art Forum SF, Arts Curator - SALA 2019.
Besides established professionals, the emerging professionals and young minds.would also be enriched by the unique experience of this festival by the children’s hands-on craft activities, writing programs, South Asian food stalls, and art-related exhibitors, dance performances, all to suit individuals of varying tastes, interests and ages.
For more information about media & marketing opportunities and to interview the celebrities, please contact MUKTA Advertising at firstname.lastname@example.org | 416.716.8582.
For all current updates, artist bios, tickets and other literary and art exhibits, please visit: www.artforumsf.org
Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @artforumsf
#SouthAsianLiteratureAndArtFestival; #California; #SALA2019 #artforumsf #SALAfestival
California, Sept 2 (Canadian-Media): For the first time one of the largest South Asian Literature & Art Festival (SALA) in collaboration with UC Berkeley Institute of South Asian Studies is scheduled to be held at Montalvo Arts Center and Art Forum at 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga, California (US) from October 6 to 13, 2019, media reports said.
Apart from celebrating contemporary reflections of literature and arts from the sub-continent in the US, SALA's mission is to transform the sylvan Montalvo grounds into a Megalopolis.
Entering through the South Asian Wonderland with narration of the stories rooted on the banks of the 4000-year-old Indus River in the twenty-first century.
The visitors would be able to witness the power of dialogue and discussion, the artist’s refuge, the artist’s atelier, the writer’s studio, emerging art portraying with defiance, contemplation, and dignity in modern times the art of the subcontinent.
A special event would be held at Montalvo Art Center on Oct 18th at 8th at 5 pm.
With a portrayal of a fair-like atmosphere with bookstores, book-reading, children’s hands-on craft activities, writing programs, food stalls, and art-related exhibitors, the Montalvo grounds will offer something for everyone and people of all ages including folk artists, Bollywood Pop up dancers, Bhangra rhythms, Semi-Classical short pieces of dance interludes interspersed with the subcontinent’s flavorful food stops.
Highly acclaimed contemporary Indian Art collection along with panel discussions that include Art, Literature, Poetry, and Cinema would be featured in this festival. Also included in it would be local, national and international authors and artists to speak in keynotes, on-panels, and on-stage presentations.
The Art Walk at Montalvo will feature established artists from its diaspora:
Writers Row at Montalvo will feature established writers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the USA:
About Montalvo Art Center: Montalvo Arts Center’s mission is to engage the public in the creative process, acting as a catalyst for exploring the arts, unleashing creativity, and advancing different cultural and cross-cultural perspectives. We achieve our mission by creating and presenting arts of all types, nurturing artists, and using our historic property in innovative ways.
For more information about media & marketing opportunities and to interview the celebrities please contact MUKTA Advertising at email@example.com | 416.716.8582.
For all current updates, artist bios and information on where to get the tickets for the special events and other literary and art exhibits, please visit: www.artforumsf.org
Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @artforumsf
#TheMountZionArchaeologicalProject; #IsraelNatureandParksAuthority; #ClearEvidenceOfBabylonianConquestOfTheCityFrom 587/586 BCE
North Carolina (U.S.), Aug 13 (Canadian-Media): Researchers digging at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte's ongoing archaeological excavation on Mount Zion in Jerusalem have announced a second significant discovery from the 2019 season—clear evidence of the Babylonian conquest of the city from 587/586 BCE, ScienceXNewsletter reports said.
Earring or tassle ornament made of gold and silver from the destruction layer of 587/586 BCE. Credit: Mt Zion Archaeological Expedition/Rafi Lewis
The discovery is of a deposit including layers of ash, arrowheads dating from the period, as well as Iron Age potsherds, lamps and a significant piece of period jewelry—a gold and silver tassel or earring. There are also signs of a significant Iron Age structure in the associated area, but the building, beneath layers from later periods, has yet to be excavated.
The Mount Zion Archaeological Project, co-directed by UNC Charlotte professor of history Shimon Gibson, Rafi Lewis, a senior lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College and a fellow of Haifa University, and James Tabor, UNC Charlotte professor of religious studies, has been in operation for over a decade and has made numerous significant finds relating to the ancient city's many historical periods, including the announcement made in July, 2019 on evidence concerning the sack of the city during the First Crusade. The current find is one of the oldest and perhaps the most prominent in its historical significance, as the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem is a major moment in Jewish history.
The team believes that the newly-found deposit can be dated to the specific event of the conquest because of the unique mix of artifacts and materials found—pottery and lamps, side-by-side with evidence of the Babylonian siege represented by burnt wood and ashes, and a number of Scythian-type bronze and iron arrowheads which are typical of that period.
Because of the site's location, various alternative explanations for the artifacts can be eliminated, the researchers argue. "We know where the ancient fortification line ran," noted Gibson, "so we know we are within the city. We know that this is not some dumping area, but the south-western neighborhood of the Iron Age city—during the 8th century BCE the urban area extended from the "City of David" area to the south-east and as far as the Western Hill where we are digging."
The ash deposits, similarly, are not conclusive evidence of the Babylonian attack in themselves, but are much more so in the context of other materials.
"For archaeologists, an ashen layer can mean a number of different things," Gibson said. "It could be ashy deposits removed from ovens; or it could be localized burning of garbage. However, in this case, the combination of an ashy layer full of artifacts, mixed with arrowheads, and a very special ornament indicates some kind of devastation and destruction. Nobody abandons golden jewelry and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse."
"The arrowheads are known as 'Scythian arrowheads' and have been found at other archaeological conflict sites from the 7th and 6th centuries BCE. They are known at sites outside of Israel as well. They were fairly commonplace in this period and are known to be used by the Babylonian warriors. Together, this evidence points to the historical conquest of the city by Babylon because the only major destruction we have in Jerusalem for this period is the conquest of 587/586 BCE," he said.
The clay artifacts also help date the discovery. The lamps, Gibson notes, are the typical high-based pinched lamps of the period.
"It's the kind of jumble that you would expect to find in a ruined household following a raid or battle," Gibson said. "Household objects, lamps, broken bits from pottery which had been overturned and shattered... and arrowheads and a piece of jewelry which might have been lost and buried in the destruction."
"Frankly, jewelry is a rare find at conflict sites, because this is exactly the sort of thing that attackers will loot and later melt down."
"I like to think that we are excavating inside one of the 'Great Man's houses' mentioned in the second book of Kings 25:9," Gibson speculated. "This spot would have been at an ideal location, situated as it is close to the western summit of the city with a good view overlooking Solomon's Temple and Mount Moriah to the north-east. We have high expectations of finding much more of the Iron Age city in future seasons of work. "
The building that is apparently part of the layer remains unexcavated. "One might ask why haven't we excavated the whole building?" Gibson said. "The reason is that we are slowly taking the site down, level by level, period by period, and at the end of this last digging season two meters of domestic structures from later Byzantine and Roman periods have still to be dug above the Iron Age level below. We plan to get down to it in the 2020 season."
The unexpected and rare piece of jewelry found is apparently a tassel or earring, with a bell-shaped gold upper part. Clasped beneath is a silver part made in the shape of a cluster of grapes. Gibson noted that this discovery of jewelry "is a unique find and it is a clear indication of the wealth of the inhabitants of the city at the time of the siege." The only other discovery of jewelry in Jerusalem from this period was made many years ago in 1979 in an Iron Age tomb at Ketef Hinnom outside the city.
The researchers say that finding evidence of a critical historical event is what makes the discovery particularly exciting. Lewis, another co-director of the project, explained that "It is very exciting to be able to excavate the material signature of any given historical event, and even more so regarding an important historical event such as the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem."
By all accounts the Babylonian conquest of the city by the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar was ferocious and resulted in a great loss of life, with the razing of the city and the burning of houses, and the plundering and dismantling of King Solomon's Temple to God. The local ruler of the Kingdom of Judah, King Zedekiah, made an attempt to flee the city with his retinue, but was eventually caught and taken captive to Babylon.
One of the Scythian type arrowheads found in the destruction layer from 587/586 BCE. Credit: Mt Zion Archaeological Expedition/Virginia Withers
The Hebrew Bible relates the famine and suffering that the inhabitants of Jerusalem suffered during the lengthy Babylonian siege of the city: "So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the [fourth] month the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war [fled] by night by the way of the gate between the two walls.... And he [Nebuzaradan, the Babylonian captain of the guard] burnt the house of the Lord, and the King's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great man's house, burnt he with fire." (2 Kings 25: 1-9).
The Babylonian siege of Jerusalem lasted for quite a while even though many of the inhabitants wanted to give up. "King Zedekiah simply was not willing to pay tribute to Nebuchadnezzar and the direct result of this was the destruction of the city and the Temple", said Gibson.
Every year religious Jews in Jerusalem and across the world pray and fast in remembrance of the destruction of the Jewish Temple to God in Jerusalem, first by the Babylonians in 587/586 BCE, resulting in the exile of the inhabitants of the city to Babylon, and yet again in 70 CE at the hands of the Roman legions led by Titus. To remember the devastating destruction of the Temple, Jews gather in synagogues around the world and at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem, to pray and mourn on Tisha B' Av (the ninth day in the Hebrew month of Av) according to the Jewish calendar, which falls this year on August 11th.
The Mount Zion archaeological project is directed by Shimon Gibson and James Tabor from the College of Liberal and Arts Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, in conjunction with Rafi Lewis of Ashkelon Academic College and Haifa University, and with sponsorship from Aron Levy, John Hoffmann, Cherylee and Ron Vanderham, and Patty and David Tyler and others, and facilitated by Sheila Bishop for The Foundation for Biblical Archaeology.
The dig is also staffed by a host of volunteers, including UNC Charlotte students. The project has been a favorite summer activity of for many of UNC Charlotte's Levine Scholars Program, the university's highly selective national program for undergraduate scholars.
"Participating in the Mount Zion dig has been an amazing opportunity for the Levine Scholars," said Diane Zablotsky, director of UNC Charlotte's Levine Scholars Program. "Although they are from different backgrounds and study in different majors, they shared a unique experience that left them with a deep appreciation of archaeology, the history of Jerusalem, and broadened worldview."
The site is within the "Sovev Homot" park administered by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Other substantial remains of the multi-period ancient city were uncovered during the 2019 season, including vaulted basements from the time of Herod the Great, a Byzantine street which was the south-westerly continuation of the main city street known as the Cardo Maximus, and a sunken defense ditch that ran in front of the fortifications which greeted the Crusader's when they attacked Jerusalem in 1099 and hindered their assault on the city.
The complex architectural sequence of superimposed structures dating back 3000 years or so is being carefully mapped by a team of recorders and draftsmen headed by Steve Patterson. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has been conducting archaeological excavations in Jerusalem since 2006 and much vital historical and archaeological information has been steadily extracted from the digging operations.