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An Ancient Underwater Inscription and a Heretofore Unknown Ruler of Judea

Exploring the Mediterranean coast just south of Haifa, Israeli divers and archaeologists have discovered a rock bearing an inscription from the 2nd-century CE, which mentions a previously unknown Roman governor of Judea named Gargilius Antiquus. The Times of Israel reports:

The archaeologists were able to determine that Antiquus ruled over Judea just prior to a major revolt against the Roman empire, which lasted from 132 to 136 CE. The uprising was eventually crushed, resulting in the exile of Jews, and Emperor Hadrian’s renaming Jerusalem “Aelia Capitolina” and Judea “Syria Palaestina.”

The artifact, believed to be the base of a statue, was found in January 2016 as part of a maritime excavation at the Tel Dor archaeological site. The city had been an important port in Roman times and was active at least until the fourth century. The rock itself, measuring 70 by 65 centimeters and weighing over 600 kilograms, was covered in sea creatures when it was discovered.

“Not only were we able for the first time to identify with certainty the name of the ruler who oversaw Judea in the critical years of the Bar Kokhba revolt; this is also just the second time that the mention of Judea has been discovered in inscriptions traced back to the Roman era,” said Assaf Yasur-Landau of Haifa University, who was in charge of deciphering the text.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Rome, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Simon bar Kokhba

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen