Discovered: An Ancient Ritual Bath, with Ancient Graffiti

Archaeologists in Jerusalem have found a Second Temple-era mikveh underneath a Jerusalem nursery school, covered in what seem to be graffiti from the period. Nir Hasson and Ruth Schuster write:

The writing and painting was done in mud and soot, and some carved into the soft stone. There are also dozens of images including a boat, palm trees, various plant species, and possibly even a menorah. . . .

Examples of written Aramaic from the time of the Second Temple are very rare. The use of Aramaic on the walls suggests that it was the common language of the time. . . .

[T]o the horror of the archaeologists, within hours of the momentous discovery, the writing started to fade. Emergency archaeology conservation teams . . . were alerted. The plaster was removed for study . . . and the delicate finds have been sealed. . . .

Finding a decently-preserved concentration of inscriptions and symbols from the Second Temple period is rare; [however], the writing is not legible any more.

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Read more at Haaretz

More about: Ancient Israel, Aramaic, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Mikveh

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy