An Ancient Incense Shovel Discovered in the Galilee

Archaeologists have found a bronze incense shovel and a bronze jug, both carved with ornate designs, in the ancient town of Magdala. Ilan Ben Zion writes:

The 2,200-year-old artifacts were found during excavations being carried out at the archaeological site on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. . . . They were resting one on top of the other on a stone floor in a storeroom near the fishing village’s pier and likely belonged to a local Jewish family, archaeologists said.

Ritual shovels were used in Jewish cultic practice for burning incense in the Temple in Jerusalem. They are depicted in contemporary Jewish iconography as . . . articles associated with the Temple. . . .

“At the beginning of the study we assumed that the shovel was used only as a cultic object for treating coals and incense used in ritual ceremonies,” Dina Avshalom Gorni, [the archaeologist heading the dig], said in a statement. “Over the years, after incense shovels were found with no cultic context, it would appear that the incense shovel was also used as a tool of daily use.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Galilee, History & Ideas, Second Temple


The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7