Archaeologists Find Evidence of Ancient Israel’s Incense Road

From the 4th century BCE through the 3rd century CE, a major trade route brought frankincense, myrrh, and other products from Yemen across the Arabian Peninsula to the ancient city of Petra (now in Jordan), and then westward, via the Negev desert, to the Gaza coast, where they could be exported across the Mediterranean. At the time there were four major Negev cities located along it. Archaeologists have recently found remnants of this ancient road, as Rosella Tercatin writes:

[M]ost scholars believed for many decades that the road and its structures, including some milestones, were to be associated with the Nabateans, a people who emerged in the last centuries of the first millennia BCE and settled, among other areas, in the Negev. However, the Latin inscriptions uncovered in the recently identified “lost section” of the route were found to be from the later Roman period, [specifically from the reigns] of the emperors Pertinax (2nd century CE) and Severus (late 2nd to early 3rd centuries CE).

Chaim Ben David, [one of the scholars who identified the milestones] had already suggested that “the milestones in the desert areas of the Negev and southern Jordan . . . were erected on the initiative of the Roman provincial governor, using the labor of army units, without involving the local population at least for maintenance as was usual in the more densely populated parts of the province.”

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Rome, Archaeology, Negev

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security