Incantation Bowls and Biblical-Era Furniture Found in the Hands of Illegal Antiquities Dealers

In a raid on a home in Jerusalem, Israeli officials discovered hundreds of ancient artifacts, ranging from coins to Babylonian bowls used to restrain demons. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

The three “magic” bowls were created in the 5th-7th centuries CE in present-day Iraq. They are among some 3,000 that have been discovered to date, which were used by Jews and non-Jews alike during this era.

The Tel Aviv University professor Matthew Morgenstern, an expert in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic and Classical Mandaic who has photographed hundreds of incantation bowls and has published academic articles on them extensively, told the Times of Israel that such bowls were written in several Babylonian Aramaic dialects and placed protectively around the house for its protection, upside down to trap the demons or evil entities. Some even have “addresses” on the back telling the owner where to put them, he said.

“The Jewish bowls draw heavily on Jewish tradition, cite [biblical] verses, and even contain the earliest written attestations we have for Jewish texts like the Mishnah or benedictions,” said Morgenstern.

Additional rare finds discovered in the Jerusalem home include rare and valuable ivory furniture inlays that were common in the 9th and 8th centuries BCE and have been uncovered at sites including Tel Megiddo and in Samaria.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Babylonian Jewry, Magic

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