Israeli Scientists Use Rat Skeletons to Understand the Mysteries of an Ancient Shipwreck

In the 7th or 8th century CE, a ship now known as the Ma’agan Michael B sunk into the Mediterranean not far from what is now Haifa. Because it was buried in sand, the vessel was very well preserved, and has been studied extensively. Sahir Pandey reports on some of the latest research:

Most significant has been the find of the “largest maritime cargo assemblage of Byzantine and early Islamic ceramics discovered along the Israeli coast to date,” according to preliminary findings of the study published in the Journal of the Council for British Research in the Levant. These consist largely of late Roman amphorae and globular amphorae, several of them bearing inscriptions. . . . The ship appeared to be carrying a cargo, among other things, of walnuts from Turkey and fish sauce made of fish caught in the Sea of Galilee.

Interestingly, the evidence points to the ship being manned by a crew of diverse faiths and possibly ethnicity. . . . Christian crosses were found alongside Muslim blessings such as “Bismillah,” meaning “in the name of God,” and Greek and Arabic letters carved into the walls. The absence of human remains indicates that the crew had a lucky escape when the ship sank close to shore.

But that is not all. The well-preserved remains of the ship also contain an unusual source of information. The skeletons of rats that once infested the ship are proving to be very useful in finding out more about life aboard the ship before it ran aground, cutting short its career.

Some of the remains were of black rats, a species that had reached the Middle East aboard trading ships from South Asia and India more than 2,000 years ago. However, dental morphology revealed that others were “exotic to the area.” They may have come from Tunisia or Corsica.

If so, there was much more trade going on in the Land of Israel at the time than previously assumed.

Read more at Ancient Origins

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Byzantine Empire

The Ugly Roots of Ireland’s Anti-Israel Policies

Prime Minister Varadkar’s meretricious messaging concerning the freeing of a kidnapped child is only one example of the Irish government’s perverse reaction to Hamas’s assault on Israel. Varadkar has accused the IDF of pursuing “something approaching revenge” in Gaza, and compared the Israeli war effort to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His parliament, meanwhile, came close to expelling the Israeli ambassador. Terry Glavin writes:

In a recent interview, . . . the retired Irish diplomat Niall Holohan put it this way: “We feel we have been victimized over the centuries. It’s part of our psyche—underneath it all we side with the underdog.” But there’s something else in the Irish psyche that’s impolite to mention in the comfy Dublin pubs and bistros. . . . Not a few of Ireland’s gallant and celebrated champions of the underdog, its heroes of Irish freedom, were vulgar anti-Semites and Nazi collaborators.

And in recent years, Irish Jews are commonly baited, harassed, and badgered every time there is some eruption in Israel involving Palestinian “resistance.”

The republican pamphleteer Arthur Griffith approved [of anti-Jewish agitation in Limerick in 1904], calling Jews “usurers and parasites.” Griffiths was one of the founders of Sinn Féin, in 1905, and he served as Sinn Féin’s president in 1911.

There was always a deep division in the Irish nationalist movement between Irish republicans who felt an affinity with the Jews owing to a shared history of dispossession and exile, and Catholic extremists who ranted and raved about Jews. Those Catholic shouters are still abroad, apparently unaware that for half a century, Catholic doctrine has established that anti-Semitism is a mortal sin.

Read more at National Post

More about: Anti-Semitism, Gaza War 2023, Ireland