A Cheater’s Die Found in the Temple Mount Soil

Aug. 16 2022

In the 1990s, Muslim religious authorities removed thousands of tons of dirt from the Temple Mount, with complete disregard for preserving the integrity of any possible archaeological findings therein. Seventeen years ago, Israeli scholars began a project to sift through the discarded soil for ancient artifacts, inviting volunteers to join in. Daniel Tzvi describes a playing die found by one such amateur:

A game die is always an exciting find. It opens for us a portal into the lives of people of the past, which were not very different from our own. While it is true that they lived before the advent of plastics, and that therefore they had to cut their dice from animal bones, the basic shape has remained the same for thousands of years.

But this particular die . . . is missing the number four. In its place, the number five appears twice. On the one hand, the four and the five are very similar, and if we assume that some novice apprentice die-maker got confused, it would probably be on these numbers. On the other hand, perhaps there is no confusion here at all, rather something more nefarious. If the numbers are so alike, then the person playing against this die’s owner (who keeps rolling high numbers), will be less likely to notice the difference than if there were, say, two sixes. Or perhaps it is neither of these explanations, but just evidence of a particular type of board game in which one never moves four spaces.

Are we dealing with a special die for cheaters? Perhaps we have before us a tangible example of what was stated in the Mishnah, “One who plays dice is an invalid witness” (Sanhedrin 3:3). Or perhaps this is just another example of dice from unknown games.

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Read more at Temple Mount Sifting Project

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Talmud

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam