The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced this week that it has uncovered a 3,300-year-old ceramic coffin containing a male skeleton and a scarab in the country's northern region.
Archaeologists said workers accidentally discovered the Bronze Era tomb while installing a natural gas pipeline through the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel. The tomb contained ceramic pieces and a ceramic coffin containing the skeleton of a man. Next to the skeleton sat a scarab affixed to a ring that bore the name of Seti I, considered to be one of the most powerful pharaohs in Egypt during the Nineteenth Dynasty.
Seti I is the father of Ramesses II, believed by some to be the Pharaoh in the biblical story of the Exodus who drove the Israelites from Egypt. more >>
A human rights group has decried Saudi Arabia's new sweeping set of laws aimed at counter-terrorism, arguing that they greatly stunt any religious or political expression that appears to criticize the government or Islam.
The new laws, approved by Saudi King Abdullah, calls for prison sentences of three to 20 years for any form of terrorist activity, defined as "calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based."
The new list of decrees also defines the Muslim Brotherhood and some al-Qaeda factions as terrorist organizations. more >>
An Iranian Christian prisoner has decided to go on a hunger strike despite suffering from intense physical pain in order to protest the rejection of his conditional release.
"Vahid [Hakkani] has suffered intense physical mistreatment and has been in dire need of medical treatment throughout his detention, and he was transferred to a hospital to receive some necessary treatment," Todd Daniels, International Christian Concern's regional manager for the Middle East, told The Christian Post in an email Thursday. "He and his family have pressured the government to grant him a conditional release so that he can receive the treatment he needs, but the officials have repeatedly denied this request."
Hakkani, who is a Christian convert from the city of Shiraz, was arrested along with three other men in February 2012 and later sentenced to three years and eight months in prison by Iran's Revolutionary Court for attending house church gatherings and contacting foreign Christian ministers, which is forbidden in Iran. more >>
The Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday that it has uncovered a "spectacular" 1,500-year-old Byzantine monastery, complete with a prayer hall and intact floor mosaics, in southern Israel. The monastery, suspected of being used for Christian worship in the 6th century, was discovered as part of a salvage excavation before construction of a new highway in the Negev Desert.
The IAA said Tuesday that the Byzantine structure is 65 feet by 115 feet, and has four rooms, including a prayer hall and a dining room. The floors of the structure are lined with intact, colorful mosaics featuring classic Byzantine motifs, including flora, animals, baskets, and geometric patterns mixed in with blue, green, yellow, and red colors. The blue and red are historically associated with Christianity, but the green and yellow colors are more rare, perhaps indicating the stones that were regionally available at the time.
The mosaics also contained discretely hidden cross images meant to represent Christianity. The crosses were hidden into the design of the mosaics in order to honor an edict that prohibited crosses from being artistically created on floors where they would be easily stepped on. more >>
Israeli authorities have uncovered 11 stolen burial boxes containing bones and believed to be from the time of Jesus in Jerusalem.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced Monday that they had recovered 11 burial boxes last week when police noticed a suspicious transaction taking place between two cars at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The antiquities authority confirmed that suspects were trying to sell the burial boxes to Jewish merchants at the checkpoint; the thieves most likely raided the boxes from a burial cave in Jerusalem, authorities said.
As LiveScience reports, the boxes, also known as ossuaries, are suspected of being 2,000 years old and are covered in Hebrew inscriptions, as well as some paint remnants. They are filled with bones and possibly pottery that was buried with the deceased. more >>
Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple from Los Angeles, were sentenced in Qatar Thursday to three years in prison for allegedly killing their 8-year-old adopted daughter, Gloria. Supporters say the Huangs have been wrongly accused.
"We have just been wrongfully convicted and we feel as if we are being kidnapped by the Qatar judicial system. This verdict is wrong and appears to be nothing more than an effort to save face," Matthew Huang said, according to FreeMattandGrace.com, a website that supports the Huangs.
"The prosecutor accused us of trafficking our legal adopted children with the intent of selling their organs. That is how ridiculous this is .... So we are calling on the United States President Obama to call the Head of State in Qatar and explain to him why American families adopt high-needs children. more >>