Grape Pips

30 Jul 2020

At ... grape pips revealed the collapse of the Roman empire involved plague and climate change. The paper is published in PNAS - see ... Israeli archaeologists have found evidence of economic decline on the fringe of the Byzantine empire in the aftermath of the 6th century AD pandemic. The research reconstructs the rise and  fall of commercial viticulture in what is now the Negev desert. They did this by sifting through the rubbish, or trash, dump. The Justinian Plague was a blow to the Roman empire because of high mortality rates - with corresponding socio-economic effects in the aftermath.

At ... which concerns the Biblical figure of Samson. The assumption by Professor Tom Major is that Samson was a genuine character rather than a hero figure akin to a god. In spite of that Major comes up with similarities to such story  lines as he killed a lion with his bare hands. In the Bible we are told the spirit of the Lord came upon him and he set about the lion. Another similarity, he claims, is in the story of the collapsing temple. Samson is said to have pushed two pillars apart causing the temple to collapse on the congregation. It is normally interpreted as an earthquake. Then we have the foxes and the lighted torches, using interpreted as a shower of shooting stars (or meteors). He claims it was a real event. Another concerns an excavation of a Jewish synagogue dating to the 5th century AD near the Sea of Galilee. It has a mosaic floor with some scenes from the Samson cycle - including the foxes and the lighted torches

At ... Back to Tom Major and this time it is King Eglon of Moab, with the claim that an excavation in the 1930s probably dug up his city. They unearthed a palace, which he says is that of Eglon, a figure of the Judges era. Eglon, backed up by the Ammonites and the Amalekites, attacked the Israelites etc.

At ... we have Major on the Beni Hassan murals found on the wall of a rock cut tomb in Egypt. The idea here is that the painting was contemporary with the migration of Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers. It's been said before but interesting nevetheless that this guy has resurrected the claim.