Fragments of a large, “exquisitely carved statue” of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, estimated to have stood about four to five metres tall, have been discovered by archaeologists working in Turkey (“Giant statue of Hadrian unearthed”, BBC News, 9 August 2007).
The pieces of this giant monument to Hadrian, discovered by archaeologists from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, were among the buried ruins of a bath house on the site of Sagalassos in southern Turkey. The director of the excavation, Marc Waelkens, said this was one of the “most beautiful depictions” of the emperor ever found.
Officially recognised by Hadrian as the “first city” of the Roman province of Pisidia, Sagalassos was appointed the centre of emperor worship for the region. As a result, thousands of visitors were attracted during imperial festivals, trade increased and, with it, prosperity; so the inhabitants of Sagalassos had special affection for Hadrian. “As a kind of thanks to the emperor, there were private and public monuments to Hadrian erected throughout the city,” Marc Waelkens told BBC News. The archaeological team has also discovered marble toes belonging to another large statue which may be that of Hadrian’s wife Sabina.
One of the so-called “five good emperors”, Hadrian ruled the Roman Empire from AD117 to AD138, during the period of the First Seal of Revelation, AD96 to AD180 (Rev 6:1–2). Described by Edward Gibbon as “the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous” (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Everyman’s Library, Vol 1, p78), it was during this time that the Word of God went forth to conquer the hearts and minds of the inhabitants of the empire (see Bro J Thomas, Eureka, Dawn, 1968, Vol 2, p126–145 for an exposition of the First Seal).
Ruling during this happy and prosperous period, Hadrian erected permanent fortifications along the empire’s borders in order to consolidate Roman power. Hadrian’s Wall, which runs across the width of northern Britain, still stands today as a monument to his enterprise. Hadrian was, however, also responsible for the suppression in ad135 of the Bar Kochba revolt in Judea, and the edict excluding Jews from Jerusalem. Hadrian subsequently rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman colony, naming it Aelia Capitolina, and henceforth the Jews became a stateless and homeless people.
While all that remains of the Emperor Hadrian today are the lifeless relics of his greatness and splendour, the Jewish people have returned to their land and re-established their state. God has also preserved a remnant who see in Israel’s primary restoration a sure sign of the return of their Lord from heaven, who will raise the dead and award a crown of victory to all those who love his appearing (Rev 6:2; 2 Tim 4:8).
Ancient beehives found in the land of milk and honey
Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology have found evidence of beehives from Biblical times while excavating at Tel Rehov in Israel’s Bet She’an Valley (“Hebrew University excavations reveal first Biblical period beehives in ‘Land of Milk and Honey’” – last update 4 Sept 2007). According to Professor Amihai Mazar of Hebrew University, the find is the earliest apiary to be discovered in an archaeological excavation in the Middle East.
There are ancient Egyptian illustrations of apiaries that show stacked cylinders very similar to those found at Tel Rehov; and also, fired ceramic vessels that served as beehives are known from the Hellenistic and Roman Periods, but none have been excavated ‘in situ’, says the report. The apiary discovered during excavation contained more than thirty hives, but researchers estimate that the area may have contained some one hundred beehives.
Yahweh described the land of Israel as a “land flowing with milk and honey” as evidence of the rich blessings that He would bring upon His people when they left Egypt and settled the Promised Land (Exod 3:8). Although there are no references to beehives in the Scriptures, there are a number of references to honey, particularly wild honey (Deut 32:13), and bees (Judg 14:8). The Word of God is ‘sweeter than honey’ (Psa 119:103), and if followed faithfully will ensure an everlasting inheritance in the “land flowing with milk and honey”.