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”.