Brit-Am Historical Reports

15 July 2009 23 Tammuz 5769
1. Second Temple Stone Quarry Discovered
2. Archaeology: Brit-Am Version of Explorator 12.12
3. A Jewish Contribution to Discovery of the New World: Rabbi Abraham


Discussion Group
Contents by Subject Research

Site Map
Contents in Alphabetical Order
This Site

1. Second Temple Stone Quarry Discovered
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Archaeologists have discovered a quarter-acre (one dunam) quarry in Jerusalem that apparently was the source for mammoth stones used by Herod to build the Second Temple. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) discovered the quarry prior to the planned construction of apartment buildings on Shmuel HaNavi Street.

The ancient quarry dates back 2,030 years, according to excavation director Dr. Ofer Sion. The immense size of the stones, which measure up to three meters long and two meters high and wide, "indicates it was highly likely that the large stones that were quarried at the site were destined for use in the construction of Herod's magnificent projects in Jerusalem, including the Temple walls," he said.
He also estimated that a large work force among Herod's estimated 10,000 laborers produced the stones by creating detachment channels with the use of a one-pound chisel. "After the channels were formed, the stones were severed from the bedrock using hammers and chisels," Dr. Sion explained.

"We know from historical sources that in order to build the Temple and other projects which Herod constructed, such as his palace, hundreds of thousands of various size stones were required, most of them weighing between two and five tons each", said the director of the excavation. "The dimensions of the stones that were produced in the quarry...are suitable for the Temple walls."

"The massive quarrying effort, on the order of hundreds of thousands of stones, lowered the topography of Jerusalem in the vicinity of the Old City," Dr. Sion said.  "Today, with the exposure of this quarry, the intensity of the building projects as described in the historical sources can be proven? It is clear that Herod began quarrying closest to the Temple and worked away from it: first he exploited the stone on the nearby ridges and subsequently he moved on to quarry in more distant regions."

Dr. Sion described the ancient "high-tech method of removing and transporting the stones on rolling wooden fixtures, some of which were pulled by camels."

Other artifacts discovered at the site include metal plates, referred to in the Talmud and which were used as fulcrums to sever the stones from the bedrock, as well as coins and pottery shards from the end of the Second Temple period in the first century, before the beginning of the non-Jewish calendar.

More than 60 people worked on the dig, which lasted approximately two weeks.

2. Archaeology: Brit-Am Version of Explorator 12.12
From: david meadows <>
Subject: [Explorator] explorator 12.12
explorator 12.12 July '12', 2009
Diseases carried by Homo sapiens are now being blamed for the
demise of the Neanderthal:
Another quarry used by Herod in his various building projects
has been found:

Interesting excavation starting up in Sidon:

Recent finds in the Mount Zion excavation:

More on the Lod Mosaic:

More on that quarry near Jericho:


Interesting Iron Age remains keep turning up at the Illerup River Valley

Things weren't so great for the pilgrims:

A First Nations site near Calgary:

Revealing Rhode Island's slave trade connections:

... and an opinion on the proposed RI name change:

... and Henry Hudson's fate:
Widening of the Panama canal is revealing some interesting stuff:

Interesting feature on the Maya:

I've only found this one in the Italian press ... a gold-covered
burial from Belize:

On what we learn from Chile pepper domestication:

Zapotecs in general may have had a thing for femurs:

Did maize consumption lead to the rise of Andean civilization:

On the Medieval Warm Period and Inca success:

More on Chinchorro arsenic poisoning:
The Codex Sinaiticus is online now:

Did Galileo discover Neptune?:

Nice feature on Roget's Thesaurus:

Reviewish sort of thing on a book about Calvin:

Review of Richard Holmes, *The Age of Wonder*:



Dhiban (Jordan):

Gabii Project:

Tel Kabri:

Tel Dan:


Smuggling in Bethlehem:


A gold coin of Tiberius brought an okay price:

3. A Jewish Contribution to Discovery of the New World
Rabbi Abraham
(1450-1515; 5210-5275)

Rabbi Abraham Zacuto was born at Salamanca [Western Spain]about the middle of the fifteenth century. ...The family of the Zacutos belonged to the Jewish nobility, and the young Abraham was given every opportunity to acquire a thorough Jewish education under the guidance of the famous Rabbi Isaac Aboab, with whom he later emigrated to Portugal. At the same time the brillant young Jewish nobleman received a secular education which made him an outstanding figure among the young Christian scholars of his day.

Zacuto soon became famous as an excellent mathematician and astronomer. Through the efforts of the Bishop of Salamanca, a great lover of astronomy, Rabbi Abraham Zacuto was given the chair of astronomy and mathematics at the ancient university of Salamanca. In gratitude, Rabbi Abraham Zacuto dedicated to him his first and most famous astronomical work, called "Biur Luhoth," written in excellent and scholarly Hebrew. ...This work was of great practical value, for it provided a vitally needed tool for discoverers and world travelers who were about to open up the new age of exploration.

Until then, anyone setting out on a voyage had to follow the ancient routes along the coasts of the Mediterranean, or other known sea routes, for there was nothing to guide any traveler on the high seas. Rabbi Abraham Zacuto's Almanac was a concise calendar of the constellations of the seven planets. After its publication, none of the famous discoverers set out without this Almanac of the Jewish astronomer. With the help of this Almanac, they were able to leave the customary routes and venture out into the unknown seas in search of new horizons. Rabbi Abraham Zacuto became famous for this important work. The great astronomers from all over the world corresponded with him and sought his advice and opinion.

After several years of successful teaching at the University of Salamanca, the young rabbi was called to the High University of Saragossa, where an even wider circle of scholars sat at his feet to listen to his lectures on mathematics and astronomy.

When the great tragedy of 1492, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, was decreed by the cruel Ferdinand and the even more cruel Isabella, Rabbi Abraham Zacuto was promised the highest honors and an abundance of wealth if he abandoned his Jewish faith. High dignitaries of the Church offered him their patronage.

Rabbi Abraham Zacuto, however, was a deeply pious Jew.

More than a hundred thousand of the Spanish Jews had been granted permission to enter Portugal, at least temporarily, after paying large sums of gold to the greedy king John II.

Rabbi Abraham Zacuto was among those who crossed over into Portugal. He settled in Lisbon, where several famous Jewish astronomers and physicians had invited him to assist them at court.

Having barely set foot in Portugal, the impoverished Spanish immigrants were hard hit by epidemics which killed them by the thousand. The cruel King John used this occasion, and the protests of the fanatical population, to rid the country of the hated refugees. He provided ships for them to cross the seas for new countries. However, these unfortunate people were beset by the most distressing conditions. They had to set out to sea without sufficient food; they were not permitted to land at any harbor, or take on provisions. Thus many perished at sea. Only a small percentage came away with their bare lives and settled in Africa, or some other country.

Rabbi Abraham Zacuto felt a debt of gratitude to Portugal which offered him and many of his brethren a haven of refuge after the cruel expulsion from Spain. He looked forward to years of devoted service to the country of his refuge, and to his own people, which his position at the court would permit him to render.

At that time Vasco de Gama was working on his project of sailing to the fabulously rich India. King John had already toyed with this proposed expedition. King Manuel went about it seriously. Because Rabbi Abraham Zacuto supported it at the court with all his influence and persuasion, Vasco de Gama was finally commissioned to undertake his trip. For this long voyage Vasco de Gama, who had a Jewish captain by the name of Gaspar, made use of an astrolabe which had been constructed of metal instead of wood, at the suggestion of Rabbi Abrabam Zacuto. With this wise astronomer's tables and astrolabe, the world famous traveler was able to chart his trip across the ocean, guiding himself by the stars.

However, Rabbi Abraham Zacuto was poorly rewarded for his great services to the court and to the land. Fate struck another cruel blow at his persecuted brethren, and although Rabbi Abraham could have escaped it in the shelter of the court, he chose to share it with them.

The turn of events came about when King Manuel of Portugal asked for the hand of the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, who was as cruel as her parents. Through this marriage, the two royal houses, so hostile in the past, sought to combine their countries into one mighty Catholic empire.

As a condition of this marriage, the rulers of Spain demanded that King Manuel follow their example in the persecution of the Jews, and that he join forces with them against the king of France.

The hope of inheriting the crown of Spain was too much of a temptation for the fickle king of Portugal. He deserted his friend, King Charles VII of France, and betrayed his loyal subjects, the Jews.

On the 30th of November, 1496, the marriage contract between the two royal houses was signed. Twenty-four days later, King Manuel signed the fatal decree that all Jews and Moors living in his land must either accept the Catholic faith or leave the country under penalty of death.

In order to ease his conscience somewhat, King Manuel set the date of the expulsion deadline for ten months later, that is, the following October. This would enable those Jews who were determined to choose expulsion rather than betray their faith to make preparations to leave the country by ship, since there was no other way out.

The decree, coming so soon after the expulsion from Spain, was a heartless blow for the helpless Jews. But the ten months' period of "grace" gave them hope that King Manuel might yet change his mind and leave them alone. In the meantime, their leaders, among them Rabbi Abraham Zacuto, tried their best to use their influence with the monarch, but it was in vain. On the contrary, King Manuel was angered by the fact that hardly any Jew took advantage of his "generous" offer which permitted any Jew to save his home and life at the expense of his religion.

King Manuel was further influenced by his personal physician Antonio, an apostate whose Jewish name had been Levi ben Shem-Tov. This traitor had written a treatise against his former brethren, and tried hard to force the Jews to betray their faith as he had done. He induced the king to take strong measures against the obstinate Jews.

The first step was to close all synagogues and schools. But the Jews continued to pray and study in their private homes, despite the dangers involved.

Then Manuel and Antonio issued a secret order to seize all Jewish children on Easter Sunday, drag them to the churches, and baptize them forcibly.

Rabbi Abraham Zacuto had some good friends among the State Counsellors. One of them told him about the shameful plan of the monarch. Immediately, the Jews made plans to hide their children and keep them off the streets.

The king became enraged that his plan failed, and ordered his troops to force their way into the Jewish homes and drag the children out. One of the few Christian Bishops who was opposed to this cruel method describes the horrible scenes that took place in the streets of Lisbon and other cities. There was such courage among the tortured Jewish parents that some of them took their own lives and those of their children. The heroism and loyalty to their faith of the Jewish people did not move the heartless king and queen. The soldiers showed great zeal in carrying out their assignment, and went beyond the call of duty, for they seized not small children only, but boys and girls up to the age of twenty. Those who resisted were killed.

The terrorized Jewish population sent a delegation to Pope Alexander VI, with costly presents, to plead with him to stop the cruel persecution. Pope Alexander asked King Manuel to act in a more humane manner towards the Jews. The situation of the Anussim (Marranos) who had been forcibly baptized did ease a little, but that was all.

As the date of the expulsion of the Jews approached, King Manuel increased the pressure upon them with all the means at his disposal. By all kinds of trickery, he prevented thousands of Jews from leaving the country. He allowed only Lisbon to be used as a port of departure, and caused various delays, until many were trapped by the deadline. According to his decree, these Jews were to become his slaves, to do with as he pleased. Of these, thousands upon thousands met cruel death. They refused to buy their freedom at the price of their religion.

By some miracle, Rabbi Abraham Zacuto and his son Samuel were among the more fortunate ones who saved themselves on board an old ship that was to take them to Africa.

Twice on the way they were caught by pirates and held for ransom. They were redeemed by kind Jews who paid the ransom. After many months of terrible suffering, Rabbi Abraham and his son landed in Tunis. There were not very many who survived the expulsion from Portugal.

There was a flourishing Jewish community in Tunis at that time, under the leadership of the pious and energetic Rabbi Shimon Duran. Rabbi Abraham Zacuto was welcomed with open arms. During the next few years of peace, Rabbi Abraham Zacuto wrote his famous "Sefer Hayuhasin," a chronological history of the Jews from the Creation of the world to his day. For a long time it was one of the few sources of post-Biblical Jewish history, covering the period from the Babylonian exile to the Middle Ages.

Before this, Rabbi Abraham Zacuto had written a supplement to Rabbi Nathan ben Jehiel's "Sefer Haaruch," a dictionary of the Aramaic language. He is also the author of "Arbaim L'Binah," a treatise on astrology.

His stay in North Africa did not last long. The ever increasing threat of a Spanish invasion of Algeria made him take up his wanderer's staff again. Wandering from place to place, Rabbi Abraham Zacuto finally found a haven in Turkey, where Rabbi Joseph Nassi and other influential Jews had provided a new home for many hundreds of the Spanish and Portuguese refugees.

Rabbi Abraham Zacuto died about the year 5275 (1515), without having seen his "Sefer Hayuhasin" published. Fifty years later, however, it was published by Rabbi David Arkish, a physician at the Turkish court, through the generosity of a rich Jewish lady. Thus this most important work of Rabbi Abraham Zacuto found its way into the classical Jewish literature, and won him a place as one of the great men of our people, whose life and work are an everlasting inspiration to us all.
Abraham Zacuto was the mapmaker for Christopher Columbus. One branch of his family migrated to Turkey after the Spanish Inquisition. I am a descendant of that branch of Zacutos. Another branch went to Amsterdam. There are others in Israel, Argentina and perhaps Brazil.
Zacuto perfected the astrolabe, which only then became an instrument of precision, and he was the author of the highly accurate Almanach Perpetuum that were used by ship captains to determine the position of their Portuguese caravels in high seas, through calculations on data acquired with an astrolabe. His contributions were undoubtedly valuable in saving the lives of Portuguese seamen, and allowing them to reach Brazil and India.

Khazars Cover
Tribe 13

Now Available!

 Click Here 


Pleased with what you read?
The Brit-Am enterprise is a good Biblically-based work.
They who assist Brit-Am will be blessed.
Brit-Am depends on contributions alongside purchases of our publications

Click Here to make an offering.
Click Here to view our publications.

'It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God or the Bible.'
  George Washington

Brit-Am is the "still small voice" that contains the truth.

Security Cameras, Florida, USA.
security cameras

The Lifestyle Doctor