Acts 13 – Paul and Barnabas on Cyprus & Lost Cities of South Asia and the Far East: Harappa (1 of 4)

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There is much that we don’t know.  Aside from lost cities and ancient kingdoms that we find.  We don’t even know all that is in the ocean, let alone outer space.

Yet, because we don’t know everything, we know that You are the creator of all things.

“All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made (Jn 1:3).

Paul didn’t tell people of past events unless they pertained to Jesus because that is all that mattered.  That is all that mattered then and that is all that matters now.

Paul, unlike the disciples, didn’t stay in one place, he made four different trips, tomorrow we will look at…

Acts 13
Paul and Barnabas on Cyprus

2 The recorded
The recorded history of Cyprus extends to the 7th century BC. The local town of Kition, now Larnaka, recorded part of the ancient history of Cyprus on a stele that commemorated an Assyrian victory there in 709 B.C.

1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

“Simeon was called Niger” – “Simeon” suggests Jewish background; in that case, Niger (Latin for “black”) may indicate his dark complexion.

“Lucius of Cyrene” – Lucius is a Latin name.  in the second group of preachers coming to Antioch, some were from Cyrene, capital of Libya.

“Manaen” – in Hebrew, Menahem.  Since he was the foster brother of Herod Antipas, he would be able to tell of the thoughts and actions of Herod.

2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

“Seleucia” – the seaport of Antioch (16 miles to the west, and 5 miles upstream from the mouth of the Orontes River).

5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus:

3 Salamis wa
Salamis was an ancient city-state on the east coast of Cyprus, at the mouth of the river Pedieos, 6 km north of modern Famagusta.

The site is under the control of the turkish army since the turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the ethnic cleansing of the North Part of the Republic of Cyprus.

7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,

10 And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

13 Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down.

15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

4 Ancient castles
Ancient castles give a window into Cypriot history.

16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.

18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.

19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.

20 And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.

22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

5 Herod Antipater
Herod Antipater born before 20 BC – died after 39 AD), known by the nickname Antipas, was a 1st-century ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch (“ruler of a quarter”).

He is best known today for accounts in the New Testament of his role in events that led to the executions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth.

23 Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus:

24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.

28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.

29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulcher.

30 But God raised him from the dead:

31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

6 Seleucia
Seleucia, as such, was founded in about 305 B.C., when an earlier city was enlarged and dedicated as the first capital of the Seleucid Empire by Seleucus I Nicator.

Seleucus was one of the generals of Alexander the Great who, after Alexander’s death, divided his empire among themselves.

34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

“Justified from all things” – justification combines two aspects: !. the forgiveness of sins (here) and 2. The gift of righteousness (Rom 3:21-22).

40 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;

41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

7 Jerash
Jerash is known for the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, also referred to as Antioch on the Golden River.

42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.

43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

44 And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

8 The Orontes
The Orontes is one of the most famous rivers of Antiquity. Its source is in the valley between the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon (Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 5.80), not far from Baalbek-Heliopolis. According to Strabo, the river used to flow underground for a while, but resurfaced.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.

52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

Lost Cities of South Asia and
The Far East (1 of 4)

9 Courses of brick masonry
Courses of brick masonry at Harappa, which demonstrate why 19th century workers on the railway viewed the ruins as a rich quarry for useful ballast materials.


Location: Indus Valley, Pakistan
Date of Construction: c 2800 B.C.
Abandoned: C 1500 B.C.
Built By: Indus Civilization, also Known as Harappans
Key Features: Municipal Plumbing and Sewage; Street Grid; Beads, Seals, Plaques, Weights, Figurines; Lack Of Monumental or Public Art.

Harappa and its sister city Mohenjo-daro are two of the largest cities of the Indus civilization (also known as the Harappan civilization), the least known and most mysterious of the four original centers of Old World civilization.

10 The Indus civilization
The Indus civilization was first identified at Harappa, once a city of 80,000 people.
They lived in well-planned cities, made exquisite jewelry, and enjoyed the ancient world’s best plumbing. But the people of the sophisticated Indus civilization—which flourished four millennia ago in what is now Pakistan and western India—remain tantalizingly mysterious.

While ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and China are relatively familiar, heavily excavated and researched and, crucially, accessible to us through their own words thanks to their writings and inscriptions, the Indus civilization remains enigmatic, even though it was the largest and in some respects the most sophisticated of the four ancient states.

What language did the people of Harappa speak? What does their script record? Who ruled them and how? What gods did they worship? What kind of legacy did they bequeath to the people who now inhabit their ancient territory?

The first Europeans to see the great mounds of the Indus Valley assumed they were relics from the early days of Hindu-Buddhist civilization, the recorded history of which began with the Mauryan Dynasty of 321 B.C.

The explorer Charles Masson, for instance, the first European to report the ruins of Harappa after stumbling upon them in the late 1820s, assumed it was the stronghold of King Porus, defeated by Alexander the Great in 326 B.C.

In 1875, the first of a series of strange seals engraved with an unknown script was discovered at Harappa, pointing to the possibility that the mound concealed the remains of an entirely new civilization.

But it was not until 1924, when the Archaeological Survey of India announced the first results of excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, that the existence of a previously unknown Bronze Age civilization was conclusively revealed.

By this time the site at Harappa had already suffered catastrophic damage thanks to the depredations of the railway.

When the Lahore-Multan railway line through the area had been constructed in the 1850s, workers had used the vast quantities of bricks that peeked through the surface of the great mounds as a ready source of ballast and large areas of the ancient city had been destroyed.

The Indus Civilization

But the damage wrought by brick scavengers has not prevented archaeologists from building a picture of the civilization that was centered on large urban settlements such as Harappa.

11 Stamp seal
Stamp seal with unicorn and ritual offering stand, ca. 2000-1900 B.C.; Harappan. Indus Valley, Harappa, 8796-01. Indus inscription.

The roots of the Indus civilization date back as far as 7000 B.C., when villages in the Indus Valley and the adjacent hill country that marks the border between the Indian sub-continent and the Iranian region first developed.

In the Chalcolithic Era (or Copper Age), from about 4300-3200 B.C., these villages grew quite large and spread their influence throughout the Indus Valley region, where the great River Indus and the now extinct River Sarasvati flooded annually, bringing great fertility but also great obstacles to settlement.

From around 3700-2800 B.C. villages began to develop along the Ravi River, one of the tributaries of the Indus, and this period saw the spread of a homogenous culture through the region, with toy models of bullock carts attesting to the growth of trade routes.

Which had already reached for hundreds of miles, and specialized craft technologies involving metalwork, pottery and jewelry (that would later be central to the Indus civilization) spreading as well.

At this time the region may have had stronger seasonal variation in temperature than now, with the floodplains and surrounding areas providing rich hunting and fishing as well as fertile arable land.

Precursors to what would later become a full-blown writing system began to appear, in the form of symbols inscribed onto pottery.

From 2800-2600 B.C. Harappa grew into a large town, covering more than 61 acres in two walled zones. Crafts, trade and social organization all became increasingly developed.

12 A small museum
A small museum houses majority of the artifacts excavated from the site. There is a female skeleton with all its ornaments, and potteries around it which depicted the burial custom of Harappans. It also houses a male skeleton.

By 2600 B.C. the fully urban Harappan phase (or the Indus civilization) began and for 700 years Harappa dominated the surrounding region.

It grew into a huge city of up to 80,000 people (the population probably fluctuated over the year, with market season bringing in hordes of outlying folk) that covered over 370 acres with a circumference of more than three miles.

The Indus civilization itself spread its influence over an area the size of Western Europe and twice as large as ancient Mesopotamia or Egypt, with more than 1,500 known settlements centered on what are now the provinces of Punjab and Sindh in Pakistan, and spreading into northwestern states of India as far as the Ganges Valley, southwest into what is now Kutch and Gujarat, and west as far as northern Afghanistan.

Materials found in Harappa attest to a trade network that stretched from Central Asia to Mesopotamia and Arabia, with raw materials imported to the city where artisans produced manufactured goods for export – for example, decorated carnelian beads from the workshops of the Indus civilization have been found at sites in Mesopotamia and Persia.

The Harappans also developed sophisticated systems for regulating trade, ownership and transactions. Seals with standardized symbols and a form of hieroglyphic writing known as the “Indus script” were widespread, and it is thought they were probably used to mark goods with quantities and ownership.

Similarly marked copper plaques may have been the start of a system of currency, while small tokens of faience and fired steatite (also known as soapstone) inscribed with marks may have been used for accounting purposes.

13 The remains
The remains of famous Indus Valley Civilizations were first discovered in 1920-21 when engraved seals were discovered near present-day Sahiwal in Pakistani Punjab at a place called Harappa. It was from here that archaeologists in their quest to find more remains finally bumped into the remains of Moenjodaro in Sind.

Tablets of clay or faience have been found snapped in half, and they may have been used to regulate contracts, with each party to a transaction retaining half of the tablet until it was completed. A common class of find at Harappa is small stone cubes of graduated sizes.

These were standardized weights used to ensure fair transactions in the trade of high value merchandise, such as jewelry.

Sophisticated, Structured City

One of the best-known features of the Indus civilization was its highly advanced urban planning and sewerage system.

Harappa featured a water infrastructure of a scale and sophistication not seen anywhere else until Roman times, and even then only in the richest areas of a city, whereas at Harappa the provisions were universal.

Numerous brick-lined wells scattered around the city provided a steady supply of water, while houses were equipped with bathrooms and latrines, which emptied into sewage drains, themselves connected to municipal main sewers.

The sewage was fed to collection points outside the residential zones and was probably carted off to be used as fertilizer for the market gardens surrounding the city.

The same careful planning that is evident in the sewage systems operated on a larger scale; the Indus settlements are remarkable for being the world’s first planned cities.

Mesopotamian and Egyptian cities grew organically, with no strategic planning resulting in winding streets, warrens of lanes and alleys and irregular-shaped buildings.

By contrast, Harappa was laid out on a grid system not seen again until the Greek cities of the mid-1st millennium B.C., with wide central avenues, regular shaped buildings and the aforementioned water infrastructure into the fabric of the city.

14 In fact the Harappan
The Harappan and indus valley civilizations extend to the Yamuna along the bed of the river Ghaggar in Rajhastan, Gujrat and upto the mouths of the rivers Narbada and Tapati. Most of the the major sites of this civilization are in Pakistan.

The street grid was oriented to the cardinal points of the compass and the major avenues were more than 26 feet wide.  Along some of them were central dividers suggesting a two-lane system for regulating bullock-cart traffic.

Harappa comprised three main walled areas (that left three large mounds for archaeologists to pick over) and surrounding walled suburbs. Massive walls of mud brick, with brick gateways, served multiple purposes:

1. Control of access into the city, and

2. Defense and also protection from floods.

Evidence of military might and associated sociopolitical power structures is noticeably absent from Harappa and the other cities, with no monumental art or reliefs, no depictions of proud emperors or conquering armies.

It is hard to identify any remaining buildings as palaces or temples, although one of the main zones of Harappa is described as a “citadel”, and each walled area probably had some public/administrative/religious function.

The absence of the normal signs of authority (i.e., of a king or emperor) is part of the wider enigma concerning the Indus civilization.

How did it come to control such a wide area and how was it governed? Who was in charge? It is thought likely that government was by a sort of corporate model rather than a centralized monarchy, with each city ruled by its own elite class, who possibly combined religious and secular authority.


Harappan arts and crafts encompassed pottery, small statues, gold and silver jewelry, bronze tools and seals and tokens. Almost all of the seals and tokens were marked with the Indus script and sometimes also with animal motifs.

These might have had religious connotations, perhaps as totem animals for different tribal groupings or they may have symbolized different classes or clans.

15 The ruins of Harappa
The ruins of Harappa lie 35-km southwest of Sahiwal (about 250 km from Lahore).

Situated besides an earlier course of the Ravi River, the remains of Harappa were ravaged by brick-hunters using the material as blast when the railway tracks between Lahore and Multan were laid.

However, several cemeteries, which escaped the attention of vandals, have been excavated to reveal the richness and sophistication of its culture.

The most commonly represented animal was the unicorn, which might have been the symbol for a merchant or trader, but the variety of other animals represented, including elephants, bison, tigers and rhinoceroses, bears testament to the ecological diversity of the region in ancient, probably wetter, times.

Perhaps the most distinctive products of the Indus civilization were beads. Excavations at Harappa show stone beads from every level of occupation and the production of finely wrought and often extremely difficult to make beads from rare and valuable material is one of the defining technologies of the civilization.

Figurines from the city show that people wore multiple strings of beads and there may have been a sophisticated ‘language’ of bead jewelry signaling social status, wealth, power and other attributes. They were also an export commodity.

The most common material was steatite, a soft white stone also known as soapstone, but other materials included bronze, carnelian, agate and jasper.

The harder the material and the smaller the bead, the more difficult it was to make and excavations at Harappa suggest that different workshops in the city, perhaps under the direction of wealthy patrons, competed to advance their skills.

Harappans also developed technologies for glazing and coloring beads, including the technology of faience, where a ceramic or stone is glazed with a lustrous sheen, particularly to make it look like lapis lazuli or turquoise, precious materials that stained easily when worn next to the skin.

Later Harappans developed glass beads c 1700 B.C., 200 years before the Egyptians first made glass.

…Paul’s first journey.

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