East Meets West: The Uncanny Parallels in the Lives of Buddha and Jesus
Elgin Marbles Debate
Excavation Opportunities 1985
Excavation Opportunities 1986
Excavation Opportunities 1989
Excavation Opportunities 1995
Frank Moore Cross—An Interview
Has Richard Friedman Really Discovered a Long-Hidden Book in the Bible?
In Private Hands
Israel Comes to Canaan
Jerusalem Explores and Preserves Its Past
Jerusalem’s Underground Water Systems
Jonah and the Whale
Megiddo Stables or Storehouses?
Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling
New Directions In Dead Sea Scroll Research
One if by Sea…Two if by Land: How Did the Philistines Get to Canaan?
Pilate in the Dock
Point/Counterpoint: Pros and Cons of the Contemporary English Version
Portraits In Heroism
Redating the Exodus—The Debate Goes On
Rewriting Jerusalem History
Riches at Ein Yael
Scholars Disagree: Can You Name the Panel with the Israelites?
Sea Peoples Saga
Should the Bible Be Taught in Public Schools?
Special Bible Section
Spotlight on Sepphoris
Temple Scroll Revisited
The Age of BAR
The Amman Citadel: An Archaeological Biography
The Babylonian Gap Revisited
The Bible Code: Cracked and Crumbling
the Brother of Jesus
The Dead Sea Scrolls
The God-Fearers: Did They Exist?
The Jacob Cycle in Genesis
The Minoans of Crete: Europe’s Oldest Civilization
The Most Original Bible Text: How to Get There
The Pools of Sepphoris: Ritual Baths or Bathtubs?
The Search for History in the Bible
What Was Qumran?
Where Was Jesus Born?
Where Was the Temple?
Who Invented the Alphabet
Guide to Sites
Few places evoke the New Testament as much as Bethsaida, a town on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee that was the birthplace of at least three of the 12 apostles and the place where Jesus fed the multitude (Luke 9:10–17) and restored sight to a blind man (Mark 8:22–26). The Romans destroyed Bethsaida during the First Jewish Revolt of 66–70 A.D., leaving its location a mystery until 1987, when Rami Arav (University of Nebraska at Omaha) explored an area that today is somewhat north of the Galilee but which he suspected had been on the shoreline in ancient times. His hunch proved correct: He found a Hellenistic-Roman city in which he uncovered Roman-era fishing implements. Nine years later he discovered, to his surprise, the remains of an Iron Age city buried beneath the Hellenistic-Roman town, which is likely to have been the capital of the kingdom of Geshur. This season Arav and co-director Richard Freund (University of Hartford) will continue work on the Iron Age city.
Ancient Dor has a history stretching back to the 20th century B.C., when the Canaanites first established the city. Pottery from Cyprus and Mycenae indicate that it was an important trading site throughout the Bronze Age, and in 960 B.C. King Solomon made it his primary port and one of his 12 district capitals (1 Kings 4:11). The city remained prosperous until the first century B.C., when King Herod established Caesarea eight miles to the south. However, Dor remained sufficiently important to be the seat of a bishopric in the fifth to seventh century A.D. Tel Dor contains significant remains from nearly every archaeological period, including palaces, temples and mosaics. This summer the excavators, led by Ilan Sharon (Hebrew University), Andrew Stewart (U.C. Berkeley), Sarah Stroup (University of Washington) and Elizabeth Bloch-Smith (Gratz College), intend to continue work on the Iron Age city and to excavate a Hellenistic-Persian palace complex below a Roman wine press and bath discovered in 2004.
Arguably the most ancient and mysterious site featured here, Har Karkom was discovered in 1954 by Emmanuel Anati (Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici, Italy), who returns every spring to continue his survey. The site is really a cluster of many sites of various sizes spread out on a remote plateau in southern Negev desert. They consist mostly of rock art, cultic altars and stone pillars from numerous periods dating as far back as 40,000 years. What most of them appear to have in common is a cultic purpose. The area has clearly been holy since the Paleolithic period, and Anati even goes so far as to argue that Har Karkom is the Biblical Mt. Sinai.
Hazor is rich in Biblical history. The town, located 20 miles north of the Sea of Galilee, was once the center of a coalition organized by its king, Jabin, to fight the Israelites led by Joshua (Joshua 11:1–5). Joshua, however, won the battle and razed Hazor to the ground (Joshua 11:11). Solomon later rebuilt the city, though it disappeared from the Hebrew Bible following its conquest by the Assyrians in 732 B.C. (2 Kings 15:29). Extrabiblical references include 19th-18th-century B.C. Egyptian texts, which curse Hazor as an enemy of Egypt, and an 18th-century B.C. Babylonian tablet mentioning that Hammurabi had ambassadors residing in the city.
Past excavations have unearthed a Bronze Age Canaanite palace and cultic buildings, as well as Canaanite and Israelite fortifications, an Israelite administrative building and various statues, tablets and jewelry. Dig leader Amnon Ben-Tor (Hebrew University) plans to spend this season uncovering the monumental Bronze Age palace and fortifications.
Located about 6 miles south of Kiryat Shemona, in Israel’s far north, Kedesh was one of the major Canaanite cities that fought in the coalition led by Jabin of Hazor; the Israelites conquered it and made it into a “city of refuge.” Kedesh was probably the administrative center for the Galilee in the Persian and Hellenistic periods (539–141 B.C.), when the inhabitants had close economic, political and social contact with the Phoenician cities of the coast. In the corner of one building, excavators discovered a cache of more than 3,000 Hellenistic bullae (seal impressions). The site was later attacked by the Maccabees under Jonathan (144 B.C.) and never recovered, changing from an administrative center to a rural outpost. Directed by Professor Sharon Herbert (University of Michigan) and Andrea Berlin (University of Minnesota), the excavation at Tel Kedesh has provided new evidence regarding the cultural interactions of Phoenicians and Jews in the Second Temple Period.
Once one of a series of fortified sites along the Wadi ath-Thamad, Khirbat al-Mudayna, located about 30 miles south of Amman, Jordan, is a rich source of information about life in Iron Age Moab. The excavation is entering its seventh season and has yielded an impressive six-chambered gate complex dating to Iron Age II and sling stones and bronze arrowheads nearby that suggest a battle to breach it. Excavators led by P. M. Michèle Daviau of Wilfrid Laurier University (Ontario) have also found, inside the town, a small temple with limestone altars and a series of 023industrial buildings dedicated to the weaving industry, in addition to a Nabatean villa and an early Roman reservoir. In the larger Wadi ath-Thamad survey area, excavations have begun on a Neolithic village, where painted pottery and a sub-floor burial of a young woman have been recovered from the Yarmukian culture.
The goals for the 2005 season include continuing the excavation of the Iron Age buildings, the Nabatean villa and the recently discovered Neolithic village.
Christian tradition identifies Kursi, on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, as the location of the “swine miracle,” in which Jesus drove demons from a possessed man into a passing herd of pigs (Matthew 8:28–34; Mark 5; Luke 8:26–39). The swine (and, one hopes, the evil spirits) are gone, but not the remains of what was once the largest Byzantine monastery in the Holy Land. For the past four years, Charles Page II and Vassilios Tzaferis of the Jerusalem Institute for Biblical Exploration, have been excavating the monastery compound, uncovering fifth-century mosaics, a bath complex and other notable finds. This season they plan to explore the possible connection between a residential area and the Byzantine monastery.
Telegenic Petra, located in Jordan about 120 miles south of Amman, continues to draw tourists from throughout 024the world. Though inhabited from the Iron Age to the 20th century A.D., it is known primarily as the capital of the Nabateans, who settled there during the Hellenistic period. Some also identify the city with Biblical Sela, in Edom (Judges 1:36; 2 Kings 14:7). The excavation is run by Philip Hammond, director of the American Expedition to Petra, and it already boasts of the discovery of the Temple of the Winged Lions, considered the most important temple complex discovered so far. Other finds include the Treasury of the Pharaoh (a spectacular edifice carved into a cliff wall), a Roman-style theater and a necropolis. Hammond’s goal this season is to continue excavation of the temple complex and conduct conservation work.
This pleasant coast site on the southern edge of Mount Carmel features a Herodian palace complex, which was in use until the First Jewish Revolt (66–70 A.D). The excavation team, led by director Yizhar Hirschfeld (Hebrew University), has already uncovered rich remains, including standing 7-foot-high walls, lamps, glassware, coins, jewelry and various metal objects.
Now known mostly for the landmark hotel on the site, in a southern neighborhood of Jerusalem, Ramat Rachel’s most prominent archaeological features include a large eighth-century B.C. royal citadel, built by one of the kings of Judah, a Roman villa and a Byzantine monastery. This season the excavators, led by Oded Lipschitz and Oren Tal (Tel Aviv University), will explore traces of Assyrian and Babylonian rule as well as the borders of the Iron Age II settlement.
The largest ancient town in the Beth Shean valley, Rehov is mentioned in numerous contemporary Egyptian sources. Though not referenced in the Bible, it was clearly a major city at the time of the Judges and the Israelite monarchy.
Previous seasons of excavations at Tel Rehov, one of the largest in Israel, revealed an immense 3,000-2,000 B.C. fortification system as well as successive occupation layers from the 13th to the 8th centuries B.C. The most important discoveries relate to the 10th and 9th centuries B.C., the time of the United Monarchy and the Omride Dynasty. These include vast architectural remains, hundreds of pottery vessels and a rich collection of cult objects, seal inscriptions and other finds. This season the archaeological team, led by Amihai Mazar (Hebrew University), intend to extend the excavation of the Iron Age I-II occupation levels and explore the Late Bronze Age levels.
Tell es-Safi/Gath, one of the largest pre-classical sites in Israel, is identified as Canaanite and Philistine Gath, one of the five major cities of the Philistines, arch-enemies of the Israelites, and home to Goliath and King Achish. Since 1996, the excavation, led by Aren Maeir (Bar-Ilan University), has uncovered a number of important Early Bronze Age, Late Bronze Age and Iron Age finds. These include Philistine remains dating to Iron Age I and II and several destruction levels brimming 027with objects, including hundreds of complete vessels. One of the levels, from the late ninth century B.C., contains evidence of Hazael of Aram’s conquest of Gath (2 Kings 12:18). Related to this is a monumental dry siege moat that surrounds the site, which is unparalleled in the ancient world.
Located in the Madaba Plains region of central Jordan, 20 miles south of Amman, Tall Jalul may be the site of the Biblical city of Heshbon. The excavation is revealing clues about the socio-historical development of the region, which was occupied from the Early Bronze Age to the Persian period. Past excavations have uncovered remains of an Iron Age II gateway and buildings, as well as figurines, seals and a tomb.
Directors Randall W. Younker and David Merlin of Andrews University plan to spend the season continuing their work in all fields.
Hebrew University’s Yizhar Hirschfeld and Brown University’s Katharina Galor are leading a major excavation of this Roman-era city by the Sea of Galilee. Founded in the first century A.D., Tiberias was a major Jewish cultural center (the seat of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court) and later became a location of importance 028for early Christians, Byzantines and Muslims until the tenth century. Recent finds include a 17-foot bronze chain and chandelier, a cardo (the main street in Roman cities) and a bathhouse with a mosaic floor. Hirschfeld and Galor plan to spend this season exposing a basilica and a large market area.
This site in northern Jordan, 12 miles south east of Irbid, was occupied from the Early Bronze Age to the Islamic period. Among the finds so far have been Late Bronze houses, Iron Age walls, wine and olive presses, scarabs, Roman glass and a sixth-century A.D. church with a mosaic floor. Ya’amun’s most distinctive feature, however, is its tombs; 189 have been found so far, divided among several necropoli. This year the excavation team, led by co-directors Jerome C. Rose (University of Arkansas) and Mahmoud El-Najjar (Yarmouk University), intends to continue excavating wine presses, finish the tombs in necropolis 1 and further explore structures at the site.
Possibly the site of Biblical Jotbathah (Deuteronomy 10:7), which describes the oasis as “a land of brooks and water” where the Israelites camped during their 029wanderings in the desert, Yotvata is the location of a late Roman-period fort, complete with a monumental dedicatory inscription in Latin. The fort is a standard tetraburgium: It is square, has four projecting square corner towers, and measures roughly 130 by 130 feet. Established in about 300 A.D., it was apparently occupied through the fourth century and reoccupied in the early Islamic period. This season, excavation leaders Jodi Magness (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Uzi Avner (Hebrew University) and Gwyn Davies (Florida International University) will expand the excavation areas to the northeast and southwest areas of the fort.
Lying 30 miles east of Ashkelon, Tel Zayit has been yielding its secrets to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Ron E. Tappy and his team. Among them are a Roman period fortress, a large Egyptian Late Bronze Age public building or palace, and numerous smaller objects such as inscriptions on pottery sherds, private and royal seal impressions, scarabs and jewelry. The excavators have also uncovered a significant destruction level at the Iron Age II (ninth century B.C.) level thought to be tied to an invasion by Arameans (2 Kings 12:17–18).
This season’s objectives include exposing more of the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age II destruction levels, and investigating the Iron II defense system around the summit of the site (a perimeter wall constructed of huge monoliths and fieldstones).
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