Archaeology in the Holy Land (Fourth Edition)
Kathleen M. Kenyon
(W. W. Norton and Company, 1979) 360 pp. $18.95.
This is the third time since 1960 that Dame Kathleen Kenyon’s Archaeology in the Holy Land has appeared in a new edition revised by the author herself. This latest edition, in which large parts have been rewritten and to which much new material has been added, was nearly ready for publication when Dame Kathleen died in August 1978. T. A. Holland, for many years Dame Kathleen’s research assistant, deserves our gratitude for having seen this fourth edition through to press.
Since the original book has been known for nearly two decades to hosts of Palestinian archaeologists and students of Biblical archaeology, and has proved to be a reliable guide to archaeological and related historical subject matter of the Holy Land, it is not necessary to review its merits and contents. Suffice it to say that the book fully covers the archaeological material pertaining to Palestine’s checkered history from the earliest prehistoric period to postexilic times.
As in the preceding editions, the author leans heavily on results from excavations in which she participated or which she herself directed—Samaria, Jericho and Jerusalem. 46 of the 96 photographic plates reproduced in the book are from these three key sites. The book is not one-sided, however, for the author has dealt with and thoroughly evaluated the excavation results of all major sites in Palestine. Consequently, one can confidently consider this book to be a reliable and up-to-date guide to the archaeology of Palestine, where more sites have been excavated than in any other region in the Near East.
Since Palestinian archaeology has not yet reached the static state in which all problems have been solved and all controversial questions answered, the experts will not agree with everything said by Dame Kathleen, in spite of the fact that she was one of the unrivaled leaders in Palestinian field archaeology. Let me mention two or three examples.
She considered Level III of Lachish to have ended during the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. despite the rather formidable evidence amassed by David Ussishkin during seven seasons of renewed excavations at Lachish. These excavations showed that Olga Tufnell was probably right in identifying Lachish Level III with the remains of the city destroyed by Sennacherib in 701 B.C. (See David Ussishkin, “Answers at Lachish,” BAR 05:06) Dame Kathleen also held to her “admittedly clumsy” term “Intermediate Early Bronze–Middle Bronze period”—a nomenclature which in general is accepted neither by American nor Israeli archaeologists, who use instead Early Bronze IV (2350–2250/2200 B.C.). Hardly any Egyptologist would agree with the author’s dating of the Egyptian Execration Texts to the 11th Dynasty/21st century B.C. In fact, the two major sets of these texts published by Kurt Sethe and Georges Posener are generally dated to the middle of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th dynasties, about 1880–1760 B.C. (See Lexikon der Aegyptologie 1, 1975 68). Kenyon dated the battle of Gilboa during which King Saul was killed to c. 1030 B.C., which is certainly about 20 years too early.
In a few places, statements made in the first edition have remained unchanged although they are no longer true. For example, the views of G. Ernest Wright are referred to as being held by him “now,” and those of Roland de Vaux are said to be “still” maintained by him, although the former scholar was dead four years and the latter seven years when Dame Kathleen worked on this latest revision. I also wonder whether in 1978 it was still true, as she had written in 1960, and repeats in the 1979 edition, that the excavated material from the town of Jericho had “not yet been fully worked out.” This statement is hardly in harmony with the information given in the Palestine Exploration Quarterly (111, July–December, 1979, p. 73) that shortly before her death the author had received from the printer “the galley proofs and pulls of the plates and figures” of the final volume of the Jericho excavations—which Dr. T. A. Holland will see through to publication.
It is regrettable that Dame Kathleen tells us the pottery obtained from her excavations at Jerusalem had not yet been “fully assessed,” although the author revised her book eleven years after the completion of the excavations and had published two popular books on her work in Jerusalem.
Some observations should also be made with regard to the 31-page appendix. The preface states that the appendix “has been greatly expanded” and now includes “descriptions of the most important sites excavated.” While archaeological work carried out at 44 sites is described in the appendix, there is a great imbalance in the treatment of sites east and west of the Jordan River. Only five of the 44 sites discussed lie in Transjordania. One misses references to the important archaeological work carried out at such sites as Araq el-Emir, Buseirah, Hesban, Jawa, Tawilan, Tell er-Rumeith, Tell es-Sa’idiyeh, and Umm el-Biyarah, all east of the Jordan.
Dame Kathleen also fails to mention in the appendix the new excavations at Bab edh-Dhra begun by Walter E. Rast and R. Thomas Schaub in 1973.1 W. F. Albright’s identification of Tell Beit Mirsim with Kirjath-sepher was evidently still accepted by the author, although it has been seriously challenged by Kurt Galling and Moshe Kochavi.2 In the discussion of Bethel, no mention is made of the three campaigns conducted under the direction of J. L. Kelso in 1954, 1957 and 1960.3 The results of Trude Dothan’s work at Deir el-Balah are now available in published form.4 Kenyon’s treatment of Lachish does not mention the excavation of the so-called Solar Shrine by Yohanan Aharoni in 1966 and 1969, although Aharoni’s work was published as Lachish V in 1975. Tell el-Fariah was excavated under the direction of Roland de Vaux in nine campaigns from 1946 to 1960,5 and not “until his death in 1971”. In the discussion of Gibeah of Saul, no mention is made of the very important excavations at that site by Paul Lapp in 1964.6
Despite these imperfections, this new edition is an excellent and generally reliable guide to the results of archaeological work carried out in the Holy Land in which multitudes of students of the Bible are deeply interested.
A Manual of Field Excavation: Handbook for Field Archaeologists
William G. Dever and H. Darrell Lance, editors
(Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, 1980) 240 pp. $12.50.
I am so overwhelmed with guilt after reading this book that now is as good a time as any to confess to the crime. About eight years ago I drove to Biblical Gezer, mid-way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, which King Solomon had received as a dowry on marrying Pharaoh’s daughter and which he later built up into one of his principal fortified cities. The archaeological season had ended and there wasn’t a soul around. Filled with the reckless enthusiasm of a looter, I jumped into the excavated area and began pulling sherds of pottery out of the balks.
In the succeeding years I made many finds in Israel, including part of a Herodian oil lamp from the hill of Upheld, the site of Davidic Jerusalem; a Napoleonic bullet from the fields around Mirabel Castle about 13 miles east of Tel Aviv; painted Hellenistic sherds from the beaches 10 miles south of Tel Aviv; and about two dozen Byzantine coins from Caesarea, the ancient Mediterranean seaport enlarged by Herod the Great, and from Moshav Even Menachem, a farming settlement on the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon. But in no case did I rifle an excavated site. All these were surface finds, there for the taking, not regarded as national treasures, and given back to me by the museum officials authenticating them.
Reading the book under review is a chastening experience for the likes of me. Never again could I ever plunder a historical site, and I am ready to whack over the head with this thick publication any rascal I see doing what I did at Gezer.
In fact, this anthology of essays should be made required reading for every laborer, from bulldozer driver up through the ranks to the exalted kablanim (building contractors). These are generally the first in the ancient land of Israel to uncover buried heritage, only to plough through it so the shikun (housing development) can rise before the Antiquities Department gets a court injunction halting further work. After all, we cannot expect every nosey neighbor to be imbued with the same love of antiquity displayed by those famous residents of Rehavia who saved Jason’s Tomb for posterity before the bulldozers of Jerusalem builders could turn it into rubble.
The authors state at the very outset that the purpose of this manual is to describe field archaeology as practiced at the Hebrew Union College—Harvard Semitic Museum Excavations at Gezer from 1964 through 1971. Many of their concepts, methods and procedures have spread to other American excavations in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus and North Africa through staff members trained at Gezer. As a result, the manual describes widely used archaeological methods and techniques.
Academics and field archaeologists are sure to glean much information of practical use from this book. But it may also have the unexpected effect of appealing more to laymen, those countless numbers of history and archaeology buffs, unschooled in the science but driven by an inner craving to go off for a few weeks in search of the past. As they don’t have time to volunteer for the frequent archaeological digs publicized by the Antiquities Department, they will be able to participate vicariously through the pages of this book, written in a fluid, unpedantic style.
The eight chapters in this manual, each written by a different expert member of the team which excavated at Gezer, focuses on the separate sciences that together provide a composite picture of how the archaeological specialists go about their work in the field.
My own preference was for the chapter by Joe D. Seger (of the University of Nebraska at Omaha) on “The Pottery Recording System,” because it shows what infinite care the archaeologist takes to record, protect and check each find. Apart from this, the importance of pottery in dating other finds is made abundantly clear: “ … ceramic analysis continues to provide the only reliable backbone for historical reconstruction in a wide sphere.”
In her chapter on “Principles of Excavation,” Anita Walker (University of Connecticut) throws more light on this hitherto esoteric science, which should further deter treasure hunters from rash and destructive intrusions.
For instance, bone, unbaked clay, wood, ivory and textiles, grouped together as hygroscopic materials (that is, materials capable of retaining moisture from the air), have all absorbed moisture as they lie in the ground. They may also have been compressed by the surrounding soils. If they suddenly lose this compression and are subjected to a lower humidity, they will lose moisture, tend to develop cracks, shrink, and even disintegrate completely.
The uninitiated could never know that if metals are extracted from saline soils and are moved from a dry environment to an area of greater humidity, disastrous chemical and physical changes occur. Technically, what happens is that the unsoluble salt, cuprous chloride, becomes basic cupric chloride. “For the horrified archaeologist,” Walker writes, “this means that his magnificent metal object disintegrates to a heap of light green powder.” Technical advice is outlined to prescribe for preventive treatment.
The delicacy of the whole archaeological process is underlined in the chapter on “Archaeological Tools and Their Use,” by Dan P. Cole (Lake Forest College). Noting that dental picks, pocket knife blades, syringes, small paint brushes and even toothbrushes have all proved useful for the exposure of skeletal remains, charred wood and fragile artifacts, he cites another essential tool—patience.
He advises on the correct handling of each tool and on how to protect the site from inadvertent damage. Thus, a handpick, used for most soil layer separations and for cutting vertical balk sections, should be used while kneeling, rather than in a sitting or squatting, position for greater control. It should also be used while kneeling on foam rubber pads.
Co-editor H. Darrell Lance provides a fascinating chapter on “The Field Recording System,” complete with illuminating photographs from the field notebook, comprising note pages, top plans, and locus sheets. The note page is a verbal description of the excavation of a single day, arranged in simple chronological sequence; the top plan is the schematic diagram of the area under excavation, viewed from above and drawn to scale on graph paper; the locus sheet is a summary of information about each locus. Everything excavated belongs to one numbered locus or another. On reading this, the control may find that a field notebook can be as gripping as any well-written whodunit.
The remaining four chapters in this 11” × 8 ½” paperback manual are written with a clarity of style to tempt the layman into more intricate aspects of archaeology. John S. Holladay Jr., writing on “Balks: Their Care and Reading,” discusses how to make them and to use and care for subsidiary balks. But there is a candid acknowledgment of the drawbacks to understanding: “Explaining the interpretation of balk sections to someone who has never participated in an excavation is rather like attempting to reveal the finer points of oenology to a teetotaler.” Nevertheless, there are good backgrounders on ‘pre-field preparation,’ ‘conditions and technique of field observation,’ and ‘what’s in a balk? A primer of Palestinian balk interpretation,’ to “make it easier for the beginner to catch hold of what is admittedly a difficult subject.”
William G. Dever’s chapter on “Field Surveying and Drafting for the Archaeologist” is well illustrated with sketches including a topographical map of Tel Ashdod, a schematic plan of Tell Beit Mirsim, a sample page of notations in a surveyor’s notebook, and many drawings of such varied interest as those which show the setup for drawing a shaft-tomb and others which depict methods of setting grid stakes.
Photography had three uses in archaeology at Gezer, according to the chapter by Robert B. Wright on “Archaeological Photography.” It was used as part of the recording system; as slides for lectures and reports to the scholarly community; and as illustrations in preliminary and final reports. “As they were added to the field notebooks each evening, photos provided a record of the day’s work and, when reviewed over a period of days, offered a sequence of the excavation’s progress.” The preparation of an excavation area for photography had to be painstaking and thorough. Details often overlooked on the field stood out with glaring starkness in a photograph. Wright continues: “Imperfections once recorded, with few exceptions, can never be removed. There are many photos which one wishes could be changed or cleaned up. For unknown reasons, the camera magnifies minor irregularities in the smoothest surfaces and makes any scene much dirtier than it actually is.” Among measures taken to avoid these slips are cleaning debris from all surfaces and removing footprints, pebbles, roots and other intrusive elements. Balks had to be straight, clean, sharply cornered and evenly tagged. Lettering on balk tags was at least two inches high to be clearly legible in the photos.
In the final chapter on “Geology in Field Archaeology,” Reuben G. Bullard states at the outset that he is aware of the problem of terminology which may be unfamiliar to the non-geologist. He has therefore simplified the chapter with minimal definitions. There are interesting observations on soils and soil clay mineralogy, some examples of Gezer ceramic paste and temper, stratification and sedimentation, and finally, sedimentation studies at Gezer.
Dictionary of Terms and Techniques in Archeology
(Facts on File, Inc., New York, 1980) 144 pp. $15.95.
Over the last three decades archaeology has increasingly relied upon the physical sciences for aid in locating, excavating, dating, preserving, and interpreting remains of man’s past. Today it is not uncommon for chemists, geologists, paleobotanists, physicists, or other scientific specialists to be included on the staffs of archaeological expeditions. And scholars such as Lewis Binford and Colin Renfrew have argued that the scientific method—formulating questions, devising hypotheses to answer them, testing the hypotheses against the data, and then stating laws—should be the basis of archaeological methodology as well.
While this “New Archaeology” has been embraced most enthusiastically by anthropologists and prehistorians, it is also having an impact on Near Eastern archaeology which has been traditionally oriented toward history. Studies of ancient environment and ecology are becoming normal parts of Near Eastern archaeological reports. Digs are being set up to answer specific questions or to test particular hypotheses. And some expeditions are using computers to analyze various changes in artifacts from one layer to another.
Now there is help for the biblical archaeology buff who finds the books and articles he reads sprinkled with references to “electron probe microanalyzers,” “cultural horizons,” “locational analysis,” “neutron activation analysis,” “processual archaeology,” “thermoluminescence dating,” in addition to better-known terms such as “balk” (“baulk”), “grid method,” or “radiocarbon dating.” Sara Champion’s brief dictionary provides concise but usually clear definitions and explanations of current archaeological terminology and methodology. And numerous photographs and diagrams help the reader understand the written descriptions. There is also a list of books for further reading at the end of the work in addition to many references cited throughout the text. The book is somewhat overpriced ($15.95 for a very small volume), and it could have included a few more cross-listings (for example, there is no listing for “Carbon-14 dating,” a term often used for “radiocarbon dating”). But despite these shortcomings, this is a handy reference work which contains much valuable information. It should be a useful addition to the amateur archaeologist’s bookshelf.
Divine Rest for Human Restlessness
(Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 1980) 320 pp. $8.95.
Divine Rest for Human Restlessness is Samuele Bacchiocchi’s complement to his earlier historical study From Sabbath to Sunday which traced the transformation of the Saturday sabbath to the Christian Sunday. An article by Dr. Bacchiocchi based on this earlier volume appeared in the September/October 1978 BAR (“How It Came About: From Saturday to Sunday,” BAR 04:03). In this second volume the author moves beyond the historical investigation and considers the practical significance of a Biblical theology of the Sabbath for contemporary human needs.
This study analyzes the relevance of the values of the Sabbath for such modern problems as human tension and restlessness, ecological integrity, human rights, identity crisis and competitive pressures. Bacchiocchi also deals with the redemptive themes of the Sabbath which are found both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Book of Job—A New Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text
Introductions by Moshe Greenberg, Jonas C. Greenfield and Nahum M. Sarna
(The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1980) 63 pp. $6.50.
This is a powerful new translation of the Anoretic text of Job for the new Jewish Publication Society translation of the Bible. Introductory comments by Nahum Sarna, Jonas Greenfield and Moshe Greenberg complement the text. Sarna and Greenfield are both members of BAR’s editorial advisory board.
As Sarna notes, Biblical tradition has failed to preserve the name of the incomparable author of Job. Sarna believes that the author of Job made use of a tale that was ancient even in his day. The social and religious setting of the story are clearly patriarchal. The name Job has been found in texts which date as far back as 2000 B.C.
The language of the book, however, especially its Aramaic influence, as Greenfield tells us, indicates that the book was written much later. The linguistic difficulties in translating Job are enormous. It contains more hapax legomena (words which appear only once in the Bible) than any other Biblical book.
Greenberg’s insightful reflections on Job’s theology help us to understand the terrible paradox that “no righteous man can measure his love of God unless he suffers a fate befitting the wicked.” In Job, as in no other book in the Bible, we come face to face with an “overwhelming awareness of the complexity of God’s manifestation in reasonless phenomena of nature.” A book well-worth owning and studying.
Archaeology in the Holy Land (Fourth Edition)
Kathleen M. Kenyon
(W. W. Norton and Company, 1979) 360 pp. $18.95.