Blacksmiths, university presidents, coroners, kibbutzniks, scholars, drop-outs, mayors, ministers and grade-school students—this is just a sample of the hundreds of BAR readers whose letters have appeared in Queries & Comments over the last 13 years. Readers’ letters praise, cajole, complain, cavil, berate, extol, inform and illustrate. We love them, and so do our readers. So we devote far more space to letters than does any other magazine we know. We even include readers’ letters in our index. To inaugurate our 14th year and to say “thank you” to a group as knowledgeable as you are diverse, we offer 7 pages of Queries & Comments—peppered, as always, with outrage and wit.
Whenever some new discovery is made in the field, you probably read about it first in BAR. But the excavation volunteers who are at the site of the discovery learn about it even sooner and get to see the find for themselves. “1988 Excavation Opportunities” lists 23 digs that you can join as a volunteer—digs that span the length of Israel (and a few in Jordan, too), from Banias at the foot of Mt. Hermon to Tel Nizzana in the Negev Desert, and digs that span the millennia, from the Neolithic period to the time of the Crusades. If you do decide to volunteer, you may, with a little luck, make a discovery that will appear in some future issue of BAR.
For a detailed account of what to expect on a dig, read “No Grid Lock at Ashkelon—The View from the Square,” by Nicole Prevost Logan. Currently a teacher of French language and civilization in Connecticut, Logan has worked as a writer, administrator, promotion director and consultant in 12 countries around the world.
During the Vietnam War, a compact device was developed that could be pulled across the ground to detect land mines. Now archaeologists in Israel are using this device to locate buried architectural features. Will this new equipment eliminate the need to dig? Just the opposite, says Dan P. Cole in “Ground Penetrating Radar—New Technology Won’t Make the Pick and Trowel Obsolete”; more, not less, digging will result.
Professor of religion and acting asssociate dean of faculty at Lake Forest College in Illinois, Cole spends many of his summers excavating. He has dug at Tell Halif, Tell Gezer and Tell Balatah. He is also chairman of the Lake Forest College Term in Greece and Turkey. Aside from digging, which he calls his “favorite activity,” Cole says, “[his] pleasure is in commuting between Athens and Jerusalem by way of Lake Forest.” The author of three BAS slide set booklets (“Biblical Archaeology,” “Jerusalem Archaeology” and “New Testament Archaeology”), Cole is also author of “Ancient Water Tunnels,” BAR 06:02.
Sketchy historical records tell us of an Asiatic people who conquered and ruled Egypt from 1670 to 1570 B.C. In the last 15 years, archaeological excavations have produced abundant evidence of this people, who are called the Hyksos. In “Jacob in History,” Aharon Kempinski takes us to Tell ed-Dab’a in the eastern Nile Delta, where finds confirm the site as the Hyksos capital. Kempinski also analyzes scarabs of a Hyksos king that bear the name Jacob and speculates on this Jacob’s relationship to the Jacob of the Bible.
Professor of archaeology at both Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University, Kempinski has written often for BAR. His interpretation of a stone structure on Mt. Ebal, “Joshua’s Altar—An Iron Age Watchtower,” BAR 12:01, is scrutinized in this issue in “Two Early Israelite Cult Sites Now Questioned,” a summary of a scholarly article by Professor Michael Coogan of Stonehill College, North Easton, Massachusetts. Coogan establishes criteria to determine whether a site is in fact a cult site, then applies these criteria to two supposed cult sites, the one at Mt. Ebal and another located in northern Samaria and called the “bull site” for a bronze bull figurine found there.
“Why Is a Bilbil Called a Bilbil?” by Victor Goodside, calls to mind an even older question: “What’s in a name?” In this case, the answer to the latter question is: a mystery of archaeological etymology (a photo of a bilbil accompanies the article). An ophthamologist, Goodside recently retired from his practice in New York City. His interest in archaeology and Middle Eastern history turned him into a BAR subscriber many years ago and led him to participate in several BAS seminars and in the 1984 International Congress of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem.
“A few cooking pot rims, a ceramic lamp, an unidentifiable piece of corroded metal and a bone awl”: a typical day’s finds for an archaeologist, laments Fredric R. Brandfon. From such fragments, archaeologists and their historian colleagues are challenged to flesh out the social, political, economic and religious history of an ancient civilization. In “Archaeology and the Biblical Text,” Brandfon evaluates new theories of history and their application to archaeological evidence.
Assistant professor and director of religious studies at the College of Charleston, South Carolina, Brandfon has worked as a field supervisor at Tel Beersheba and Tel Michal. He currently serves as executive director of the Tel Gerisa excavations, near Tel Aviv.
Blacksmiths, university presidents, coroners, kibbutzniks, scholars, drop-outs, mayors, ministers and grade-school students—this is just a sample of the hundreds of BAR readers whose letters have appeared in Queries & Comments over the last 13 years. Readers’ letters praise, cajole, complain, cavil, berate, extol, inform and illustrate. We love them, and so do our readers. So we devote far more space to letters than does any other magazine we know. We even include readers’ letters in our index. To inaugurate our 14th year and to say “thank you” to a group as knowledgeable as you are diverse, we offer 7 […]