Help wanted: Each new year, archaeologists in the lands of the Bible seek, via the pages of BAR, able-bodied people to join their expeditions. In “Excavation Opportunities 1989,” a record number of excavations—28—at 27 sites in Israel and Jordan vie for volunteers. Our special annual section shows you a recent prize find and tells you all you need to know about each site—historical focus, cost, college credit, accommodations and more. Browse through the individual write-ups, do some comparative shopping in the 13-column chart, check out the map for the most suitable location. You might decide to join the hundreds of amateur archaeologists who, each summer, dig—or dive—into the past to bring Biblical archaeology to light. Lois Sargent read our dig section in 1987 and, with some trepidation, decided to join the excavation team at Ashkelon, on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. “Turning the pages of a book had always been my idea of exercise,” she writes; she nevertheless resolved that she would “find some way to cope with the heavy work and grueling schedule.” Sargent shares the trials and the thrills of a volunteer archaeologist in “First Hand: A Poet at Ashkelon.”
A published poet whose work has won numerous awards, Sargent holds degrees in psychology and community counseling. She has worked as team leader in a psychiatric hospital, program director in a nursing home and teacher of emotionally disturbed children.
Avraham Biran relates the exciting discovery of a recent prize find in “Prize Find: Tel Dan Scepter Head.” Less than four inches high, the bronze and silver artifact was unearthed beneath an altar. Biran suggests that it may resemble the king’s scepter head touched by Queen Esther when she appeared unexpectedly in the court of her husband, King Ahasuerus of Persia (Esther 5:2).
A former director of Israel’s Department of Antiquities, Biran has led the ongoing excavations at Tel Dan for 22 years—a record length for a dig in Israel. He shared the dig’s progress with readers in
After the Exodus, when the Israelites entered Canaan, they vied with other peoples for land on which to settle. In the book of Judges, we learn of Deborah and her general Barak, who fought the Canaanites at Mt. Tabor. Although Deborah called on ten tribes, only six rallied with her. In “The Song of Deborah—Why Some Tribes Answered the Call and Others Did Not,” Lawrence E. Stager presents new archaeological evidence suggesting that the agricultural tribes joined Deborah, while those who were primarily sheepherders or ship laborers declined.
Stager recently became Dorot Professor of the archaeology of Israel at Harvard University and director of Harvard’s Semitic Museum. He directed excavations at the giant cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia, containing child and animal sacrifices. Stager described his finds in “Child Sacrifice at Carthage—Religious Rite or Population Control?” BAR 10:01. He has also excavated at Idalion, on Cyprus, and at Tell el-Hesi and Tell Gezer, in Israel. Stager currently directs the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, Israel, one of the digs featured in “Excavation Opportunities.”
Eleven years of excavation at Tel Batash—now identified with Biblical Timnah—has, in a manner of speaking, helped put Samson on the map. This was the place, the Bible says, where Samson wrestled a lion, found his first wife, propounded a famous riddle and loosed his fox-borne fire upon the Philistine fields. As George L. Kelm and Amihai Mazar show in “Excavating in Samson Country—Philistines and Israelites at Tel Batash,” the Biblical tradition does reflect a real struggle between the Philistines and the Israelites, who both occupied the city, at one time or another, until its final destruction in the Babylonian onslaught about 600 B.C.
Professor of Biblical backgrounds and archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Forth Worth, Texas, Kelm has lived and studied in Israel and has directed travel programs to the Middle East for many years. He served as co-director of the Archaeological Expedition to Tel Aphek-Antipatris for five years before becoming expedition director at Tel Batash.
Amihai Mazar and his uncle, the eminent Israeli archaeologist Benjamin Mazar, were featured in “A New Generation of Israeli Archaeologists Comes of Age,” BAR 10:03. In that article, the younger Mazar, now assistant professor of archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discussed his extensive archaeological surveys in the Judean Hills and the Shephelah and his excavations at Tell Qasile, in Israel. Earlier, Ami Mazar had reported in BAR on his work in “Bronze Bull Found in Israelite ‘High Place’ from the Time of the Judges,” BAR 09:05, and in “Excavations at Tell Qasile: The Philistine Sanctuary—Architecture and Cult Objects,” BAR 07:05.
Help wanted: Each new year, archaeologists in the lands of the Bible seek, via the pages of BAR, able-bodied people to join their expeditions. In “Excavation Opportunities 1989,” a record number of excavations—28—at 27 sites in Israel and Jordan vie for volunteers. Our special annual section shows you a recent prize find and tells you all you need to know about each site—historical focus, cost, college credit, accommodations and more. Browse through the individual write-ups, do some comparative shopping in the 13-column chart, check out the map for the most suitable location. You might decide to join the hundreds […]