Have you ever wondered how to pronounce some of the words and names in BAR? Words like kibbutz, Hazor and genizah, to name a few. And just what is a genizah? To help, in each article we will now be printing pronunciations in parentheses beside unfamiliar words. For many articles, we will also include a glossary of terms at the end. And, in this issue, we inaugurate a new department, “Glossary”—a one- or two-page treatment of important, but perhaps unfamiliar, terms in Biblical archaeology. After reading “Glossary: Standing Stones,” by Neil Asher Silberman, you’ll know, at last, how to pronounce stela and stelae, which is singular and which is plural, and what distinguishes it (them) from massebah (and masseboth)!
Awarded a Crane-Rogers Foundation fellowship in 1984, Silberman spent two years in investigative archaeological reporting in Israel, Egypt and Jordan. His first article for BAR, “In Search of Solomon’s Lost Treasure,” BAR 06:04, is based on his book Digging for God and Country: Exploration, Archaeology, and the Secret Struggle for the Holy Land 1799–1917 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1982).
Two contemporaneous sites in the Galilee—one a very unusual synagogue and one a spectacular Christian basilica—are featured in this issue. “The Synagogue at Meroth: Does It Fix Israel’s Northern Border in Second Temple Times?” displays the finds from this grand building and explains its historical significance. Inscriptions—carved in stonework, set in stone mosaics and scratched on a tiny bronze amulet—a zodiac, a mosaic portrait and the richest coin hoard ever discovered in a synagogue were excavated by Israeli archaeologists Zvi Ilan and Emmanuel Damati. Founded in the late fourth or early fifth century A.D., the Meroth synagogue flourished for nearly 800 years, through periods of prosperity and through periods of dismal repression of Judaism.
Ilan, who earned his doctorate from Bar-Ilan University, discovered the Meroth synagogue by following a clue in a 14th-century document fragment from the Cairo Genizah. Previously, Ilan excavated Byzantine churches at sites in central Israel and the Galilee highlands. Excavating the Meroth synagogue prompted Ilan to publish a book (in Hebrew) on ancient synagogues in northern Israel. He is now excavating a newly discovered synagogue at Har Maon, in central Israel.
Currently working towards his M.A. in archaeology at Hebrew University, Damati participated in his first excavation at Arad, in Israel’s Negev desert, in 1964.
Jesus-as-exorcist appears in all three Synoptic Gospels in the story of the “swine miracle” (Mark 5:1–20; Luke 8:26–39; Matthew 8:28–34). To relieve a man tormented by demons, Jesus drove the demons into a herd of swine, which then stampeded down the hill and drowned in the Sea of Galilee. Discovered in 1970 and now excavated and restored, a monastery, basilica and chapel—the latter built around a prominent boulder—mark the location traditionally identified with this event. As Vassilios Tzaferis shows in “A Pilgrimage to the Site of the Swine Miracle,” this place probably became an important destination for Christian pilgrims in the sixth to eighth centuries.
Born on the Isle of Samos in Greece, Tzaferis completed undergraduate and doctoral degrees in archaeology and the history of ancient Israel at Hebrew University, and now lectures at the University of Haifa. In addition to directing the dig at Kursi (the traditional site of the “swine miracle”), he has directed digs at Tiberias, Ashkelon, Beth Shean and Capernaum. Tzaferis’s cover story in the January/February 1985 BAR, “Crucifixion—The Archaeological Evidence,” BAR 11:01, analyzed the remains of the only crucifixion victim ever discovered in an excavation.
This year, about 100,000 ancient artifacts will be sold in Israel in legally licensed antiquities shops. What is the source of all these artifacts? Illegally robbed, plundered and vandalized ancient tombs, in the great majority of cases—that is the unequivocal report of Israel Department of Antiquities Anti-Plunder Task Force members David Ilan, Uzi Dahari and Gideon Avni. In “The Rampant Rape of Israel’s Archaeological Sites,” the three authors campaign for recently introduced legislation that would outlaw the sale of antiquities, and they bolster their cause with impressive “Facts and Figures.”
Ilan, currently a researcher at the Nelson Gleuck School of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem, has excavated in Israel at Tel Dan, Tel Yoqne‘am, Tel Malhata and at prehistoric sites in the Sinai and Negev.
Director of the Anti-Plunder Task Force, Dahari specializes in the archaeology of the Byzantine period. Avni was recently appointed Jerusalem regional archaeologist for the Israel Department of Antiquities.
BAR editor Hershel Shanks distills the invigorating moments from the ocean of tedium at the 1988 ASOR-SBL/AAR convention in “Dever Stars at Lackluster Annual Meeting.”
Have you ever wondered how to pronounce some of the words and names in BAR? Words like kibbutz, Hazor and genizah, to name a few. And just what is a genizah? To help, in each article we will now be printing pronunciations in parentheses beside unfamiliar words. For many articles, we will also include a glossary of terms at the end. And, in this issue, we inaugurate a new department, “Glossary”—a one- or two-page treatment of important, but perhaps unfamiliar, terms in Biblical archaeology. After reading “Glossary: Standing Stones,” by Neil Asher Silberman, you’ll know, at last, how to […]