Despite the current crisis in the Gulf, archaeologists are determined to get on with business as usual in planning for next season’s digs. Indeed, the 1991 installment of BAR’s annual survey, “1991 Excavation Opportunities,” presents a record number of digs: 27 sites in Israel and Jordan that seek volunteer workers. As always, the sites span the landscape from seaside to desert and span the millennia from the Chalcolithic period (c. 4500 B.C.) to Crusader times. Volunteers can choose from a variety of accommodations, ranging from tent camp to hotel, and from a variety of excavation dates, February through October. Our descriptions of the history and digging plans for each site will help you find an interesting excavation and will be enjoyable to read even if you’re not planning to dig this summer.
Archaeology in books and magazines is often a succession of results, but all of it, even the digging, is only the result of planning. A dig director shifts mountains of papers before shifting any earth, raises and spends a treasure before finding a treasure and, perhaps hardest of all, has to figure out exactly where to dig if he or she hopes to find anything. In “From the Director’s Chair: Starting a New Dig,” Kenneth G. Holum shows you how it’s done.
Holum holds a Ph.D. in ancient history from the University of Chicago and serves as associate professor of history at the University of Maryland. During the autumn 1990 semester, he has been the Lady Davis Visiting Associate Professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In addition to co-directing the new excavation at Caesarea Maritima, Holum is the principal author and editor of King Herod’s Dream: Caesarea on the Sea (W. W. Norton, 1988).
The Aegean island of Thera has been called the Middle Bronze Age Pompeii. When the island’s volcano erupted some 3,500 years ago—in one of the most massive explosions known to history—a great civilization was brought to an abrubt end. But the volcano that destroyed Thera also smothered the island’s buildings in pumice and ash before they could collapse and thereby preserved a host of cultural glories, wall paintings above all. Christos Doumas recounts Thera’s history and displays some of the more striking examples of “High Art from the Time of Abraham.” Doumas also explains why some scholars see in this cataclysm the origin of the tale of Atlantis and why others credit it with helping part the Red Sea during the Israelite Exodus from Egypt.
Doumas has directed the excavations at Thera since 1975. He studied at the University of Athens and received his Ph.D. from the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London. Doumas has served as curator at the Acropolis and at the Archaeological Museum in Athens and is a past director of conservation and of antiquities in the Greek Ministry of Culture.
If magazines used movie ratings for articles, this next one might get an X for violence. Some may also find resonances in current middle East dictators in Erika Bleibtreu’s examination of the “Grisly Assyrian Record of Torture and Death.” The record she examines is not for the faint-hearted, nor something to be read over dinner, for it is a chronicle of cruelty that rivals the worst in history. In written annals and in monumental stone reliefs that once decorated their palaces, the Neo-Assyrian kings of the ninth to seventh centuries B.C. proudly boasted of the pillage, torture and death they inflicted on their enemies.
Bleibtreu wrote her doctoral thesis on Neo-Babylonian inscriptions and studied under Sir Max Mallowan at Oxford. Since 1963, she has worked at the Oriental Institute of Vienna University, where she now serves as assistant professor of Near Eastern archaeology. Her excavations include sites in Anatolia (Turkey) and in Austria.
We didn’t think it could get any worse, but it has. The tangled story of the continuing delays in publishing the remaining Dead Sea Scrolls has already been called the academic scandal par excellence of the 20th century. Now, in an interview, chief editor John Strugnell reveals his attitudes toward Judaism, Israel and ethnic jokes. Israeli journalist Avi Katzman, who conducted the interview, quotes extensively from the tape in our Dead Sea Scrolls Update. In one swoop, Strugnell insults Judaism (and some other religions as well) and denigrates Zionism and the State of Israel. Strugnell also mentions in passing that he has seen certain Dead Sea Scrolls that most scholars did not even know exist! BAR editor Hershel Shanks responds to Strugnell’s virulence by calling for Strugnell’s removal as chief editor of the Scrolls. In related stories, Strugnell insults a distinguished Oxford don and struggles with Israeli authorities over control of the unpublished texts.
Despite the current crisis in the Gulf, archaeologists are determined to get on with business as usual in planning for next season’s digs. Indeed, the 1991 installment of BAR’s annual survey, “1991 Excavation Opportunities,” presents a record number of digs: 27 sites in Israel and Jordan that seek volunteer workers. As always, the sites span the landscape from seaside to desert and span the millennia from the Chalcolithic period (c. 4500 B.C.) to Crusader times. Volunteers can choose from a variety of accommodations, ranging from tent camp to hotel, and from a variety of excavation dates, February through October. […]