Trude and Moshe Dothan never have to ask each other, “Did you have a nice day at the office, dear?” Few couples can have interests as intertwined as they. Senior archaeologists both, the Dothans have dug together and have collaborated on a book together. In this issue we present, p. 22, the first of a two-part interview with this remarkable couple. Trude and Moshe describe the early days of Israeli archaeology and the great figures—Albright, Yadin, Kenyon, de Vaux, Mazar—who shaped their intellectual outlook. In Part II the Dothans will describe how their work has helped bring to light the underappreciated achievements of the Philistines.
Trude Dothan is the E. L. Sukenik Professor of Archaeology at Hebrew University and directs the university’s Berman Center for Biblical Archaeology. She co-directs the excavations at Tel Miqne, Biblical Ekron (which she described in “Ekron of the Philistines,” BAR 16:01), and has dug at Athienou, Cyprus; and at Tell Qasile, Hazor, Ein-Gedi and Deir el-Balah, in Israel. In 1991 she received the prestigious Percia Schimmel Award from the Israel Museum for her contributions to archaeology. She is the author of The Philistines and Their Material Culture (Yale Univ. Press, 1982) and, together with her husband, of People of the Sea: The Search for the Philistines (Macmillan, 1992).
Moshe Dothan was for many years director of excavations and surveys for Israel’s Department of Antiquities. In 1983 he helped found the department of archaeology at the University of Haifa and served as its first chairman. He has excavated numerous sites, notably Akko, Hammath Tiberias, Ashdod and Nahariya. He and Trude have two sons.
The City of Salt—which has nothing to do with Sodom and Gomorrah—may have been little more than a glorified warehouse for salt, but the discovery and excavation of a heretofore unidentified Biblical city always commands our attention. In the course of his explorations of the Wilderness of Judah, the desert to the west of the Dead Sea, archaeologist Pesach Bar-Adon identified and excavated the City of Salt and four other previously unidentified cities; these were five of the six cities in the Wilderness of Judah that had been allotted to the tribe of Judah in Joshua 15:61–62 (the sixth, Ein Gedi, was already known). Bar-Adon found that they were a string of forts established in the eighth century B.C. to serve as strategic bases on the eastern flank of Judah, which buzzed with commercial activity, including the mining of salt and bitumen. They were abandoned at the time of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. In “The City of Salt,” Zvi Greenhut shows how the cities were found and what their discovery tells us about the kingdom of Judah in the late Iron Age II period.
Greenhut serves as Jerusalem Regional Archaeologist for the Israel Antiquities Authority. He is completing his Master’s degree at the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University. He prepared for publication the late Pesach Bar-Adon’s Excavations in the Judean Desert (‘Atiqot 9 [Hebrew series], 1989), on which he based the article in this issue. Greenhut’s previous BAR article was “Burial Cave of the Caiaphas Family,” BAR 18:05.
Egyptologist Manfred Bietak recently made an important archaeological discovery without lifting a shovel or examining an artifact. What he did was notice that a published drawing from a 1930s excavation of a house in Thebes, Egypt, strongly resembled the plan of the so-called four-room house, the typical dwelling of the early Israelites in the central hill country of Canaan. BAR editor Hershel Shanks recounts the story in “An Ancient Israelite House in Egypt?”.
Claims of pre-Columbian, American inscriptions written in Old World scripts abound, but one stands out because of the circumstances of its discovery—a Smithsonian excavation—and the strength of the supporting evidence: a carbon date and some associated artifacts apparently from the Old World. Despite these advantages, the small inscribed stone found in a prehistoric burial mound beside Bat Creek in Tennessee has suffered general neglect from archaeologists and epigraphers since its discovery in 1889. Now, for the first time for a large audience, J. Huston McCulloch considers the case for 003this seemingly paleo-Hebrew inscription, in “The Bat Creek Inscription: Did Judean Refugees Escape to Tennessee?” BAR 19:04.
McCulloch is professor of economics at Ohio State University. He holds degrees in economics from the California Institute of Technology and from the University of Chicago. McCulloch edited the Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking from 1983 to 1991 and he has written numerous papers on the term structure of interest rates, financial intermediation and bank deposit insurance. Fourteen years ago, his interests in etymology and epigraphy led him to stumble across an illustration of the Bat Creek stone while searching for pre-Columbian Cherokee inscriptions.
In view of the controversial nature of the Bat Creek inscription, we sought the opinion of expert Semitist P. Kyle McCarter, Jr. Taking his task seriously, McCarter examined the Bat Creek stone in the Smithsonian Institution, through the courtesy of the Smithsonian’s Dr. Bruce Smith and Felicia Pickering, and read the published arguments before writing his “Let’s Be Serious About the Bat Creek Stone.”
McCarter is the William Foxwell Albright Professor of Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a member of BAR’s Editorial Advisory Board and a popular speaker at BAS seminars. His many publications include commentaries on 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel in the Anchor Bible series, published by Doubleday. McCarter is currently preparing for publication a new translation of the Copper Scroll, one of the most intriguing of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The mysterious concentric stone circles at Rogem Hiri, in the Golan—the subject of a BAR article by Yonathan Mizrachi (“Mystery Circles,” BAR 18:04) and a long letter by Moshe Kochavi (Queries & Comments, BAR 19:01)—continue to fascinate scholars and laypersons alike. Dating perhaps from the Early Bronze Age, this ceremonial or burial site depending on the conflicting viewpoint espoused—now provokes a fresh discussion by Mattanyah Zohar, in “Unlocking the Mystery of Rogem Hiri,” Zohar, who took part in the excavations and has studied Rogem Hiri in detail, has a special interest in the megalithic structures of the Levant. While many dismiss the contributions of pastoral nomadic tribes, Zohar sees their impact as crucial to the development of civilization.
Something of a nomad himself, Zohar was born in Berlin in 1938 and emigrated to Istanbul as a child. In his youth he lived with a seminomadic tribe in eastern Anatolia for several years. The tribe, forced to flee from the Iranian government in 1959, left Zohar in the position of having to find a new home. He ended up in India, where he studied Sanskrit and classical Indian music. His odyssey continued with sailing trips across the Pacific and Indian oceans and a return to Europe. Finally, in 1972, he settled in Israel and completed a Ph.D. in archaeology at Hebrew University. He has also directed digs in the Golan. Zohar may be best remembered by longtime BAR readers as a BAS tour guide in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In “Is the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia,” Ephraim Isaac does more than just review a popular book that proposes a not-really-new theory that the Ark of the Covenant sits in a church in Ethiopia. He also conducts a fascinating tour of that land’s Jewish and Christian traditions.
Isaac is the director of the Institute of Semitic Studies, in Princeton, New Jersey, and a fellow at Princeton Theological Studies and at Harvard University, where he taught for eight years. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy, music and chemistry and a Master of Divinity degree, he received a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages from Harvard. Born in Ethiopia, Isaac is widely known there as the founder and former director of the National Literacy Campaign Organization, which helped about 1.5 million Ethiopians achieve literacy in the late 1960s. His most recent book is History of Religion in Africa (Oxford Univ. Press, forthcoming).
Trude and Moshe Dothan never have to ask each other, “Did you have a nice day at the office, dear?” Few couples can have interests as intertwined as they. Senior archaeologists both, the Dothans have dug together and have collaborated on a book together. In this issue we present, p. 22, the first of a two-part interview with this remarkable couple. Trude and Moshe describe the early days of Israeli archaeology and the great figures—Albright, Yadin, Kenyon, de Vaux, Mazar—who shaped their intellectual outlook. In Part II the Dothans will describe how their work has helped bring to light […]