Queries & Comments
Looting the Hand That Feeds Us
Because I am an archaeologist, a friend gave me his copy of BAR to examine. After I looked at the table of contents, I thought that your magazine might be interesting. After paging through it, however, I became upset with what I saw.
BAR appears to support the field and to increase interest and awareness in archaeology, but your advertisements do not. I saw seven different ads and three classifieds, all of which advertised artifacts for sale.
Archaeology is the means by which we can learn about ourselves by examining our past. By allowing people to sell artifacts stolen from ancient sites, you are encouraging the worldwide destruction of the archaeological record. Yes, I saw the fine print that said, “Advertising in Biblical Archaeology Review does not necessarily imply endorsement.” However, your choice to allow looters to sell their finds in your magazine certainly promotes the international trade in antiquities. The only way to effectively protect sites around the world from looters is to help to slow down the trade in artifacts. By allowing groups and individuals who deal in antiquities to advertise in your publication, you are working against the field of archaeology.
We can only learn about the past through the examination of artifacts in context. If you stop promoting the antiquities market by deciding to not allow looters to advertise in your magazine, you can continue to have interesting sites to write about in the future.
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania
Why wasn’t I surprised when, reading “Defusing Pseudo-Scholarship,” (by Jo Ann Hackett et al, BAR 23:02.), I realized that the author who claimed that the Siloam Inscription was really carved in the second century B.C.E. was none other than Philip Davies?
So many Bible scholars, among them David Noel Freedman (see “‘House of David’ Is There!” BAR 21:02), have been refuting Davies’s absurd and ignorant arguments against the historical validity of the Bible. Yet respectable magazines continue to give him a public forum in which to display his biased, unscholarly and hateful theories. Davies passes on this poison to his students and to others who are unlearned in the field of Biblical scholarship.
The article on the Siloam Tunnel was well done. But don’t give Davies and the Copenhagen group too much space and attention. They don’t deserve it.
Anson F. Rainey
Professor of Archaeology
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv, Israel
Too late! Two of the leading members of the University of Copenhagen group—together with two of their critics—are interviewed in “Face to Face: Biblical Minimalists Meet Their Challengers,” in this issue.
Assessing the Evidence
As usual, your March/April 1997 issue was fascinating reading. I was glad to see many authors and scholars take on those who would radically down-date Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel text (“Defusing Pseudo-Scholarship,” BAR 23:02.). I cannot fathom what has gotten into the young generation of scholars. In Egyptology we also have a share of these, including David Rohl and Peter James, both of whom attacked the validity of the Sothic chronology and tried to shrink Dynasties XXI, XXII and XXIII, making them completely concurrent. Britain seems particularly subject to developing such archaeological charlatans.
The minimalists, nihilists, or whatever one calls them, really miss the boat in assessing ancient evidence. The best extant evidence for the existence of Israel, and David and Solomon’s kingdom, ironically, comes from their foes in antiquity. Thus, 010Merenptah first mentions Israel in the context of his Canaanite campaign of about 1207 B.C.E. So already at that date, an entity called Israel existed. Next, Pharaoh Sheshonq of Dynasty XXII campaigned against Judea and Israel after they partitioned, and this is cited in the Bible, recording that Shishak (Sheshonq) came up against Rehoboam, son of Solomon, in his fifth regnal year. Sheshonq took enough plunder from his campaign that he could afford to reopen the sandstone quarries and to add a whole court onto the Karnak complex of temples. Clearly, Rehoboam had inherited a very wealthy kingdom. So, if Rehoboam is Solomon’s son, how, pray, can Solomon be a late period invention? Finally, André Lemairé published in BAR (“‘House of David’ Restored in Moabite Inscription,” BAR 20:03) a Moabite inscription that mentions the House of David.
Surely, then, all these references show that Israel already existed back in the late 13th century B.C.E., and that by Dynasty XXII Judea and Israel had emerged as powerful and wealthy states that appealed to Sheshonq I, the first Dynasty XXII ruler, for plunder, and that the Moabites, Israel’s staunch foes, acknowledged that the House of David existed. Given that Israel’s ancient foes make these references to its existence, why do the minimalists persist in their single-minded myopia? Not just this, but certain among them try to attack the very documents that I have cited, despite the certainty of their existence.
The article on fakes and forgers was a much needed piece, and very timely (“Fake!” Gusta Lehrer-Jacobson). However, I must disagree with the editorial “How Forgers Reduce Site Looting.” The whole raison d’être of forgers is that genuine objects of interest have appeared on the art market and those real pieces have fetched astronomical prices. The unscrupulous have noticed this, and they want their cut of the proceedings. For example, in Egypt large-scale forgery started in the 19th century after Europeans had developed an interest in Egyptian antiquities and their prices went up markedly. The locals learned that foreigners would pay handsome prices for antiquities, and the unscrupulous soon were at work making fakes. Even the American dealer in antiquities Edwin Smith was suspected of forging scarabs, and very fine quality ones, too. As your author noted, it is an old practice: Even the ancient Romans warned about fakes. The Field Museum has an exhibit of faked Egyptian antiquities, so described. It includes one piece that is ancient but that someone “improved.” The original face of the deity was battered, so the seller carved a fresh face onto the figure.
Egyptologist and Research Associate
Field Museum of Natural History
Our suggestion that forgers reduce site looting was half tongue-in-cheek. We certainly did not intend to hold forgers up to admiration or praise their motives. What we said was that they tended to reduce collecting because potential collectors would fear they would be taken in by fakes. If collecting is discouraged—and we do discourage it—then the demand for looted objects is reduced. A little convoluted, we admit. Perhaps we were trying too hard to be cute.—Ed.
Davies’s Crumbling Paradigm
The scholarly give and take concerning the attempt by Philip Davies and John Rogerson to de-Hezekiah-ize the Siloam Inscription was fun to read, even for a nonspecialist like me. It’s one of the reasons why I keep subscribing. Keep it up.
Now, if I may weigh in with my own 011two shekels: What Davies is trying to do is obvious. Like his apoplectic shrieking over the “House of David” inscription, here too he is seeking to trash the historicity of the Bible. Why? Certainly not because he has a book to sell. A scholar of his standing scarcely needs to search for material to write on. There is plenty at hand. What it is, I fear, is that he has an ideological ax to grind and this is how he does it. Could it be that his worldview would be seriously damaged if the Bible is true? Could that be why, now faced with mounting evidence that David was real, he has to go pick on the Siloam Inscription to shore up a crumbling paradigm?
I am no scholar and hardly qualified to judge pre- or post-Exilic Hebrew inscriptions, or tell in what century B.C. something was written, but Davies sounds more like a man seriously troubled with his worldview than a man with something constructive to add to the store of man’s knowledge.
Davy Crockett Exposed
The other day I accidentally threw my modem into the future and pulled down from cyberspace a garbled but fascinating excerpt from what appears to be a future scholarly work. If authentic, it sheds an interesting light on the historicity of legendary characters such as Abraham, Moses and David. Here is as much as I can decipher:
… traditionalist sources aff[several characters unreadable] the historicity of many of the characters of early Tejan legends, but analytical work by Sch[name illegible] in the last century (3450–3507 C.E.) established beyond reasonable doubt that these “famous” legendary characters were, like K[letters obscure] Arthur and Robin Hood in the European tradition and Moses and David in the Sem[letters missing] tradition, pure fiction—a product of the ever-fertile popular imagination.
A good example is the legendary “Dav[ending obscure] Crockett.” This mythical Tennessee native was allegedly born to frontier tavern-keepers; wrestled alligators (there were no alligators in ancient Tennessee!); “killed him a b[character missing]ar when he was only three” (!); served in the National Congress (hundreds of miles away, traveling by horse and foot!); supported the rights of squatters and Indians (natural enemies!); and died a hero in the massacre at the Alamo (a Spanish Catholic church hundreds of miles away from Protestant Tennessee!). Obviously, the early Tejans, needing a hero to legitimize their invasion of ancient Mexico, created Mr. “Crockett” out of whole cloth, adding detail upon detail with no regard for consistency.
An even more obvious case of popular creativity is the legend of “Sam Houston.” Allegedly descended from Scottish nobility, “Sam Houston,” a Virginia native living in poverty in Tennessee (!), grew up among the Cherokee Indians (!). Yet he became a lawyer, a hero in the wars against the Indians, a congressman, a protégé of Indian-hater (!) President Andrew Jackson, and governor of Tennessee. Rejected by his child bride, he abdicated the governorship to become an Indian agent. He married a Cherokee and hauled barrels of liquor to a reservation in Oklahoma, earning the Indian nickname “Big Drunk.” He then rose up to defeat and capture the same Mexican dictator who killed “Crockett,” thus 012becoming president of Texas. A lifelong alcoholic, he gave up liquor to become a Baptist and a United States senator, in that order (!). He ended his career as governor of Texas and was deposed for refusing to secede, yet he allowed his sons to fight for secession. He spent his last days ministering to Union prisoners of war.
No one person could incorporate into one lifetime so many contradictions. What really happened is less heroic but more believable. The ancient Tejans were, in the opinion of other Americans, “just a bunch of loud-mouthed b[text illegible]s.” But the residents of the ancient city of Houston were considered obn[letters missing] even by Tejan standards. These incurable civic boosters were dissatisfied with the true etymology of their city’s name—from the Cuahuiltecan Hyew-stunn, “place where wigwam sinks into swamp”—so they created for themselves an eponymous ancestor: the larger-than-life, 6-foot-6 “Sam Houston,” hero of a thousand impossible adventures.
While enjoyable and occasionally edifying, the legend of Sam Houston, like the legend of Paul Bunyan, should be read as fiction rather than [word illegible]. No such person ever existed, and no such person—thank [indecipherable]!—ever could.
That’s as much as I got. If any of your readers know how to get my computer back into this century, have them try to e-mail me at email@example.com, somewhere around 3550 C.E. Thanks!
Horn Knew the Real from the Bogus
Two articles in the March/April 1997 issue (Gusta Lehrer-Jacobson, “Fake! The Many Facets of the Forger’s Art,” BAR 23:02 and Jo Ann Hackett et al. “Defusing Pseudo-Scholarship,” BAR 23:02) reminded me of anecdotes related to me by the late Siegfried Horn, with whom I shared a tent during the 1960 season of the Drew-McCormick Expedition to Shechem (Tell Balatah).
During a visit to the Museum of the Ancient Orient, in Istanbul, Siegfried Horn noticed an inscribed stone in storage there. The museum authorities had not given it any special notice and had no useful information about it. Siegfried identified it as the long-missing Siloam Inscription, which had been chiseled out of the wall of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, in Jerusalem. It was promptly tagged and put on display.
In a second incident, Siegfried had been working at Khorsabad, Iraq, when he learned that an airline employee had smuggled some 500 pounds of inscribed stones and statuary out of the country into the United States. The smuggler had left behind only one tablet, which he felt was not worth the effort, since it was broken into two pieces. Siegfried discovered children playing with the pieces and retrieved them. Assembling and studying the damaged tablet, he identified it as genuine and as an important ancient king list. It is now in the museum at Baghdad. Upon returning to the United States, Siegfried contacted the smuggler and examined the stolen artifacts. He found them, without exception, to be fakes.
With the passing of Siegfried Horn we have lost a good friend, a profound scholar and a fine gentleman. He served us well as a member of your editorial board.
J. P. (Pat) Lockwood
Wake Up, Homer
Is that ominous sound from the East thunder? Or is it the shade of Ben Ya’ir groaning on Masada as he hears that Bar-Kokhba led the First Revolt against Rome (“Spelling Differences and Letter Shapes Are Telltale Signs,” BAR 23:02)?
But take heart! Horace tells us that “Sometimes even good old Homer nods” (Ars Poetica I.359).
Dr. W. Grierson
Winter Haven, Florida
Our apologies to our readers and to author Jo Ann Hackett. We mistakenly called Bar-Kokhba the leader of the First Revolt. He, of course, led the Second Revolt against Rome (132–135 A.D.).—Ed.
A Great Stop on the Elderhostel Tour
The article on Maresha (Amos Kloner, “Underground Metropolis,” BAR 23:02) was not only excellent but recalled our visit, in October 1996, on the first Elderhostel study tour that combined archaeological sites in Israel and Jordan. The underground sites are well worth the extra effort, and all the “elders” managed to complete the entire circuit. We visited the olive oil factory, too.
The pictures of the tomb at Maresha are wonderful; it was rather difficult to get good photographs. There were no candles there when we toured; they were an excellent thought. We would suggest that copies of this article be made available (even for a fee) to Elderhostelers and others prior to touring the sites. The information would add immeasurably to the enjoyment of an already phenomenal site.
Miriam F. Reisman and Harold B. Reisman
How Did They Raise the Weights?
Amos Kloner does a wonderful job of documenting the “Underground Metropolis,” BAR 23:02, of Maresha. Particularly interesting was the ingenious method by which the inhabitants crushed their olives to make olive oil. I have one question, though. Were the weights used to crush the olives attached to the wooden crossbeam before or after the beam was placed on the baskets of olives?
If it was before, then each 800-pound weight could be attached to the beam while they were still resting on the ground; but then the operators would have to lift a 2,400-pound apparatus and hold it steady, high enough to allow the baskets of olives to be stacked underneath it.
If they first put the beam on the baskets, then hung the weights from it, they would have still been faced with the formidable task of raising the weights at least a few feet off the ground to attach them.
Can Mr. Kloner shed any light on this question?
Amos Kloner responds:
Apparently each weight was lifted by its own winch (galgal in mishnaic Hebrew). We have reconstructed the lifting systems with short wood beams and ropes. You can see it in the photograph reprinted in
Off the Beaten Path
What a wonderful surprise to receive the latest issue of BAR! Finally, an article on the underground city of Maresha. The front cover forced me to immediately turn to the article I have been waiting for. The photograph taken inside the burial caves is phenomenal.
I happened across these same caves during a trip to Israel in 1983, prior to the restoration. Initially, I was in the area looking for the “bell caves” that are close by. While wandering around, I literally stumbled into an innocent-looking hole in 015the ground, partially covered by a small bushy tree. I felt much like Alice in Wonderland. I crawled through the small opening before being able to stand and enter this remarkable cave via several steps hewn out of the limestone.
Armed with a small flashlight and a modest 35mm camera, I saw a sight seen by few people before me. It was most impressive and exciting. I began to explore and take flash pictures of the different rooms and niches. Unfortunately, at the time I did not realize the significance of what I was seeing. The walls were bare of the beautiful paintings that can be seen today.
After looking at my photographs again, I can hardly wait for my next trip to Israel to visit not only Maresha but also the nearby Bar-Kokhba caves. I would suggest to readers that a wonderful day trip out of Ashkelon would be Maresha, Tell Lachish and the Bar-Kokhba caves. Great places to visit, without all the tourists.
Whatever Happened To …
Some years ago quite a stir was caused by excavations under St. Peter’s, in the Vatican. There was some thought that the actual grave of St. Peter had been discovered. I never heard the final results of this excavation, and I think some report on it may be of interest to your subscribers. Perhaps not, but it’s worth a try.
A. A. Catalano
Indian Harbour Beach, Florida
Why not purchase a copy of our 20-year index (price: $22.95) and look under “Peter.” There you’ll find reference to an article entitled “The Death and Burial of St. Peter.” You will also find references to hundreds, maybe thousands, of other interesting articles. Many back issues are also available.—Ed.
Promoting Father-Son Relationships
Paul and I often talk by phone of our experiences at Beth-Shemesh and how we would love to go back (Paul lives on Cape Cod, and I live in Florida). We went to Beth-Shemesh out of a desire to do something together that we both would remember for a lifetime. As father and son, we came away with much more.
If others knew of our adventure, they might be encouraged to do the same thing. I would be happy to assist anyone thinking about this.
Glenn A. White
Glenn and Paul White discovered the water system at Beth-Shemesh. Readers can write to Glenn in care of us.—Ed.
The All-Purpose Explanation
I laughed out loud! On the “Worldwide” page of your March/April 1997 issue was this line: “The burial goods indicate the tomb belonged to a shaman, who used mind-altering mushrooms and assumed acrobatic poses while communicating with the spirit world.” (see WorldWide, BAR 23:02) Did he spin plates and sing too?
Later it states that several small clay figurines were found and that it was not known if they represented mushrooms or phalluses, yet the grinding stone was “used to prepare hallucinogenic mushrooms” (apparently for this shaman’s rituals). All this, though the Olmec left no known written records!
Why, oh why, is it that just about everything found at an archaeological site is determined to have something or other to do with religion or cultic ritual? Do all archaeologists think that all the ancient peoples had nothing else in their lives, that everything was related to their particular belief system? Did they not play innocent games or enjoy art or make things for the heck of it? Sometimes I just get the feeling that nobody really knows what anything they find was actually used for, so as if by some unanimous agreement, everyone claims these artifacts are all related to religion.
Someone once said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. C’mon, widen your horizon.
San Diego, California
Watch Your Language
Am I the only one who’s annoyed that Protestants call the Deuterocanonicals by the term “Apocrypha”? I know that BAR is careful not to offend Jews by using B.C.E. and C.E. instead of B.C. and A.D., but you always call the Deuterocanonicals by the term “Apocrypha.” I am requesting that you make it a policy to call the Apocrypha the Deuterocanonicals in order to avoid offending your Catholic readers.
We allow authors, if they prefer, to use B.C.E. and C.E. as alternatives to B.C. and A.D. It is not only some Jews who prefer these terms; many Christians, out of respect for non-Christian sensibilities, use them, as do many academics who prefer to avoid theologically laden terms.
As for “Apocrypha,” it is a broader and less precise term than “Deuterocanonical,” which refers to a specific set of books in Catholic Bibles that do not appear in Protestant and Jewish Bibles. “Apocrypha” has been applied to these and sometimes to other books. So the two terms are not precisely interchangeable. When appropriate, however, we will try to note that in Catholic usage a particular book is Deuterocanonical. Thanks for the suggestion.—Ed.
In “Getting Technical: Radiocarbon Dating”, Strata, BAR 23:03, we erred by an order of magnitude in reporting that carbon 14 makes up only “one billionth of all carbon atoms.” The figure should be one trillionth.
A Note on Style
B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era), used by some of our authors, are the alternative designations for B.C. and A.D. often used in scholarly literature.
Looting the Hand That Feeds Us