Were the Early Israelites Pastoral Nomads?
A Biblical sociologist looks at the patriarchs and Exodus Israelites By Norman K. Gottwald

The Bible relates that early Israel entered Canaan twice—once in the Patriarchal Age and a second time after the Exodus from Egypt.

The Politics of Ebla

As might be expected, BAR’s “Assessing Ebla,” BAR 04:01, by Paul C. Maloney is the best and most comprehensive overall popular treatment of the Ebla Tablets yet to appear. There is, however, later news, as well as another side to the Ebla story—a political side. This political aspect makes everyone connected with Ebla vulnerable, […]

Leading Scholar Calls for Prompt Publication

How quickly should ancient texts be published after they come into a scholar’s hands? Within one year—at most, says Professor David Noel Freedman in a forthcoming issue of the Biblical Archaeologist.

Archaeology for the Young of All Ages
An archaeology series for kids teaches adults as well By Kathe Schwartzberg

The Lerner Archaeological Series is written for readers twelve and above, but like many well written books for youngsters, this series can be enjoyable and informative to adults as well.

The Mystery of the Horses of the Sun at the Temple Entrance
Kathleen Kenyon's discovery in cult center illuminates puzzling Biblical passage

The last great Yahwistic religious reform before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. was carried out in Judah by King Josiah in about 621 B.C.

Dating the Patriarchal Stories
Van Seters responds to Nahum Sarna's review of Abraham in History and Tradition By John Van Seters

In his review of my book, Abraham in History and Tradition, Nahum Sarna sets the context for his remarks with a brief but very helpful survey of the development of historical criticism of the Pentateuch, including literary and form criticism (see “Abraham in History,” BAR 03:04). However, he does not deal with my literary […]

Did the Patriarchs Live at Givat Sharett?
Small unwalled village near important 18th-century B.C. city of Beth Shemesh fits Biblical description of patriarchal settlements By Dan Bahat

In the June 1978 BAR, we published a seminal article by Norman Gottwald entitled, “Were the Early Israelites Pastoral Nomads?” BAR 04:02. Professor Gottwald there argued that the Patriarchs were not semi-nomads, instead, they lived in small countryside villages and engaged in agriculture. Professor Gottwald called for the systematic excavation of often-ignored “minor” sites […]

BAR Readers Restore and Preserve Herodian Jericho
A report to BAR readers on work accomplished with support by their Preservation Fund By Ehud Netzer

I am happy to report to BAR readers on the preservation and restoration work which was accomplished last year with funds which they—you—provided. But before I do let me tell you briefly about the continuing excavations at the site of the winter palaces.

Estimating the Population of Ancient Jerusalem
Archaeology provides a new more accurate method for estimating ancient populations. Davidic Jerusalem was home to fewer than 2000 people. By Magen Broshi

Despite its obvious importance, the number of ancient Jerusalem’s inhabitants is a subject that is often ignored.

Assessing Ebla

No archaeological find since the Dead Sea Scrolls has so excited the public imagination as the recently-discovered and already famous Ebla tablets.

Saving the Mt. Sinai Mosaics

Archaeologists usually recover their treasures beneath the earth. Instead of digging beneath the earth, however, we were high above it on a four-story scaffold, exploring the half-dome of the apse of the Byzantine Church at Saint Catherine’s monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai. But we felt as much like archaeologists as those […]

The Work of a Lifetime Destroyed—Three Years Later

Early in the afternoon of October 26, 1975 a fire struck the cramped, book-filled office of Father Albert Jamme at Catholic University in the nation’s capital. The fire probably started from neon tubes in a ceiling light fixture, but the exact cause is uncertain.

“From These Hills … ”
Midianite tent shrine found amidst ancient Negev copper mines. Recent excavations lead to new understanding of ancient mining technology; no evidence of King Solomon. By Suzanne F. Singer

For almost two decades and still continuing, Israeli archaeologist Beno Rothenberg has investigated the Timna Valley—called in Arabic wadi Mene’iyeh and known to thousands of visitors as “King Solomon’s Mines”. At first Rothenberg came almost alone to this isolated spot in the Negev about 20 miles north of Eilat, but in recent years he […]

The Name of God in the New Testament
Did the earliest Gospels use Hebrew letters for the Tetragrammaton? By George Howard

Many early copies of the New Testament abbreviate sacred words (nomina sacra). The earliest of these abbreviations stand for “God,” “Lord,” “Christ,” and “Jesus.” Abbreviations of these words were formed by writing their first and last letters and placing a line over them. Thus, using English to illustrate, “God” would appear as G÷D÷ and […]

An Israelite Village from the Days of the Judges

One of the most critical battles in early Israelite history was fought about 1050 B.C. between the Israelites and the Philistines. At that time, the Bible tells us, the twelve tribes had settled the land and the Ark of the Covenant had been installed at Shiloh under the authority of Eli the High Priest. […]

What the Babylonian Flood Stories Can and Cannot Teach Us About the Genesis Flood

The Babylonian flood stories are similar to the Genesis flood story in many ways, but they are also very different. If we look deeply enough into those Babylonian flood stories, they teach us how to understand the structure of the Genesis flood story. At the same time such a comparison also emphasizes how different […]

An Alphabet from the Days of the Judges

At a site called Izbet Sartah, now believed by some scholars, to be Biblical Ebenezer, a recent excavation by Tel Aviv and Bar-Ilan Universities has uncovered a small clay potsherd—unrelated to the Biblical story—which, however, is the most important single find of the excavation. The sherd contains the longest proto-Canaanite inscription ever discovered.a The […]

The Double Paternity of Jesus
Dual fatherhood, human and divine, was not uncommon in ancient times. Kingship was transmitted through the human husband of the mother. By Cyrus H. Gordon

The two variant genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1:1–16 and Luke 3:23–38 agree on the essential point that he was descended from King David through Joseph, the husband of Mary. To be the legitimate King of the Jews, Jesus had to stem from David through his human, patriarchal family tree. The question that puzzles […]

Bedouin Find Papyri Three Centuries Older Than Dead Sea Scrolls
Subsequent excavations in bat dung by American archaeologist confirms original location of the papyrus scrolls; diggers find hundreds of additional small fragments in Jordan Valley caves. By Paul W. Lapp

Nineteen-sixty-one was the third winter of drought. In the Old City of Jerusalem there were long queues at the water spigots. Tribes of Ta‘âmireh bedouin were drifting north past Jerusalem. Whole families and clans were moving together, at times afoot, at times by donkey train with an occasional camel. They tramped up the tortuous […]

The Historical Importance of the Samaria Papyri

When the Ta‘âmireh bedouin penetrated the Daliyeh cave (as described in the previous article by Paul Lapp) they found within more than 300 skeletons lying on or covered by mats. The bones were mixed with fragments of manuscripts. These manuscripts were not burial documents, but everyday business records. The artifacts found in the cave […]

“Your Journal Is Not to My Taste”
Prominent Israeli archaeologist blasts BAR, asks to be left alone By Nahman Avigad

In the June 1977 issue of the BAR you initiated a crusade against excavators who withhold information and photographs of unpublished finds to the press (“Tight-Lipped Archaeologists—How the Press Erred,” BAR 03:02). For some reason you chose me as the main target for your attack. In the December issue, you continued your crusade against […]

Yigael Yadin to Head New Excavation

Signaling an eventual return to the world of archaeology, Yigael Yadin has stated he will lead a major new archaeological excavation. Yadin, formerly head of Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, is currently Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister.

Kathleen Kenyon 1906-1978

Generally recognized as the world’s greatest field archaeologist and clearly Great Britain’s leading Biblical archaeologist, Dame Kathleen Mary Kenyon is dead at 72. Dame Kathleen died in August, less than a week after suffering a stroke. She was stricken at her home in Wrexham, North Wales.

How It Came About: From Saturday to Sunday
Roman repressive measures following the first and second Jewish revolts spurred Christian change to Sunday worship By Samuele Bacchiocchi

Scholars have long debated how the first day of the week—Sunday—came to be adopted by a majority of Christians as the day of rest and worship in place of the Biblically-prescribed, seventh-day Sabbath. (In Hebrew, the seventh day is called Shabbat from which the English word Sabbath is derived).

BAR Preservation Fund Goes to Work

BAR’s readers will preserve Herodian Jericho, place signs at Biblical Lachish, and support preservation research. Based on early contributions to its Archaeological Preservation Fund, BAR has committed its readers to a three-pronged preservation effort.

Is Withholding Pictures of Archaeological Finds Justifiable?
BAR lauds Avigad's scholarship but finds his refusal to release pictures indefensible By Hershel Shanks

We are delighted to report that Professor Nachman Avigad has published in a recent issue of the Israel Exploration Journal a report and picture of the “Justinian” inscription which he found in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Digging the Talmud in Ancient Meiron

The Talmud is, after the Bible itself, Judaism’s most significant and revered collection of sacred writings. Although the Talmud was in fact written and compiled between the Second and Fifth centuries A.D., rabbinic tradition holds that it was given to Moses at Mount Sinai together with the Torah. The Torah is referred to as […]

Editorial: Free Hadrian
BAR asks readers to protest withholding of Hadrian photo by Israeli Antiquities Department

In 975, an American tourist uncovered a statue of the Roman emperor Hadrian on an Israeli kibbutz. We had intended to picture the head of this rare bronze statue on the cover of this issue of BAR. It seemed a perfect tie-in with the story “How It Came About: From Saturday to Sunday,” in which Hadrian figures so prominently.

The Holy Land in Coins

What archaeologists find is important. But what they don’t find can be just as important—such as their failure to find coins anywhere in the world before the end of the 7th century B.C. In the Holy Land, coins are not found until about 100 years later.

Invitation to a Summer’s Dig

As in years past summer is the time for old hands and new adventurers—young and not so young—to join archaeological excavations in the Holy Land. There are many opportunities in 1978, some of which offer academic credit for the work-study of the summer.

Coming in BAR—Did Yahweh Have a Consort?

An astounding inscription has been found in the Sinai Desert which indicates that some worshippers believed that Yahweh did have a consort or asherah.

Ancient City of David To Be Re-Excavated

A major new excavation will begin this summer in the oldest inhabited part of Jerusalem. Known as the city of David, the site is located on a dusty ridge south of the present Old City. The following article is by the man who is responsible for initiating the project and raising the money to finance it.—Ed.

Israel’s Archaeological Gifts to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
Sadat receives oil flasks from Patriarchal times and lamps from the time of the Maccabees. By James Fleming

The exchange of gifts between Israeli and Egyptian Heads of State has a history dating back to Biblical peace treaties between Egyptian Pharaohs and Israelite Kings.