Syrian Ambassador to U.S. Asks BAR to Print Ebla Letter Rejected by New York Times
Reports attempt to remove irresponsible Biblical archaeologists from position of power.

BAR’s article, “Syria Tries to Influence Ebla Scholarship,” BAR 05:02, reported on Syrian government efforts to pressure Ebla scholars into emphasizing the Ebla tablets’ importance for “proto-Syrian” history and to play down the tablets’ Biblical connections. BAR’s article received world-wide publicity. Stories based on it appeared in scores of American and foreign newspapers and […]

Book Excerpt: The Shapira Affair

The late 1880’s in Jerusalem was an age of discovery. On the one hand, textual critics, anthropologists, geologists, and philosophers combined to pour scorn and derision on Scriptural traditions; on the other, archaeology was never so popular or well-supported financially as when it set out “to prove the Bible right.” Well-endowed archaeological missions flocked […]

Gamla: the Masada of the North

Gamla has been found.

Answers at Lachish
Sennacherib’s destruction of Lachish identified; dispute over a century’s difference in Israelite pottery dating resolved by new excavations; stamp impressions of Judean kings finally dated. By David Ussishkin

Lachish was one of the most important cities of the Biblical era in the Holy Land. The impressive mound, named Tel Lachish in Hebrew or Tell ed-Duweir in Arabic, is situated about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem in the Judean hills. Once a thriving, fortified city, the almost 18 acre tela today stands silent […]

How to Pick a Dig

This coming summer more people than ever will join archaeological digs in Israel and elsewhere as volunteer workers. Some will be taking an important early step toward a professional career in archaeology Many will be earning academic credit for their work; others will be seeking adventure and experience simply for its own sake. […]

The Prophets as Revolutionaries: A Sociopolitical Analysis

Five Biblical prophets—Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah and Jeremiah—scathingly attacked the sacrificial cult practiced in the shrines of ancient Israel and Judah. These prophets all lived in that turbulent 150-year period that began with the death-pangs of the Kingdom of Israel in the late 8th century B.C. and ended with the Babylonian destruction of the […]

The Fall of Gamla

By 67 A.D. a general rebellion against Rome engulfed Palestine. Jerusalem had repulsed a Roman attack and the Jews had set up their own government which divided the country into seven military districts, each with its own commander. The Galilee command fell to a young priest, Joseph, the son of Mattathias (the future […]

Ancient Burial Customs Preserved in Jericho Hills
Illegal bedouin digging leads to discovery of enormous cemetery in Judean wilderness. By Rachel Hachlili

It seldom rains in the Judean wilderness; this climatic condition accounts for the preservation of some rare Jewish coffins recently discovered in the hills overlooking Jericho. These coffins are made of wood, are painted, and date to the late Hasmonean period (first century B.C.) continuing into Herod’s reign until 6 A.D. when his son, […]

Plants as Biblical Metaphors

For our ancestors, wild plants and animals of the Holy Land served as symbols and metaphors. These people were closer to nature than we are today and they understood the life cycles of the plants and animals about them. In the Bible, they used this knowledge in a poetic way. The scholars who translated […]

Thinking Ahead to Summer … Digs in ’79

Keeping in mind Dan Cole’s advice in the previous article, on “How to Pick A Dig,” now read below to discover which digs will be seeking volunteers in Israel this summer.

Did Yahweh Have a Consort?
The new religious inscriptions from the Sinai By Zeʼev Meshel

The book of Kings describes a time during the 9th–7th centuries B.C. when the land was divided into two kingdoms—Judah in the south and Israel in the north. Phoenicia and Israel were linked by commerce and royal marriages and Hebrew monotheism struggled to resist the attraction of pagan gods. The prophets Elijah, Elisha, Amos […]

Crosses in the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Waystation on the Road to the Christian Cross

The relationship of the Dead Sea Scrolls to early Christianity has absorbed scholars since the dramatic discovery more than 30 years ago. Early, exaggerated commentaries which, for example, stated that the Teacher of Righteousness was Jesus of Nazareth1 or that Jesus was a veritable “reincarnation” of the Teacher of Righteousness,2 have now fallen by […]

The Hebrew Origins of Superman

Using well-established principles of form-criticism, as well as the findings of Biblical archaeology and other methods of modern Biblical scholarship, I have discovered that the Superman stories—commonly thought to be of purely American origin—are in fact rooted in ancient Hebrew institutions. The well-known folk tale centers on a hero figure commonly called “Superman.” The […]

“In Pain Shalt Thou Bring Forth Children”

“So far as I know,” writes Carl Sagan, author of The Dragons of Eden—Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence,a “childbirth is generally painful in only one of the millions of species on Earth: human beings.” This is because of the comparatively large human skull, which, in turn, was required by the increase in […]

Digging in the City of David
Jerusalem’s new archaeological project yields first season’s results By Yigal Shiloh, Mendel Kaplan

Our first season of excavations in the City of David—the site of Biblical Jerusalem—ended with rich rewards and high expectations. The City of David, in geographical terms, is only a very small part of modern Jerusalem—a little spur which, to the surprise of many tourists, is located outside the walls of the Old […]

Mystery Find at Lachish
Can BAR readers identify puzzling clay objects?

What are they? Petrified Tootsie-Rolls, ceramic hot dogs, toy cigars? Are they perhaps ancient exercise equipment used by pre-Israelite boxers? Do BAR readers have any better suggestions? If so, send them to us, and BAR will pass them on to the excavators, who readily admit they are stumped by this find of some 278 […]

Syria Tries to Influence Ebla Scholarship
Official view objects to emphasis on Biblical connections. BAR calls for prompt publication of most significant tablets which relate to the Bible. By Hershel Shanks

It is now clear that anti-Zionist political pressures in Syria are attempting to affect the scholarly interpretation of the Ebla tablets. The Syrians are furious that in the West the intense interest shown in this fantastic cache of tablets has focused on their importance for understanding the Bible and Biblical history. For the Syrians, […]

The Evolution of Two Hebrew Scripts
Paleo-Hebrew or Phoenician script was used before Aramaic script was introduced by Jews returning from Babylonia. By Jonathan P. Siegel

In BAR’s version of Superman’s original costume, pictured in “The Hebrew Origins of Superman,” in this issue, Superman the scribe wears the Hebrew letter samekh on his chest. But even people who know how to read modern Hebrew—as it is printed in Israel as well as in synagogue prayer books in this country—will not […]

Hittites in the Bible: What Does Archaeology Say?

People called Hittites are frequently mentioned in the Biblical account of Israelite history. In the past 100 years the archaeologist’s spade has unearthed Hittite civilization: It has proved to be both large and important. Does it accord, however, with what the Bible tells us about the Hittites? 023 One of the best-known references in […]

Free to BAR Subscribers: 30-Year Survey of Biblical Archaeology

“Biblical Archaeology After 30 Years (1948–1978)” is the title of a lecture delivered by Siegfried H. Horn, Dean Emeritus of Andrews University, at the recent dedication of the Horn Archaeological Museum located on the campus at Berrien Springs, Michigan. As a special bonus to its readers, BAR is making this lecture available free to […]

Excavations at Tell Mevorakh Are Prelude to Tell Dor Dig
What a daughter site can tell us about its mother By Ephraim Stern

In 980, the first spade will sink into Tell Dor. As previously announced in BAR (“Yigael Yadin to Head New Excavation,” BAR 04:04), I will direct the field work at the new excavation. In a sense, however, this excavation began several years ago at nearby Tell Mevorakh. The Tell Mevorakh dig, which I directed […]

A Cryptogram in the Phoenician Inscription from Brazil
Scholar in American archaeology looks at mysterious Yahweh cryptogram found by Professor Gordon in the Paraiba inscription. By Marshall McKusick

To understand how circumstances in the 1870’s led the forger of the Paraiba inscription to undertake such a task is not difficult after reading Frank Moore Cross’ article “Phoenicians in Brazil?” BAR 05:01. Yet many of the same circumstances, so masterfully described in that article, could also lead one to conclude that the inscription […]

Was There a Seven-Branched Lampstand in Solomon’s Temple?

Did Solomon’s temple contain a seven-branched lampstand known as a menorah? Most people answer this question with an automatic “of course.”

“Do You Know When the Ibexes Give Birth?”

The Hebrew word ya-el appears three times in the Bible. In English translations it is usually translated as “wild goat,” and in some modern translations, as “mountain-goat.” In actuality, the Hebrew ya-el is the ibex (Capra ibex nubiana), one of the loveliest and most agile members of the cattle family. Each Biblical reference to […]

How the Blind See the Holy Land

As every blind person knows, he can “see” what he can touch.

Syrian Interview with Chief Ebla Archaeologist Matthiae

The following interview is reprinted in full from Flash of Damascus, February 1978.

The World’s First Museum and the World’s First Archaeologists

In 160 B.C., Shutruk-Nahhunte, King of Elam in the mountains east of Mesopotamia, campaigned triumphantly through Agade, Kish, Sippar, and other towns of ancient Babylonia. He returned to his capital at Susa with a rich haul of loot, which he offered up to the god who had led him to his victory. In all […]

More Digs in ’79
Volunteer Opportunities at Tell el-Hesi and Tell Yoqne’am

Two important excavations with volunteer opportunities were omitted from the listings in our March/April issue.

The First Peace Treaty Between Israel and Egypt
3000 year old treaty sealed by marriage of Pharaoh’s daughter to King Solomon. By Abraham Malamat

The recent peace treaty between Egypt and Israel may have a historical precedent from almost 3000 years ago. Then too, these two nations wisely decided that peaceful co-existence was better than military confrontation. The peace accord in ancient times is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. The Bible was not written, however, for the […]

BAR Readers to Restore Israelite Village from the Days of the Judges

BAR’s Archaeological Preservation Fund has agreed to preserve and restore the site of Izbet Sartah.

Ebla Evidence Evaporates
Smithsonian expert guesses Ebla tablets will support historicity of Patriarchal narratives, but we won’t know for decades.

One of the most direct links between the Ebla tablets and the Bible is the reported reference in the Ebla tablets to the five Cities of the Plain listed in Genesis 14.

Phoenicians in Brazil?
Distinguished linguist examines controversial inscription supposedly written by ancient voyagers to the New World. By Frank Moore Cross

Of the recurring, often bizarre attempts to find ancient Semitic inscriptions in the western hemisphere, the most prominent and frequently cited concerns the so-called Paraiba inscription from Brazil. The Paraiba inscription is said to be a Phoenician inscription carved in stone and found in northeastern Brazil in 1872. After raising a minor stir […]

BAR Excavation in Jerusalem Highlights Summer Seminar
Digs uncover exciting Byzantine and Israelite relics. By James Fleming

The following report was prepared by Jim (Yaakov) Fleming, BAR’s Jerusalem correspondent and Director of BAR’s Summer Seminar in Israel.

Reader Inspects BAR Restoration of an Israelite Village

The early Israelite site of Izbet Sartah, believed to be Biblical Ebenezer (1 Samuel 4), is inauspiciously located in the midst of the town dump of modern day Rosh Haayin. I went to Izbet Sartah to see the recently completed preservation work. (See “BAR Readers to Restore Israelite Village from Days of the Judges,” […]