Rescue in the Biblical Negev

As work begins on the infrastructure required to relocate the Israeli army’s bases and training facilities from Sinai to the Negev—in accordance with the Middle East peace agreements—Israel’s archaeological institutions have been mobilized to survey and excavate on an emergency basis threatened sites in the area. Beginning February 1, 1979, salvage excavations began on […]

Ebla and the Bible—Observations on the New Epigrapher’s Analysis

I would like to provide BAR readers with a response to the article entitled “New Ebla Epigrapher Attacks Conclusions of Ousted Scholar,” BAR 06:03. The BAR article is a summary of an article by Professor Alfonso Archi which appeared in the Italian journal, Biblica (Vol. 60, 1979, pp. 556–566), published by the Pontifical Biblical […]

World’s Oldest Musical Notation Deciphered on Cuneiform Tablet

Excavations at ancient Ugarit in modern Syria began in 1929. To date, thousands of cuneiform tablets have been unearthed revealing a Canaanite civilization which, in many respects, is linguistically and culturally closer to the civilization of the Old Testament than any civilization ever uncovered. Thus, these cuneiform tablets have been the subject of numerous […]

How Water Tunnels Worked
Jerusalem, Megiddo, Hazor, Gezer and Gibeon all had systems to bring water safely within their city walls during time of siege—Cole offers new suggestions on how this technology developed. By Dan P. Cole

“A city set on a hill cannot be hidden,” said Matthew (5:14). Neither can it easily be supplied with water. Cities were built on hilltops because of the obvious defensive advantages. These advantages were somewhat offset by the disadvantage that the city’s springs or wells were normally at the base of the hill, […]

The Last Legacy of Roland de Vaux

To English-speaking readers, the late French scholar Roland de Vaux, is known mainly as the author of Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions,1 that massive, erudite, skillfully synthesized, and panoramic treatment of the various forms through which the social, political and religious life of the people of Israel found expression in Biblical times. […]

The Known, the Unknown and the Debatable
BAR recaps the Ebla story

With all the twists and turns, the claims and denials, the arguments and the counter-arguments, is there anything we can be certain about in the Ebla story?

A Volunteer in the Negev

When I told my friends that I planned to spend the summer of 1979 on an archaeological dig in Israel’s Negev Desert, I got one of two responses: “You’ve got to be crazy!” or “Gee, that sounds like a lot of fun!” Both turned out to be true. I had been to Israel twice […]

Archi Responds to Pettinato

The original Italian article from which the foregoing article by Professor Pettinato was adapted has not gone unanswered. Professor Archi has responded to Professor Pettinato in the Italian journal Studi Eblaiti in an article entitled, “Ancora Sul-Ebla e la Biblia” (“Again on Ebla and the Bible”). With this summary of Professor Archi’s recent response […]

The Separate Traditions of Abraham and Jacob

The historian’s difficulties increase the further back he goes into past. The most intractable problem is 024… that of the first ancestors whom Israel claimed as her own, the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whose “history” is told in Genesis 12–35. The history of Joseph, which occupies the rest of Genesis with the exception […]

Interview with David Noel Freedman

The following interview with Professor David Noel Freedman was conducted by BAR Editor Hershel Shanks on November 25, 1979. Professor Freedman has been more influential than anyone else in the United States in publicizing the Ebla tablets. In early 1976, Freedman flew to Rome to talk to Paolo Matthiae and Giovanni Pettinato, the University […]

New Ebla Epigrapher Attacks Conclusion of Ousted Ebla Scholar
Professor Archi disagrees with Professor Pettinato’s Biblical connections.

Dr. Alfonso Archi of the University of Rome’s Institute of Near Eastern Studies and the new chief epigrapher of the Italian Mission to Ebla, has vigorously disputed the conclusions of his predecessor, Dr. Giovanni Pettinato, linking the Ebla tablets to the Bible.

Beer-sheba of the Patriarchs

The findings of archaeologists sometimes seem to confirm the Biblical text. At other times, the excavation results present a problem. Perhaps the best known case of the latter is Jericho. Most scholars date the Israelite conquest of Canaan to the Late Bronze Age, to a time (13th century B.C.) when, according to Jericho […]

Volunteer Opportunities in 1980

Volunteers are needed for a score—and more—of excavations during the summer of 1980. The projects listed below include only those excavations that were prepared to announce specific dates, costs and programs by the time we went to press. There will undoubtedly be later additions to the roster of digs in the field this coming […]

The Regional Study—A New Approach to Archaeological Investigation
Yoqne’am Regional Project looks beyond the tell. By Amnon Ben-Tor

In the center of Israel there is a wide, fertile, well-watered plain called Jezreel (pronounced Jezre-el). Today it is the agricultural heartland of Israel—an area of open wheat, cotton and corn fields, fish ponds and agricultural settlements. In the past it was the battlefield where Barak, the commander of the prophetess Deborah, routed […]

In Search of Solomon’s Lost Treasures

On the morning of April 19, 1911, a crowd of angry Moslems, outraged at what they considered to be a desecration of the holy Mosque of Omar or the Dome of the Rock, rampaged through the streets of Jerusalem, quickly mobbing the entrance to the government citadel. The Turkish governor of the city, […]

Have Sodom and Gomorrah Been Found?

In the past many scholars have regarded Sodom and Gomorrah—and the Biblical stories in which they appear—as mere legend. Now, however, two highly respected American archaeologists are about to propose that they may have found the remains of the ancient cities.

Was Cain Angry or Depressed?
Background of a Biblical murder By Mayer I. Gruber

The first murder recounted in the Bible is Cain’s slaying of Abel (Genesis 4). Cain, the farmer, brought an unidentified agricultural offering to the Lord. Abel, the shepherd, on the other hand, brought the first born of his flock. The Lord ignored Cain’s offering but highly regarded Abel’s. Cain’s reaction, according to most English […]

The Marvelous Mosaics of Kissufim

In June 1977 a tractor-driver at Kibbutz Kissufim on the coastal plain east of Gaza was preparing a new field for cultivation. Glancing back at the furrowed earth he noticed fragments of colored mosaic, and realized that he had inadvertently plowed across an ancient site. He notified the Department of Antiquities of his […]

A Smithy in a Crusader Church

Because my interest in the archaeology of Jerusalem is well known about the city, local residents often come to me with questions, finds and ideas.

Excavations Near Temple Mount Reveal Splendors of Herodian Jerusalem

Of Jerusalem’s beauty during the Herodian period, the Talmuda tells us: “Whoever has not seen Jerusalem in its splendor has never seen a lovely city.1 Lest this seem a parochial judgment, we have the confirming view of the famous Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, who referred to Jerusalem as “by far the most […]

The Raw Material
The full texts of 24 Ebla tablets have been published—this is what scholars must start with. By Paul C. Maloney

When scholars speak of a document’s having been fully and formally published, they usually mean that the publication includes a readable photograph, a complete transliteration of the text, perhaps a hand copy of the text, and possibly a commentary on the readings.a By this definition, I am aware of only 14 Ebla texts that […]

A Scientist Looks at Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision”
Did a near-collision of a comet with earth cause manna to fall in the Sinai and the sun to stand still over Gibeon? By Carl Sagan

In the spring of 1940 Immanuel Velikovsky’s study of the Biblical accounts of the Exodus led him to conclude that a great physical catastrophe had befallen the earth at the time of Moses. He soon located references to what he believed to be the same event in historical texts, epics, myths, and folklore […]

The Rose of Jericho—Symbol of the Resurrection

Generations of Christian Pilgrims to the Holy land brought home traditional mementos such as pressed wild flowers from Jerusalem, olive-wood covered Bibles, and a homely little ball of dried-out twigs with miraculous properties—the Rose of Jericho (Anastatica hierochuntica). The desiccated skeletons of the small desert plant are still sold at souvenir shops in Jerusalem’s […]

Were Christians Buried in Roman Catacombs to Await the Second Coming?

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Marble Faun, a novel about young artists struggling to learn their craft in 19th century Rome, a group of painters visits the catacomb of Callistus on the old Appian Way. As they wander through the tunnels, their way lit by flickering candles, one of the young women becomes separated from the […]

Sir Flinders Petrie: Father of Palestinian Archaeology

Hundreds of years from now when a new generation of archaeologists uncovers a 20th century cemetery on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, they may come upon the bones of a man buried without his head.

The ‘Daughters of Judah’ Are Really Rural Satellites of an Urban Center

The Hebrew word bat means daughter. The plural is banot.

Letter from a Hebrew King?
Aharoni claims Arad sherd bears a portion of a letter from King Jehoahaz to the military commander at Arad; Yadin disputes Aharoni’s interpretation.

Shortly before his untimely death in 1976 at the age of 56, Yohanan Aharoni, the director of the Tel Aviv University Institute of Archeology, published in Hebrew the text of his long-awaited Arad Inscriptions.a These inscriptions were painstakingly acquired from his Arad excavations by carefully washing and examining every sherd which might contain an […]

A Rare Look at the Jewish Catacombs of Rome

No one seems to know why it is so difficult to see the Jewish catacombs of Rome. But it is.

BAR Interviews Giovanni Pettinato
Original Ebla epigrapher attempts to set the record straight By Hershel Shanks

The following interview with Professor Giovanni Pettinato was conducted by BAR Editor Hershel Shanks on May 4, 1980. Professor Pettinato was the original epigrapher of the Italian Mission to Ebla. He resigned following a bitter personal and scholarly dispute with the mission director and chief archaeologist, Paolo Matthiae. Matthiae has now appointed a 10-man […]

Using Quintilian to Interpret Mark

The passage from Mark which follows, has always been a puzzle: If your hand offends you, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled, than with both hands to depart for hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot offends you, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life lame, than with both feet to be thrown into hell.

Are the Ebla Tablets Relevant to Biblical Research?

At a November 1979 gathering of science writers in Palo Alto, California, sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, Robert Biggs, Professor of Assyriology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, is reported as having said: “In my opinion, parallels with the Bible are quite out of the question […]