Keeping Jerusalem’s Past Alive

Jerusalem is not only one of the oldest cities in the world, it is one of the few cities which has been continuously inhabited for more than 40 centuries. From before 1850 B.C., when the first wall surrounded and defended Jerusalem, people have been living there, building homes and markets, temples and palaces, defense […]

Animals of the Bible: Living Links to Antiquity

There were skeptics who refused to believe that the Sinai leopard (Panthera pardus jarvisi) still existed in Israel. They laughed at Giora Ilani and accused him of being a dreamer.

The Remarkable Discoveries at Tel Dan

In the summer of 1979 an astounding structure was uncovered at Tel Dan in northern Israel. Excavators from the Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion expedition found a huge mudbrick gateway consisting of two towers joined by a completely intact mudbrick arch. The complex is dated to the Middle Bronze II A-B period, about […]

Finders of a Real Lost Ark
American archaeologists find remains of ancient synagogue ark in Galilee By Eric M. Meyers, Carol Meyers

When we returned to Nabratein in upper Galilee for our second excavation season in June 1981, we were unaware of a movie called “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” This may be difficult to believe, but it is true. Day by day we excavated in the clear Galilee sun, quietly, slowly, carefully, patiently—oblivious to the […]

New Light on the Nabataeans
Recent excavations at the rose red city of Petra reveal devastation by the same earthquake which destroyed Jerusalem in 363 A.D. By Philip C. Hammond

The stones were piled and ready. Costly wood had been purchased. The necessary metal was at hand. The Jews of Jerusalem were rejoicing. Tomorrow—May 20, 363 A.D.—the rebuilding of the Temple would begin! Almost 200 years after the Roman Legions under Titus had destroyed the Temple, the Emperor Julian—called by his Christian subjects […]

Did I Excavate Kadesh-Barnea?
Difficulty of site identification and absence of Exodus remains poses problem By Rudolph Cohen

The problem of Kadesh-Barnea is simply stated: Has the site been correctly identified? If so, why have we found no remains from the Exodus period? Kadesh-Barnea was the most important stop on the Exodus. The site also has special connections with Moses and his family. The journey of the Israelites through the desert from […]

A Plea for the Bedoul Bedouin of Petra
New tourist facility threatens Bedouin cave dwellers with eviction By Judith W. Shanks

The spouse of a BAR editor has the opportunity to see many archaeological sites, few of which, however, are as spectacular as Petra. But the BAR editor, even armed with a letter from the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, could not create a vacancy at Petra’s comfortable little guest house for the second night of […]

Politics at the City of David
A BAR editorial By Hershel Shanks

The dispute which sporadically disrupted the archaeological excavations in the City of David last summer had nothing to do with archaeology and everything to do with politics. The incident demonstrated that Judaism, like other religions, has its lunatic fringe.

Tunnel Exposes New Areas of Temple Mount
Tunnel adjacent to western wall of Temple Mount dug by religious authorities By Michael A. Zimmerman

Near the prayer area of the western wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a little-known excavation has continued for years. The project has received almost no public notice. The entire dig remains underground, hidden from daylight, only occasionally open to small groups. Unseen by most of the thousands who visit or pray at […]

Jerusalem’s Water Supply During Siege—The Rediscovery of Warren’s Shaft

The earliest city of Jerusalem was located on a small, 10 to 15 acre, spur south of the Temple Mount and the wall enclosing the Old City. This ancient area is known today as the City of David and, sometimes, as the hill of Ophel. The original city of Jerusalem was established here because […]

An Ancient Coin Depicts Noah’s Ark
Early association established between Turkish Ararat and Noah’s landing place By Yaakov Meshorer

New evidence for the antiquity of the tradition associating Mt. Ararat in Turkey with the landing place of Noah’s Ark comes to us in the form of a unique coin on display at the Israel Museum. This large bronze medallion was struck 1700 years ago at Apameia Kibotos in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) near […]

The Other Side of the Coin
Israel answers ancient Rome’s Judea Capta series with Liberata medals By D. Bernard Hoenig

In the year 70, Jerusalem lay in ruins, the once magnificent Temple reduced to rubble. The Roman conquerors were scattering the people of tiny Judea throughout the empire, beginning another Diaspora—the longest exile in the history of the Jews. Across the Mediterranean, in the imperial city of Rome, the end of the Jewish Revolt […]

How Herod Moved Gigantic Blocks to Construct Temple Mount
Megaliths used by Herod for wall of Temple Mount were heavier than giant stones of Stonehenge or Pyramids By Murray Stein

A single ashlar—46 feet long, 10 feet high and 10 feet deep—is described by Michael Zimmerman in the accompanying article (“Tunnel Exposes New Areas of Temple Mount”) on the Rabbinical Tunnel adjacent to the Temple Mount. This single stone in the wall of the Temple Mount weighs 415 tons! The largest megalith at Stonehenge, […]

What Archaeology Can Contribute to an Understanding of the Bible

Although Professor Dever objects to the use of the term “Biblical archaeology” (see “Should the Term ‘Biblical Archaeology’ Be Abandoned?” BAR 07:03), few are as articulate as he in describing what archaeology, and particularly Syro-Palestinian archaeology, can contribute to our understanding of the Bible and the Biblical periods. Professor Dever has made available to […]

New York Times Misrepresents Major Jerusalem Discovery
Unique monumental structure inside Israelite Jerusalem defies explanation By Hershel Shanks

There it was in the headline on page one of what is supposedly the most reliable and accurate newspaper in the country, the prestigious New York Times: “Palace of David or Solomon Believed Found.” The headline writer cannot be faulted, for he accurately reflected reporter Michael Widlanski’s lead: “Israeli archaeologists have unearthed what they […]

Digging by the Sea

I was dreaming of the sea, paddling a rescue boat far beyond the breakers toward silence and tranquility. Tired of rowing, I dove into the water and pulled strongly downward listening to the silence of the deep. There was a ringing sensation in my ears. Half asleep on my cot, I was dimly aware […]

The Exodus and the Crossing of the Red Sea, According to Hans Goedicke
Leading scholar unveils new evidence and new conclusions; search goes on for archaeological support By Hershel Shanks

The crossing of the Red Sea in which the Egyptians drowned was an actual historical event that occurred in 1477 B.C. The miraculous episode took place in the coastal plain south of Lake Menzaleh, west of what is now the Suez Canal. The drowning of the Egyptians was caused by a giant tidal-like wave […]

BAR Jr.: Sharp Eyes Find Ancient Treasure on the Beach

Whenever plundering armies approached or civil commotion threatened, wise and wealthy ancient Israelites dashed to hide their coins. They stuffed them into jars or perforated jugs and even into oil lamps, then secreted their savings behind the plaster of the walls of their homes, under stairwells, in caves or in any other place 049unlikely […]

How Not to Create a History of the Exodus—A Critique of Professor Goedicke’s Theories
Prominent Israeli archaeologist also offers his own suggestions By Eliezer D. Oren

In the September/October BAR, we presented an extensive account of Professor Hans Goedicke’s new views on the Exodus and the Israelites’ flight from Egypt (“The Exodus and the Crossing of the Red Sea, According to Hans Goedicke,” BAR 07:05), as well as a critique of these views by Professor Charles R. Krahmalkov (“A Critique […]

The Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke—Of History, Theology and Literature
A review article of Raymond E. Brown’s monumental The Birth of the Messiah By M. Robert Mulholland Jr.

Jesus’ birth and infancy are described in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, but are not even mentioned in Mark and John.

Is Tel Masos an Amalekite Settlement?
A challenge to Professor Kochavi

In the November/December 1980 BAR, Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University, reported on the excavations of the earliest settlements at ancient Beer-sheba (“Beer-sheba of the Patriarchs,” BAR 06:06). In discussing why Beer-sheba was fortified with a wall for the first time during the time of King Saul, Herzog suggested that this was because of […]

Saving the Dead Sea Scrolls for the Next 2000 Years
Preservation in the Qumran caves was easier than in a museum atmosphere By Dodo Joseph Shenhav

The Dead Sea Scrolls were preserved in remarkable condition for 2000 years in the Qumran caves overlooking the Dead Sea. It seems almost a miracle that these caves in which the Essenes stored their scrolls were very nearly the perfect environment for the preservation of the documents. Despite the capabilities of modern science, it […]

Are “The Cities of the Plain” Mentioned in the Ebla Tablets?
Cities identified by Pettinato are nowhere near the Dead Sea By Alfonso Archi

About five years ago, Giovanni Pettinato, the original epigrapher to the Italian Mission to Ebla, announced to the world that the Biblical Cities of the Plain (Genesis 14) were mentioned in the fabulous third-millennium B.C. cuneiform tablets found at Ebla. At the time of his announcement, Pettinato did not tell us the way in […]

Prominent British Scholar Assesses Kathleen Kenyon

In the latest issue of the Palestine Exploration Quarterly (January–June 1979), P. R. S. Moorey of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford has written a remarkably candid assessment of the achievements and failures of Dame Kathleen Kenyon who for a quarter of a century before her death in August 1978 dominated the British contribution to […]

Should the Term “Biblical Archaeology” Be Abandoned?
“No such thing as ‘Biblical archaeology’,” says prominent scholar By Hershel Shanks

One of the best-known and highly-respected archaeologists in the world is urging that the term “Biblical Archaeology” be dropped. He is Professor William G. Dever, chairman of the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “The sooner we abandon it [the term ‘Biblical Archaeology’] the better,” he says.

Yigal Shiloh Objects to BAR’s Coverage of His Jerusalem Dig

I was sorry to find in the recent edition of BAR the four-page article ostensibly attempting to clarify our work in the City of David under the pretense of correcting the New York Times. (“New York Times Misrepresents Major Jerusalem Discovery,” BAR 07:04). Most archaeologists do not undertake the task of correcting reports published […]

A Capsule History of Archaeological Method

Until about 100 years ago archaeological method in the Near East consisted primarily of aimless treasure hunting.

A Critique of Professor Goedicke’s Exodus Theories

The reaction among scholars to Professor Goedicke’s newly expressed views regarding the Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea (see “The Exodus and the Crossing of the Red Sea, According to Hans Goedicke,” BAR 07:05) has been, to put it mildly, not good. A universally respected and extremely prominent American Biblical historian referred […]

BAR Jr.: Housewares and Recipes from 2,000 Years Ago

The housewares on these pages are not a manufacturer’s new line. Nor are they the work of a clever department store display, trying to launch a new line of cookware. They are actually 1,600 to 2,000 years old, yet their design is so contemporary that they could very well be from a modern housewares […]

BAR Jr.: Not All That Glitters Is Gold—But Sometimes It Is

Some people think of archaeology—incorrectly—as a treasure hunt. Not many archaeologists are as lucky as Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb of King Tut with all its glorious treasures. More often than not, archaeologists find neither gold nor silver. And if they do find a precious metal, it is usually a matter of luck, […]

BAR Jr.: Young Archaeologist Strikes Pay Dirt

The first time I took my children on a dig, they were 13 and 11. Usually, you don’t find many children on a dig because there are no facilities for them and they might be out-of-place. Nevertheless, I thought they might be old enough to enjoy the experience. Besides, the excavation camp was next […]

The Other Side of the Tell

Martha Davis, a housewife from Bend, Oregon was a volunteer excavator at Tell Michal. Despite the sentiments expressed in the following poem, Mrs. Davis wrote us that, “We really did enjoy our week at Tell Michal.” It was just the heat she didn’t like, accustomed as she was to living at 3600 feet above […]

Who First Excavated Stratigraphically?
Hint: He was an American. Dead giveaway: You’ve known his name since first grade. By William H. Stiebing Jr.

North American Indians left few monuments of their civilization. Early European explorers and settlers in North America found no stone cities or defense walls or water systems or monumental structures built by the native Americans. The only exceptions were large earthen mounds obviously built by humans rather than formed by natural forces. Some of […]

Earliest Aramaic Inscription Uncovered in Syria
Statue of newly discovered king bears 10th century B.C. bilingual inscription By Adam Mikaya

An extremely important inscription recently surfaced in Syria and the few prominent scholars who know of it have been buzzing with excitement. It is an Aramaic inscription dating from the tenth century B.C., consisting of 23 complete and well-preserved lines. Aramaic was the everyday language in Palestine during Jesus’ time. Aramaic spread to Palestine […]

BAR Jr.: How to Tell a Tell

When you look at a map of the Near East, you notice many place names that include as their element the word “tell.” You can find names beginning with “tell” in Israel, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. In Arabic and Hebrew the word “tell” means “a mound, a ruin-heap, a hill on which […]

Piety and Patriotism—Secularism and Skepticism: The Dual Problem of Archaeological Bias

It was the day before the excavation was scheduled to end. Heinrich Schliemann, the German archaeologist who discovered the site of Troy, had his crew of 80 workmen furiously digging through the tel’s various strata in quest of museum-worthy artifacts from the Homeric city (which he thought was at the bottom of the tel). […]

Excavation Opportunities 1981

From Dan in the Galilee to Biblical Lachish, from Tel Michal on the Mediterranean Sea to Bab edh-Dhra on the eastern bank of the Dead Sea, volunteers will join archaeologists on numerous field sites in 1981. Always hoping that the next spadeful of earth will expose a stamped handle, an inscribed ostracon, a glimmer […]