The Israelite Occupation of Canaan: An Account of the Archaeological Evidence

The archaeological time period known as the Iron Age—or the Israelite period, as I shall call it here—began in about 1,200 B.C. and lasted for about 600 years. In the Land of Israel, it ended with the destruction of the First Temple in 587 B.C. Scholars generally agree that the penetration and settlement by […]


Ancient musical instruments is the theme—with variations—of this special section. Even before people invented writing they used music to accompany their ceremonies and the express their feelings.

What We Know About the Philistines

The Bible is understandably hostile to the Philistines, describing them as a pleasure loving, warlike society of pagans ruled by “tyrants” who threatened ancient Israel’s existence. An unscrupulous enemy, the Philistines deployed Delilah and her deceitful charm to rob Samson of his power. In a later period, they slew King Saul and his sons […]

What Does the Bible Say?
Translations speak in many tongues By Dewey M. Beegle

Bible translations are nothing new.

Two Prominent Israeli Scholars Assess One of the Most Controversial Aspects of Biblical History

After its sojourn in Egypt, Israel came to Canaan, all agree that by the time the Israelite monarchy was established in its eternal capital Jerusalem, the land was Israel’s.

God Before the Hebrews
Treasures of Darkness goes back to the Mesopotamian roots of Biblical religion By Tikva Frymer-Kensky

What, if anything, can we learn about Biblical religion from the vast quantities of material relating to Mesopotamian religion? The answer is: a great deal. No single volume provides better evidence for this conclusion than the recently published and widely acclaimed book by Thorkild Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness—A History of Mesopotamian Religion.a Jacobsen […]

The Finds That Could Not Be

Archaeologists are gradually recovering the remains of musical life from ancient Israel. More than three hundred remains of actual instruments and representations of musical scenes have been recorded. The dates of these items range from late pre-history to the Byzantine period, including a sizable number within the span from Biblical to Second Temple times, […]

Caesarea Maritima: The Search for Herod’s City

Herod, the ancient world’s master builder, constructed a magnificent port city on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine. He called it Caesarea in honor of his Roman patron Augustus Caesar. Maritima distinguished it from the many other cities that bore this much honored name, notably Caesarea Philippa, another city in Herod’s kingdom, located inland […]

Is the Biblical Account of the Israelite Conquest of Canaan Historically Reliable?

There are essentially two views of the Israelite occupation of Canaan. The first conforms in its main outlines to the Biblical view; that is, the Israelite occupation was initiated by several lightning military attacks on major Canaanite cities and was followed after some time by Israelite occupation of adjacent areas thus subdued. (The […]

The Dayan Saga—The Man and His Archaeological Collection

Beginning October 14, 1982, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem will exhibit a few selected highlights from the Moshe Dayan collection of antiquities, which the museum recently acquired for $1 million following Dayan’s death a year ago. In this preview, about 15 of the outstanding examples of the huge collection, comprising 800 to 900 objects, […]

How Inferior Israelite Forces Conquered Fortified Canaanite Cities

For over 50 years now, a school of thought associated with the names of the great German scholars Albrecht Alt and Martin Noth has espoused a particular view of what is described in the Bible as the Israelite conquest of Canaan. This view that there was no conquest but, in fact, a peaceful […]

What Did David’s Lyre Look Like?
A delicate jasper seal may tell us

“The spirit of Yahweh had forsaken Saul, and at times an evil spirit from Yahweh would seize him suddenly. His servants said to him, ‘You see, sir, how an evil spirit from God seizes you; why do you not command your servants here to go and find some man who can play the harp? […]

Archaeological Stumpers
Mysterious tomb offerings challenge the imagination

BAR readers suggested some imaginative, useful and even humorous functions for the puzzling clay tootsie-rolls that were found at Biblical Lachish (“Mystery Find at Lachish,” BAR 05:05). There is a difference, however, between the Lachish tootsie-rolls and the archaeological stumpers which follow. The Lachish tootsie-rolls are unique. There are no parallels. They have not […]

The New King James Version
First revision of classic bible in more than 200 years

Not since 1769 has the venerable King James Version of the Bible been revised. This year Nelson Publishers brought the King James Version into the twentieth century with care and reverence for its beloved cadences and familiar archaic language.a

Caesarea Beneath the Sea

Of all the great seaports of antiquity, Caesarea Maritima is the only one readily accessible to underwater archaeologists.1 Many ancient ports, like Piraeus, the port of Athens, cannot be carefully examined because they are still in use. Other harbors of antiquity have silted in over the centuries and today serve a variety of purposes […]

First “Dead Sea Scroll” Found in Egypt Fifty Years Before Qumran Discoveries
Solomon Schechter presages later Essene scholarship By Raphael Levy

Some call it the first Dead Sea Scroll—but it was found in Cairo and not in a cave. It was recovered in 1897 in a Genizah, a synagogue repository for worn-out copies of sacred writings. The gifted scholar who had found it, Solomon Schechter, gave it with a hoard of other ancient Hebrew manuscripts […]

Ancient Jerusalem’s Rural Food Basket
The “new” archaeology looks for an urban center’s agricultural base By Gershon Edelstein, Shimon Gibson

Until recently, archaeology—or at least Near Eastern archaeology—has been regarded primarily as a historical science. Its focus was history and particularly political history—kings and kingdoms, battles and destructions, the rise and fall of civilizations. That focus has now shifted somewhat. It is difficult to put a date on the change because it has occurred […]

The Torah, The Prophets and The Writings—A New Jewish Translation

The publication of the third section of the Hebrew Bible, The Writings (Kethubim), marks the completion of the new Jewish Publication Society Bible translation, abbreviated NJPS.a This is the first Bible translation executed by a panel of Jewish scholars since the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible completed in Alexandria, Egypt, two millennia […]

In Defense of Hans Goedicke
Washington Journalism Review guilty of irresponsible attack on prominent Johns Hopkins professor By Hershel Shanks

The Washington Journalism Review, supposedly a monitor of media fairness and accuracy, has falsely and irresponsibly accused Professor Hans Goedicke of The Johns Hopkins University of attempting to pull off an academic fraud.a In the article by Washington Post reporter Lee Lescaze, the Washington Journalism Review charged Goedicke, head of the Department of Near […]

BAR Jr.: On the Surface

If archaeology is anything, it is excavation. What archaeologists do is dig. Their trademark is the pick. They also use the shovel, patishe, trowel and other instruments to remove earth so they can find out what is underneath. Yet some things are on the surface. Right there on the ground. And that’s what I […]

How Scholarly Communication Works
A bone flute discovered in the City of David leads to another and elucidates a Talmudic passage

A cow’s foreleg with six holes was illustrated in color in “Digging in the City of David,” BAR 05:04. Archaeologists identified the perforated bone as a flute; by blowing into the hollow bone and covering different holes, different notes could be produced. The bone flute, recovered from a destruction level of the first century […]

In America, Biblical Archaeology Was—And Still Is—Largely a Protestant Affair
Why haven’t American Jews and Catholics participated more in the archaeological enterprise in the Holy Land?

“American archaeological efforts in the Holy Land have been dominated by Protestants,” according to a prominent American Protestant archaeologist, Gus Van Beek. Van Beek is curator of Old World archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. and for many years was director of excavations at Tell Jemmeh in southern Israel. Van Beek said that […]

Jerusalem Couple Excavates Under Newly Built Home in Search of Their Roots
Residence to become museum to display finds By Leroy Aarons, Goldie Feinsilver

“Pouring into the alleys [of the Upper City], sword in hand, they massacred indiscriminately all whom they met, and burnt the houses with all who had taken refuge within. … running everyone through who fell in their way, they choked the alleys with corpses and deluged the whole city with blood, insomuch that many […]

“Sounding Brass” and Hellenistic Technology
Ancient acoustical device clarifies Paul’s well-known metaphor By William Harris

No New Testament passage is better known than Chapter 13 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Its singular lyrical felicity and its insistence upon love differentiates it from the often practical and pragmatic side of Paul’s mind. This ode to love begins (in the King James Version): “If I speak in the tongues […]

Mitchell Dahood—In Memoriam
Leading Ebla scholar dies suddenly in Rome By Hershel Shanks

Mitchell Dahood is dead at 60. He died in Rome on March 8 of a sudden, unexpected and massive heart attack. I should write Father Mitchell Dahood, for he was a Roman Catholic priest, a Jesuit, who spent nearly 20 years teaching at Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute. But I, like most of the scholarly […]

John Bright’s New Revision of A History of Israel

The following review of the new third edition of John Bright’s A History of Israel was written by Professor Norman K. Gottwald of New York Theological Seminary. Bright’s History has been a dominant influence in Biblical scholarship for more than 20 years, and Gottwald’s review, written for BAR, is an important analysis of the […]

Has the House Where Jesus Stayed in Capernaum Been Found?
Italian archaeologists believe they have uncovered St. Peter’s home By James F. Strange, Hershel Shanks

Italian archaeologists claim to have discovered the house were Jesus stayed in Capernaum. Proof positive is still lacking and may never be found, but all signs point to the likelihood that the house of St. Peter where Jesus stayed, near Capernaum’s famous synagogue, is an authentic relic. Nestled on the northwest shore of the […]

BAS Photo Contest

Long after the memories of heat and discomfort have faded, participants in the Biblical Archaeology Society six-week Israel Summer Seminar will cherish their photographic records of the summer’s experiences and adventures. Upon their return to the United States, the Israel summer seminarians submitted their photographs and slides to the Biblical Archaeology Review photo contest. […]

Essene Origins: Palestine or Babylonia?
Some Essenes may have survived almost 1000 years after Qumran

The preceding article described the discovery, 50 years before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, of what has been dubbed the “First Dead Sea Scroll.” It was found in Cairo in 1897 and became known to scholars as the Damascus Document. Fragments of other earlier copies of the Damascus Document were later found in the Dead Sea caves.

BAR Jr.: A Puzzle for Albright

In the 1930’s, the famous archaeologist William Foxwell Albright excavated Tell Beit Mirsim in central Israel. He discovered rows and rows of large stone basins. The dean of Biblical archaeologists was puzzled. Was this some sort of a factory? And if it was, what was manufactured here? Each basin had a small circular hole […]

BAR Jr.: Sherds, Sherds, Sherds

“The remains of the city were found buried under a heavy layer of ash and destruction debris … ”

BAR Jr.: Digging, Dug, Gone

Many people do not realize that archaeology is destructive. Unlike experiments in physics or chemistry, which can be repeated in the lab, once a site has been excavated it cannot be re-excavated. The archaeological remains are gone forever from their position in the earth. Therefore, the key word for the archaeologist is CONTROL. The […]

The Volunteer’s Contribution to Archaeology and Vice Versa

Except in Woody Allen movies, there are no “man-in-the-street” brain surgeons. No journal that I know of invites its readers to spend two weeks as volunteer atomic physicists. It’s different with archaeology. From the very beginning, the amateur was a key figure. Heinrich Schleimann, who revealed the treasures of ancient Troy in the 1870’s […]

How Iron Technology Changed the Ancient World and Gave the Philistines a Military Edge

042 Modern historians divide the roughly 3,000 year-period beginning approximately 3200 B.C. into two major segments—the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. The Bronze Age I extends from about 3200 B.C. to 1200 B.C.a Thereafter it is the Iron Age.b This is some indication of the enormous importance (as well as the date […]

Excavation Opportunities 1982

Diving to recover Herodian columns from Caesarea’s harbor, breaking ground at a new dig in Jordan, restoring a Middle Bronze (22nd–16th century B.C.) “mansion” in the Sharon Plain—these are a few of the excavation opportunities for volunteers in 1982. A dig provides the chance to live with other volunteers from many parts of the […]

Ebla Scholarship à la Syrienne
BAR reports on Damascus symposium

How the ancient history of Syria was “faked” was the subject of a recent symposium held in Damascus. The following article is based on an account of the symposium in the English-language Syria Times.

A Bible Scholar Looks at BAR’s Coverage of the Exodus

Recent issues of BAR have covered a wide range of views regarding the Israelites’ servitude in Egypt, the parting of the “Red Sea” (the “Reed Sea” in Hebrew), and the route of the Exodus.a The authors were, in the main, archaeologists, linguists and experts in Near Eastern studies. Perhaps it would be appropriate to […]

BAR Jr.: “Lachish and Azekah Were the Only Fortified Cities of Judah That Remained” (Jeremiah 34:7)

Professor Larry Geraty of Andrews University gave his class in Biblical Archaeology the instructive assignment of writing a BAR Jr. column. In this issue, we print one of the papers submitted in response. Talk about bringing the Bible to life! Imagine you’re digging at a Judean outpost southeast of Jerusalem, and you unearth correspondence […]

Antiquities of Tyre Spared Despite PLO Occupation and War in Lebanon

BAR has been able to confirm a New York Times report that the famous antiquities of Tyre have not been seriously damaged either by the PLO occupation of the site or by the war in Lebanon. According to the Times, the PLO placed the ancient Roman ruins of Tyre off-limits even to its Lebanese […]