BAR Interviews Yigael Yadin
Does archaeology prove the truth of the Bible? • Will an archive be found in Israel? • Where will Yadin dig next? • Advice to aspiring archaeologists • Yadin’s definition of Biblical archaeology By Hershel Shanks

On July 22, 1982, BAR editor Hershel Shanks visited Yigael Yadin in his home in Jerusalem. Shanks spoke for several hours with Yadin, who had recently returned to full time archaeology after one of the many discursions that have marked his amazing life. Yadin has had a number of careers—soldier, scholar and politician among […]

Synagogue Where Jesus Preached Found at Capernaum

The first-century Capernaum synagogue in which Jesus preached has probably been found. Because more than one synagogue may have existed in Capernaum at this time, we cannot be sure that this new find was Jesus’ synagogue. But this recently discovered first-century building is certainly a likely candidate.a At the moment, the synagogue is not a […]


The recent death of the eminent excavator of Ugarit, Claude F. A. Schaeffer, is an occasion both to remember this great French archaeologist and to revisit Ugarit (Ras Shamra) where Schaeffer spent more than 30 years of his professional life. In the articles that follow we will speak of Schaeffer the man (“Claude Frederic-Armand […]

“And David Sent Spoils … to the Elders in Aroer” (1 Samuel 30:26–28)
Excavators bring to life ancient Negev fortress but find no remains from David’s time By Avraham Biran

Three sites in the Bible—and perhaps foura—are called Aroer (pronounced Ah-roe-air). We call one Aroer of the Negev. The other two—or three—are east of the Jordan River. Aroer may mean “crest of a mountain.” This very general description would explain why several sites have this name. Or, Aroer may be derived from the name […]

The Mysterious MBI People
Does the Exodus tradition in the Bible preserve the memory of their entry into Canaan? By Rudolph Cohen

One of the most obscure periods in the history of Palestine is the Middle Bronze I period (commonly referred to as MBI) which extended from about 2200 B.C. to about 2000 B.C. Who were the MBI people? We really don’t know. On the basis of my research, I would suggest that they were a […]

Searching for Herod’s Tomb
Somewhere in the desert palace-fortress at Herodium, Palestine’s master builder was buried By Ehud Netzer

Dedicated to the memory of David Rosenfeld.a I had no idea of searching for Herod’s tomb when I began my archaeological work at Herodium. But I confess it has now become something of a minor obsession with me. Whether I will eventually achieve my goal is still an open question, but the search itself […]

The Undiscovered Gate Beneath Jerusalem’s Golden Gate

The sky was clear and blue that spring day in April 1969. The early morning sun glanced off the mauve-colored Mount of Olives. Tiny wild flowers dotted the hillside. The air was fresh and fragrant after an unusually heavy rain the night before. It was a perfect time to explore the walls and gates […]

Putting the Bible on the Map

An understanding of geography is essential to an understanding of many sections of the Bible. For this reason, an up-to-date atlas—maybe more than one—is a tool no serious student of the Bible can be without.

Claude Frederic-Armand Schaeffer-Forrer (1898–1982): An Appreciation

The death of Claude Schaeffer of cancer at the age of 84 in his home at St. Germain-en-Laye, France, on August 25, 1982, marks the end of an epoch in the archaeology of the Near East. He was the last of those titanic figures whose achievements are sometimes hard for us to appreciate from […]

The Sad Case of Tell Gezer

031 For Gezer there is still time. But not much.

Where the Ancient Temple of Jerusalem Stood
Extant “foundation stone” for the Ark of the Covenant is identified By Asher S. Kaufman

042 It is almost axiomatic among scholars that no trace of the Jewish Temple is to be found on Jerusalem’s imposing Temple Mount.1 “The Temple is gone. Not a stone, not a trace, remains,” wrote the venerable J. L. Porter in 1887.2 More recently, Dame Kathleen Kenyon echoed the same thoughts. Just before […]

A BAR Editorial: Ancient Remains on the Temple Mount Must Not Be Destroyed

Any archaeological discussion of the Temple or its location on the Temple Mount invariably includes a statement to the effect that it would, of course, be unthinkable to conduct any archaeological excavations on the Temple Mount itself. We do not wish to think about the unthinkable, but, on the other hand, there are a […]

The Tablets from Ugarit and Their Importance for Biblical Studies

For 40 years Claude Schaeffer directed excavations at Ras Shamra in Syria. There he and his colleagues uncovered the remains of the long lost city of Ugarit, a Late Bronze Age metropolis in early Biblical times. And among the ruins of Ugarit, he found the archives of the ancient city The clay tablets discovered […]

Album from My Summer Seminar in Israel
One person’s view of the beauty and diversity of BAR’s Israel Seminar By Marian Harders

I was one of a group of 16 people who participated in BAR’s Israel seminar this past summer—a stimulating, invigorating (and slenderizing) six-week exploration of the Holy Land. There was more to the adventure than trying to absorb an overwhelming amount of Biblical archaeology and geography; I also added a new cultural awareness to […]

BAR Jr.: Five Ways to Defend an Ancient City

“Walk about Zion … number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels … ” (Psalms 48:12–13) What distinguished an ancient village or town from a city? One thing, perhaps the most important, was fortifications. Fortifying a settlement reflected the importance attributed to it; fortifications meant that a settlement was worth defending. […]

Nineteen Bible Atlases Compared

The map illustrations with this atlas review are reproduced exactly the same size as they appear on the atlas pages. In most instances we have chosen comparable map sections so that readers may easily compare type and line quality, topographical rendering, and historical, Biblical and geographical information. The Historical Geography of the Holy Land

The Saga of the Goliath Family—As Revealed in Their Newly Discovered 2,000-Year-Old Tomb

In the mid-1970s, a number of limestone ossuariesa came onto the Israeli antiquities market, the result of illegal digging. An investigation conducted by the Israel Department of Antiquities located the source of the ossuaries in the Jericho hills, and prompted an emergency salvage excavation. That excavation, led by Rachel Hachlili, uncovered a Jewish cemetery […]

Rain in the Desert

Rain rarely falls in the desert regions of Israel—that is a commonplace assumption. The Sinai, Negev and the Judean wilderness are so dry that inscriptional materials, such as scrolls, have survived for millennia.

BAR Jr.: Gamma Rays Halt Deterioration of Mummy of Ramesses II

Everyone knows what a mummy is. We’ve all seen them in museums or seen photographs of them in newspapers and magazines. A mummy is a dead body, preserved to last through eternity. The most famous mummies come from Egypt; they are the bodies of the Pharaohs, the ancient kings of Egypt. The tombs of […]

Beware the Wiles of the Wanton Woman
Dead Sea Scroll fragment reflects Essene fear of, and contempt for, women By Magen Broshi

Nearly 35 years ago, Bedouin tribesmen searching for more scrolls near the original find on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea discovered the now-famous Qumran cave 4. Cave 4 proved to be the richest of all the Qumran caves, containing fragments of over 500 scrolls. One of the scroll fragments from cave 4 […]

The Ark That Wasn’t There
Larry Blaser of Englewood, Colorado, thought he had located the Ark of the Covenant—and enlisted the aid of professional archaeologists

“Found!” proclaimed Lawrence Blaser, referring to the actual cave where David accidentally happened upon King Saul near the spring at Ein Gedi on the shores of the Dead Sea. David could have killed King Saul, but instead he simply cut off the hem of his robe to make the point (1 Samuel 24). Blaser’s […]

Woman, a Power Equal to Man
Translation of woman as a “fit helpmate” for man is questioned By R. David Freedman

In the second account of creation recited in Genesisa woman is created not at the same time as man, but only after God has already created man, placed him in the Garden of Eden and commanded him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God then concludes that it […]

The Last Days of Ugarit
Drought, famine, earthquakes and, ultimately, fire ended civilization at Ugarit By Claude F. A. Schaeffer

About 1200 B.C., civilization in the then-known world seemed to come to an end. Major urban centers from Cyprus, Anatolia, and Egypt to Palestine and Amurru were destroyed or severely damaged. Entire ethnic groups disappeared. Thus concluded what archaeologists call the Late Bronze Age, the last major segment of the Bronze Age itself. In […]

Jerusalem Flourishing—A Craft Center for Stone, Pottery, and Glass

If Jerusalem is famous for one thing, it is for being a religious center. But our interest in the Holy Cities lies also in its everyday life, of which so little is known. Recent investigations revealed that in ancient times, especially in the late Second Temple period (50 B.C.–70 A.D.), various arts and crafts, such […]

Excavation Opportunities 1983

You’ve been digging in the hot sun since dawn. Your muscles ache. Suddenly, your trowel strikes something hard. You call your area supervisor to watch as you gently brush away more dirt until an entire jar handle appears. The supervisor records your find in the expedition log. Then you pick up the handle and […]

Bronze Bull Found in Israelite “High Place” from the Time of the Judges

When he found it, Ofer Broshi was on army duty. Army life can be exhausting or boring—or sometimes both. At that moment, Broshi, a rugged young kibbutznik, was more bored than tired. He was resting on the summit of a hill in northern Samaria, above the ancient road connecting the Biblical towns of Dothan […]

A Visit with Ahilud
A revealing look at village life when Israel first settled the Promised Land By Joseph A. Callaway

I first learned of Ahilud in 1969. I had been director of excavations at the ancient site of Ai, the second city taken by the Israelites when they entered Canaan, according to the book of Joshua (Joshua 7–8). I had been working at Ai since 1964, and our field work was nearly finished. We […]

Herod’s Family Tomb in Jerusalem
Archaeological clues suggest monumental structure resembles Augustus’s tomb in Rome By Ehud Netzer

We have not found Herod’s tomb, but we have examined a structure that may be Herod’s family tomb. It is not at Herodium but is in Jerusalem itself opposite the Damascus Gate, the most elaborate entrance to the Old City. As with Herodium, my interest in the Jerusalem structure at first had nothing to […]

Whither ASOR?
Identity crisis over Biblical archaeology afflicts scholarly organization By Hershel Shanks

To archaeologists, the acronym ASOR is as well-known as MASH is to a generation of television viewers. ASOR stands for American Schools of Oriental Research.a It is the premier organization of professional American archaeologists whose scholarly interests focus on the Near East—what in other times might have been called the lands of the Bible. […]

Jerusalem in Flames—The Burnt House Captures a Moment in Time

We came upon it suddenly, in the very first year of our excavations. At that time we had not yet excavated a single house that had witnessed the catastrophe of 70 A.D., when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. We were still emotionally unprepared for the impressions and associations raised by the prospect before us. In subsequent […]

Ur and Jerusalem Not Mentioned in Ebla Tablets, Say Ebla Expedition Scholars

According to Genesis 11:28–31, Abraham was born in the city of Ur. Contrary to earlier reports, the name Ur does not appear in the mid-third millennium cuneiform tablets uncovered at the ancient city of Ebla, now in Syria. That is the latest word from Ebla’s Italian team of archaeologists and epigraphers, who toured the United […]

Schaub Resigns as Essay Judge
Cites BAR’s slander of Jordan

Professor R. Thomas Schaub of Indiana University of Pennsylvania has resigned as a judge in BAR’s Biblical Archaeology Essay Contest. Schaub’s resignation arrived in August, less than a month before the entry deadline. The contest will be judged by the remaining two judges, Professor Menahem Mansoor of the University of Wisconsin and Professor Kenneth G. […]

Of Hems and Tassels
Rank, authority and holiness were expressed in antiquity by fringes on garments By Jacob Milgrom

In the book of Numbers, the Lord speaks to the Israelites through his servant Moses and commands them to wear tassels (or tsitsit) on the corners of their garments. The tassels must include a blue thread. The Biblical passage reads as follows: “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelite people and […]

Tom Crotser Has Found the Ark of the Covenant—Or Has He?
False report of ark sighting results in cancellation of important American excavation

Anyone assessing Tom Crotser’s claim that he has found the original Ark of the Covenant in all its gilded glory must surely exercise caution in light of Crotser’s additional claims to having previously located the Tower of Babel, Noah’s Ark, the City of Adam, and the great stone of Abel, where the son of […]

How Moses Turned a Staff into a Snake and Back Again

Something happened to me not long ago that may explain a bit of Moses’s magic. I wonder if your readers have any new light to shed on this natural explanation for a Biblical “miracle.” As BAR readers will no doubt recall, when Moses and Aaron his spokesman confront Pharaoh and ask him to allow […]

Gudea of Lagash Ends Long Journey
Statue from Iraq acquired by Detroit Institute of Arts By Suzanne F. Singer

Sometimes an archaeological discovery permits us to glimpse the soul of an ancient man—to “see” one person who loved, hated, inspired fear or respect. When the discovery is a work of art, fashioned by a gifted pair of unknown hands thousands of years ago, it is a precious legacy, one that no quantity of […]