Fragments from the Book of Balaam Found at Deir Alla
Text foretells cosmic disaster By André Lemaire

The date was March 17, 1967, a Friday. A Dutch expedition led by Professor Henk J. Franken of the University of Leiden was excavating a mound named Tell Deir Alla in the middle Jordan Valley, east of the river, in Jordan. The site lay halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead […]

The Southern Sinai Exodus Route in Ecological Perspective

Tradition locates quite precisely in southern Sinai a number of places associated with the Israelites’ history: the burning bush where Moses heard God’s call (Exodus 3:2–4), identified with a raspberry plant growing in the yard of St. Catherine’s Monastery; Horeb, where the prophet Elijah found refuge (1 Kings 19:8), identified with Jebel Sufsafeh next […]

The City of David After Five Years of Digging
Yigal Shiloh releases preliminary report on excavations in oldest inhabited area of Jerusalem By Hershel Shanks

Thirty-one pages is a slim product for five years of excavation—even if it is only a preliminary report. So it has been said of the text of Yigal Shiloh’s reporta on his excavations in the City of David, the oldest inhabited area of Jerusalem. The criticism, however, is unjustified—not because there are also four […]

Patriarchal Burial Site Explored for First Time in 700 Years
Twelve-year-old girl lowered into Cave of Machpelah By Nancy Miller

Ma‘arat Ha-Machpelah, the cave of Machpelah, where the Bible says Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah are buried, is one of the best-known but least-explored sites in the entire Holy Land. For centuries Jewish, Moslem and Christian pilgrims have wended their way to Hebron, but few have plumbed the cave’s subterranean mysteries. Above […]

Doings at Digs

From taking the first level to dumping the final load of debris, volunteers contribute hours of labor for every important find.

Elie Borowski Seeks a Home for His Collection

Eliechish, his brothers called him. Elie the dreamer. He does not deny it; he is a dreamer. Today he is 71 years old and still dreaming. One of Elie Borowski’s dreams is 20 years old. Whether it will ever be realized is still an open question. He tries to suppress his anger and frustration, […]

Wanted: Volunteers
Choose your site, your dates and your historical period

Do you want to do more than just read about the archaeology of the Holy Land? Do the pictures in BAR make you wish you had a trowel and a brush and a chance to expose a pot, a wall or an inscribed sherd that’s been buried for 3,000 years? If you’re in good […]

Treasures from the Lands of the Bible

Elie Borowski survived his personal losses and the collective tragedy of Jews in World War II with a belief that humankind can “best achieve ethical and spiritual fulfillment by becoming conscious of its historical origins.”

Lighting the Way Through History
The evolution of ancient oil lamps By Varda Sussman

043 No one knows who invented the oil lamp or exactly when it happened. Did this idea of how to control fire evolve slowly, or was it a sudden inspiration that entered the mind of an ordinary person who then continued to lead a quite ordinary life?

Excavation Tactics and Strategy
Looking at a dig from a director’s viewpoint

BAR’s January/February issue traditionally contains a catalogue of exciting opportunities for inexperienced as well as experienced volunteers who want to participate in archaeological excavations. An article describing a volunteer’s experience on a dig is usually part of that annual BAR tradition.a This year, however, we’re going to look at the dig from the director’s […]

Has Mt. Sinai Been Found?

I first came upon the mountain in 1955, when I was conducting an archaeological survey in the Negev on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities. My specific interest was the virtually unknown rock art of the area—figures and signs engraved by ancient people on rocks. When I published Palestine Before the Hebrews (New […]

Strange’s Laws of Archaeological Excavation
New evidence for Murphy’s Law—if something can go wrong, it will By James F. Strange

Laws In Tell Archaeology 1. No matter where you sink the first square,a you will find a Turkish toilet. 2. If three Ph.D.s with 39 years of field experience among them lay out the grid, it will later turn out to be irretrievably in error. Corollary: The error will not be found until the […]

Ancient Ivory—The Story of Wealth, Decadence and Beauty

The interplay between archaeology and the Bible is perhaps nowhere better illustrated than in the subject of ivory. The Bible helps us to understand the archaeological artifacts, and the archaeological artifacts help us to understand the Bible. In the Bible, we are told of King 042Solomon’s ivory throne (1 Kings 10:18; 2 Chronicles 9:17) […]

Ancient Seafarers Bequeath Unintended Legacy
Rockefeller Museum displays underwater finds By Osnat Misch-Brandl

Underwater archaeology, no longer in its infancy, is rapidly becoming a youth. A current exhibition by the Israel Museum at Jerusalem’s Rockefeller Museum of recent finds recovered from Israel’s coast illustrates this growth. As Israel was an ancient land bridge between Asia and Africa, so it was a sea bridge among Mediterranean ports. Vast […]

The Problem of Ai
New theory rejects the battle as described in the Bible but explains how the story evolved By Ziony Zevit

The problem of Ai is simply stated. The Bible tells us that an important battle in the Israelite conquest of Canaan occurred at Ai. After being defeated by the Canaanites of Ai once, the Israelites launched a second attack on Ai; this time they were victorious, destroying both the city and its inhabitants. However, […]

Has Joshua’s Altar Been Found on Mt. Ebal?

To appreciate fully the significance of the unique altar and cult center we are excavating on Mt. Ebal, one must first understand the archaeological context in which these discoveries were made. We found the altar and cult center, not in the course of excavating a tell, but in the course of conducting an archaeological […]

Should the Exodus and the Israelite Settlement Be Redated?

On the surface, the radical redating of the Exodus and the Israelite conquest of Canaan proposed by Emmanuel Anati in the accompanying article, “Has Mt. Sinai Been Found?” is very attractive. It solves problems, there is no doubt. The question is, does it create other problems even more difficult than those it solves? Professor […]

Lord Kingsborough Lost His Fortune Trying to Prove the Maya Were Descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes

In 837, Edward King, Viscount of Kingsborough, sat languishing in a Dublin debtor’s prison, sick and impoverished. He had spent his entire fortune and was suffering from typhus. Within a month, he would die in prison at the age of 42. He had, some would say, squandered his patrimony in publishing a series of […]

Traveling Companion: A Guide to Guidebooks

When God said to Abraham lech lecha: “Get thee out of thy country … unto the land that I will show thee” (Genesis 12:1), the Lord acted as the first known guide. Abraham then “departs” out of Haran, “passes through” Shechem, “pitches his tent” south of Beth El, and “journeys” to Egypt and […]

You Too Can Read Hieroglyphics

Speaking Egyptian is tough—impossible, really. Even Egyptians can’t do it. As in other modern Arab countries, Egyptians today speak Arabic.

Was the Site of the Jerusalem Temple Originally a Cemetery?

Stylistic and architectural similarities between the cave of Machpelah enclosure at Hebron and the Temple Mount enclosure in Jerusalem have been clearly demonstrated by Nancy Miller in “Patriarchal Burial Site Explored for First Time in 700 Years.” I would like to suggest another similarity between the two sites at Hebron and Jerusalem. Originally, in […]

The Fortresses King Solomon Built to Protect His Southern Border
String of desert fortresses uncovered in Central Negev By Rudolph Cohen

An enormous number of Iron Age fortresses have been uncovered in the Central Negev, especially in recent years. The question is, what are they doing here? The answer depends in large part on who built them. And to determine who built them, we need to know as precisely as possible when they were built. […]

Crucifixion—The Archaeological Evidence

From ancient literary sources we know that tens of thousands of people were crucified in the Roman Empire. In Palestine alone, the figure ran into the thousands. Yet until 1968 not a single victim of this horrifying method of execution had been uncovered archaeologically. In that year I excavated the only victim of crucifixion […]

Daniel and Belshazzar in History

The party was in full swing, the wine flowed freely, and everyone felt on top of the world. There was no power on earth to rival Babylon, and no gods in heaven to equal hers.

Challenge to Sun-Worship Interpretation of Temple Scroll’s Gilded Staircase

In “The Case of the Gilded Staircase,” BAR 10:05, Professor Morton Smith attempts to prove that the Temple envisioned by the Essenes had a gilded staircase to reach the roof of the Temple where members of the Dead Sea sect worshipped the sun. As can be expected from Smith’s well-attested erudition, his contribution is […]