Excavating in the Shadow of the Temple Mount

It should have been the jewel in Israel’s archaeological crown. In fact, Israel’s excavation of the area adjacent to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, on the south and southwest sides of the sacred precinct, has been the subject of continuing controversy and criticism. Excavation results have been spectacular, true, but they fall short of what […]

Jerusalem Tombs from the Days of the First Temple
A few hundred yards from Damascus Gate and over the wall from the Garden Tomb, magnificent burial cave lies beneath a Dominican monastery. By Gabriel Barkay, Amos Kloner

Damascus Gate, the most important entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, fairly bustles with activity inside and out. Arab men in their robes and keffiyehs; Arab women in long embroidered dresses; priests from a dozen different Christian denominations, Eastern and Western, each with his distinctive gown or collar or hat; Orthodox Jews with long […]


These three extraordinary articles began when we read a technical paper in the obscure scholarly journal Numen. Titled “The Disappearance of the God-Fearers,” the paper was written by A. Thomas Kraabel, dean of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Kraabel is one of the most prominent specialists in Hellenistic Judaism and an expert in the archaeology of ancient synagogues.

Does the Holy Sepulchre Church Mark the Burial of Jesus?

Since 1960, the Armenian, the Greek and the Latin religious communities that are responsible for the care of the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem have been engaged in a joint restoration project of one of the most fascinating and complex buildings in the world. In connection with the restoration, they have undertaken extensive archaeological […]

Joshua’s Altar—An Iron Age I Watchtower

I vividly remember a hot day in late October 1982—October 27, to be exact—when, with two other archaeologists, I first visited Adam Zertal’s excavation on Mt. Ebal. Even then, during the first season of excavation, rumors had spread that Zertal had found “Joshua’s altar.” It seems that from the beginning Zertal really thought he […]

New Evidence May Explain Image on Shroud of Turin
Chemical tests link shroud to Jerusalem By Joseph A. Kohlbeck, Eugenia L. Nitowski

Even the skeptics have been unable to explain how the image on the Shroud of Turin was created. Moreover, modern science deepens, rather than allays, the mystery. If we knew less, we could assume more; we could suppose a host of easy answers—like painting. But the arsenals of modern science have done nothing […]

Herod’s Mighty Temple Mount
Archaeology vividly recreates bustle of pilgrims two thousand years ago By Meir Ben-Dov

Solomon’s temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. when they conquered Jerusalem. A half century later, the returning exiles, under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, built the Second Temple, a modest structure that gradually fell into disrepair. This temple was remodeled and rebuilt during the last quarter of the last […]

The God-Fearers: A Literary and Theological Invention

New testament scholars, both Jewish and Christian, have for years accepted the existence of a group of gentiles known as God-fearers. They were thought to be closely associated with the synagogue in the Book of Acts. Although they did not convert to Judaism, they were an integral part of the synagogue and provided […]

Ancient Gold Ring Depicts the Holy Sepulchre

A gold ring was found in 1974 in the excavations south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.a At the time, the suggestion that the ring depicted the Holy Sepulchre, or tomb of Jesus, met with considerable scholarly skepticism. The ring has never been studied or published. My own view is that the structure on […]

How Can Kempinski Be So Wrong!

Although Dr. Kempinski’s article begins with archaeology, it is quite obvious that his ideological attitude preceded his purely archaeological examination. His ideas about the dating of Deuteronomy and Joshua, together with his “new” ideas concerning how the Pentateuch was “corrected” by the Jews to refer to Mt. Ebal rather than, as the Samaritans originally […]

When the Priests Trumpeted the Onset of the Sabbath
A monumental Hebrew inscription from the ancient Temple Mount recalls the signal By Aaron Demsky

One of the most magnificent finds from the excavation adjacent to the Temple Mount—directed since 1968 by Professor Benjamin Mazar of the Hebrew University—is a monumental Hebrew inscription carved in stone. The eight-foot-long inscribed stone once graced the topmost pinnacle of the Temple Mount—where the priests announced the beginning and end of the […]

Jews and God-Fearers in the Holy City of Aphrodite

A quiet, fertile valley folded into the Mediterranean hills, clear streams, tall poplars, ancient ruins more than 1,400 years old—a picture of pastoral quiet. Twenty-five years ago Kenan T. Erim, archaeologist and art historian at New York University, decided that the site of the ancient Roman city of Aphrodisias had more to offer […]

Why the Moabite Stone Was Blown to Pieces
Ninth-century B.C. inscription adds new dimension to Biblical account of Mesha’s rebellion By Siegfried H. Horn

F. A. Klein was an Anglican minister, born in Alsace, who came to the Holy Land as a medical missionary in the mid-1800s. Although he lived in Jerusalem, he traveled widely on both sides of the Jordan, seeking to relieve pain and win converts. As a result of his work in Palestine, he spoke […]

BAR Interviews Avraham Eitan
Antiquities director confronts problems and controversies By Hershel Shanks

Hershel Shanks: Avi, I’m especially appreciative of this interview because over the years we’ve disagreed about many things, but we’ve remained friends, and we’ve always been able to talk about our differences. And that’s a very gratifying thing. You haven’t liked everything that’s appeared in BAR. But you once told me that it’s the […]

What Is a Good Bible Dictionary?

Since the 1960s Bible dictionaries have been appearing in record numbers. In 1985 the Society of Biblical Literature joined with Harper & Row in the production of one of the handsomest. The venture itself was noteworthy: A scholarly society worked out terms with a commercial publisher to share the production and the proceeds […]

The Omnipresence of the God-Fearers

Reverend MacLennan and Dean Kraabel have performed a real service by questioning the view, so commonly held, that in antiquity there was a large class of gentiles, the so-called God-fearers, who stood somewhere between paganism and Judaism.1 What we call God-fearers, as MacLennan and Kraabel recognize, actually refers to several Greek terms. In […]


If vegetating is your summer style, if you fancy yourself languishing on a strip of talcum-powder sand come June, then don’t read on. Because what follows are tips for the energetic and the imaginative—people looking for a challenge. Volunteering as an amateur archaeologist in Israel might give you a chance to uncover a building from the time of Joshua, a sherd that dates back to the reign of Solomon or a tool that could have been used by a contemporary of Jesus.

Solomon’s Negev Defense Line Contained Three Fewer Fortresses

In the May/June 1985 BAR,a I reported on a large number of Iron Age fortresses in the central Negev desert. I argued that these fortresses (more than 40), formed Solomon’s defense line on the south. Together with their associated settlements, they revealed a uniform fortification effort involving the systematic construction of substantial strongholds. Such […]

Rabbi Nelson Glueck: An Archaeologist’s Secret Life in the Service of the OSS

According to Winston Churchill, and few historians would dispute him, the turning point in World War II was the battle of El Alamein in the North African desert. Until then, the news had been almost all bad for Britain and her allies. It was to the battle at El Alamein that Churchill referred in […]


Tel Dan

From Ebla to Damascus: The Archaeology of Ancient Syria

Eight thousand years in the history of ancient Syria are on display in a magnificent exhibit that is touring six American cities.a Collected under the title “From Ebla to Damascus,” its objects vividly illustrate a sweep of civilizations ranging from the simple settlements of the Neolithic seventh millennium B.C. to the great Mesopotamian cultures […]

The Iron Age Sites in the Negev Highlands: Military Fortresses or Nomads Settling Down?

Rudolph Cohen’s redating of some of his “Solomonic fortresses” to the Persian period will not be enough to satisfy many scholars. Some will continue to question the date of the remaining fortresses Cohen dates to the tenth century B.C. But instead of lowering the date for those fortresses to the Persian period (538–332 B.C.), […]

The Garden Tomb: Was Jesus Buried Here?

First-time visitors to Jerusalem are often surprised to learn that two very different sites vie for recognition as the burial place of Jesus. One is, as its name implies, the Holy Sepulchre Church; it is located in a crowded area of the Christian Quarter inside the walled Old City. The other, known as the […]

Where Is Ezion-Geber? A Reappraisal of the Site Archaeologist Nelson Glueck Identified as King Solomon’s Red Sea Port

King Solomon built a fleet of ships at Ezion-Geber which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom … and they went to Ophir and brought from there gold … and they brought it to King Solomon” (1 Kings 9:26; see 2 Chronicles 8:11–18 for parallel passage). […]

Why King Mesha of Moab Sacrificed His Oldest Son

In his highly interesting article, “Why the Moabite Stone Was Blown to Pieces,” BAR 12:03, Professor Siegfried Horn recounts the ninth-century B.C. war between Moab and an alliance of Israel, Judah and Edom. When the alliance besieged the Moabite capital of Kir-Hareseth, the Moabite king Mesha, in desperation, sacrificed his eldest son to the […]

First-Hand: Digging at the Grass Roots Level

A ,000-year-old farm may not sound as exciting to excavate as a palace, but I found that exploring ancient agriculture was just as rewarding as digging up royal treasures. With volunteers from all over the world, my archaeological target was three ancient farms in a valley near Jerusalem. These farms were buried under silt, […]

Ancient Israelite Art Sparse in Impressive Show at Met

“Treasures of the Holy Land,” the Israel Museum’s exhibition of nearly 200 outstanding pieces, is being shown at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art through January 4, 1987. The exhibit is the largest and most important display of ancient art from Israel ever to travel abroad. Many of these world-famous artifacts have never before […]

The Garden Tomb and the Misfortunes of an Inscription

On November 7, 1889, the Northern Christian Advocate (Syracuse, New York) published a note from an anonymous correspondent in Jerusalem: “There are strange rumors afloat about an inscription found at St. Stephen’s [St. Étienne’s monastery] (north of Damascus Gate). It is said that the Romanists are anxious to hush up the discovery, as it […]

Shiloh Yields Some, But Not All, of Its Secrets
Location of Tabernacle still uncertain By Israel Finkelstein

In the first half of the 11th century B.C., Shiloh was one of the most important sites in the central mountain ridge that runs through the Land of Israel. Here was the sacred religious center of the Israelite population of the hill country. Here the Ark of the Covenant rested within the Tabernacle for […]

The Search for Roots—Israel’s Biblical Landscape Reserve

If archaeology is the search for roots, so is Neot Kedumim, The Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel. The one is figurative; the other is literal—for Neot Kedumim literally searches for the roots of the Bible in the realities of Israel’s nature landscape. The patriarchs, the judges, the kings and prophets of Israel, Jesus and […]

The Religious Message of the Bible
BAR interviews Père Benoit By Hershel Shanks

Hershel Shanks: Père Benoit, you are in a consummate way representative of the French in Jerusalem, or of the scholarly world of France in Jerusalem. Most people in the United States are not aware that so many different nationalities have their scholarly representatives in Jerusalem and have worked here for many, many years.