NASA does not ask the public to help them design rockets, particle physicists do not seek the aid of John or Jane Doe to operate their cyclotrons, and geneticists do not recruit enthusiastic lay people to assist in splicing genes. But every year Biblical archaeologists put out the call for volunteers to help them […]

Reconstructing Herod’s Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Herod the Great—master builder! Despite his crimes and excesses, no one can doubt his prowess as a builder.

What Should Be Done About the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls?

BAR’s article on the Dead Sea Scrolls scandal in the July/August issue (“Dead Sea Scrolls Scandal—Israel’s Department of Antiquities Joins Conspiracy to Keep Scrolls Secret,” BAR 15:04) focused worldwide attention on the fact that, more than 40 years after the discovery of the first scroll in a cave near the Dead Sea, scholars are […]

Dead Sea Scrolls Scandal—Israel’s Department of Antiquities Joins Conspiracy to Keep Scrolls Secret

They will never do it. They will never do it because they cannot do it. They have failed—utterly and completely. The time for equivocation, explanation and apology has passed. It is now time to face the situation squarely and unflinchingly: The team of scholars assigned more than 30 years ago to publish the Dead […]

The Synagogue at Meroth: Does It Fix Israel’s Northern Border in Second Temple Times?

Remains from more than a dozen ancient synagogues dot the landscape of Galilee. What makes the ancient synagogue at Meroth (May-ROTE) unusual is not only the rich finds uncovered in its excavation, but the face that so much about this synagogue seems to fly in the face of widely accepted scholarly generalizations. Until recently, […]

Does the Bible Exaggerate King Solomon’s Golden Wealth?

Those who read the Biblical text and make a subjective judgment as to its reliability often conclude—and understandably so—that the descriptions of Solomon’s gold are gross exaggerations. The quantity of gold the Bible claims for King Solomon is simply unbelievable, even unimaginable! Take, for example, the Jerusalem Temple that Solomon built for Israel’s […]

Digging in ’89


A Pilgrim’s Journey

Jerusalem is bathed in the clear light of early morning. A pilgrim has come for one of the great festivals, and his journey is almost over. He begins the ascent from the Siloam Pool at the bottom part of the Lower City. The sun is not yet casting its harsh glare on the stepped […]

What Happened to the Cult Figurines? Israelite Religion Purified After the Exile

Accidental discoveries of two pits containing cult figurines have led me to discern an extraordinary development in Israelite religious observance. This development occurred when the Jews returned from the Babylonian Exile in the sixth to fifth centuries B.C. The first discovery took place in the opening season of our excavations at Tel Dor, on […]

Quarrying and Transporting Stones for Herod’s Temple Mount

Herod’s construction in the Temple Mount area, like the construction of most of Jerusalem’s buildings, used local limestone.

Royal Gateway to Ancient Jerusalem Uncovered

Dedicated to the memory of Professor Yigal Shiloh. The love and devotion he brought to the discovery of ancient Jerusalem will continue to inspire us for many years to come.

Reconstructing the Triple Gate

Reconstructing the Triple Gate required that we answer three principal questions. What was the gate’s original width? Was it originally a double gate or a triple gate? For whom was it built? The discovery of a vault in front of the Triple Gate—about 23 feet south of the facade—gave us critical information for understanding […]

Prize Find: Tel Dan Scepter Head

“And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favor in his sight. And the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the scepter” (Esther 5:2). As we read in […]

New Hope for the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls

At long last, significant progress is being made to assure publication of the substantial batch of unpublished Dead Sea Scroll texts.a And we may soon learn just how substantial this batch is; finally, after more than three decades, a complete catalogue of the unpublished Dead Sea Scroll texts is being prepared. Unfortunately, the good […]

Is This Solomon’s Seaport?

In the Bible we are twice told that Solomon, with the help of the Phoenician king Hiram, built a fleet of ships that sailed from Ezion-Geber (ETZ-yon GEH-ver)a near Eloth (Ay-LOHT) on the Red Sea. We are now in a position, I believe, not only to understand the maritime background of this joint […]

Were the Ancient Egyptians Black or White?

A recent letter to the editor in BAR (Queries & Comments, BAR 15:03) objected to an advertisement for a doll of Queen Nefertiti that portrayed her as white-skinned. According to the letter writer, Nefertiti was “a beautiful black Egyptian Queen.” Moreover, “The Egyptians are a black race of people,” the reader asserted. Several readers’ […]

First Hand: A Poet at Ashkelon

Digging at Ashkelon It is not the dead that die, It is their whispers

How Are “BAR” and “BAS” Pronounced?

An old friend of my mother recently returned to Florida from an extended stay in California. One of the highlights of her trip to California, she reported to my mother, was some lectures by a Dr. Horn. Knowing that the distinguished professor and dean emeritus of Andrews University, Siegfried Horn, often lectured at BAS’s […]

The Rampant Rape of Israel’s Archaeological Sites

The scene was more like a moonscape than a landscape. Starlight highlighted the dark gaping holes of robbed-out tombs and collapsed underground chambers. These tombs and chambers were the reason we were here. They belonged to a necropolis in the Judean Hills that had been systematically plundered for months. We had never been able […]

Visualizing First Temple Jerusalem

Visitors to Jerusalem understandably are often confused by the jumbled and disconnected layers of the past that exist side by side with the teeming modern city. Jerusalem at the time of the First Temple—the Jerusalem of the Bible, the Jerusalem of Solomon, the Jerusalem whose Temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. and whose residents […]

Excavating in Samson Country—Philistines and Israelites at Tel Batash

The period from the time of the Judges to the end of the Israelite monarchy is known in archaeological terms as the Iron Age. It is subdivided into Iron I, the time of the Judges from about 1200 to 1000 B.C., and Iron II, the United and Divided Monarchy, from about 1000 to 586 […]

Hideouts in the Judean Wilderness
Jewish revolutionaries and Christian ascetics sought shelter and protection in cliffside caves By Joseph Patrich

More than three decades have passed since archaeologists and Bedouin prowled the caves of the Judean wilderness in search of ancient manuscripts and other remains. What occasioned this frenzied search was the stunning but accidental finding of the first Dead Sea Scrolls: In 1947 Bedouin shepherds came upon the scrolls in the caves of […]

How the Ancients De-Loused Themselves

The lowly louse has been harassing humankind for millennia. In the past few years we have been trying to locate the little critter archaeologically. Not only has our search for the louse itself been successful, but we have in the process even discovered an effective ancient delousing procedure. Ancient literature is full of references […]

A Workable Proposal to Regulate Antiquities Trade

Since 1967, more than 11,000 archaeological sites have been robbed within Israel’s pre-1967 borders, according to members of the Anti-Plundering Task Force of the Israel Department of Antiquities.a

At Least Publish the Dead Sea Scrolls Timetable!

A new timetable for the publication of still-secret Dead Sea Scroll fragments is being negotiated between Israel’s Department of Antiquities and the scholar-editors to whom publication was assigned 35 years ago. Fragments of approximately 400 different documents found in caves near the northwest shore of the Dead Sea remain unpublished and inaccessible to all […]

How I Found a Fourth-Century B.C. Papyrus Scroll on My First Time Out!

This is almost as much a personal story of luck and adventure as it is an archaeological story. It tells of my first dig—my own dig, that is—after graduating with a B.A. in archaeology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. My story will perhaps explain why, despite the scientific advances and the careful, methodical […]

A Pilgrimage to the Site of the Swine Miracle

Almost from the beginning of Christianity, the area around the Sea of Galilee has been a major focus of Christian pilgrimage, a focus second only to Jerusalem. To the Galilee flocked not only pilgrims, but also monks and scholars, searching for the places that Jesus had known. Sites such as Capernaum, the center of […]

The Song of Deborah—Why Some Tribes Answered the Call and Others Did Not

The Song of Deborah (Judges 5) is one of the most powerful pieces of poetry in the entire Bible. A prose version repeats the same story, with many variations, in Judges 4. The account tells of the deliverer (Judge) Deborah and her reluctant general Barak, who do battle against an alliance of Canaanite kings. […]

Dever Stars at Lackluster Annual Meeting

Let’s come out with it at the beginning. The archaeological presentations at the Annual Meetinga were, by and large, lackluster. There were notable exceptions, of course (some of which will be mentioned anon), but for the most part it was like counting grains of sand on some ancient beach. One person obviously cannot attend […]