A Yearlong Celebration

This issue inaugurates our participation in the 3,000th anniversary celebration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The mayor of Jerusalem has officially proclaimed 1996 as the year to mark the anniversary. Certainly the 3,000th anniversary of King David’s capture of Jerusalem—after which the city became known as the City of David—should not […]

A Short History of BAR

Talk about vision. I certainly had none when I started BAR. It began almost by accident, as an avocation. If I had any fixed notion, it was that it would be a magazine of ideas, not pictures. Excavations in Israel were full of stones, not gold. That’s why the first issue of BAR (BAR […]

Spirituality in the Desert: Judean Wilderness Monasteries

In 966, the English scholar Derwas J. Chitty located 25 monasteries in the Judean desert east of Jerusalem, many known only from then-recent explorations.1 Today the number exceeds 60.2 The past decade has witnessed a veritable revolution in the study of these Judean desert monasteries. This is the result mainly of the work of […]

The Garden of Gethsemane: Not the Place of Jesus’ Arrest

When visitors to Jerusalem are shown a large cave called “Gethsemane” on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives, they usually give a perfunctory look and hurry on to the famous Garden of Gethsemane, the small garden of olive trees adjacent to the Church of All Nations. Here pilgrims can sit and reflect […]

Between a Rock and a High Place

“History is bunk,” said Henry Ford, who thought of the future, and only the future, as an unfolding adventure.

Scholars Speak Out

What is Biblical archaeology’s greatest achievement? What is Biblical archaeology’s greatest failure? What is Biblical archaeology’s greatest challenge? BAR asked a wide variety of scholars to answer these three questions. Their replies appear below.

Jerusalem Down Under: Tunneling Along Herod’s Temple Mount Wall

Between 1968 and 1982 and from 1985 to the present, Israel’s Ministry of Religious Affairs has exposed over 900 feet of the western wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by digging a tunnel underneath the structures above. During much of that time I was the Israel Antiquities Authority’s District Archaeologist for Jerusalem. […]

Martyrius: Lavish Living for Monks

Four miles east of Jerusalem on a hilltop in the Judean desert on the road to Jericho sits Ma‘ale Adummim, a modern city of over 20 thousand people. In its midst is one of the largest, most important and most elaborate ancient monasteries in the Holy Land—the monastery of the fifth-century monk Martyrius.1 We […]

10 Great Finds

When BAR’s editors invited me to prepare a list of significant finds for the 20th anniversary issue, I thought the task would be easy. I had already been developing the forthcoming BAS Slide Set on the Hebrew Bible and archaeology, so I figured I could easily cull 10 slides from these. But as I […]

Prize Find: Priestly Blessing of a Voyage
Recovery of a harbor scene at Dor By Ephraim Stern

Part of a Persian period pit produced a perplexing prize find. It was discovered at the end of our 13th season (1993) at Tel Dor.a Persian period pits (fifth-fourth century B.C.E.) are ubiquitous in Palestinian tells. Why, just at this time, it was so popular to dig pits is not clear. But they […]

How BAR Changed My Life

When we announced our 20th Anniversary issue last summer, we wanted to be sure to include our readers in the celebration. We asked those of you who have been with us from the very beginning to let us know what BAR has meant to you. We also asked to hear from people whose lives […]

Did the Ark Stop at Elephantine?

Was the Ark of the Covenant taken from Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem during the reign of King Manasseh in the seventh century B.C.E. to an island called Elephantine in the Nile River? Was it housed there in a Jewish temple much like the one King Solomon built?

Royal Signature: Name of Israel’s Last King Surfaces in a Private Collection

The name of the northern kingdom of Israel’s last king has turned up on a beautiful seal from the eighth century B.C.E.! Although the seal did not belong to the king himself, it was the property of one of his high-ranking ministers. The king is Hoshea (HWSû‘ in Hebrew; the same name as that […]

The Death of a Discipline

As readers of BAR may know, I have long maintained a principle of not writing articles for the magazine, although I remain good friends with editor Hershel Shanks, and I do assist with slide sets, seminars, tours and the Biblical Archaeology Society’s various educational enterprises. My reluctance to give direct approval to BAR, […]

Cherubim: God’s Throne?

Abstract or metaphysical thinking was alien to the world of the ancient Near East. Philosophy as we know it was introduced by the Greeks in an unprecedented flowering in the fifth century B.C.E. Although ancient man understood concepts like omnipotence and omniscience, he did not express them in philosophical terms. Instead, he did so […]

Readers Speak Out

One thing is sure from the results of our reader survey: BAR readers are independent-minded people. They pick and choose, making up their own minds. But, as attested by the fact that they continue to subscribe, they like to read and sift arguments even when they disagree. And they are not overly impressed with the conclusions of so-called experts.

The Patriarchal Age: Myth or History?
The Biblical data match objective facts from the ancient world in an almost uncanny way, establishing the general reliability of Biblical time periods. By Kenneth A. Kitchen

Over a century ago, the great would-be reconstructor of early Israelite history, Julius Wellhausen, claimed that “no historical knowledge” of the patriarchs could be gotten from Genesis. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were merely a “glorified mirage” from later Hebrew history, projected back in time.1 Then between the 1940s and 1960s, such scholars as William […]

BAR Dig Scholarships

BAR is again offering travel scholarships to individuals who wish to volunteer on a dig. After receiving a record number of applications last year, we awarded four scholarships. Our winners were Pamela Francis, a master’s student at Loyola University in New Orleans; Susan Vida Grubisha, a graduate student of religion at Wake Forest University; […]

From Death to Resurrection: The Early Evidence

This article will examine a remarkable but little-known Punic/Phoenician funerary monument from Pozo Moro, Spain. Behind it lie complex cultural influences, including some connections with the Biblical prophet Ezekiel and his vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37). At opposite ends of the Mediterranean Sea, Spain and Canaan lie more than a […]

Before History: The Golan’s Chalcolithic Heritage

This is the story of an archaeological adventure that began over 20 years ago in the Golan. It continues even today.

How Mute Stones Speak: Interpreting What We Dig Up

The common romantic image of the archaeologist—a discoverer clearing his way through the jungle to explore ruined cities and temples or crawling into mysterious tombs full of ancient gold and spells—belies reality, of course. Modern archaeology is about interpretation as much as discovery. True, the archaeologist’s prime tasks are excavation and collection of […]

A BAR Special Report: Archaeology Thriving in Saudi Arabia

Only since the 1960s has there been a department of antiquities and museums in Saudi Arabia. But in the last two decades—the lifetime of BAR—we have made enormous progress, placing the archaeology of Arabia in the wider context of ancient near eastern history. In 1976 we began a comprehensive archaeological survey of the country. […]

Of Cherubim and Gospel Symbols

The lion, eagle, ox and man of Ezekiel’s vision re-emerge in early Christian art as the standard symbols of the authors of the four New Testament Gospels. In his famous vision, the prophet Ezekiel describes four cherubim, each with four faces—of a human being, a lion, an ox and an eagle; each with four […]

Did King Jehu Kill His Own Family?
New interpretation reconciles Biblical text with famous Assyrian inscription By Tammi Schneider

One of the most dramatic finds ever made relating to the Bible is the famous Black Obelisk of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (ruled 858–824 B.C.E.), excavated by Austen Henry Layard at Nimrud in 1846 and now prominently displayed in the British Museum. The four-sided limestone monument is decorated with five registers of relief […]

Ferment in Byzantine Studies

For more than 50 years, Dumbarton Oaks, the prestigious Byzantine study center in Washington, D.C. run by Harvard University, has held an annual conference of Byzantine scholars from all over the world. This year’s conference,a for the first time in more than a decade, focused primarily on the archaeology of Palestine and Transjordan in […]

Sprucing Up for Jerusalem’s 3,000th Anniversary

Jerusalem will celebrate its 3,000th anniversary as the capital of Israel in 1996. The tri-millennium began with King David’s capture of the city from the Canaanite Jebusites, as recorded in the Bible (2 Samuel 5:6–9 and 1 Chronicles 11:4–8).

From Camels to Computers: A Short History of Archaeological Method

Professional archaeologists are often amused by the popular image many people have of us as fearless adventurers, dashing from one exciting escapade to another like Indiana Jones. Little do they know that our work is often conducted in dusty, out-of-the-way places that hold little interest to anyone but us. Until very recently, our […]

Long-Winded in the Windy City

“Overwhelming” is the only word to describe the 1994 Annual Meeting,a where 7,500 scholars attended more than 700 presentations. Imagine jumping into a huge wave high above your head, extending for miles along the shore on either side. Imagine trying to embrace it, and you will understand the feeling of someone trying to encompass […]

Is This King David’s Tomb?

Can a reasonable case be made that this is King David’s tomb?

Finding Historical Memories in the Patriarchal Narratives

The search for the historical patriarchs of Genesis has taken some dizzying turns in the last half-century. From the 1940s through the 1960s, scholars proclaimed that the patriarchal age of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph had been found among the mass of new archaeological data recovered from the second millennium B.C.E. In the […]

“House of David” Is There!

BAR recently published an article by Philip R. Davies in which he claims that the now famous six letters of the Tel Dan inscription, bytdwd, do not mean “the House of David” after all.a The tone and content of the article are an impassioned bashing of those “Biblical Maximizers” who read into archaeological finds […]

From the Good Book to the Good Disk

Gutenberg would be proud. In about 1456, his invention, the printing press, put Bible knowledge into the hands of laypeople. Now, nearing the end of the 20th century, print products of all types are taking electronic form on diskette, CD-ROM, commercial online services and the international Internet. Some of the best products—in the […]

Did a Letter to BAR End a Cornell Graduate Student’s Career?

A letter to the editor of BAR is now at the center of a controversy at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York. At issue is whether the letter led to the dismissal of a graduate student because it was considered inappropriate. “I told him not to send it,” admits Professor David I. Owen, chairman […]

Thebes, Egypt
Fayum, Egypt
Assyria (Iraq)
Carthage (Tunis, Tunisia)
South Italy