Sand, Sun, Fun—A Guide to Digs in 2000

Can you dig it? You bet! Archaeology is a volunteer’s dream, with anyone and everyone welcome to take part in an excavation. Are you a college student? Come dig for credit! Do you teach nine months a year? Spend your summer getting your hands dirty. Are you retired and looking for an adventurous vacation? […]

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (in Bologna, Italy)

Should you want to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, don’t go to Jerusalem.1 The Jerusalem church will just confuse you. The modern pilgrim, expecting to see the sites of Jesus’ Crucifixion, Entombment and Resurrection, usually comes away from the church in Jerusalem more perplexed than reassured. Questions of authenticity mix with general […]

More Temple Mount Antiquities Destroyed
A personal view By Suzanne F. Singer

Large-scale illegal construction on the Temple Mount and wholesale dumping of earth in the nearby Kidron Valley resumed this spring. The construction, which is being undertaken by the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust responsible for the Mount, is the continuation of work begun last winter to open what was supposed to be simply an […]


Is the Bible historically reliable? For many believers it’s a shocking question; for many scholars it’s a naïve query. There was a time, within memory, when the dominant academic view was not far removed from popular perceptions. Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark may have been beyond the reach of historical inquiry, but everything […]

How Jewish Was Sepphoris in Jesus’ Time?

Sepphoris is a bare 4 miles from Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth. So it is not surprising that the ancient city has become central to the study of the historical Jesus, especially because it has been very extensively excavated, while Nazareth has yielded far fewer archaeological remains. Everyone agrees that to understand Galilee in Jesus’ […]

The New ‘Ain Dara Temple: Closest Solomonic Parallel

A stunning parallel to Solomon’s Temple has been discovered in northern Syria.1 The temple at ‘Ain Dara has far more in common with the Jerusalem Temple described in the Book of Kings than any other known building. Yet the newly excavated temple has received almost no attention in this country, at least partially […]

Guide to Sites

We’re proud to present the Year 2000 guide to excavations that need volunteers. Learn about the history of each site, who’s doing the work and what their plans are for the coming summer. The contact information for each site appears on the chart on pages 40–43. But if you aren’t sure you want to […]

The Missing Millennium in Jerusalem’s Archaeology

What happened to tenth-century B.C. Jerusalem? This has been the focus of much recent scholarly attention and has engaged BAR readers as well.a The tenth century was the time of the United Monarchy of Israel, the glory days of King David and his son King Solomon. For Biblical minimalists, however, who deny any historicity […]

What Separates a Minimalist from a Maximalist? Not Much

Last October, an academic conference was held at Northwestern University, outside of Chicago, on the Origins of the Jewish People and Contemporary Biblical Scholarship. The event, a Philip M. and Ethel Klutznik symposium and lecture, was supported by the United Jewish Federation of Chicago and Northwestern’s Jewish studies program. Among the invited speakers […]

2,700-Year-Old Tower Found?

Life goes on in Jerusalem. And so does excavation. BAR readers will recall the eighth-century B.C. wall built by King Hezekiah of Judah to protect the city from an attack by Sennacherib of Assyria, which was recently discovered by Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron on the eastern flank of the City of David.a Surviving […]

Jerusalem as Eden

For ancient Israel, the Temple of Solomon—indeed, the Temple Mount and all Jerusalem—was a symbol as well as a reality, a mythopoeic realization of heaven on earth, Paradise, the Garden of Eden. After King David’s conquest of Jerusalem, the site became the “City of David.” But it was much more than the patrimony of […]

Save Us from Postmodern Malarkey

There are some who claim that the Bible contains little or no historical information about ancient Israel. I want to combat these “minimalist” or “revisionist” views of the history of ancient Israel by showing how archaeology can and does illuminate a historical Israel in the Iron Age of ancient Palestine (roughly 1200–600 B.C.E.). I […]

What’s an Egyptian Temple Doing in Jerusalem?

Recent attacks on the historicity of the United Monarchy of David and Solomon (in the tenth century B.C.) have focused on the scant archaeological remains that have been discovered in Jerusalem. Based on this, some scholars have charged that there was no significant settlement in Jerusalem during the time of the United Monarchy, […]

Can You Understand This?

We try to expose our readers to various scholarly viewpoints, even though we do not always agree with them. We have confidence in our readers’ ability to make up their own minds. It is in that spirit that we have tried to present the case of the Biblical revisionists, or Biblical minimalists, or as […]

Sacrilegious Neglect

Jerusalem boasts a new multimillion-dollar archaeological park. We recently reviewed a beautiful new guidebook devoted to this popular park.a Yet steps away from the path prescribed in this guidebook, in the heart of the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem, is a rarely visited and poorly maintained 2,000-year-old mikveh, or ritual purity […]

Abraham’s Ur: Is the Pope Going to the Wrong Place?

Pope John Paul II is planning a millennium pilgrimage in 2000 that will take him to Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Sinai—and Iraq! Why Iraq? Because that is where the patriarch Abraham was born—at Ur. But wait a minute. The Pope may be going to the wrong Ur. Perhaps he should be going to Turkey. More […]

Will Tel Rehov Save the United Monarchy?

In the shadow of Mt. Gilboa in the northern Jordan Valley stands one of Israel’s largest, most important archaeological sites—and, until recently, one of the least known. Yet there is nothing hidden or obscure about the site. Indeed, Tel Rehov is hard to miss. The mound stands out prominently just 1,500 feet east […]

Bringing Water to Sepphoris

I first learned of Sepphoris’s ancient water system in 1975 from a local resident named Buki. He told me about a huge underground cavern three stories high and stretching more than two football fields long. It sounded to me a little like a flight of fancy. “When I see it, I’ll believe it,” I […]

Idol Pleasures

Perhaps it would be dangerous to mount an exhibit of idols in Jerusalem. So the Bible Lands Museum calls its latest exhibit “The Human Form Divine.” The show consists of nearly 200 figurines from the private collection of super-collector Elie Borowski, who, together with his wife Batya, created (and largely financed) this gem of […]


Was Sepphoris a Jewish city in the first century C.E.? Mark Chancey and Eric Meyers put forth their view earlier in this issue (“How Jewish Was Sepphoris in Jesus’ Time?”). One of their key pieces of evidence is the presence in the city of a number of stepped pools, which they claim are mikva’ot, […]

Restore the Roman Temple at Kedesh

If you want to observe the latest scientific techniques being applied in a live excavation and, five minutes later, experience what it was like to explore the Holy Land in the 19th century, before archaeology touched it and ancient sites simply lay in ruins, then go to Kedesh, in northern Israel, just south of […]

Abraham’s Ur: Did Woolley Excavate the Wrong Place?

The ancient woodwork has perished, the metal has been stripped from the walls,” Sir Leonard Woolley wrote in 1936. “The ruins which excavation lays bare are but skeletons from which the skin and flesh have gone, and to re-create them in imagination we must use such evidence as the ruins may afford, eked […]

The Sepphoris Synagogue Mosaic
Abraham, the Temple and the sun god—they’re all in there By Zeev Weiss

Sepphoris—“the ornament of all Galilee”1—is a city of mosaics. It seems that wherever excavators dig they turn up mosaics. More than 40 mosaic floors, many of them extremely elaborate, have been uncovered to date. BAR readers are already familiar with the mosaic scene that features the lovely woman known as the “Mona Lisa of […]

The Babylonian Gap
The Assyrians impressed their culture on Israel … the Babylonians left no trace By Ephraim Stern

The Assyrians and Babylonians both ravaged large parts of ancient Israel, yet the archaeological evidence from the aftermath of their respective conquests tells two very different stories. Why? In 721 B.C.E., the Assyrians brought an end to the northern kingdom of Israel. A little more than a century later, the Assyrians themselves suffered defeat […]

They’re Not Ritual Baths

One sure sign that religiously observant Jews inhabited a site from the turn of the era is the presence of ritual immersion pools (mikva’ot; singular, mikveh).

Yes, They Are

Hanan Eshel attempts to discredit the identification of mikva’ot at Sepphoris,1 but he also suggests that first-century C.E. Sepphoris, in the time of Jesus, was both a pagan and a Jewish city. This has been the subject of much discussion and debate among the excavators as the article “How Jewish Was Sepphoris in Jesus’ […]

Bethsaida Rediscovered
Long-lost city found north of Galilee shore By Rami Arav, Richard A. Freund, John F. Shroder Jr.

Bethsaida is the town that disappeared. Soon after playing a prominent role in the Gospels—Bethsaida is mentioned more often in the New Testament than any city except Jerusalem and Capernaum—this fishing village on the Sea of Galilee simply became lost to history. Early Christian pilgrims went in search of it, but they had no […]

The Debate Goes On

Longtime BAR readers know that we keep returning to the question of where on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount ancient Israel’s sacred Temple stood. Perhaps it’s because there’s just enough evidence to bring a persuasive answer within reach, but not enough to put the matter definitively to rest. In a two-part article last year (“Sacred […]

We Need More Data

We have no idea what percentage of Sepphoris’s population was Jewish during the first century C.E. As a religious Jew, I would be very happy to find that the city’s ancient Jewish inhabitants kept the kosher laws (dietary regulations) and the purity laws, including immersion in a mikveh. But because of the lack of convincing data, I am skeptical of the second point.

Ritmeyer Responds to Jacobson

David Jacobson’s theory regarding the shape of Herod’s Temple Mount and the placement of the Temple within it draws heavily on Roman architectural practice. The Romans were particularly fond of symmetrical structures, as Jacobson rightly points out. But he fails to note that this heavy tilt towards symmetry usually occurred when a structure was […]

Against the Tide: An Interview with Maverick Scholar Cyrus Gordon

Cyrus Gordon is a scholar of enormous range. His bibliography of more than 35 books and 350 articles is divided into over 20 categories, focusing largely on linguistics and social history. Among them are Aramaic-Syriac-Mandaic studies, art and archaeology of the Near East, Assyriology, Biblical studies, Egypto-Semitic studies, Minoan, and Phoenician and Hebrew inscriptions. […]

How Reliable Is Exodus?

Recent attacks on the historicity of the Exodus raise the question of whether or not a text prepared long after the event is likely to be historically accurate. For it is undoubtedly true that the text of Exodus was prepared centuries after the events it describes. The Exodus would have occurred, in archaeological terms, […]

Kaufman Responds to Jacobson

My friend David Jacobson is to be congratulated on his two-part article on Herod’s Temple Mount. His overall view of the Mount and his incisive use of comparative architecture are commendable. I am grateful to him for reminding readers about the location of the Temple. Jacobson also deserves praise for his insistence that, even […]

Abraham’s Ur—Is the Pope Going to the Wrong Place?

We inadvertently printed an incorrect draft of this article in our January/February 2000 issue. The correct text follows:

Tell Brak, Northeast Syria
Kameiros, Rhodes
Trundholm, Denmark
Perachora, Greece
Rome, Italy
Attica, Greece