John the Baptist’s Cave???
The Evidence Is Thin By Hershel Shanks

On August 17, 2004, the New York Times devoted an entire column in its A section to the discovery of a cave with a pool near Jerusalem that, it said, John the Baptist may have used to baptize early converts to what later became known as Christianity. The following day, Doubleday released a nearly […]

The Seventh Sample
IAA Report Shows Evidence for Authenticity of “Jesus” By Hershel Shanks

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) last summer declared the inscription on the James ossuary—which reads, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”—to be a fake.a Since then, however, both the reasoning and the conclusion of the IAA report have been widely attacked by experts.b And the members of the committee have not responded to […]

Vegas on the Med
A Tour of Caesareas’s Entertainment District By Yosef Porath

024 025 What city was the official residence of the Roman prefect after Judea came under direct rule by Rome beginning in 6 C.E.? What city was designated as capital of the Roman province of Judea after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 C.E? What city was the political and economic capital of […]

Lying Scholars?
Rumor, Gossip and Misinformation Swirl around the James Ossuary Inscription By Hershel Shanks

Intense scholarly disagreements are common in archaeology. Cases of deliberate lying, however, are rare. Is this such a case? If so, what is the motive? When I returned from the Annual Meetingsa in Atlanta last November, I penned my customary report for publication in the March/April issue.b (I have been doing this in […]


Many people may be turning their attention to the classical world of ancient Greece this August, when the Olympic Games convene in Athens, but those of you who sign on this summer as dig volunteers in Israel or Jordan may well find yourselves handling artifacts that 044were already ancient when the first Olympics were […]

Healing Waters
The Social World of Hot Springs in Roman Palestine By Estee Dvorjetski

Some of the most famous hot-spring spas in the ancient world lie along the Syrian-African rift. This great gash in the Earth’s mantle extends from Asia Minor in the north to east Africa in the south, with the Jordan Valley in between. The hot springs are a byproduct of the volcanic activity and earthquakes […]

Guide to Sites

Abila of the Decapolis

Jerusalem in David and Solomon’s Time
It Really Was a Major City in the Tenth Century B.C.E. By Jane M. Cahill

Among the most controversial issues in both Biblical archaeology and Biblical studies is the nature of Jerusalem in the tenth century B.C.E. Why the tenth century? Because in the Bible that is the time of Israel’s glory, the time of King David and King Solomon, the time of the United Kingdom of Judah and […]

Building Power
The Politics of Architecture By Kenneth G. Holum

038 In 44 C.E., the Jewish king Agrippa, king of Judea, stood in the theater of Caesarea, clothed in a garment woven of silver threads that glittered in the first rays of sunlight. To those who looked upon him, he seemed awesome and terrible. The spectators were the leading men of the kingdom. […]

Marisa Tomb Paintings
Recently Discovered Photos Show Long-Lost Details By David Jacobson

Just over a hundred years ago, an American archaeologist discovered a series of spectacular tomb paintings dating from about 200 B.C.E. at a site in the foothills of the Judean mountains. Yet, within a few years, these precious works of art had faded into oblivion, and since then they have been known to the […]

Contrasting Insights of Biblical Giants

028 Hershel Shanks: I have known each of you for many years. And I know that the Bible has been a central influence in your lives—but in a very different way. In truth, you inhabit very different Biblical worlds. Both of you are giants, dare I say nephilim [giants; see Genesis 6:4; Numbers […]

Another Temple to the Israelite God
Aramaic Hoard Documents Life in Fourth Century B.C. By André Lemaire

The scholarly world is abuzz. During at least the past 20 years, and more likely during the last 33 years, more than a thousand potsherds inscribed in Aramaic have come onto the antiquities market. About 800 of these have now been published.1 They are richly informative—one inscribed sherd even refers to a previously unknown […]

The Trial of Oded Golan
State of Israel vs. Oded Golan—You Be the Judge

This is the imaginary trial of Oded Golan, the Tel Aviv antiquities collector who owns the ossuary, or bone box, inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” He is charged with forging the inscription. You be the judge (there are no juries in Israel): Don’t assume that the Judge’s courtroom rulings on objections […]

Temple Mount Excavations Unearth the Monastery of the Virgins

For ten years, between 1968 and 1978, the area south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was intensively excavated by archaeologist Benjamin Mazar.1 His many spectacular discoveries included the remains of a monumental staircase that led up to the southern enclosure wall of the massive platform built by Herod to support the gleaming […]

Final Blow to IAA Report
Flawed Geochemistry Used to Condemn James Inscription By James A. Harrell

Sorbonne paleographer André Lemaire recently analyzed in these pages the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) report that declared the James ossuary inscription (“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”) to be a modern forgery.a Lemaire considered various aspects of the IAA report, such as paleography and orthography, and convincingly found the report deeply flawed. As […]

A Tale of Two Meetings
Issue of Antiquities Splits Scholars in Atlanta By Hershel Shanks

The decision was unanimous: Antiquities collectors are criminals, responsible for the worldwide scourge of looting.

Weeds & Seeds
What Archaeobotany Can Teach Us By Ehud Weiss, Mordechai E. Kislev

Think small. No, think minute! Think something seemingly unimportant, but invaluable. Think seeds and weeds and grains—grown over 2,500 years ago. Our story takes place in the late seventh century B.C.E. in the thriving Philistine city of Ashkelon, on what is now the Mediterranean coast of Israel. In 604 B.C.E., Ashkelon was utterly […]

Don’t Rush to Judgment
Jehoash Inscription May Be Authentic By David Noel Freedman

BAR’s reports on the so-called Jehoash inscription—which describes repairs to the Solomonic Temple by King Jehoash in the ninth century B.C.E.—are unhesitatingly condemnatory: It is a fake. A piece by the BAR editor on the 15-line inscription is headed “Demonstrably a Forgery.”a My long-time friend Frank Cross (we wrote two joint doctoral dissertations […]

Where Lot’s Daughters Seduced their Father
Excavations Reveal Commemorative Monastery By Konstantinos Politis

Perched precariously on a steep, barren slope overlooking the southeastern shore of the Dead Sea, I found the remains of what had once been elegant stone buildings—walls, pieces of metal and glass, tiny mosaic cubes and pottery sherds. It was 1986 and I was conducting a survey with Canadian excavator Burton MacDonald. The […]

The Name Game
Dating the Book of Judges By Richard S. Hess

I study names. We can learn an enormous amount from names and their etymology. Since one of the issues raised in BAR recently has been the historicity of early sections of the Bible, I wondered whether names could make a small contribution to that discussion. Let’s look at the personal names in a famous […]

Four-Horned Altar Discovered in Judean Hills

We are what the outside world calls “settlers.” We live in the West Bank, but refer to it by its Biblical names, Judea and Samaria. I (Yoel) live in Ophrah, about 10 miles from the ancient site of Shiloh. Ophrah was established in 1975, the first Jewish settlement after the Six-Day War. Doron is […]

Yes, Virginia, There IS an American Biblical Archaeology Museum
(Hint: It’s in Brooklyn) By Hershel Shanks

I have often lamented that, although there are thousands of museums in the United States devoted to every conceivable topic, there is not a single museum here devoted to Biblical archaeology. I have recently been challenged on this assertion—and from a most unlikely source. I am wrong, I am told. There is a Biblical […]

Pottery Talks
What Ceramics Tell Us About the Social World of Ancient Israel By Avraham Faust

So often it seems that pottery is boring. But the little bits of sherds that are ubiquitous on excavations tell us a lot. Thanks to pottery we can date structures such as buildings and the contents within them.

What Jesus Learned from the Essenes
The Blessing of Poverty the Bane of Divorce By Magen Broshi

Scholars have been cautious about drawing a direct line between Jesus and the Dead Sea Scroll sectarians. Indeed, perhaps the most criticized sentence in the vast literature about the Dead Sea Scrolls is one penned by the great American literary critic Edmund Wilson. Based on the conclusions of the French Dead Sea Scroll scholar […]

Ancient Britain
Cerveteri, Italy (ancient Etruria)
Gandhara, Pakistan
Nemrut Dagi, Turkey (ancient Commagene)
Alexandria, Egypt


Archaeologist vs. Archaeologist
Ben-Dov Wins Token Victory By Lionel Kestenbaum
Yaakov Meshorer, 1935–2004
Leading Numismatist Taught Lessons Well Beyond Coins By Suzanne F. Singer
Petra and Bethsaida Visit the U.S.
Nabatean and New Testament Sites on Exhibit
An Open Book
Israel Museum Renovates Shrine of the Book By Judith Sudilovsky
Samuel Iwry, 1910–2004
Worked with Albright on Dead Sea Scrolls
Sherlock Holmes, Paleographer
The World’s First Manuscript Sleuth
Digging up Ancient Tiberias
An International Team Begins Ten-Year Project
Books on Archaeology of Israel Honored
Levi-Sala Prize Awarded to Four Works
IAA Unveils Plans for a Grand Headquarters
Jerusalem Campus Will House Offices and Display Areas By Suzanne F. Singer
Avner Raban: An Appreciation
Explored Caesarea Harbor By Kenneth G. Holum
Dan Urman, 1945–2004
Studied Synagogues and the Golan By Victor Hurowitz
Assyrians in Ashdod
Palace Uncovered Near Israel’s Coast By Judith Sudilovsky
“Get Thee to a Nunnery”
...High on a Hill Somewhere in Central Israel
Crusader Fortress Found in Tiberias
Native Son Uncovers City’s Grand Past By Judith Sudilovsky
How to Settle a Controversy
Vinland Map Provides Contrast to James Ossuary
Walter E. Rast, 1930-2003
A Senior Statesman of Archaeology
Reuben Bullard (1928–2004)
First Geologist at Dig in Israel By Edwin M. Yamauchi
Bible Lands Museum Prepares to Expand
Aegean Gallery, More Spacefor Programming to Be Added By Suzanne F. Singer
Under One Roof
Israel Antiquities Find New Home By Judith Sudilovsky
W. Harold Mare (1918–2004)
A Long Life of Accomplishments By Edwin M. Yamauchi
ASOR Update
Levy to Get Obit, After All
Israelite Houses at Harvard
From an Average Home to God’s House
Archaeology on the March
New Structure Rises at Tel Aviv University By Suzanne F. Singer
Synagogue Uncovered in Albania
Hebrew University Excavators Join Dig By Judith Sudilovsky
Beth-Shean Antiquities Destroyed
Arsonists Burn Down Dig Warehouse By Judith Sudilovsky
At Risk
Two Holy Land Sites Added to 2004 Watch List
In the Image of Abraham
Bible Lands Museum Teaches Arab and Jewish Children About Shared Past By Judith Sudilovsky
“Something There Is that Doesn’t Love a Wall”
Construction of Barrier Damages Ancient Church