Neither heat, nor sun, nor dismal headlines can stop waves of volunteers from participating in digs in Israel and Jordan. This summer it can be your turn to find out why. In the following pages you can read about almost two dozen digs, all of which promise discoveries you will treasure for a lifetime. […]

Sifting the Temple Mount Dump
Finds from First Temple Period to Modern Times By Hershel Shanks

When archaeology student Zachi Zweig started to sift through the mountains of dirt that had been dumped into the Kidron Valley by Muslim authorities in charge of the unsupervised excavation of a new entrance to an underground mosque on the Temple Mount, he was detained by the police. He did not have a […]

A Country Gentleman’s Estate
Unearthing the Splendors of Ramat Hanadiv By Yizhar Hirschfeld, Miriam Feinberg Vamosh

020 On a ridge about 3 miles east of Caesarea, deep in the Carmel range, Baron Edmond de Rothschild is buried alongside his wife Adelaide. The Baron was a key 19th-century Zionist whose support enabled a number of nascent Jewish settlements to survive. He provided these early pioneers with land, homes, agricultural equipment […]

The Untouchables: Scholars Fear to Publish Ancient House Shrine

To encounter ancient Near Eastern religion, one can hardly do better than to begin with the clay model house shrines that appear as early as the third millennium B.C. and continue through the Biblical period.

The Siloam Pool
Where Jesus Cured the Blind Man By Hershel Shanks

Few places better illustrate the layered history that archaeology uncovers than the little ridge known as the City of David, the oldest inhabited part of Jerusalem. For example, to tell the story of the Pool of Siloam, where Jesus cured the blind man, we must go back 700 years before that—to the time of […]

Was Noah’s Ark a Sewn Boat?

020 The story of Noah’s Ark may be the best known of all Biblical tales. The destruction of a sinful world by an angry God, the cleansing waters of the flood and the redemption of mankind through one righteous man continues to fascinate young and old alike. With the possible exception of the […]

Guide to Sites


The Temple Menorah—Where Is It?

What is history and what is myth? What is true and what is legendary?

Firsthand Report: Tracking Down the Looted Treasures of Iraq

The world watched in horror as the images were flashed all over the globe: In the chaos that surrounded the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, the Iraq Museum—home to a priceless collection of ancient objects from the birthplace of civilization—was being wildly looted. These initial news reports indicated that more than 170,000 […]

In the Path of Sennacherib

“I laid waste the large district of Judah and made the overbearing and proud Hezekiah, its king, bow in submission,” boasts Sennacherib, monarch of Assyria, in a preserved cuneiform inscription.1 “I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities: … and conquered (them),” Sennacherib elsewhere claims, obviously hoping to secure his place in history. […]

Discovering Hebron
The City of the Patriarchs Slowly Yields Its Secrets By Jeffrey R. Chadwick

When modern tourists visit Hebron, they focus almost exclusively on the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a magnificent shrine built 2,000 years ago during the Herodian period over the traditional site of the Cave of Machpelah. The Bible tells us the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah were […]

Before Tea Leaves: Divination in Ancient Babylonia

Babylonian Liver Omens: The Chapters Manzazu, Padanu and Pan Takalti of the Babylonian Extispicy Series Mainly from Aššurbanipal’s Library (Ulla Koch-Westenholz CNI Publications 25) (Copenhagen: Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near Eastern Studies, University of Copenhagen, Museum Tusculam Press, 2000), 543 pp. + 49 plates, $100 The administration was determined to go to war, […]

Big City, Few People
Jerusalem in the Persian Period By David Ussishkin

I would like to take a somewhat radical, maximalist view of the size of Jerusalem when the Israelites (or, more precisely, the Judahites) returned from the Babylonian Exile and restored the city walls, as described in the Book of Nehemiah. There is no doubt that the walls of the city were partly (but not […]

John the Baptist’s Cave
The Case in Favor By Shimon Gibson, James D. Tabor

We found the cave by chance in the winter of 1999 when I (Shimon Gibson) was conducting an archaeological survey of ancient agricultural remains on the slopes of the hills and in the wadis next to Kibbutz Tzova, a short distance from the traditional hometown of John the Baptist at Ain Karim, west […]

Life and Death on the Israel-Lebanon Border
Excavation Yields Thousands of Seal Impressions By Andrea M. Berlin, Sharon Herbert

When you look at a map, the first things you notice are borders. But what did borders mean in ancient times? In the mid-1990s, we became curious about that very question. Both of us had been excavating in Israel for more than 25 years—and during those years we’d always taken the importance of borders […]

Excavating Ekron
Major Philistine City Survived by Absorbing Other Cultures By Seymour Gitin

The Philistines were the chief adversary of Biblical Israel in the 12th and 11th centuries B.C.E. They were also the conquerors of the Canaanite cities of the southern coastal plain.1 At the beginning of the first millennium B.C.E., however, the Philistine cities were destroyed and the Philistines themselves seem to have become a […]

Where John Baptized
Bethany beyond the Jordan By Rami G. Khouri

It may or may not be the spot in the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, but Byzantine Christians seemed to think it was. And it’s not on the western shore of the river, but on the eastern shore—in modern Jordan. When it comes to locating places mentioned in the Gospels, the […]

The History of Israelite Religion
A Secular or Theological Subject? By Frank Moore Cross

If we propose to study the history of the religion of ancient Israel, we must be governed by the same postulates that are the basis of modern historical method. Our task must be a historical, not a theological, enterprise. We must trace the origins and development of Israel’s religion, its emergence from its West […]

Mycenaeans Were There Before the Israelites
Excavating the Dan Tomb By James D. Muhly

Dan II; A Chronicle of the Excavations and the Late Bronze Age “Mycenaean” Tomb Avraham Biram and Rachel Ben-Dov (Jerusalem: Hebrew Union College, Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, 2002) 248 pp., $48 (available from the publisher, 13 King David St., Jerusalem 94101, Israel) Nearly 20 years ago, BAR published an interview with Avraham […]

The Universal God
How the God of Israel Became a God for All By André Lemaire

Israel not only survived but thrived in exile. Indeed, Israelite Yahwisma became universal monotheism in the Babylonian Exile.

Roundup of Annual Meetings
There’s Nothing Flat in San Antonio By Hershel Shanks

The Annual Meetings were held in San Antonio, Texas, this year. They say that you can go outside the city where there are no buildings and the land is so flat that if you take a good pair of binoculars, you can see the back of your head.

The Secret Gospel of Mark
Is It Real? And Does It Identify “Bethany beyond the Jordan”? By Scott G. Brown

In the preceding article, Rami Khouri lays out the case for identifying Wadi el-Kharrar as the New Testament’s “Bethany beyond the Jordan,” the site where John baptized. There may be another piece of evidence strengthening that case—and it comes from a spectacular source: a long-lost passage from a “mystic” version of Mark’s gospel known […]

Why Lachish Matters
A Major Site Gets the Publication It Deserves By Philip J. King

Among cities in ancient Judah, Lachish was second only to Jerusalem in importance. A principal Canaanite and, later, Israelite site, Lachish occupied a major tell (mound) 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, nestled in the foothills of Judah (the region known as the Shephelah).

Radiocarbon Dating
How To Find Your True Love By Hershel Shanks

Are you single and looking for your true love? Someone thought the conference I recently attended at Oxford was the answer: Radiocarbon dating was the way to find the perfect match. Radiocarbon would identify just the right person for you. The story, of course, is apocryphal. The real purpose of the radiocarbon conference […]

Should the Israel Museum Take the Dayan Collection Off Display?

A recent article documents in excruciating detail what everyone has long known: Moshe Dayan, the one-eyed hero of the Six-Day War, was an archaeological looter. After the 1967 war, Dayan had the whole of Sinai and the West Bank at his disposal. He used soldiers under his command to help him dig. He used […]

The Kitchen Debate
Three Scholars Discuss a Major New Book on History and the Bible By Ronald S. Hendel, William W. Hallo, Kenneth A. Kitchen

When we received a copy of Kenneth A. Kitchen’s new book, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, we knew that we should review it. Kitchen is one of the world’s leading scholars (he specializes in Egyptology), and the subject matter of the book—how historically accurate is the Bible?—is of central interest to many of our readers. We asked Ronald Hendel, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and a columnist for our sister magazine, Bible Review, to review it for us.


Forgery Trial
The Other Shoe: Five Accused of Antiquities Fraud
Debate: Minimalists on Parade
An academic conference in Rome highlighted the positions of scholars who think the Bible has little or no reliable history.
First Person: Cites Unseen
Why do some scholars avoid references to BAR? By Hershel Shanks
First Person: Snap Judgments
Instant analysis by experts is often right—except when it’s not By Hershel Shanks
First Person: Access Denied
The Israel Antiquities Authority is stonewalling By Hershel Shanks
First Person: The Gap Between Archaeology and the Bible
Scholars now attack much of the Bible as unhistorical By Hershel Shanks
First Person: Duke Professor Calls for Public Pressure Against BAR
But Eric Meyers won’t take on his colleagues. By Hershel Shanks
Tassili N’Ajjer, Algeria
Helmand River, Afghanistan
Northern France (Gaul)
Helgö, Sweden


Grave Robbers Nabbed
Religious Organization Helps Recover Ossuaries
Edom Was There
New Finds Support Biblical Account
Better Late Than Never
Caesarea Mosaic Uncovered—Again
The Cream of the Crop
Two BAR Articles Honored
Israeli Supreme Court Blocks Removal of Temple Mount Rubble
Rebuff to Israel Antiquities Authority
Finkelstein Captures David (Prize)
Credited with Revolutionizing the Field
Giving the Philistines Their Due
Inscription Found at Gath
A Good Look
Hi-Tech Peek at the “Priestly Blessing” Amulets
Amir Drori, 1937–2005
From General to Antiquities Director
The Palace of King David?
Stay Tuned to BAR for More Details
Bastiaan Van Elderen, 1924–2004
New Testament Scholar and Archaeologist By Edwin M. Yamauchi
Temple Mount Rampart to Be Replaced with Bridge
Work Could Uncover Many Key Finds
Sharon Halts Controversial Cemetery Dig
Bows to Pressure from Ultra-Orthodox By Judith Sudilovsky