All in the Family

We all know the big family names in Biblical archaeology.a Countless BAR articles have been written by or about the Mazars—whether it’s the late great Benjamin Mazar, who excavated at the foot of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in the 1960s and 1970s, or his nephew Amihai Mazar, who is a prominent Israeli archaeologist in his […]

Bells, Pendants, Snakes & Stones
A Samaritan temple to the Lord on Mt. Gerizim By Yitzhak Magen

According to the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, the Samaritan leader Sanballat promised to build a temple on Gerizim, the Samaritan’s holy mountain, in imitation of the Jerusalem temple. This, Josephus tells us, occurred at the time of Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Land of Israel (332 B.C.E.).

Achziv Cemeteries: Buried Treasure from Israel’s Phoenician Neighbor

Like so many archaeological projects, the excavation of the Phoenician tombs at Achziv was prompted by looters. In 1941, when Great Britain governed the land of Israel, the Mandatory Department of Antiquities assigned Dr. Immanuel Ben-Dor to look for tombs that the looters had missed. During the next three years, Ben-Dor uncovered dozens of […]

Jezreel—Where Jezebel Was Thrown to the Dogs

One day in 1989 rumor reached me that monumental Israelite architecture had accidentally been uncovered at Tel Jezreel in the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel. I was then, as now, a professional archaeologist who studies the Biblical period. I have always been inspired by the Bible and the historical events described in it, […]

Godfearers in the City of Love

In Roman times, Aphrodisias in the southwest of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) was the city of Aphrodite, goddess of love. It was also a city of marble, abundantly available in excellent quality from nearby quarries. The monumental marble gate of the sanctuary of Aphrodite (the tetrapylon) has now been magnificently restored. Beyond are the […]

Our 35th Anniversary

With this issue we begin our year-long celebration of our 35th anniversary.

Digs 2010 Volunteering

This section will help you get started on finding an archaeological excavation that’s right for you, but there’s lots more on the Web at www.biblicalarchaeology.org/digs, which we developed to share excavation opportunities with our readers.

The Nash Papyrus—Preview of Coming Attractions

On Wednesday, February 18, 1948, John Trever, a fellow at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem, answered a telephone call asking if the caller could bring by some ancient Hebrew manuscripts for him to look at. It was the last days of the British Mandate over Palestine, the Old City was ringed […]

Jesus of History vs. Jesus of Tradition
BAR interviews Sean Freyne

Sean Freyne is director of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies, as well as emeritus professor of theology, at Trinity College Dublin. His research focuses on the integration of literary and archaeological sources for understanding the social and religious world of Galilee in Hellenistic and Roman times. Editor Hershel Shanks sat down with Professor Freyne […]

Escape Clause
Where Jews fled from Roman destruction beneath the streets of Jerusalem

Josephus tells of the Jews who fled to the “mines” (underground passages) when the Romans conquered Jerusalem and burned the Temple in 70 C.E. The victorious Romans then “instituted a search for those in the mines, and, tearing up the ground slew all whom they met.”1 Some of the Jews were dying of hunger, […]

Did the Ancient Israelites Drink Beer?

Ancient Israelites, with the possible exception of a few teetotaling Nazirites and their moms, proudly drank beer—and lots of it. Men, women and even children of all social classes drank it. Its consumption in ancient Israel was encouraged, sanctioned and intimately linked with their religion. Even Yahweh, according to the Hebrew Bible, consumed at […]

Dig Scholarship Winners

Nothing brings the excavation experience to life like hearing from volunteers—everyday people who finally decided to make their dreams of going on a real archaeological excavation come true. Here two of our 26 Dig Scholarship winners from 2009—a second-grade teacher and mother of five and an enthusiastic archaeology student—share their stories as first-time volunteers. […]

Texts from Ugarit Solve Biblical Puzzles

Hebrew is a “language of Canaan,” says the prophet (Isaiah 19:18), a conclusion amply confirmed by archaeologically recovered inscriptions. In scholarly terms, Hebrew is a south Canaanite dialect. As with the language, so with the alphabet: From its earliest appearance until the Babylonian destruction, Hebrew was written in the Canaanite alphabet.1 As with language […]

The Devil Is Not So Black as He Is Painted
BAR interviews Israel Finkelstein

Israel Finkelstein is professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University and has codirected the excavations at Megiddo since 1994. Recently, he was the recipient of an award that provides a fund in excess of $4 million for a scientific study of the history of ancient Israel. Editor Hershel Shanks and Professor Finkelstein discuss, among […]

From Vespa to Ashkelon
BAR Interviews Lawrence Stager

Lawrence Stager is the Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel at Harvard University and director of its Semitic Museum. Since 1985 he has led the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon. Professor Stager sat down with BAR editor Hershel Shanks to talk about how the field has changed over the past 35 years and […]

How the Alphabet Was Born from Hieroglyphs

To the Asiatics, as they were called, the lush Nile Delta, with its open marshlands rich with fish and fowl, was a veritable Garden of Eden. From earliest times, Canaanites and other Asiatics would come and settle here. Indeed, this is the background of the Biblical story of the famine in Canaan that […]

What Is This?

Answer: A

Queen of the Philistines
BAR Interviews Trude Dothan By Hershel Shanks

Trude Dothan is professor of archaeology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a pioneer of Israeli archaeology. She is a world-renowned expert on the Philistines and has excavated a number of their sites, including the major long-term excavation of Tel Miqne (Biblical Ekron). She recently spoke with BAR editor Hershel Shanks about her […]

28 Years Later Couple Recalls Finding “Lost Ark”

It’s been 28 years since we finished our excavations at Nabratein and we’ve just published our final report, a hefty volume of 472 pages.1 Twenty-eight years may seem like a very long time; but for us, it seems like yesterday. We retain wonderful and vivid memories of our two seasons at Nabratein, the last […]

The Destruction of Pompeii—God’s Revenge?

Nine years, almost to the day, after Roman legionaries destroyed God’s house in Jerusalem, God destroyed the luxurious watering holes of the Roman elite. Was this God’s revenge?

The “New Cleopatra” and the Jewish Tax

Warning: This article contains much that is uncertain and even speculative. You must therefore be over 18 to continue reading. On the other hand, the uncertainties and speculations are clearly marked as such. Moreover, the background of the story is unquestionably true. This is the true part. Each Jewish male 20 years or older […]

The Dig-for-a-Day Experience

The underground chambers were filled with the sounds of the crunching of small picks against the dirt floors and the thud of earth dumped into buckets. Voices of a dozen children and their parents accompanied warnings not to swing picks at each other and to use the buckets assigned to each room. Discoveries of […]

The Fault Beneath Their Feet

Water was critical in ancient Israel (as it is today). This was especially true in time of siege because cities were usually located on higher spots (that rose higher and higher as the tell developed over time) and the springs were outside the city walls at the bottom of the hill, exposed to the […]

Roman Coins Boast “Judaea Capta”

The late great Israeli numismatist Yaakov Meshorer wrote in 2001:

Volunteers Find Missing Pieces to Looted Inscription

In the November/December 2008 issue of BAR, we reported on an inscribed limestone stela that had been purchased on the antiquities market by Judy and Michael Steinhardt and is on permanent loan to the Israel Museum.a The incomplete stela, broken off at the bottom, was studied and published by Hannah M. Cotton and Michael […]

Solomon & Sheba, Inc.
New inscription confirms trade relations between “towns of Judah” and South Arabia By André Lemaire

Southern Arabia is 1,200 miles south of Israel. Naturally, skepticism about the reality of trade between South Arabia and Israel in ancient times seems justified. Yet the Bible documents this trade quite extensively—most famously in the supposed affair between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. And the land of Sheba is referred to […]

Prize Find: Oldest Hebrew Inscription Discovered in Israelite Fort on Philistine Border

A little more than a year ago, we reported on a new excavation (directed by the Hebrew University’s Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor) of an imposing Israelite fort on the border with Philistia dating to the late 11th–early tenth century B.C.E., the time of David and Solomon.a It was occupied during this period only […]

New Evidence of the Royal Stoa and Roman Flames

Orit Peleg-Barkat of the Hebrew University has been studying the hundreds of elegant fragments that fell from the Royal Stoa on the herodian Temple Mount in Jerusalem when it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. In the course of her research, she came across some unusual-looking stones, so she consulted leading Israeli […]

Under the Influence
Hellenism in ancient Jewish life By Martin Goodman

How and why and to what extent Greek culture was absorbed into the ancient Jewish world is not always clear, but that it was is undeniable. To some extent, the answers depend on whether we study Judaism primarily as a separate culture, developed from its Biblical roots in an unbroken line, or whether we […]

Anyang, China
Tell Abu Habbah, Iraq
Bagram, Afghanistan


The Bible in the News: Lost and Found
The valley of the shadow of death By Leonard J. Greenspoon
The Bible in the News
Nothing new under the sun By Leonard J. Greenspoon