Queen Helena’s Jerusalem Palace—In a Parking Lot?

This story, you may be assured, will end in Jerusalem. But only in due course. It begins in Adiabene, a small semi-independent kingdom near the border of the Parthian (Persian) empire in the days before the First Jewish Revolt against Rome. The story is told mostly by the first-century C.E. Jewish historian Josephus, but […]

After Hadrian’s Banishment: Jews in Christian Jerusalem

This article has been adapted by BAR editor Hershel Shanks from a lengthy scholarly study by Professors Yoram Tsafrir and Leah di Segni of Hebrew University in Liber Annuus, published by the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum.1 This adaptation was made with the authors’ permission. After the Romans destroyed the Temple and burned Jerusalem in 70 […]

The Masada Siege—From the Roman Viewpoint

The dramatic archaeological site of Masada, perched on an isolated mesa-top in the Judean desert above the southwest corner of the Dead Sea, is justifiably one of Israel’s premier visitor attractions. The thousands of tourists who come here every year to visit the spectacular ruins of the Herodian fortress-palace exposed by Yigael Yadin’s famous […]

The Other “Philistines”

The Bible portrays the Philistines as Israel’s cruel and ruthless enemy. The two peoples engaged in a fierce struggle for control of the land in the 12th–11th centuries B.C.E. We all know the stories of Samson’s struggles against the Philistines (Judges 14–16), David’s victory over the Philistine giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17), and the […]

Where Is Mount Sinai?
The Case for Har Karkom and the Case for Saudi Arabia By Hershel Shanks

“It may well be that I have done no more than weave, in the words of George Eliot, ‘an ingenious web of probabilities—the surest screen a wise man can place between himself and the truth.’1 Perhaps final truth in archaeology is unattainable, but it is certain that progress towards it can come only through […]

Digs 2014: Layers of Meaning

BAR readers are familiar with a common archaeological fairy tale: The first discovery of an ancient artifact opens a majestic bridge to the past. This lovely trope ends with the archaeologist and artifact living happily ever after. But it doesn’t happen that way. When new volunteers excavate pottery on the first day of a […]

Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible

“How Many?” is a popular feature in each issue of BAR. In effect, this article is an extended example of a “How Many?” How many people in the Hebrew Bible have been confirmed archaeologically? The startling answer is at least 50! Let’s start with the Hebrew kings. According to the Bible, David ruled in […]

How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time

Sexual intercourse in order to conceive children is such a basic human activity that we sometimes assume that all cultures have had more or less the same ideas about it as we have. So in reading accounts of procreation and conception in the Bible, it is often simply taken for granted that these people […]

Was Herod’s Tomb Really Found?

It was archaeologist Ehud Netzer’s final triumph—the discovery of the tomb of Herod the Great.

Divided Kingdom, United Critics

We present here two reviews of Israel Finkelstein’s recently published The Forgotten Kingdom.

2,000 Ancient Aramaic Business Scribbles (including the delivery of 30 mice)

Once a week I drive from Jerusalem to my daughter’s. She lives in Shoham, a little town near Ben Gurion Airport on the highway to Tel Aviv. In just a half hour, the mountains of Jerusalem gradually give way to open plains. Most of the fields here are cultivated. The color of the fields […]

Ancient Israel Through a Social Scientific Lens

In broad scope, our extensive knowledge of the “world of the Bible” was formed in three stages. The 19th century saw the early exploration of the Holy Land and surrounding countries by people like the American Edward Robinson, the Frenchmen Victor Guérin and Charles Clermont-Ganneau and especially the explorers associated with the British Palestine […]

The New Jerusalem Inscription—So What?

In 012, while excavating at the southern wall of the Temple Mount, Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar discovered the oldest alphabetic inscription ever found in Jerusalem. It had been inscribed on a storage jar, but, alas, the jar had not fared well. Made of pottery, it had broken into pieces. Along with at least seven […]

“Eves” of Everyday Ancient Israel

Women are vastly underrepresented in the Hebrew Bible. Named men outnumber women by about ten to one. And the women who do appear are mostly exceptional or elite women, not the majority who were farm women. Not only are women underrepresented, but they are depicted by writers who were mostly elite urban males; built-in […]

Love Your Neighbor: Only Israelites or Everyone?

It’s one of the most famous lines in the Bible: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).

Archaeological High Horse

Hippos-Sussita of the Decapolis: The First Twelve Seasons of Excavations (2000–2011), Vol. 1

Modi’in: Hometown of the Maccabees

I think we have found Modi’in—not for sure, but very probably.

Buy Low, Sell High: The Marketplace at Ashkelon

Ashkelon—an ancient city whose name comes from the same root as shekel—was indeed a city of buying and selling. If archaeologists were to design a place to examine the economy of the ancient world, they could hardly pick a better site than Ashkelon. At the end of the South 037 Arabian overland spice routes, […]

Parsing “The Parting” Painting: The Marriage of the Virgin

More than two years ago Hershel Shanks rang me up about a new book he was preparing: Partings—How Judaism and Christianity Became Two, with individual chapters by some of the world’s leading scholars. I am an art historian with a strong interest in the relationship between the Early Church and Judaism. As I am […]

With & Without Straw: How Israelite Slaves Made Bricks

“Pharaoh charged the taskmasters and foremen of the [Israelites], saying, ‘You shall no longer provide the people with straw for making bricks as heretofore. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. But impose upon them the same quota of bricks as they have been making heretofore; do not reduce it, for they are […]

Circular Signatures: Getting a better view of Mesopotamia’s smallest art form

Readers of BAR are familiar with many of the great works of Mesopotamian art that were produced in what is now modern Iraq over several millennia: the Neo-Assyrian palace reliefs, the stele of Hammurabi, the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, statues of gods and rulers and the gold objects found in the Royal Tombs […]

Searching for the “Original” Bible
Do the Dead Sea Scrolls help? By Emanuel Tov

When ancient Biblical texts differ from one another, which one should we believe? More specifically, in answering this question: How helpful are those ancient scrolls of the Hebrew Bible found among the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Cult Prostitution in Ancient Israel?

Contrary to the claims of some 20th-century scholarship, the Hebrew Bible never refers directly to cult prostitutes. Many modern Bible translations are simply misleading in this respect. Much of the confusion results from a misunderstanding of a few Biblical texts that mention qedeshot, the plural of qedeshah, which is related to qodesh, “holy place.” […]

Infants Sacrificed? The Tale Teeth Tell

The seventh–sixth century prophet Jeremiah famously fulminated against Judahites who sacrificed their children to Moloch in Jerusalem’s Ben Hinnom Valley (Jeremiah 32:35). The author of Leviticus also forbade the practice (Leviticus 18:21), indicating that he too believed that infant sacrifice to foreign gods was indeed occurring. According to 2 Chronicles 28:3, even King Ahaz […]

The Interchange Between Bible and Archaeology
The case of David’s Palace and the Millo By Nadav Naʼaman

Evidence from the Bible and from archaeology must be interpreted independently of each other, but in the end they must be compared and interpreted.

Tell Brak, Syria
Braunschweig, Germany
South Coast Peru
Sardinia, Italy
Shaanxi Province, China