Laodicea’s “Lukewarm” Legacy: Conflicts of Prosperity in an Ancient Christian City

Laodicea was a wealthy city in western Turkey that flourished for centuries. The Book of Revelation calls the Laodicean church “lukewarm”—neither hot nor cold. Recent excavations at the site suggest why.

Capital of Israel By Rupert Chapman

King Omri of Israel selected Samaria as his capital and built an elaborate palace there in the ninth century B.C.E. What did this palace look like, and was it destroyed when the Assyrians conquered the kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C.E.? Join Rupert Chapman as he examines this ancient palace.

Roman Cult, Jewish Rebels Share Jerusalem Cave Site

The Te’omim Cave—on the outskirts of Jerusalem—served as a refuge for Jewish rebels during the Bar-Kokhba Revolt (132–136 C.E.) and later as a pagan cultic site in the second–fourth centuries C.E. See why this extraordinary cave was chosen for both of these purposes—and much more.

True Colors
Digital reconstruction restores original brilliance to the Arch of Titus By Steven Fine, Peter J. Schertz, Donald H. Sanders

Although many Greek and Roman statues and monuments now appear gleaming white (the result of years of weathering), they were originally brightly colored. Using technology, a team has digitally restored a panel from the Arch of Titus—which famously depicts captured treasures from Jerusalem’s Temple being paraded through Rome—to its original color.

Canaan’s Firstborn By Claude Doumet-Serhal

The city of Sidon on the coast of modern Lebanon is mentioned 38 times in the Hebrew Bible. Recent excavations have exposed part of the ancient Canaanite—and later Phoenician—city, including a massive temple and depictions of deities worshiped at Sidon.

Digs 2017: Digging Through Time

Each year students and volunteers from around the world travel through time by participating in excavations. We explore the history of the land of the Bible as we dig into the archaeological past. Learn about this year’s exciting excavation opportunities!

Hebron Still Jewish in Second Temple Times

Mentioned nearly 100 times in the Hebrew Bible, Hebron was a significant Biblical city. Recent excavations have uncovered the town from the Second Temple period. Its population—we can now confidently say—was still Jewish at that time.

Phoenicia and Its Special Relationship with Israel

With a commercial empire that lasted a millennium, the Phoenicians were major players in the ancient Mediterranean world. Spreading their culture and goods, they came into contact with many different groups, but their relationship with the Israelites was distinct. Join Ephraim Stern as he explores the Phoenicians’ identity and interactions with their close neighbor and ally, Israel.

Earliest Depictions of the Virgin Mary

A third-century portrait of a woman drawing water from a well was uncovered at a church in Dura-Europos, Syria. While this was originally interpreted as the Biblical scene of the Samaritan woman who speaks with Jesus, further analysis suggests that it portrays the Annunciation—making this painting the earliest depiction of the Virgin Mary. But there are other candidates.

Machaerus: A Palace-Fortress with Multiple Mikva’ot

Several mikva’ot (Jewish ritual baths) have been uncovered at Machaerus, the palace-fortress on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea where Salome danced and John the Baptist was beheaded. Archaeologist Győző Vörös takes readers on a journey through past and current archaeological excavations that have resulted in the discovery of these ritual baths.

Excavating Mary Magdalene’s Hometown

Following the discovery of a synagogue at Magdala on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, four ritual purification baths dating to Jesus’ time have been uncovered. These attest to the vibrant religious and social life of the local Jewish community just before it was crushed by the Romans in 67 C.E.

Did the Temple Menorah Come Back to Jerusalem?

There is little doubt that the Temple Menorah was taken to Rome after the destruction of Jerusalem. However, Rome was sacked, and the Temple Menorah was looted. After disaster befell the cities that housed it as a spoil of war, was it returned to Jerusalem?

Pontius Pilate
Sadist or Saint? By R. Steven Notley

The Gospels offer a surprisingly excusatory depiction of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea directly responsible for Jesus’ death. While the contemporary sources do not mention Pilate’s fatal involvement with the itinerant rabbi from Galilee, they reveal a governor determined to promote Roman religion in Judea and to ruthlessly suppress any form of dissent.

Have We Found Naboth’s Vineyard at Jezreel?

The Biblical story of Naboth and his vineyard have come to life in a recent excavation at Jezreel, where archaeologists excavated an Iron Age winery at the foot of Tel Jezreel. Here, the authors describe their discovery and explain why they believe that they have located the famed vineyard of Naboth.

Whom Do You Believe—The Bible or Archaeology?

Is the Hebrew Bible a bunch of tales with no value to a historian? Does archaeology hold the keys to truth instead? What are the limitations of both sources of information? Is it even possible to write a comprehensive and honest history of ancient Israel? Focusing on King David as a case study, eminent archaeologist William G. Dever attempts to marry archaeology and the Bible—giving BAR readers a sneak-peak of his upcoming book.

Old, New Banquet Hall by the Temple Mount

A banqueting complex was recently identified just beside the Temple Mount. Dating to the time of King Herod, it projects the splendor and comfort enjoyed by royal guests. With its two dining halls and a fountain room in between, this composite triclinium is probably the most splendid Herodian building that has survived the 70 C.E. Roman destruction of Jerusalem.

Going to the Bathroom at Lachish

An ancient stone toilet recently unearthed at Lachish may provide archaeological evidence of King Hezekiah’s religious reforms throughout Judah in the eighth century B.C.E. The toilet had been placed in what is interpreted to be a gate-shrine within the largest ancient city gate found in Israel.

New Testament Political Figures Confirmed

people from the Hebrew Bible have been confirmed by archaeology. What about the New Testament? Lawrence Mykytiuk examines the political figures in the New Testament who can be identified in the archaeological record and by extra-Biblical writings. Find out who makes the cut.

The Four-Room House
Ancient Israel's Major Architectural Achievement By Hershel Shanks

Are so-called four-room houses an infallible sign of Israelites’ presence just because many have been found at sites identified as Israelite? If you think they are, how do you avoid the pitfall of circular argumentation, which is implied in this reasoning? Hershel Shanks argues that we might need to look for other historical evidence before we draw conclusions of ethnicity from the floor plans of early Iron Age houses in Biblical lands.

Archaeology Confirms 3 More Bible People

Author Lawrence Mykytiuk has updated his popular BAR article “Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible” from the March/April 2014 issue with evidence of more real Hebrew Bible people. Who makes the new cut?

How to Find the Hazor Archives (I Think)

Biblical Hazor was the largest and most important royal city in the southern Levant in the second millennium B.C.E. Its continuing exploration has brought to light impressive architecture and unique objects. But, one major discovery remains elusive: Where are Hazor’s cuneiform archives?

Rejected! Qeiyafa’s Unlikely Second Gate

Excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa have uncovered a second city gate from the 10th century B.C.E., the time of King David’s reign. No other site from this period has more than one gate. What do Qeiyafa’s two city gates tell us about the Kingdom of Judah in David’s time?

How Hebrew Became a Holy Language

In the Genesis creation narratives, God arguably speaks Hebrew; in fact, everyone speaks Hebrew until the Tower of Babel. If Hebrew were a holy language, one would expect it to be unique—set apart from other languages—but it is not. Perhaps Hebrew did not start out holy—but instead became holy.

The Pool of Siloam Has Been Found, but Where Is the Pool of Siloam?

Where is the original Pool of Siloam, the water pool that fed Jerusalem in the First Temple period? While the Roman-period Pool of Siloam—where Jesus cured the blind man—has recently been discovered, the earlier Pool of Siloam remains unknown. BAR’s editor investigates a possible location—another piece of the great Jerusalem water system puzzle.

Brno-Maloměřice, Czech Republic
Pazyryk, Russia
Guadamur, Spain
Pueblo Rico, Risaralda, Colombia
Cameroon (Central Africa)


The Third Wall of Jerusalem
Where Romans and Jews Battled