Digs 2020: 8 Stops in Northern Israel

Starting in the Jezreel Valley and traveling to Upper Galilee, explore eight excavations in northern Israel. These digs are literally uncovering the ancient world and rewriting history.

Searching for Bethsaida: The Case for El-Araj

Where is biblical Bethsaida? Two sites have been identified as candidates for the biblical fishing village on the Sea of Galilee, which was later transformed into a Roman city. Explore the case for el-Araj, the site on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Forced Resettlement and Immigration at Tel Hadid

When Assyria ruled supreme, it forcibly removed the ancient Israelites from their homeland and settled a new people group in their place. Explore discoveries related to these new deportees—and more—at Tel Hadid. This article includes a special supplement, Digging Deeper at Tel Hadid, to understand the site like the experts do.

Restoring Herod’s Throne Niche at Machaerus

King Herod the Great built an impressive palace-fortress at Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea. See how the site’s excavators restored the throne niche in his royal palace.

The Face of Yahweh?

Archaeologists have uncovered male figurines from sites in ancient Judah. Could these represent the Israelite God, Yahweh?

Who Built Tel Rekhesh?

After the Assyrian conquest of the northern Kingdom of Israel and deportation of its people in 722 B.C.E., who lived in the land? A large building complex at Tel Rekhesh hints that the new inhabitants came from Mesopotamia.

Another Temple in Judah!
The Tale of Tel Moẓa By Shua Kisilevitz, Oded Lipschits

A puzzling discovery of an Iron Age II temple at Tel Moẓa, only 4 miles outside of Jerusalem, challenges the biblical claims that King Hezekiah centralized worship at Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and eliminated all rival shrines. In reality, the Tel Moẓa temple fits into the greater economic and administrative context of Judah and reflects an advanced level of localized civic administration in the early ninth century B.C.E.

Searching for Bethsaida: The Case for Et-Tell

For years, archaeologists have been excavating et-Tell in the Lower Golan, east of the Jordan Rift Valley. See why they believe their site is biblical Bethsaida.

How Old Are the Oldest Christian Manuscripts?

The earliest Christian manuscripts are almost never dated explicitly, and scholars must rely on technical analyses and circumstantial evidence to establish probable dates. Learn about the uses and abuses of the dating techniques.

Facing the Facts About the “Face of God”
A Critical Response to Yosef Garfinkel By Shua Kisilevitz, Ido Koch, Oded Lipschits, David S. Vanderhooft

In the Fall 2020 issue of BAR, Yosef Garfinkel claimed that a figurine from Khirbet Qeiyafa might represent the Israelite God, Yahweh. Some prominent scholars think otherwise.

Jesus the Magician? Why Jesus Holds a Wand in Early Christian Art

Jesus often holds a stick or staff in early Christian depictions of him performing miracles. If not a magician’s wand, what is it? Explore the tradition and meaning of the miracle-working tool.

Were There Women at Qumran?

Qumran is widely believed to have been an Essene settlement. But how does this identification square with the role of women in the Jewish sect as described in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which likely originated in this supposedly celibate community?

Archive Discovered Under Maresha

A large private archive was recently discovered in a subterranean cache at Maresha, a Hellenistic city in the Judean Shephelah. The original documents have not survived but are attested through hundreds of decorated sealings.

Social Conflict in Ancient Galilee

Social theory helps biblical scholars bridge the worlds of archaeology and text. In a case study, see how it illuminates life and social conflict in ancient Galilee—the backdrop of the Gospels.

Gluttony and Drunkenness in Ancient Israel

In Deuteronomy 21:18–21, a delinquent son is sentenced to death for being rebellious, as well as a glutton and drunkard. A close look at the foodways of ancient Israel suggests a better interpretation for the son’s crime.

What’s in a Name? Personal Names in Ancient Israel and Judah

Explore how ancient Israelite and Judahite personal names—collected from archaeological materials—contribute to the study of the Bible’s historicity.

Brick by Brick
What did the Israelites build in Egypt? By David A. Falk

Buildings in ancient Egypt were constructed from either stone or mudbrick. Temples were generally built with stone that was meant to last throughout the ages. Palaces, on the other hand, were built for comfort out of mudbrick, which was cool in the day and warm at night. Each type of construction was considered specialized […]

How Magic and Miracles Spread Christianity

In the early centuries of the Common Era, Christianity spread throughout the Roman world—gaining Jewish and polytheist converts alike. Magic and miracles played a significant role in the dissemination of this new, revolutionary religion.

The Scarab: The Idol That Rolls in Dung

The Hebrew Bible uses expressions of disgust to warn the Israelites against gentile idolatry. Is it possible that the rare biblical word gilulim (“idols”) refers specifically to the Egyptian sacred dung beetle, known as the scarab?

First Person: Unprovenanced Antiquities: Learning the Hard Way
The Museum of the Bible and those affiliated with the Green Collection were warned—repeatedly—about the problems surrounding the purchase and exhibition of unprovenanced, black-market antiquities. By Robert R. Cargill
First Person: What Does Archaeology Say about Effective Peace Treaties?
Ancient history can tell us a lot about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to successful treaties By Robert R. Cargill


Monks at Work
Ideals and Reality in Early Egyptian Monasticism By Dana Robinson
Classical Corner
Rescuing and Recovering Vesuvius’s Survivors By Steven L. Tuck
Ambum Valley, Papua New Guinea
Maintaining Cultural Balance
Palmyrene Bilingual Inscriptions and Roman Imperialism By Catherine E. Bonesho