Piece by Piece: Exploring the Origins of the Philistines

The Philistines have gone down in history as ancient Israel’s archenemy. Yet they were much more than that. We have uncovered their cities, temples, houses, weapons, tools, and pots—and, recently, remains of the Philistines themselves. Thanks to new DNA analysis, we now can answer questions about the Philistines’ origins. (Ed. note: This article contains images of human skeletal remains.)

Moses and the Monks of Nebo

Mount Nebo in the Transjordanian highlands of Moab is where Moses saw the Promised Land before he died and was then buried. That biblical tradition inspired early Christian monastic movements and pilgrimage to the region. Discover Mt. Nebo’s beautiful churches and monasteries and what they reveal about the relationship between the region’s monastic and village communities during the Byzantine period.

Yahweh’s Desert Origins

Before Yahweh became the God of ancient Israel, archaeological evidence indicates that he was likely worshiped by desert peoples to the south. Coupled with the biblical text, this suggests a southern origin for Yahweh. Learn how desert ritual practices may have influenced Israelite worship and religion.

Mesha’s Stele and the House of David

The Mesha Stele details the victories of King Mesha of Moab over the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. It was found at Dibon, Moab’s capital, and dated to the ninth century B.C.E. The stone contains a possible reference to the “House of David” as Judah’s rulers, which seems to support King David as a historical figure. Thanks to recent photographic evidence, our authors argue that this reading can now be confirmed.

Jesus in Arabia: Tracing the Spread of Christianity into the Desert

Our project may have found the earliest reference to Christian belief among the ancient Arabs. Likely dating to the fourth century, a desert inscription written in a peculiar script appears to invoke the name of Jesus. What does this unique text reveal about Christianity’s first spread to the Arabian tribes?

1177 B.C.—The Collapse of Bronze Age Civilization

From the Minoans and Hittites to the Canaanites and Egyptians, numerous civilizations flourished during the Late Bronze Age. Yet, despite their advancements and interconnectedness, many collapsed around 1177 B.C. See what triggered their demise and what lessons the Late Bronze collapse may offer us today.

Journey to Jerusalem
Pilgrims and immigrants in the time of Herod By Jodi Magness

Jerusalem was home to numerous Diaspora Jewish communities before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. From texts to tombs, evidence of these communities abounds. See what it reveals about the city’s cultural, economic, and religious life and diversity.

The Genesis of Judaism

Throughout much of history, Jewish life and culture have been characterized by strict adherence to the practices and prohibitions given in the Torah. The origins of that observance, however, have remained a mystery. Consider the archaeological discoveries and ancient texts that reveal when and why ordinary Judeans first adopted the Torah as their authoritative law.

Taking a Sling
How David defeated Goliath By Boyd Seevers, Victoria Parrott

The biblical story of David and Goliath is gripping and inspiring, but is it credible? How could the lowly shepherd defeat the formidable Philistine warrior with so simple a weapon as a sling? Discover the lethal capabilities of slings that give credence to the biblical account.

Biblical Archaeology 101: Storage and Staples in Biblical Israel

Securing and storing food was just as essential in biblical times as it is today. Across Israel, archaeologists have unearthed containers and installations used to store essential staples and foodstuffs, shedding light on everyday life in the biblical world.

Pharaoh’s Fury: Merneptah’s Destruction of Gezer

The Canaanite city of Gezer was brutally destroyed at the very end of the Late Bronze Age. Explore the vivid archaeological evidence for the city’s destruction and discover why the devastation might be attributed to Pharaoh Merneptah, who infamously claimed to have conquered not only Gezer but also a people known as “Israel” in the late 13th century B.C.E.

Magdala’s Mistaken Identity

The site of Magdala on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is associated by many with Jesus’s famous disciple, Mary Magdalene. Ancient sources, however, indicate that the site’s first-century remains are likely those of the Galilean harbor city of Taricheae. Explore what we know of this ancient Jewish town and how it came to be mistakenly identified with Magdala.

Calculating Christmas
Hippolytus and December 25th By T.C. Schmidt

When did December 25 become the date for Christmas? An inscribed statue and several patristic manuscripts show an early association of Jesus’s birth with December 25. Investigate the early church fathers’ calendrical calculations that resulted in this date.

Proof Positive: How We Used Math to Find Herod’s Palace at Banias

Archaeology and mathematics may have identified a forgotten palace of Herod the Great at Banias (ancient Caesarea Philippi). The marvelous floor design that once decorated an early Roman monumental structure at the site has parallels in other Herodian palaces. Explore the similarities and learn about the ingenious step-by-step reconstruction that made the identification possible.

Ezra and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Three fragments of the Book of Ezra have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest collection of biblical texts. Yet the figure of Ezra—and his importance as priest, scribe, and interpreter of the law—does not appear in the scrolls. Did the authors of the scrolls not know his story?

Enduring Impressions
The Stamped Jars of Judah By Oded Lipschits

In ancient Judah, seal impressions stamped onto storage jars supported a centuries-long administrative system designed to collect and store agricultural products to pay the kingdom’s annual tribute to its foreign overlords. Examine the different impressions, attested from the eighth to second centuries B.C.E., that evidence this long lived, centrally organized system.


Excavating the Archive
Sacred Souvenirs
Remembering Holy Land Places By Katharine D. Scherff
Kyiv, Ukraine
Pitalkhora, India