The Siloam Inscription Ain’t Hasmonean

The cover story in a recent issue of Biblical Archaeologist, published by the American Schools of Oriental Research, the leading American scholarly society of Biblical archaeologists, makes the startling suggestion that the famous Siloam Inscription, once thought to mark the completion of King Hezekiah’s eighth-century B.C.E. tunnel in Jerusalem, was in fact carved in […]

Spelling Differences and Letter Shapes Are Telltale Signs

The famous Siloam Inscription, originally carved into the wall of Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem to commemorate the tunnel’s completion, does not date to the late eighth century B.C.E., as universally accepted until now, but rather to a half millennium later, “strongly suggest” two English scholars in the cover story of the September 1996 issue […]

Because They Can’t See a Difference, They Assert No One Can

To my surprise, they cite the excellent study of Hasmonean and Roman paleo-Hebrew scripts by Mark McLean. McLean traces the typology of this archaizing script and is able to date by centuries and sometimes by half centuries paleo-Hebrew inscriptions, coin legends and manuscripts of the Hellenistic and Roman periods—including the paleo-Hebrew manuscripts from Qumran. […]

No Trained Epigraphist Would Confuse the Two

The Siloam tunnel inscription is written in a very well known Hebrew script. The script is found on other late-eighth-century B.C.E. inscriptions carved in stone, such as the so-called Royal Steward inscription found in Silwan village in 1870 and now displayed in the British Museum.a It is also found on a very large number […]

They Would Change the Dates of Clearly Stratified Inscriptions—Impossible!

Any script used over a long period of time undergoes changes, some of which may not be perceived by one unfamiliar with the development of the letter forms.

Are We Prepared to Raze the Edifice?

The dating of the Siloam Inscription proposed by Rogerson and Davies would not only change the interpretation of one of the most famous monuments of ancient Jerusalem. It would also change the dating of other Hebrew inscriptions of the First Temple period, since the Siloam Inscription is the cornerstone of Hebrew paleography for this period.

Some Paleographic Success Stories

Readers of Rogerson and Davies’s Biblical Archaeologist article on the Siloam Inscription might well conclude that paleography has no scientific basic. But that is not the case at all. Not only is paleography a useful and accurate tool, but its results are supported by external evidence. Consider the following three success stories:

Philology Recapitulates Paleography

I am not surprised that some of the leading paleographical authorities in our field have so severely criticized the effort of Rogerson and Davies to place the Siloam Inscription in the Hasmonean period. Their philological handling of the Biblical and extra-Biblical data is equally unsatisfactory.

Underground Metropolis: The Subterranean World of Maresha

Much of our work at the site of Maresha takes place underground—in tombs and in caves.1 BAR readers will not be surprised by the number of tombs, two of them with their walls covered with spectacular paintings. Much less common, however, are Maresha’s hundreds of caves. The subterranean labyrinth of spacious halls, small […]

Fake! The Many Facets of the Forger’s Art

In a recent issue of BAR,a London antiquities collector Shlomo Moussaieff bemoans the fact that collectors, among their other difficulties, are the constant prey of fakers. Moussaieff knows whereof he speaks. No serious collection of archaeological artifacts, public or private, has failed to “swallow” its share of fakes and forgeries.1 For an exhibit […]

Gaza Report
Nascent Palestinian Authority tackles a new dig By Hershel Shanks

The port of ancient Gaza has been found. A joint Palestinian-French expedition is conducting the first scientific archaeological excavation since the Palestinian Authority took charge of the city. They have found remains of the port in at least two sites along the shoreline. Today Gaza evokes images of poverty. But in ancient times it […]

New Orleans Gumbo
Plenty of spice at Annual Meeting By Hershel Shanks

I suppose I should have known it would happen someday. Perhaps the next thing will be a Ph.D. dissertation analyzing the “BAR phenomenon.” The scholarly community sometimes can’t quite understand us—so it tries to explain us. Absent a full-fledged doctoral dissertation, a scholarly paper was devoted to the phenomenon at the Annual Meeting of […]

Backward Glance: The Ur-Archaeologist
Leonard Woolley and the treasures of Mesopotamia By Edward M. Luby

Sir Leonard Woolley, renowned as the excavator of “Ur of the Chaldees,” was no stranger to publicity. Through best-selling books, popular magazine articles and extensive newspaper interviews, Woolley painstakingly translated the results of his Near Eastern archaeological investigations into a language accessible to the public, winning himself legions of friends and followers—among them, Agatha […]


Tlatilco, Mexico