Excavating Philistine Gath: Have We Found Goliath’s Hometown?

Three of the five cities of the famous Philistine Pentapolis have long been known—Ashkelon, Ashdod and Gaza. A fourth, Ekron, has recently been confirmed by an inscription, locating it at modern Tel Miqne. Gath, the fifth, remains somewhat of a mystery. We believe we have found it—at Tell es-Safi, where we have been […]

The Monastery of the Cross: Where Heaven and Earth Meet

Many years ago, before I had married and gone to work as an archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, I lived for five years in the Monastery of the Cross as a Greek Orthodox monk. So I know the complex well. According to legend, the tree that furnished the wood for the cross of […]

The Rise and Fall of the Dead Sea

Genesis 14, one of the most puzzling episodes in the Bible, tells of a strange and unlikely war: Five petty kings, including the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, rebel against an overlord king, Chedorlaomer, and his three allies. The battlefield is described both as a valley and a sea (Genesis 14:3). It is somehow […]

Is It or Isn’t It—A Synagogue?
Archaeologists disagree over buildings at Jericho and Migdal By Hershel Shanks

Israeli archaeologist Ehud Netzer claims he has found the oldest synagogue building in the Biblical Land of Israel, near Jericho. Not everyone agrees that it’s a synagogue, however. Meanwhile, Italian excavators Virgilio Corbo and Stanislao Loffreda say they have found a synagogue about as old near the Sea of Galilee, at Migdal (sometimes called […]


First Person: Dogged by Controversy
Does our Biblical subject matter lead to more intellectual disputes? By Hershel Shanks