Avraham Biran captivates the audience at the BAS lecture with his riveting talk on the discovery of the “House of David” inscription at Tel Dan. During his presentation, he shows slides of other important inscriptions from the ancient Near East. As they flash on the screen, Frank Moore Cross, perhaps the world’s most respected epigrapher, pronounces to himself the names on each one, as if he were greeting an old friend. After the talk Biran and Cross walk together towards the hotel lobby. Biran shows Cross a photo of the House of David inscription and asks him whether one occurrence of the letters heh and mem might not refer to the Biblical land of Ham, rather than serve as the common third person plural masculine suffix. “I much prefer the suffix [interpretation]” Cross replies instantly. Biran presses on, “But there is a dot in front of it [indicating a new word].” “That’s quite common in Aramaic,” Cross counters, and then adds, “There’s a very important rule in epigraphy: ‘The banal reading is to be preferred.’” Biran lets out a laugh. “I’m quite serious,” Cross says. “There’s a very good reason behind it: We’re always looking for the spectacular.” Thus do two grand old men in ancient Near Eastern studies conduct their scholarship.