This conference has already started (Jan 13-16), but the program (pdf) may be of interest to those not in Jerusalem.  The full title of the conference is “Jewish Views of the After Life and Burial Practices in Second Temple Judaism: Evaluating the Talpiot Tomb in Context.”  This is the Third Princeton Symposium on Judaism and Christian Origins, and it looks like James Charlesworth will likely edit a book from the proceedings, similar to his Jesus and Archaeology, which came out of a conference in Jerusalem in 2000.  Presenters or panel participants include Kloner, Vermes, Magnes, Meyers, Gibson, Lemaire, Zias, Tabor, Barkay, Netzer, and many others.

HT: Yehuda News


From Arutz-7:

Iran is planning on submerging the tomb of King Cyrus (Coresh), the Persian King known for authorizing the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Holy Temple….
The Iranian ayatollahs are planning on destroying the tomb as part of a general campaign to sever the Persian people from their non-Islamic heritage; Cyrus was thought to be a Zoroastrian and was one of the first rulers to enforce a policy of religious tolerance on his huge kingdom. Journalist Ran Porat quoted a young Iranian who said that the measures being taken by the Islamic Republic’s regime include the destruction of archaeological sites significant to this heritage.
“The government is in the final stages of constructing a dam in southern Iran that will submerge the archaeological sites of Pasargad and Persopolis – the ancient capital of the Persian Empire,” the report states. “The site, which is considered exceptional in terms of its archaeological wealth and historical importance, houses the tomb of the Persian King Cyrus.”

The story continues here.  I’m not very familiar with Persian sites or history, but this sounds like it could be one of the greatest destructions of ancient ruins in modern times. 

Cyrus is known in the Bible for issuing a decree allowing the Jews to return to Israel after the Babylonian exile (see Ezra 1).  There is a photo of the tomb of Cyrus in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

UPDATE: Paleojudaica notes that this appears to be a false rumor.


A book recently published by Oxford is currently available for free download in pdf format. 

Understanding the History of Ancient Israel is edited by H. G. M. Williamson and sells for $99, but you can download the individual chapters in restricted pdf format without charge.

As you can see from the list of chapters below, there is quite a mix of archaeologists and biblical scholars.  It is an interesting reality that archaeologists typically are more conservative than biblical/historical scholars.  On the more conservative side are Mazar, Younger, and Lemaire.  Those sometimes identified with the “minimalist” perspective include Whitelam and Davies.  All will be thought-provoking, no doubt.

As far as I can tell, there are a couple of downsides to the offer.  1) You have to download each chapter separately, and each one requires about five clicks.  (It worked a little faster for me in IE than Firefox.)  2) The pdf files are all locked so that you can’t combine them into a single file (or otherwise copy any of the text; commenting and printing is allowed).  I’m guessing that the publisher is offering this as a service to the larger public who wouldn’t purchase this book.  Some will discover through this that the book is worth purchasing.  It seems like a win-win situation to me, and I am appreciative to the publisher for doing this.

  • H. G. M. Williamson: Preface; List of Abbreviations
  • J. W. Rogerson: Setting the Scene: A Brief Outline of Histories of Israel
  • Keith W. Whitelam: Setting the Scene: A Response to John Rogerson
  • Hans M. Barstad: The History of Ancient Israel: What Directions Should We Take?
  • Philip R. Davies: Biblical Israel in the Ninth Century?
  • Lester L. Grabbe: Some Recent Issues in the Study of the History of Israel
  • T. P. Wiseman: Classical History: A Sketch, with Three Artefacts
  • Chase F. Robinson: Early Islamic History: Parallels and Problems
  • Amélie Kuhrt: Ancient Near Eastern History: The Case of Cyrus the Great of Persia
  • David Ussishkin: Archaeology of the Biblical Period: On Some Questions of Methodology and Chronology of the Iron Age
  • Amihai Mazar: The Spade and the Text: The Interaction between Archaeology and Israelite History Relating to the Tenth–Ninth Centuries BCE
  • Christoph Uehlinger: Neither Eyewitnesses, Nor Windows to the Past, but Valuable Testimony in its own Right: Remarks on Iconography, Source Criticism and Ancient Data-processing
  • M. J. Geller: Akkadian Sources of the Ninth Century
  • K. Lawson Younger, Jr: Neo-Assyrian and Israelite History in the Ninth Century: The Role of Shalmaneser III
  • André Lemaire: West Semitic Inscriptions and Ninth-Century BCE Ancient Israel
  • Marc Zvi Brettler: Method in the Application of Biblical Source Material to Historical Writing (with Particular Reference to the Ninth Century BCE)
  • Graeme Auld: Reading Kings on the Divided Monarchy: What Sort of Narrative?
  • Rainer Albertz: Social History of Ancient Israel
  • Bernard S. Jackson: Law in the Ninth Century: Jehoshaphat’s ‘Judicial Reform’
  • Nadav Na’aman: The Northern Kingdom in the Late Tenth–Ninth Centuries BCE

Oxford has more on the book here.  The short description reads:

In popular presentation, some treat the Bible as a reliable source for the history of Israel, while others suggest that archaeology has shown that it cannot be trusted at all. This volume debates the issue of how such widely divergent views have arisen and will become an essential source of reference for the future.

HT: Tell es-Safi/Gath Weblog