The first excavation in Israel to have a running blog is the The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog. But it’s been several years and no one else seems to have caught on. Until now. The Tel Dan Excavations has started a new blog. At this point, the blog looks more like a website, with static pages but not daily updates. Presumably, with the start of the season this summer, they’ll keep us regularly informed of the progress.
Permit me one comment on the recruiting banner, as they encourage volunteers to sign up. The slogan says, on top of the graphic: “The 2008 season begins June 22! Will you find the missing pieces of the David inscription? Mail your volunteer application soon.” That’s certainly a tantalizing suggestion. Even though it’s been 14-15 years since the three fragments were found, there certainly could be more. And if more are discovered, you can bet that many of the scholarly theories about the Tel Dan Inscription (TDI) will be cast aside. In fact, here’s something that I had not picked up on until research last week. Perhaps you know that the TDI was probably written by the Aramean king Hazael and it mentions his killing of King Jehoram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah. This appears to contradict 2 Kings 9 which says that Jehu, not Hazael, killed these two kings. But here’s what I didn’t realize: the contradiction entirely hangs on two hypothesized words and letters in the TDI (they are reconstructed because the fragment breaks off at these points). In other words, we only know that it says “I killed Jehoram” because scholars hypothesized the words “I killed.” Of Ahaziah, it says “killed Ahaziah,” but the “I” is reconstructed. Whether this is a reasonable or unreasonable guess, it is only a guess. I sure hope they find more fragments. Maybe it’ll be you.