1967 Archaeology Movie with Pritchard

In 1967 the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania filmed a 27-minute movie about archaeological work in Jordan and the West Bank.  “The Book and the Spade” gives a general introduction to the value and discipline of archaeology, which includes footage of important biblical sites that are not usually on the itinerary of visitors today, including Hebron, Shechem, and Samaria. 

The film naturally focuses more on the excavations sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, Gibeon and Tell es-Saidiyeh.  The latter site is the subject of the second half, and the one who is patient is rewarded with shots of the on-going excavations and an interview with the archaeologist James B. Pritchard.  Pritchard is probably best known today for his three editions of Ancient Near Eastern Texts, but he made significant contributions in his excavations of Gibeon (1956-62) and Tell es-Saidiyeh (1964-67). The film also documents the construction of a mudbrick house.  Though the movie was slow-moving by today’s standards, I enjoyed seeing many sites the way they were 40 years ago.  You can see the contrast of the excavations in the film with a recent photo below.

Tell es Saidiyeh view of Rift Valley to nw, tb110503948Excavation area of Tell es-Saidiyeh, 2003

Other University of Pennsylvania films that may be of interest to readers of this blog include:
Athens (1939)

Ancient Earth: Making History Everlasting (1940)

Iran (1963)

Windows on the Past (1967)

Turkey (1967)

Jordan (1969)

Cyprus (1969)

And more

HT: Ferrell Jenkins and Gordon Govier


Conference: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is hosting a conference on “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins” on March 12-14, 2009.

A tentative schedule (pdf) gives the lectures:

“A Dialogue on the Gospel of Thomas,” Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College; Stephen J. Patterson, Eden Theological Seminary

“The Scrolls and the Hebrew Bible,” Peter W. Flint, Trinity Western University

“The Scrolls and the New Testament,” Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College

“The Scrolls and the Dead Sea Community,” John J. Collins, Yale University

“The Scrolls and Interpretation of Scripture,” George J. Brooke, University of Manchester

“The Scrolls and the Scribes,” Terry L. Wilder, B&H Academic Publishers

“The Scrolls and the Messiah,” William M. Schniedewind, University of California, Los Angeles

“‘Dark Secrets’ of the DSS?,” R. Philip Roberts, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

You can also download a poster (pdf) promoting the conference.


Excavations to Resume at Kh. el-Maqatir (Ai?)

Excavations are set to resume at Khirbet el-Maqatir, a small site about half a mile (1 km) west of et-Tell, the scholarly choice for biblical Ai.  Bryant Wood led excavations at Maqatir from 1995 to 2000, when the second Intifada interrupted the work.  Wood has published in Israel Exploration Journal his view that Maqatir is the best candidate for the Late Bronze city of Ai.  More information about the excavation, including a solicitation for volunteers, is online at the website of the Associates for Biblical Research.

I wrote an article about ten years ago (Bible and Spade 12/3 [1999], p. 91ff) in which I showed that local tradition located Ai at Maqatir, not et-Tell.  Unfortunately Calloway (and every other scholar
I’ve read) ignored this rather important piece of data reported by Edward Robinson (1841).  No kidding.


Wealth of Inscriptions Found South of Jerusalem

Recent excavations have uncovered six inscriptions from the Iron Age and one from the Hasmonean period.  The site has been identified with biblical Netofa (2 Sam 23:28-29).  From the Israel Antiquities Authority:

Royal seal impressions were discovered in excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authority at Umm Tuba, in the southern hills of Jerusalem.
A large building that dates to the time of the First and Second Temples, in which there was an amazing wealth of inscriptions, was discovered in a salvage excavation conducted by Zubair Adawi, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the village of Umm Tuba in southern Jerusalem (between Zur Bahar and the Har Homa quarter), prior to construction work by a private contractor.
Considering the limited area of the excavation and the rural nature of the structure that was revealed, the excavators were surprised to discover in it so many royal seal impressions that date to the reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah (end of the eighth century BCE). Four “LMLK” type impressions were discovered on handles of large jars that were used to store wine and oil in royal administrative centers. These were found together with the seal impressions of two high ranking officials named Ahimelekh ben Amadyahu and Yehokhil ben Shahar, who served in the kingdom’s government. The Yehokhil seal was stamped on one of the LMLK impressions before the jar was fired in a kiln and this is a very rare instance in which two such impressions appear together on a single handle.

The full press release is here.  A link to 7 photographs is given only on a non-permanent posting of the release.  The story is reported by Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post.  Umm Tuba is located near Tsur Baher, south of Talpiot and north of Har Homa.  You can see a map here.  You can read more about LMLK seals here.

HT: Joe Lauer


Proposal to Relocate Inhabitants of City of David

Excavations in the earliest part of Jerusalem have long been hindered by the presence of modern buildings. Many of the houses in the “City of David” were allegedly built without government permits, and the municipality has threatened to destroy them. This would allow for much more extensive excavation of the area. Recently, the city offered to transfer the affected families to another part of town. Naturally, the Arab residents are not enthusiastic about the plan. The article does not mention another reality: any Arab who gives up land to the Jews faces a death sentence. Haaretz reports:

The Jerusalem municipality may offer to voluntarily relocate some 1,500 Palestinian residents of the city’s Silwan neighborhood – currently living on top of an archaeological site – to alternative lots in East Jerusalem, residents say.
The option was brought up by city council and East Jerusalem portfolio holder Yakir Segev, in meetings with the residents.
The 88 houses at issue were constructed without permits in the Al-Bustan area of Silwan and are slated for demolition. They stand in an area known as the King’s Garden, defined as being of great archaeological importance by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
According to attorney Ziad Qa’awar, the last meeting took place early February and saw Segev proposing two alternative locations, one on a different hill in Silwan, and the other in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina, in the northeast of the city.
The proposition was unanimously rejected by the residents.
“We told him that these were lands we inherited from our parents, and we were not going to give them up,” said Fathi Abu Diab, a member of the residents’ committee. “We were born here, and our children were born here too.”

The story continues here.

HT: Joe Lauer


Amihai Mazar Receives Israel Prize

Hebrew University Professor Amihai Mazar has recently been awarded the Israel Prize.  Mazar is the excavator of Tel Qasile, Tel Batash (biblical Timnah), and Beth Shean.  He is presently excavating Tel Rehov in the Jordan Valley.  Mazar’s book, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, has long been a standard in the subject.  Professor Mazar was my first archaeology teacher, and he gave me my first opportunity to volunteer in a dig at Beth Shean.  He represents the best of Israeli archaeology and is most deserving of this prestigious award.

HT: Aren Maeir


Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Interpretation Conference

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary is hosting a conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls with an impressive line-up of speakers.  More information is on the school’s website, but unfortunately no list of lecture titles is given.

Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Interpretation Conference

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, 2095 Appling Road, Cordova, TN 38088 (901)-751-8453
April 23-24, 2009

This conference will include world class archaeologists, authors, and researchers as well as Old and
New Testament scholars. The speakers will include:

  • Kirk Kilpatrick, Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Dean of the Masters and Associates Program, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Jodi Magness, renowned author and the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism, University of North Carolina
  • Stephen Ortiz, Associate Professor of Archaeology and Biblical Backgrounds and Director of the Charles C. Tandy Archaeology Museum, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Lawrence H. Schiffman, renowned author and the Ethel and Irvin A. Edelman Professor in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University
  • Michael R. Spradlin, President, Chairman and Professor of Evangelism; Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Practical Theology, and Church History, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Emanuel Tov, renowned author, Department of the Bible, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
  • James Clair Vanderkam, renowned author; and John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
  • Steven L. Cox, Professor of the New Testament and Greek, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary

The registration cost is $25 for students, $30.00 for alumni, and $50 for others. Registration includes snacks and a banquet meal. Meal selections will be either beef, chicken or kosher. 

The conference and banquet will be held on the MABTS campus.

On April 23, the conference runs from 2:00 p.m. through 9:30 p.m. (the banquet will be from 5:45 through 6:45 p.m.) and on April 24, the conference runs from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

For a registration form, click here.

To register and pay online, click here.

The Tyndale House blog notes that DVDs of the conference will be for sale for $39.95.

HT: Joe Lauer


Heliodoros Stele Discovered

For $30, tourists can excavate the ancient ruins of Maresha/Beit Guvrin for three hours.  The area is full of caves rich with ancient artifacts, and it is not uncommon for excavators to find many “treasures” in the exposure.  Usually these discoveries include Hasmonean oil lamps or pottery vessels, for recently volunteers uncovered a nearly intact inscription from the 2nd century B.C. 

Haaretz reports:

Three fragments of a Greek inscription, believed to be part of the “Heliodoros stele” were recently found at an Israel Antiquities Authority excavation at the National Park of Beit Guvrin.
The Heliodoros stele, dating back to 178 B.C.E. and consisting of 23 lines inscribed in limestone, is considered one of the most important ancient inscriptions found in Israel.
Dr. Dov Gera, who studied the inscriptions, determined that the fragments were actually the lower portion of “The Heliodoros stele”. This discovery confirmed the assumption that the stele originally stood in one of the temples located where Maresha-Beit Guvrin National Park stands today.
The new fragments were discovered in a subterranean complex by participants in the Archaeological Seminars Institute’s “Dig for a Day” program.
As published by Professors Cotton and Wörrle in 2007, this royal stone stele bears a proclamation by the Seleucid king, Seleucus IV (father of Antiochus IV). The contents of the stele shed light on the Seleucid government’s involvement in local temples, mentioning an individual named Olympiodoros, the appointed “overseer” of the temples in Coele Syria – Phoenicia, including Judea.
The order of the king was sent to Heliodorus, who was probably the same person mentioned in the book of II Maccabees. According to the story in Maccabees, Heliodorus, as the representative of King Seleucus IV, tried to steal money from the Temple in Jerusalem but instead was severely beaten as a result of divine intervention.

The rest of the story is here.  The Israel Antiquities Authority has a press release and two high-resolution photos.

HT: Joe Lauer

Maresha from west aerial, tb011606749ddd Maresha from west

Lectures in Los Angeles: Jerusalem and Jaffa

The California Museum of Ancient Art has announced its Winter 2009 lecture series, “Digging into the Ancient World of the Bible.”

March 4, 7:30 p.m., Ronny Reich, “New Discoveries from the City of David.”

March 30, 7:30 p.m., Aaron Burke, “Egyptians and Greeks in Jaffa: A New Look at the Ancient Mediterranean Port.”

Both lectures will be held at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles.  The cost for adults is $15 (students $12) per lecture. 

Aaron Burke is Assistant Professor of Archaeology of Ancient Israel and the Levant at UCLA and he began excavations in Jaffa in 2007 or 2008.  Ronny Reich is well known to readers of this blog as the excavator of numerous important sites in Jerusalem. 

More information about the lecture series is available at the museum website (pdf file here).

HT: George Grena


Conference: Egypt, Canaan and Israel

The Departments of Archaeology and Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa would like to invite you to attend a conference on the subject:

“Egypt, Canaan and Israel: History, Imperialism and Ideology from the third to the first millennium BCE,” to be held at the University of Haifa, May 3-7, 2009.

The conference aims at discussing the political, military, cultural, economic, literary and administrative relations between Egypt, Canaan and Israel along the Millennia in the ideological level and in everyday life, according to literary and non-literary texts, plastic art, and archaeology.


Mrs. Ben Dor S.

Tel Aviv University, Israel

Shishak’s Karnak Relief, in Comparison to Triumphal Reliefs of the NK in Karnak and 
Medinet Habu

Dr. Ben Tor D.

Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

Egyptian-Canaanite Relations in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages as Reflected by Scarabs

Dr. Binder S.

Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

The Egyptian Background to the Investiture of Joseph

Prof. Dr. Fischer-Elfert H. W.

University of Leipzig, Germany

A Fresh look at Palestine and Syria in Pap. Anastasi I: Toponyms, Archaeology and Literature

Dr. Gee J.

Brigham Young University, USA

The Export of the Egyptian Scribe

Dr. Gnirs A. M.

University of Basel, Switzerland

Narrativity in History: The Egyptian Brave Hero

Prof. Hasel M. G.

Southern Adventist University, USA

To be announced

Prof. Hoffmeier J.

Trinity International University, USA

Did Seti I Reestablish Egyptian Hegemony in Canaan?

Dr. Kahn D.

University of Haifa, Israel

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Egypt and Mitanni during the Amarna Age

Mr. Kraim Z.

Tel Aviv University, Israel

Logistical units and supply in the Egyptian army in New Kingdom

Dr. Ladynin I.

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia

‘Neos Sesonchosis Kosmokrator’: The Theme of Lost and Restored World Domination and the 
Egyptian Propaganda Before and Under Alexander the Great

Dr. Lehmann G.

Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel

An Egyptian Interlude: Egyptian Imperialism in the Levant between the Assyrian and the Neo-
Babylonian Empire according to the Archaeological Evidence

Prof. Mazar A.

Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

The Egyptian Garrison Town at Beth Shean in Light of the New Excavations (1989-1996)

Dr. Mizrachi Y.

University of Haifa, Israel

Hatschepsut – Founder of an Egyptian Emporium?

Dr. Morenz L.

University of Leipzig, Germany

Cultural Misunderstandings due to the Differences in the Egyptian versus the Canaanite 
Cultural Code

Dr. Muhlestein K.

Brigham Young University, USA

The Footprint of Levantine Influence in the Shipwrecked Sailor

Dr. Müller M.

Roemer-und Pelizaeus-Museum, Hildesheim, Germany

A View to a Kill: Egypt’s Grand Strategy in her Northern Empire

Prof. Noegel S.

University of Washington, USA

The Ark of the Covenant and Egyptian Solar Boats: A Comparative Study

Prof. Ockinga B.

Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

The Names of Emmanuel in Isaiah 9:5

Prof. Oren E.

Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel

Egyptian administration on the Ways of Horus and Canaan during the reign of Seti II

Dr. Von Recklinghausen D.

University of Tübingen, Germany

To be announced

Prof. Dr. Schipper B. U.

University of Bremen, Germany

Egypt and the Kingdom of Judah in the 26th dynasty

Prof. Dr. Schneider T.

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

“The Assyrian conquest in disguise: rewriting Egyptian history in the “Struggle for the 
Benefice of Amun”

Dr. Shirley JJ

The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA

What’s in a Name? Military and Civil Officials in the 18th Dynasty Military Sphere

Prof. Shupak N.

University of Haifa, Israel

To be announced

Dr. Sweeney D.

Tel Aviv University, Israel

A Long Way from Home: Women from the Levant in Ancient Egypt

Prof. Tower Hollis S.

Empire State College, USA

Two Hymns as Praise Poems, Royal Ideology, and History in Ancient Israel and Ancient Egypt: A Comparative Reflection

Dr. Vogel C.

University of Mainz, Germany

This Far and Not a Step Further! The Ideological Concept of Ancient Egyptian Boundary 

Prof. Warburton D. A.

    Université Lumière Lyon, France

Dr. Raedler C.

    University of Mainz, Germany

The End of the Egyptian Presence in the Bronze Age

Prof. Zertal A.

University of Haifa, Israel

El-Ahwat, a New Discovery on the Shardana and Egypt in the 12th century

The Sandal-shaped Enclosures in the Jordan Valley and their Egyptian and Biblical 


Tuesday, May 5, 0700: “In the Footsteps of Thutmosis III”: Excursion to Wadi ‘Arah and Megiddo.

Wednesday, May 6, 1730: Visit to the Hecht Archaeological Museum in Haifa.

Optional Tour: Thursday, May 7, 0700: Departure to Jordan Valley excursion.

Conference price for non-lecturers: $250 per person for the entire conference (places must be booked
in advance with the organizing Committee, pending availability).

Additional information can be found at the conference website.

HT: Joe Lauer