From an op-ed by Alex Joffe in the Jerusalem Post:

Every summer, the Israel Antiquities Authority holds a reception at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem for foreign archeological teams excavating in Israel. This year’s reception was attended by over 200 archeologists from over 50 Israeli and foreign projects, who are investigating sites from the Paleolithic through the Islamic periods. It was another indication that, despite its many critics, the new biblical archeology is going strong.
But what’s “new” about the new biblical archeology?
Part of the answer lies in the field’s sophistication. The majority of archeological projects in Israel focus on sites outside the brief “biblical period,” 900 to 586 BCE. But all projects incorporate scientific field and lab techniques using geological sciences as well as satellite imagery to understand the changing physical landscapes and climates of their sites. At many projects, teams with computers and spectrographs analyze materials as they come out of the ground. At Tel Aviv University, one especially promising lab project will examine the rate at which pottery shards absorb moisture after being fired – a technique that promises the most accurate dating yet.
After almost 150 years of work, biblical archeology has thus moved from a supporting role in theological dramas to a fully scientific branch of world archeology. But for over two decades it has also been drawn directly into the Arab-Israeli and, increasingly, the Muslim-Jewish, conflict. At its extreme, biblical archeology has been falsely accused of being a handmaiden of Zionism, through the invention of finds as well as the destruction of Palestinian and Muslim remains. Israelis and Arabs alike have been bitterly critical of research projects, particularly in Jerusalem, which appear to upset the city’s delicate Jewish- Arab relations.
As a result, the impulse to use archeology to reconcile Israelis and Palestinians (for example, by bringing disadvantaged youths together to work on excavations) has been strong. Some local progress has been made, but overall, Palestinian attitudes have hardened thanks to their relentless propaganda denying any Jewish past.

The editorial continues with a look at excavations of three important sites: Khirbet Qeiyafa, Tell es-Safi (Gath), and Khirbet Summeily.

HT: Joseph Lauer


On Tuesday, August 2, nineteen small objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will arrive in Egypt. The agreement to return the objects was negotiated in November 2010 when Zahi Hawass was Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt, a post now held by Mohamed Abdel Maksoud. The objects come from the tomb of Tutankhamun and were purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the early 20th century from the estate of Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb.

The story is being reported in several outlets, including here and here and here.

HT: Jack Sasson