(Post by Chris McKinny) 

One of the exciting things about living in Israel is how quickly archaeology can change the landscape of our understanding of the biblical world. Our picture of the ancient Near Eastern world is constantly developing and becoming more nuanced, largely due to the work of archaeologists operating in Israel.

Israel, home to an estimated 30,000 archaeological sites (and counting), produces large quantities of archaeological architecture and materials of biblical significance that are often passed over by tourists, students and even scholars who visit the Land. While readers of this blog are considerably more well-informed regarding biblical archaeology’s rapid developments than the general public – there still remains a bit of a gap between exposure to the information and first-hand experience through visiting the various “secret places” scattered throughout the country.

With this in mind, the purpose of this upcoming series is three-fold: 1.) to expose the reader to off-the-beaten path locations, new archaeological sites and museums, and significant views and overlooks; 2.) to inform the reader on the importance of these locations by connecting the site with the historical/biblical data; and 3.) to show the reader how to get to these locations when visiting Israel.


What’s surprising about this statement is not as much what it says as who said it. You’re free to guess in the comments below or make any observations. I’ll include the author and title of the book in tomorrow’s roundup.

It may be sufficient to remind you that nearly every scholarly “breakthrough” which has helped to bring about a revolution in Biblical studies has been the direct result of archaeological discoveries, whether accidental finds or the products of deliberate excavations. The new materials which have brought about a new understanding of the Bible have come out of the ground—and barring a direct descent of the Holy Spirit, it is hard to see how there could be any other source of new information. Take for example the recovery of the cuneiform literature of Mesopotamia over the last hundred years, which has given us parallel accounts of the Creation and Deluge; which has illuminated the whole era of the Patriarchs; which has provided a radically new understanding of Israelite law; which has filled in the background of the period of the Assyrian and Babylonian destructions; which for the first time in modern Biblical studies has fixed the chronology of many Biblical events. Or we may note the recovery of the Egyptian records, which has thrown such light on the period of the Patriarchs, the Amarna Age, the Exodus and Conquest, and most recently in the Nag Hammadi manuscripts has promised a revolution in New Testament and Early Patristic studies in some way comparable to that occasioned by the discovery of the Qumran scrolls a few years ago. From Anatolia the recovery of the Hittite literature has rescued from obscurity a people known to us previously only from the Bible.

Amarna Letter from Yapahu of Gezer, tb112004945 Amarna Letter from Yapahu of Gezer (EA 299),
now on display in the British Museum