For some years, Americans and other foreigners were afraid to come to Israel. Now that the calm has returned (ha, ha), they have come back. Among the projects, the Philistine city of Gath is being currently being excavated primarily by Israelis, and the Israelite city of Gezer was excavated in June primarily by Americans.

The Gath team has done something extraordinary in maintaining an excavation blog. You should follow along with them if you want to know the latest. If you haven’t checked in a few days, then you don’t know that they found an ostraca (inscribed potsherd) on their first day of digging!

The first season of the Gezer excavations concluded successfully and director Steven Ortiz is interviewed about the results by the Book and the Spade radio program. Among other things, he discusses his discovery of thick destruction layer that may be dated to the destruction of Siamun (1 Kings 9:16). That interview may only be online for a few days, so don’t wait if you are interested.

Back to the “calm situation,” the reality in Israel is that it is always on the edge of some turmoil. That is life here. When you live in the midst of Arab enemies (and yes, even those who have made peace with Israel still hate her), times of stability are brief. Should that affect one coming to tour Israel or to participate in a dig? Absolutely not. Tour operators and excavation directors know where it is safe and they won’t take their people to dangerous areas. CNN makes you think that all of Israel is in upheaval, and that is one of the ways that the media lies.


BiblePlaces now speaks French. It’s taken about a year and the heroic efforts of Mr. Philippe Viguier, but BibléLieux is now ready to share the best photos and descriptions of biblical sites to readers in France, Algérie, Bénin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Cap vert, Centrafrique, Comores, Congo Brazzaville, Côte d’ivoire, Djibouti, Gabon, Guinée, Guinée-Bissau, Guinée-Equatoriale, Haiti, La Réunion, Les Seychelles, Madagascar, Maurice, Mali, Maroc, Mauritanie, Monaco, Niger, République démocratique du Congo, Rwanda, Sénégal, Suisse, Tchad, Togo, Tunisie and Québec.

If you’re a French speaker, hop on over and explore the biblical world.

If you’re an English speaker, you can do one of the following:

  1. Practice your French and see beautiful pictures at the same time.
  2. Tell all of your Canadian, African and French friends about it.
  3. Take a few minutes to learn something (in English) about a biblical site that you don’t know much about, such as Aphek, Edom, Laodicea, or the Nahal Besor.

Some fanatic BiblePlaces readers have suggested that I go to Iraq and take pictures of the biblical sites there. Here are four reasons why that is a bad idea.

But it may be, and thus this inquiry, that there are people who have such pictures and would be interested in making them available to Bible teachers and students. These people could include soldiers recently in Iraq or tourists who went in safer days. So I’m putting a call out for anyone who has 1) good quality photos that 2) they can clearly identify of 3) biblical, Assyrian, and Babylonian sites in Iraq and is 4) willing to share them with a large audience. If that’s you, drop me a note. Or you know someone in this category, have them email me.

For those of you who want such photos, you are free to comment here, but there’s no need to pursue me. I’ll let you know if and when such is available via the BiblePlaces Newsletter (signup here).

This is a screenshot from the amazing Google Earth of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace in Babylon.


I’ve been asked what the top 5 archaeological discoveries related to the biblical record have been discovered in the last 5 years. I’m not really sure where to start in formulating a list except from my memory. So I’ll start a list here and welcome suggestions for additional items.

Pool of Siloam

James Ossuary (forgery?)

Jehoash Inscription (forgery?)

Tel Zayit 10th c. abecedary

“Goliath” inscription from Gath

Ketef Hinnom Silver Amulets – new inscription

Palace of David (?)

10th century remains in Edom

9th century seals from City of David (not announced as far as I know)

Noah’s Ark (3 or 4 times!)

A few notes:

1. This list is in no particular order.

2. The experts that I trust have not been convinced that the James Ossuary and Jehoash Inscription are forgeries. Some experts that I decidedly do not trust are convinced that they are forgeries. I have
included them on this list until there is greater agreement on the matter.

3. I am not claiming that these items mean everything that has been attributed to them by various writers. I am also reserving judgment about the identification of the “palace of David,” but include it here because it seems, in any case, to be a significant building in OT Jerusalem.

4. The Noah’s Ark thing is a joke. (Here’s an easy way to know if something is a genuine hoax: if it has the names of Ron Wyatt or Robert Cornuke attached to it.)