There’s a brand new excavation opportunity this summer at a site usually identified with Joshua’s hometown of Timnath Heres. The site of Kh. Tibna/Tel Timna has never before been excavated, and this July Dvir Raviv and Avraham Tendler of Bar Ilan University are launching an excavation and survey project in the western hill country of Ephraim.
I’m not sure if I can explain it, but I’ve long had a special attraction toward this site. Perhaps it is related to its beautiful location in the hills that enjoy the afternoon breezes from the Mediterranean. Perhaps it is owing to its remoteness—I have only visited once, and I don’t remember any of my friends or colleagues telling me that they had traveled there. Perhaps it is the fact that of all the places that Joshua could have chosen as his inheritance as one of the two faithful spies, he chose this site to spend his remaining years after the conquest (Josh 19:49-50).
Kh. Tibna, possibly biblical Timnath Heres
In any case, this summer is the first time that an archaeological spade will begin revealing the secrets of the site. Initial surveys indicate that the city was particularly important during the Iron Age II and the Early Roman periods. There is evidence of a Hellenistic-Hasmonean fortress, and the site may have been a regional capital in the time of Jesus.
The excavation runs from July 24 to August 19, and university credit is available for those interested. The cost of participating ($240/week) is much lower than at many other excavations ($500-$1000/week). They are also offering weekly lectures and fieldtrips. This might be the opportunity you’ve been looking for.
The expedition’s Facebook page is mostly in Hebrew, but you can see some photos there. See the graphic below for contact addresses.
The Institute of Biblical Culture has just launched, and they are registering now for courses beginning in the fall. These live online courses are taught by Jewish and Christian professors on subjects such as biblical literature, biblical archaeology, and biblical backgrounds. You can start here, or go straight to the list of classes being offered this fall.
Here’s one suggestion: you can take a course on Rabbinic Literature, including Mishnah and the Talmud, from a rabbi. The early bird discount ($100 off) ends on Friday.
I’ve recommended Ginger Caessens’s study tour of Jordan inthepast, and I’ve always received enthusiastic reviews from those who participated. Of course, I’m not surprised because I participated on this outstanding trip more than a dozen years ago.
A ton of biblical history occurred in Jordan and if you don’t see it, you will miss it. There is no better program on the planet than that offered by UHL and taught by Dr. Caessens. If you want to see all the major biblical sites in Gilead, Ammon, Moab, and Edom, and you want to understand what you’re seeing, this is your trip. There are all kinds of people who go back to Israel their third, fourth, or tenth time and they’re not going on this trip, and I just don’t understand that. Maybe they just don’t realize that it was in the (modern-day) country of Jordan where:
Jacob wrestled at the Jabbok
The Israelites looked on the bronze serpent
The Israelites defeated the army of Sihon
Moses spoke the book of Deuteronomy
Moses viewed the land from Mount Nebo
Gideon pursued the Midianites
Jephthah fought the Ammonites (and then his daughter)
Ruth married Naomi’s son
Saul delivered the city of Jabesh Gilead
Uriah the Hittite died because of David’s treachery
David fled from his son Absalom
Ahab was killed by the Arameans
Jehoshaphat fought the Moabites
Jehu launched his coup
Elijah was born and later ascended into heaven
The prophets spoke against Ammon, Moab, and Edom
John the Baptist ministered and baptized
Herod Antipas beheaded John the Baptist
Jesus traveled through Perea
And I didn’t even mention the Medeba Map, Wadi Rum, or Petra.
You’re missing half of the story by not studying the east side of the Jordan River.
It’s worth your time, and it’s worth your money. Download an application here.
The ancient citadel of Rabbath-Ammon where Uriah was killed
I am excited to announce that Seeking a Homeland is planning a study tour of Israel for this upcoming summer! See here for details/registration and below for a discussion of the uniqueness of the planned tour. Dates: June 10-19, 2016
Brief Itinerary (10 field days): June 10 Arrival/Coastal Plain, June 11 Shephelah and Negev, June 12 Dead Sea, June 13-14 Jerusalem, June 15 Jordan Valley, June 16 Jezreel Valley, June 17-18 Galilee, June 19 Coastal Plain, June 20 Departure or Tel Burna Archaeological Project (see below) Focus: Geographical, historical, biblical, and archaeological background of Israel, the land of the Bible
Level of Difficulty: Moderate, a lot of walking and several difficult hikes
Availability: 15-30 people
Price: $2,300/person (excluding airfare and lunches)
Add-on: Tel Burna Archaeological Project June 19-July 15, 2016 (1-4 weeks); a $150 discount will be applied to a participant who joins the project (minimum one week).
Deadline: March 31, 2016
Description: This study tour is not for everyone. During this tour, there will be very little time for relaxation and even less time for shopping, but we will find time to swim in the Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee and Dead Sea.
This tour is built on the IBEX (The Master’s College) model – where I have taught/led study tours since 2010. This type of study tour will be much different than your standard “church” or religious tour of Israel that often devote equal amounts of time to the hotel’s swimming pool as they do at biblical sites.
While intensive study tours are much less common than the typical tour described above, there are other good options. So what makes Seeking a Homeland’s tour unique?
First, this tour will be led by an experienced teacher who also is a trained and active biblical archaeologist (in the field, classroom, and the academy).
Second, participants will have the opportunity to excavate at Tel Burna (Libnah), a major archaeological site, immediately following the tour. In my opinion, an archaeological excavation is the natural “follow-up experience” to an intensive geographical study of Israel. This is born out by the fact that many people who visit Israel develop an interest in biblical archaeology and attempt to follow current discourse through such means as Biblical Archaeological Review and this blog. On the other hand, there are some who have only taken part in an archaeological excavation in Israel and have not had the opportunity to travel throughout Israel and, subsequently, gain a working knowledge of the country’s geography and history. Planning the field tour in connection with the archaeological project allows for participants to experience both the broad scope of biblical geography while also participating and helping recover the “nuts and bolts” (or “weapons and pottery”) of individuals who actually lived during the time of the Bible. This combination makes Seeking a Homeland’s tour unique and a good opportunity for those who have never been to Israel or returnees who would like to refresh their past geographical knowledge and gain new insight by participating in an important archaeological investigation of a biblical site.
Our goals for the field tour will be three-fold: 1) to observe as much of the country as possible. 2) to illustrate and contextualize the Old and New Testament narratives against the backdrop of Israel’s geography, archaeology and history. 3) to internalize the landscape, background, and worldview of the biblical authors and audiences, in order to achieve better and more nuanced interpretations and, thereby, applications of the biblical text.
For those who decide to join the Tel Burna Archaeological project following the tour, an additional goal will be for participants to “experience the physical culture (cooking/eating, religious, military, administration, etc.) of the Canaanite and Israelite world” through a first-hand experience of archaeological excavation. Imagine yourself finding a Canaanite figurine depicting Asherah (Judges 2:13) or a LMLK seal impression from the time of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:8) – both from the town of Libnah, which the Bible says was defeated by Joshua (Joshua 10:31-32) and Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:8). These are the types of finds that are waiting for us at ancient Libnah.
The largest treasure of gold coins ever found in Israel was recently discovered in the harbor of Caesarea. Most of the coins date to the Fatimid period (ca. AD 1000). There’s a close-up of a well-preserved coin here. Seven high-res images are available here.
James Pritchard’s HarperCollins Atlas of Bible History is not the best atlas out there, but it’s currently only $3.99 for Kindle. As one reviewer notes, the text may be more useful on the screen than the maps.
Eric Cline will be lecturing at the Oriental Institute in Chicago next week.
Gabriel Barkay, Zachi Dvira, and others involved in the Temple Mount Sifting Operation are coming on a fundraising tour in April and May. Check out their blog to learn how you can arrange talks or dinners with them.
The Islamic State is reportedly looting ancient sites “on an industrial scale.” Some people are trying to stop it.
HT: Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle, Jock Stender
Gold coins discovered in Caesarea harbor Photo copyright: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
Excavations on Mount Zion this summer revealed a Early Roman period mansion that archaeologists suggest belonged to the family of a priest in the first century. The story is also reported by livescience.
The BiblePlaces Blog provides updates and analysis of the latest in biblical archaeology, history, and geography. Unless otherwise noted, the posts are written by Todd Bolen, PhD, Professor of Biblical Studies at The Master’s University.