Oh happy day. And yes- blogrolling him.
Category Archives: Archaeology
News from Paris is that the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres has awarded Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University its “Prix Delalande-Guérineau” for his book “Le royaume biblique oublié” (Odile Jacob for the Collège de France, Paris 2013).
The Prix Delalande-Guérineau is awarded by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres to the person <>. It has been given every second year since the end of the nineteenth century. From the early 1960s on, the prize has been awarded to the most important publication in “orientalism”.
The book was subsequently published in English as “The Forgotten Kingdom. The Archaeology and History of Northern Israel” (Atlanta: The Society of Biblical Literature, 2013) and can be downloaded from its website at http://www.sbl-site.org/assets/pdfs/9781589839106dwld_txt.pdf
Via Jack Sasson. Again, congrats to Prof. Finkelstein!
As he concludes his review of the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Archaeology- 2 vols.
In sum, these volumes are an expensive addition to any library, adding too little to existing resources to justify the expense. The scope of the project has simply been too limited to permit the work to replace prior works, as Oxford University Press would wish us to believe. These volumes are therefore most useful within the framework of the project, but with the attendant challenges referenced here as well as the added expense of acquiring the remainder of the volumes in the series. For a new encyclopedia, the entries are neither sufficiently creative nor sufficiently broad in scope to justify acquisitions by libraries, personal or public, bloated as these libraries are with general reference works and faced with ever diminishing budgets. Between its recent proliferation of handbooks and encyclopedias, it seems that Oxford University Press has made one last great effort to fleece library budgets before publishing goes entirely electronic.
He thoroughly explains why he has come to this conclusion. With thanks to Jacob Wright for mentioning it on the twitter.
As an aside, Aaron may be more favorably disposed to the Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception- which does in fact advance our knowledge quite considerably.
Again, from Tyndale House’s Newsletter-
News outlets are abuzz with the story that recent archaeological discoveries have shown the Bible to be totally wrong about camels. You can read sample stories in Haaretz, Fox News, Time, The Guardian, or the New York Times.
Many news agencies appear to have derived most of their information from the Haaretz story.
There is a significant difference in emphasis between the scholarly article and the press release, but what is most eye-catching is the press release’s emphasis that archaeological evidence demonstrates that domesticated camels did not appear in Bible lands until after 1000 B.C. Yet the Bible seems to present Abraham and other patriarchs using camels much earlier.
We asked Dr. K. Martin Heide, of Philipps University Marburg, an expert on Semitic languages and cultures, to comment. Concerning the article in the journal Tel Aviv. Heide notes:
This article points to the fact that large scale exploitation of the dromedary (single-humped camel) started in Israel in the 10th century BC. The article does not exclude minor appearances of the dromedary (which left no traces in the archaeological record) in Israel earlier. The authors’ only reference to the patriarchs is, “This [i.e. the introduction of the dromedary in the southern Levant] together with the depiction of camels in the Patriarchal narrative, has generated extensive discussion regarding the date of the earliest domestic camel in the southern Levant” (p. 277).
Absence of evidence (of camel bones) is not evidence of absence (of the camel) in Israel in the 2nd millennium. Proving that something did not exist at some time and place in the past can only be done on certain premises because proof of its existence may be unearthed at some future date.
The Genesis narrator does not claim that the camel was in wide use in the 2nd millennium BC. To the contrary, while Abraham and Jacob had camels (probably Bactrian, or double-humped, camels that were available in Mesopotamia), Isaac, who stayed in Canaan most of his time, seems to have used no camels. In addition, the final retreat of Jacob with his family to Egypt was all done on donkeys.
All this points to a more complex history of the use of pack animals in the 2nd millennium BC.
Neither do we have to assume that they (some families only!) or the few people who may have used camels at that time buried their camels or deposited their bones at some special place for them to be found in our times. Only later, in the first millennium BC, when camels came to be exploited in the well-organized infrastructure of an established kingdom, can we expect to find archaeological footprints of their use.
For more information, readers can read Heide’s 62-page technical essay on camels here.
On NPR. Classic Carol. And thanks to Mark Goodacre for mentioning it.
“Climate and the Late Bronze Collapse: New Evidence from the Southern Levant,” by Israel Finkelstein
Climate and the Late Bronze Collapse: New Evidence from the Southern Levant, by Israel Finkelstein et al is available here.
Here’s the synopsis-
A core drilled from the Sea of Galilee was subjected to high resolution pollen analysis for the Bronze and Iron Ages. The detailed pollen diagram (sample/~40 yrs) was used to reconstruct past climate changes and human impact on the vegetation of the Mediterranean zone of the southern Levant. The chronological framework is based on radiocarbon dating of short-lived terrestrial organic material. The results indicate that the driest event throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages occurred ~1250–1100 BCE—at the end of the Late Bronze Age. This arid phase was identiﬁed based on a signiﬁcant decrease in Mediterranean tree values, denoting a reduction in precipitation and the shrinkage of the Mediterranean forest/maquis. The Late Bronze dry event was followed by dramatic recovery in the Iron I, evident in the increased percentages of both Mediterranean trees and cultivated olive trees.
Archaeology indicates that the crisis in the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Late Bronze Age took place during the same period—from the mid-13th century to ca. 1100 BCE. In the Levant the crisis years are represented by destruction of a large number of urban centres, shrinkage of other major sites, hoarding activities and changes in settlement patterns. Textual evidence from several places in the Ancient Near East attests to drought and famine starting in the mid-13th and continuing until the second half of the 12th century. All this helps to better understand the ‘Crisis Years’ in the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Late Bronze Age and the quick settlement recovery in the Iron I, especially in the highlands of the Levant.
Whenever there’s much ado about nothing (vis-a-vis some ridiculous fundamentalist archaeological claim) I’m always grateful when the media asks an actual scholar about it (not that it happens very often. The press is notoriously disinterested in anything that isn’t sensationalistic).
This time they’ve asked Joel Baden about an issue and he does a good job setting the record straight.
For example, as Gershon Galil remarks
[This is the] Moabite Seal of Kmš′r (8th century BC): “(Belonging) to Kmš′r”. To the left (from the bottom up): LKM ; To the right (from the bottom up): Š′R. This scaraboid seal, mounted in bronze, bears the image of a winged human figure dressed with skirt. Egyptian influence is evident, as it is in contemporary and later seal manufacturing in Judah.
You can read all about it and many other such artifacts here:
As frequently happens, especially when it comes to trinkets found in Israel, nothing has been turned into something.