Category Archives: Archaeology

It Looks Like Science Has Proven Inflated Archaeological Claims Wrong, Again

A new Weizmann Institute study has discovered radiocarbon-dating evidence of the First Temple period under a tower in Jerusalem’s City of David that was previously dated to the Canaanite period. The findings, based on soil samples taken from under a seven-meter thick walled tower, shave nearly a thousand years from previous archaeological dating of the structure, which placed it c. 1700 BCE — and contradict a presumed biblical linkage to the site.

Downhill from the Temple Mount of Jerusalem, the Gihon Spring guard tower was discovered in 2004 by archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron. Based on pottery and architectural signifiers, the heavily fortified structure — and the rest of the Spring Citadel protecting Jerusalem’s precious water source — were dated to Canaanite construction (Middle Bronze II period).

“This is the largest fortress found in all of Israel to date between the Canaanite cities… and it seems that it is essentially the largest fortress found in Israel until the days of King Herod,” states the website.

‘It is essentially the largest fortress found in Israel until the days of King Herod’

However, new findings by an interdisciplinary cooperative team of Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists and Weizmann Institute scientists place the construction of the tower during the second half of the Iron Age — smack dab in the middle of the Israelite period, and much closer to the days of Herod than earlier suspected.

And later

Contrary to previous estimates, the date revealed by this radiocarbon dating was sometime around 900-800 BCE — nearly 1,000 years later than archaeologists had originally dated the tower, and well after the presumed reign of King David.

Yet again, the ‘bible in one hand, spade in the other’ approach to archaeology fails.

Palestine Exploration Fund 2018 Grant Applications


PEF Grants 2018.pdf

Application Form and Procedure — The following forms and notes are available to download here:  PEF grant form (PDF | DOC)  PEF reference request form.  Grant Notes 2018.pdf.  Follow our grants researchers in the field by visiting our blog at:

With thanks to Jonathan Stökl for the mention on the twitters.

A New Discovery In Jerusalem

Via Joseph Lauer

This morning, Monday, January 1, 2018, the IAA circulated English and Hebrew press releases titled “”[Belonging] To the Governor of the City”: A Unique Stamped piece of clay from the First Temple Period, Inscribed in Ancient Hebrew Script, was Unearthed in the Israel Antiquities Authority Excavations in the Western Wall Plaza, Jerusalem.” The releases also announced that “The important find was discovered over the course of the IAA’s excavations at the site, together with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. According to the excavator, Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, “the Bible mentions two governors of Jerusalem, and this finding thus reveals that such a position was actually held by someone in the city some 2700 years ago.””

Unfortunately, the release may not be read at the IAA’s website as “The IAA websites are temporarily unavailable due to maintenance”.  The IAA has posted the English release and a video to Facebook. See  and

The Sordid Tale of the Aussie Looter

I’m sure this kind of thing has always been going on and probably still is-

Joan Howard, the wife of a UN diplomat, used her travel to the region to join archaeology digs in the 60s and 70s. But a recent profile in The West Australian newspaper, showcasing her extensive collection, prompted outrage. Archaeologists have called for an investigation into her collection of cultural artefacts. The Australian Associated Press reports that the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs is now looking into the matter.

Shaaban Abdel Gawad, the director-general of the Retrieved Antiquities Department at Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told the Sydney Morning Herald that Egypt’s foreign ministry had requested the investigation.

“We want to investigate how these pieces made it out of Egypt illegally,” he told the newspaper. Despite the controversy, it is not clear if Mrs Howard broke any national or international laws. The original profile piece, published in early November by The West Australian, nicknamed Mrs Howard “Indiana Joan” after Harrison Ford’s fictional globetrotting archaeologist.

It called her Australia’s “real life tomb raider” who had “a mischievous twinkle” in her eye when talking about her collection – which it said is worth more than A$1m (£571,000). Objects in the collection include a funeral mask from an Egyptian mummy, Neolithic axe heads dating back 40,000 years, Roman weapons, and coins and jewellery from ancient Egypt.

If it doesn’t have provenance, don’t have anything to do with it.

A Truly Useful and Important Resource for Old Testament Studies

Just published, “The Old Testament in Archaeology and History” is a volume with which I am intimately familiar, having read through most of it in early editorial stages.  I can recommend it to you for courses in Old Testament and for courses in Archaeology.  The essayists are all top notch and the editors are the cream of the Old Testament crop.

I received my copy today and I’m quite thrilled with the results of all that labor over all those months.  I think you’ll be quite impressed with it yourselves.

The Bible in the Light of Archaeology: A Public Lecture by Michael Langlois

This will be very much worth your time, if you are able to attend.

What do archaeological discoveries teach us about the Bible? Do biblical narratives convey historical reality? What do we know about the world of Abraham, Moses, and David? What are the oldest biblical manuscripts?

This conference is organized by Culture & Heritage Association and will take place in the Museum of Natural History auditorium (Allée René Ménard, 18000 Bourges).

The number of seats is limited, so I advise you to call 0676753954 in order to book your ticket.

It won’t be like a BAR Arch-Fest.  It will actually be educational.

Lenny Wolfe on Antiquities Dealing

This is an interesting piece.

Wolfe says that the market for antiquities is far smaller than it once was. The primary buyers of antiquities in the 1970s and ’80s were Jewish collectors. Now, he says, the principal customers for antiquities are Christian evangelicals who are interested in items connected to the Bible and the New Testament, along with a cross-section of international buyers who come from different backgrounds and different interests. While there are sons of dealers that are going into the antiquities business, he reports, “It is not what it used to be.”

He has two words of Latin advice for anyone who wants to go into the world of antiquities dealing. “Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware,” he says. “Today the market is flooded with fakes.”

Read the whole.

Have They Found Peter’s Bones?

Bones attributed to St. Peter have been found by chance in a church in Rome during routine restoration work, 2,000 years after the apostle’s death.

The relics of the saint, who is regarded as the first Pope, were found in clay pots in the 1,000-year-old Church of Santa Maria in Cappella in the district of Trastevere, a medieval warren of cobbled lanes on the banks of the Tiber River.

The bones were discovered when a worker lifted up a large marble slab near the medieval altar of the church, which has been closed to the public for 35 years because of structural problems.

He came across two Roman-era pots with inscriptions on their lids indicating that inside were not only bone fragments from St Peter but also three early popes – Cornelius, Callixtus and Felix – as well as four early Christian martyrs.

The workman immediately notified the deacon of the church, Massimiliano Floridi. “There were two clay pots which were inscribed with the names of early popes – Peter, Felix, Callixtus and Cornelius. I’m not an archaeologist but I understood immediately that they were very old,” he told Rai Uno, an Italian television channel. “Looking at them, I felt very emotional.”

It had been known for centuries that the relics might exist – they are recorded on a stone inscription in the church, which claimed they were kept alongside a fragment of a dress worn by the Blessed Virgin.  But until now, the relics had never been found.

The remains have been handed to the Vatican for further study. Without proper analysis, it is impossible to say whether they belong to St Peter. “We’re waiting for a detailed study to be undertaken,” said the deacon. “A DNA comparison between these bones and those kept by the Vatican would shed light on the issue.”

A Vatican spokesman said it was too early to comment on the discovery.

Here’s a couple of photos.  I’m going to go ahead and express serious doubts concerning the inscription.  It does not have the appearance of antiquity.  Chances are 90% it’s a modern forgery.

A Festschrift for Israel Finkelstein

Few are more deserving of such an honor. Finkelstein has done great things and made brilliant contributions to archaeology.

Rethinking Israel

Rethinking Israel
Studies in the History and Archaeology of Ancient Israel in Honor of Israel Finkelstein

Edited by Oded Lipschits, Yuval Gadot, and Matthew Adams
Eisenbrauns, Forthcoming, November 2017
Pp. ca. 600, English
Cloth, 6 x9 inches
ISBN: 9781575067870
List Price: $89.50
Your Price: $80.55

The Old Testament in Archaeology and History

One hundred and fifty years of sustained archaeological investigation has yielded a more complete picture of the ancient Near East. The Old Testament in Archaeology and History combines the most significant of these archaeological findings with those of modern historical and literary analysis of the Bible to recount the history of ancient Israel and its neighboring nations and empires.

Eighteen international authorities contribute chapters to this introductory volume. After exploring the history of modern archaeological research in the Near East and the evolution of “biblical archaeology” as a discipline, this textbook follows the Old Testament’s general chronological order, covering such key aspects as the exodus from Egypt, Israel’s settlement in Canaan, the rise of the monarchy under David and Solomon, the period of the two kingdoms and their encounters with Assyrian power, the kingdoms’ ultimate demise, the exile of Judahites to Babylonia, and the Judahites’ return to Jerusalem under the Persians along with the advent of “Jewish” identity. Each chapter is tailored for an audience new to the history of ancient Israel in its biblical and ancient Near Eastern setting.

The end result is an introduction to ancient Israel combined with and illuminated by more than a century of archaeological research. The volume brings together the strongest results of modern research into the biblical text and narrative with archaeological and historical analysis to create an understanding of ancient Israel as a political and religious entity based on the broadest foundation of evidence. This combination of literary and archaeological data provides new insights into the complex reality experienced by the peoples reflected in the biblical narratives.

I did some proofreading of most of the essays in the early stages of the project and I have to say, they’re quite useful.  It’s taken a while to get the thing done, and I’m not sure if the projected New Testament companion volume addressing the same subject will ever come out, but I hope so.  At any rate, you’ll want to take a look at this.

Have Archaeologists Found the Home of Peter, Philip, and Andrew?

Nope.  It’s just another one of the many exaggerated claims that fly around.  Indeed, the story doesn’t match the headline.  Here’s the headline:

The Lost Home of Jesus’ Apostles Has Just Been Found, Archaeologists Say

Here’s the opening of the story:

Archaeologists think they may have found the lost Roman city of Julias, the home of three apostles of Jesus: Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44; 12:21). A multi-layered site discovered on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve, is the spot, the team believes.  The key discovery is of an advanced Roman-style bathhouse. That in and of itself indicates that there had been a city there, not just a fishing village, Dr. Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret College told Haaretz.

Speculation in the guise of reporting.