Zwinglius Redivivus

A Statement By the Faculty of Tel Aviv University Concerning an Advert in Biblical Archaeology Review

Posted in Archaeology by Jim on August 21, 2013

Oded Lipschits has sent along this public statement:

Statement by faculty members of the Marco and Sonia Nadler Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University, regarding the alleged use of mechanical excavator at Tel Socoh

A defamatory, anonymous paid advertisement, alleging that Prof. Yuval Goren of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University has used a mechanical excavator to “pillage stratigraphy” in the excavation of Tel Socoh in the Shephelah, has again been published in the Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR). Those who read BAR should note that:

1. There was no use of a mechanical excavator on Tel Socoh.

2. The slide shown in the ad illustrates work carried out in a wadi near the mound, as a sequel to a systematic manual excavation from surface to natural soil nearby. The sounding was aimed at detecting pottery and slag in the vicinity of the site. This method is authorized (and endorsed) by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

3. This is a common method in archaeology. Most seasoned archaeologists – regardless of period of research, location on the globe, and institutional affiliation – use mechanical excavators in certain, closely controlled circumstances.

Signed: Oded Lipschits, Erez Ben Yosef, Shlomo Bunimovitz, Yoram Cohen, Alexander Fantalkin, Israel Finkelstein, Moshe Fischer, Yuval Gadot, Amir Gilan, Raphael Greenberg, Zeev Herzog, Dafna Langgut, Nadav Na’aman, Benjamin Sass, Deborah Sweeney, Oren Tal

Frankly, and personally, I think BAR has crossed the line with this egregious and defamatory advert.  They may not be responsible for its content, but they stand morally indicted for publishing it.

For the backstory of this public statement- see here.

The Ashdod/Yam Archaeological Excavations

Posted in Archaeology by Jim on April 15, 2013

Visit their website here.  Alexander has done a really nice job with it.   The project is the joint project of the University of Tel Aviv and Leipzig University.


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The MA In Jewish Studies at Tel Aviv University

Posted in Modern Culture by Jim on February 20, 2013

Along with the MA in Archaeology Tel Aviv also offers an International MA in Jewish Studies.  Go to the link for all the details.  Here are the basics:

Tel Aviv University offers the world’s only one-year intensive MA in Jewish Studies taught in English in a Hebrew speaking environment.

This new MA offers a series of intimate encounters with the classical texts of Jewish culture, from biblical through medieval to modern.

This unique program is:

  • Text-centered and skills oriented. It aims to equip students for work·in ducation, museums and other institutions, and to provide an excellent foundation for PhD research.
  • Interdisciplinary. Courses include Bible, History of Hebrew language, Rabbinic exegesis and midrash, comparative approaches to Talmudic and Christian texts, Jewish mysticism, Medieval philosophy and kabbalah, Ancient Jewish magic, and Modern Jewish thought·

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The MA In Archaeology at Tel Aviv

Posted in Archaeology by Jim on February 20, 2013

They’ve put together now a fine brochure which you can access directly here.


For loads more information on the program, visit their website here.  If you’re interested, apply.  Tel Aviv is a beautiful city and there’s nothing lacking in its delights.  It’s right on the Sea and there’s so much to do within an easy drive.

Do, check it out.

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Tel Aviv University Announcement

Posted in Archaeology by Jim on February 19, 2013

Oded Lipschits writes

I am happy to share with you information regarding the third year of our unique program at Tel Aviv University, the International MA in Archaeology and History of the Land of the Bible.

telavivThe program combines theoretical classes, field work experience, and tours of some of the most exciting excavation sites in Israel (such as Jerusalem, Megiddo, Azekah, Beer-Sheba, Ramat Rachael, and Yavne Yam).  The program can be taken as a one year MA program (without thesis), as a two year MA program (with thesis), or as a one year credited course program towards a PhD.  Graduates of the first successful year cycle, who have been accepted to our second year thesis track, are already hard at work on exciting new researches, and we are currently accepting applications and awarding scholarships for the academic year of 2013-14.

We believe some of your students could greatly benefit from and enjoy this program, and we will be delighted if you could share the information with them and other colleagues.

Thank you for your much appreciated assistance.

Prof. Oded Lipschits
Head of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology & Head of the International MA program in Archaeology and History of the Land of the Bible
Tel Aviv University

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The Rise and Fall of Archaeology in the Service of Ideology in Israel

Posted in Archaeology, Modern Culture by Jim on February 15, 2013

It’s a new essay in Bible and Interpretation worth reading by Rami Arav. He concludes with this amazing claim-

A prominent Tel Aviv University archaeologist, Z. Herzog, complained a few years ago in an article in the prestigious Israeli paper Haaretz that despite the fact that archaeology has totally changed our current understanding of the Bible, nobody pays attention. The public is apathetic and indifferent. The glorious heyday of iconic archaeology has gone forever.

The situation in America is totally different. Archaeology- especially of Israel- is the golden child and looks like it will continue to be that for the foreseeable future.

Renaissance Impostors and Proofs of Identity

frauds_225x353This is fascinating.

“Identity theft” seems a uniquely 21st-century crime, and is very common in the contemporary world. But in a new book, Prof. Miriam Eliav-Feldon of Tel Aviv University‘s Department of Historyobserves that identity theft and associated fraud have deep historical roots. From royal pretenders to women masquerading as men and those who resort to fraud to conceal their religious faith, history is brimming with stories of impostors. The battle between frauds and those who try to thwart them has been constant from the beginning of humanity, she says – and the battle is still going strong.


With so many frauds and impostors throughout the early modern period, the question of how and why they succeeded in their deception remains a mystery, notes Prof. Eliav-Feldon, who identifies it as one of the key issues of the phenomenon. The answer, she says, relies on a different notion of truth.

One example is the tale of David Reuveni, who in 1524 came to Venice and declared himself a prince of the lost tribes of Israel. Appearing before the Pope and various kings of Europe, he vowed to forge an alliance with European leaders to liberate the holy land from the Muslims. Despite the absence of proof, Jews and non-Jews alike rallied to his cause. It was years before his deception was uncovered.

Prof. Eliav-Feldon believes that Reuveni succeeded so well because kings and church prelates alike desperately wanted his tale to be true. “They wanted to believe that they had a potential ally — and were willing to suspend judgment because it fit their interests,” she explains. “Many impostors succeeded for a long time not because everybody believed them, but because they had no way of confirming they were impostors.”

Fascinating.  People believe fraud not because they’re foolish- but because they wish the fraud to be true.  This nicely explains why the purveyors of Talpiot, for example, continue to maintain its purported significance: they wish it to be so.  The ‘Lead Codices’ sycophants wish it to be true.  And on, and on.

Further on the Tel Aviv ‘City of David’ Excavation

Posted in Archaeology by Jim on December 25, 2012

In consultation with experts ‘on the ground’ I have learned that-

1. The area of the Tel Aviv excavation is on the “City of David” ridge (and known as such for the last century): this ridge was excavated by the late Yigal Shiloh on behalf of the Hebrew University in the 1980s (Area E of his dig).

2. Calling this place Silwan, as Haaretz has done without explaining its exact location, is intentionally misleading political spin. The village of Silwan is located to the east of the Kidron ravine.

3. The dig is a cooperative effort of Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority and IS NOT connected with any other organization, will not be financed by any other organization, and will not receive orders or guidance from anyone, including Elad!

Location of Area E4. In this case, as in all other aspects of its teaching and research, Tel Aviv University is behaving properly and legally.

5. There is only one purpose for this dig: to better understand the history of Jerusalem through the ages.

6. The dig will, therefore, naturally be carried out in accordance with the highest professional standards which characterizes all of Tel Aviv’s field-research. It will be open to all visitors and will strive to cooperate with the people living in the area.

7. However it is essential to note that the area is not inhabited. The closest Palestinian houses are around 70 meters to the east (that is, all the way over on the other side of the ravine); others are about 200 meters to the north; and still others are far to the south (far enough, in fact, that they cannot even be seen from Area E). And, finally, there are still other homes around 150 meters to the west, on the top of the ridge (see the photo to the right, and click to enlarge).

Still further insight into Tel Aviv’s work at the location can be found in Israel Finkelstein’s essay in Forward Magazine titled In the Eye of Jerusalem’s Archaeological Storm.

All in all, then, not only is the petition floating around contra Tel Aviv University’s work at the City of David inappropriate, it is founded upon numerous egregious errors and misstatements of fact.

Elad And Tel Aviv University: A Marriage, Evidently, Not Smiled Upon By All

Posted in Archaeology by Jim on December 25, 2012

Ha’aretz reports

Tel Aviv University administrators on Monday received a petition signed by dozens of senior academics from Israel and abroad calling on the university to withdraw its participation in archaeological excavations in East Jerusalem’s City of David. The national park is indirectly financed by the right-wing NGO Elad, which administers the national park.

Last week, the university’s Institute of Archaeology started digging in the City of David national park, but it was temporarily halted due to the rain and is expected to resume within the next few days.

And then

“Digging in the area is carried out under heavy guard by the Border Patrol and a private security company, a fact that only adds to the friction with village residents,” the petition states. “Under discussion here is a partnership with an extreme political organization and thus a de facto stance on a very contentious issue, both politically and morally. The university is thereby giving the NGO the professional recognition it desires, which academic institutions in Israel and abroad have so far refused to grant.”

The petition’s organizers expressed their concern that the dig would strengthen those who support a boycott against Israeli academics. “Tel Aviv University would be causing immeasurable damage to academia in general and to our desperate efforts to steer clear of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel in particular,” said Prof. Sidra Ezrahi. “We’re already getting cancellations of conference participation and this is playing straight into the hands of the BDS movement.”

And then

Tel Aviv University responded that the “area designated for the excavation is located far from the houses of Silwan. The dig will be carried out using modern scientific methods, at the highest professional standards, with particular attention paid to professional ethics. In the dig, a great deal of attention will be paid to the needs of those living nearby and the dig will be open to visits by local residents and tourists.

I suppose it all boils down to whether or not people can trust Tel Aviv to conduct the dig properly, regardless of who funds it.  I can scarcely imagine that the University will be persuaded to report its findings in a biased manner (as others funded by Elad have done) or that Tel Aviv will take advantage of the inhabitants of the area.  Furthermore, I think it’s a bit of an overstatement to claim that

“Tel Aviv University would be causing immeasurable damage to academia in general and to our desperate efforts to steer clear of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel in particular”

No, I can’t honestly imagine that happening.  Not among those who know the reputation of the school and its scholars.  The petitioners seem, in this case, to be over-reacting.  That’s my view anyway.  I trust Tel Aviv to do right.  And I will continue to trust Tel Aviv to do right until they give me just cause to change my views.

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What is Archaeology? Trends and Currents in Contemporary Archaeological Discourse in Israel

Posted in Archaeology by Jim on December 22, 2012

Via Oded Lipschits on FB-

The Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition– What is Archaeology? Trends and Currents in Contemporary Archaeological Discourse in Israel

Thursday, December 27, 2012, Room 496, Gilman Building, Tel Aviv University (All lectures are in Hebrew).

9.00-9.30 – Reception

9.30-9.45 – Opening statement – Assaf Nativ and Mark Iserlis

9.45-10.00 – Shlomo Bunimovitz- Children of three paradigms: my generation in Israeli archaeology

Session One: Archaeology and the personal; Chair Shlomo Bunimovitz

10.00-10.30 – Yifat Thareani- Margins’ Girl: On frontiers as multi-cultural archaeological spaces

10.30-11.00- Haggai Misgav- Archaeology and contemporary religious conceptions

11.00-11.15- Recess

Session Two: Archaeology as profession; Chair Oded Lipschits

11.15-11.45 – Ianir Milevski- What is archaeology? A materialist dialectic approach

11.45-12.15- Alon Shavit- Community archaeology in Israel: on the connection and discord between the archaeological community and society

12.15-12.45 – Eran Arie- Archaeology in a museum: visit and Critique

12.45-14.00- Lunch break

Session Three: Archaeology as a discipline; – Chair Yuval Goren

14.00-14.30 – Steve Rosen- Archaeology: a personal perspective

14.30-15.00 – Amihai Mazar- The rusty Marshalltown

15.00-15.30 – Yuval Yekutieli- Archaeology as a story

15.30-15.45- Recess

Session Four: Summary and discussion; Chairs Mark Iserlis and Assaf Nativ

15.45-16.15 – Summaries: Rafi Greenberg, Avi Gopher, Snait Gisis

16.15-17.00 – Discussion

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