Jan/Feb 2019 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (45/1) is now on newsstands

BAR 45-1The Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) is pleased to announce the publication of the January/February 2019 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR 45/1), which is on newsstands now.

During my first year as Editor, I am particularly proud of the number of new authors who have contributed to BAR, as well as the number of women and young(er) scholars we’ve been able to publish. We’ve also implemented a few changes, such as our new policy against publishing unprovenanced objects.

As I begin my second year as Editor, you can look for a few more gradual changes, including a redesign in the second half of 2019, a new website, more video and online resources, and a very special double issue highlighting some of the best archaeologists and biblical scholars in the academy.

This Jan/Feb issue is the annual “Digs” issue, so if you’re interested in going on an archaeological excavation, this issue has info on active excavations, contact info, and (perhaps most importantly) scholarship information ($2,000 awards–see pg. 27) for volunteers who want to go and excavate.

The featured articles include:

“Digs 2019: A Day in the Life”
By Robert R. Cargill
When the alarm clock blares at 4 a.m., it’s time to get up and start the dig day. Join BAR Editor Robert R. Cargill in his trademark tie-dye shirt as he walks you through a typical day in the life of an archaeological dig participant. It’s always grueling but never dull. And find out what excavation opportunities are available in the Holy Land this summer!

“The Last Days of Canaanite Azekah”
By Oded Lipschits, Sabine Kleiman, Ido Koch, Karl Berendt, Vanessa Linares, Sarah Richardson, Manfred Oeming, and Yuval Gadot
Excavations at Late Bronze Age Tel Azekah reveal various aspects of daily life in this Canaanite city, including its close interactions with Egypt. The gruesome discovery of four human skeletons poses questions about the final days of Azekah and how those dramatic events might be related to the Bronze Age collapse of Mediterranean
civilizations.

“Commander of the Fortress? Understanding an Ancient Israelite Military Title”
By William M. Schniedewind
From Tel Arad to Kuntillet ‘Ajrud to Jerusalem, Biblical scholar William M. Schniedewind guides BAR readers on a survey of ancient Israelite seals and inscriptions with an enigmatic title that has been variously translated “Governor of the City” and “Commander of the Fortress.” Who was this figure? Discover his importance and place in ancient Israelite and Judahite society.

“The Legend of Tel Achzib, Arkansas”
By Dale W. Manor
Excavations are underway at Tel Achzib—meaning “ruin of deception”—in Searcy, Arkansas. Created by archaeologists at Harding University, this artificial tell serves as a Biblical archaeology lab that introduces students to excavation technique and methodology. Especially for students unable to travel and dig in the Biblical lands, Tel Achzib offers a valuable, informative, and fun experience.

Also check out the columns in the issue:

FIRST PERSON
“A Little Jot on a Jerusalem Column”
By Robert R. Cargill

CLASSICAL CORNER
“Phidias and Pericles: Hold My Wine”
By Diane Harris Cline

BIBLICAL VIEWS
“Safeguarding Abraham”
By Dan Rickett

ARCHAEOLOGICAL VIEWS
“Tall Jalul: A Look from Behind the Jordan”
By Constance Gane

REVIEWS
“King David’s Stronghold at Khirbet Qeiyafa?”
In the Footsteps of King David: Revelations from an Ancient Biblical City by Yosef Garfinkel, Saar Ganor, and Michael G. Hasel
Reviewed by Aren M. Maeir

Enjoy! And click here to subscribe to both print and online versions.

 

 

Advertisements

earliest hebrew inscription reported found

Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracon

Professor Gershon Galil of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa claims this inscription on a pottery shard discovered in the Elah valley dating from the 10th century BCE is the earliest example of Hebrew writing. Courtesy of the University of Haifa

researchers at haifa university are claiming that the ostracon discovered in 2008 at khirbet qeiyafa contains the earliest example of hebrew writing. professor gershon galil of the department of biblical studies at the university of haifa has translated the text of the faded ostracon. according to a press release:

The inscription itself, which was written in ink on a 15 cm X 16.5 cm trapezoid pottery shard, was discovered a year and a half ago at excavations that were carried out by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel at Khirbet Qeiyafa near the Elah valley. The inscription was dated back to the 10th century BCE, which was the period of King David’s reign, but the question of the language used in this inscription remained unanswered, making it impossible to prove whether it was in fact Hebrew or another local language.

galil’s english translation reads as follows:

1′ you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2′ Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3′ [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4′ the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5′ Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

galil uses the ostracon to argue that hebrew was established much earlier that most scholars date the origin of the language. while the gezer calendar, which dates to approximately the same period is a simple text telling the reader when to plant and when to harvest and may have served as a school text, this qeiyafa ostracon echoes some of the teachings that would later be found in the bible, such as caring for slaves, widows, orphans, infants, foreigners, and the poor.

a few comments and questions should surely be asked:

  1. what was the context of the sherd? this is instrumental in ruling out forgery. the ostracon came from the elah fortress excavation. the new york times’ ethan bronner wrote an article highlighting the excavation. there is an excellent timeline of the discovery of the ostracon.
  2. is the translation accurate? scholars will no doubt debate each letter of the transcription and translation. stephen smuts has blogged about a youtube video where professors hagai misgav and yosef garfinkel discuss their translation of the ostracon. galil’s translation will be sure to continue the debate.
  3. does this prove the existence of king david? the answer is no (nor does it arge against his existence). what it does show is that hebrew (if it is determined to be, in fact, hebrew and not some canaanite dialect) writing was practiced in the 10th century bce. this would support the presence of literate hebrew scribes at qeiyafa. whether the presence of scribes in a smaller coastal town supports the existence of an even larger israelite presence in jerusalem is yet to be seen. we cannot assume that just because someone in a small town southwest of jerusalem can write in hebrew means that there are even more people writing in a capitol in jerusalem. what it would tell us is that literacy was more common and widespread at an earlier period than previously thought. of course, none of this lends any evidence to the existence or absence of king david, but a widespread literacy of hebrew in the 10th century bce could be used as evidence of an established or coordinated scribal system in israel.
  4. does this mean that the bible was written earlier than we thought? no. because the text of the ostracon only makes references to themes that would later appear in biblical books, and does not cite them specifically, we cannot say that the bible was composed at any earlier of a date than the 7th-to-1st century bce periods that scholars already date the bible. conservative scholars argue that some portions of the bible were written as early as the 8th century reign of king hezekiah (with some archaic hebrew songs and poems perhaps dating a bit earlier), and other scholars date the composition of the bible to the 6th and 5th centuries bce, during and after the exile to babylon. still other minimalist scholars date the composition of the bible to the 3rd and 2nd centuries bce. (some books like daniel and esther were written even later and date to the second and first centuries bce). thus, we cannot state that this ostracon requires us to date the biblical texts to an earlier period. what we can say is that the themes of social justice and care of the poor and marginalized that would later be echoed in the torah and by the prophetic books were already in the consciousness of the peoples that would later com to identify themselves as jews.
  5. does this prove the story of david and goliath is true? no. better yet, not on your life! the story of david and goliath claims to have taken place in a valley where this ostracon was discovered. here’s a great rule of thumb in archaeology: just because something – anything – was found in a place where a legendary story is said to have taken place does not prove the story. it does nothing. it’s as if i told you that i floated in mid air unaided at ucla. you then traveled to ucla and found a flip flop that said ‘rainbow’ on it. you then tell the world that you discovered a rainbow flip flop in the same place that cargill claims to have floated in mid air. this does not make my story valid, it just means that the place i claimed to have done something exists. likewise, the discovery of this ostracon in the place where david was said to have battled goliath does not in any way lend evidence to the historicity of the legend. it only means that there is a place named the valley of elah. this, of course, won’t stop reporters form mentioning david and goliath.

links

http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2010/01/linguistics-and-dating-of-texts.html

http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/2010/01/etching-hints-bible-is-older-than-thought-earliest-hebrew-inscription-found/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+TheChurchOfJesusChrist+(The+Church+of+Jesus+Christ)&utm_content=Google+Reader

http://jamestabor.com/2010/01/07/oldest-hebrew-text-deciphered/

http://www.dailyhebrew.com/2010/01/07/update-10th-century-khirbet-qeiyafa-inscription/

%d bloggers like this: