What Abraham Jacob and Joseph Might Have Known

Was Noah’s Ark a Sewn Boat? Ralph K. Pedersen, BAR 31-03, May-Jun 2005.
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Was Noah’s Ark a Sewn Boat? Ralph K. Pedersen, BAR 31-03, May-Jun 2005.

The story of Noah’s Ark may be the best known of all Biblical tales. The destruction of a sinful world by an angry God, the cleansing waters of the flood and the redemption of mankind through one righteous man continues to fascinate young and old alike. With the possible exception of the Titanic, Noah’s Ark […]

Abraham’s Ur: Did Woolley Excavate the Wrong Place?
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Abraham’s Ur: Did Woolley Excavate the Wrong Place?

The ancient woodwork has perished, the metal has been stripped from the walls,” Sir Leonard Woolley wrote in 1936. “The ruins which excavation lays bare are but skeletons from which the skin and flesh have gone, and to re-create them in imagination we must use such evidence as the ruins may afford, eked out by […]

Abraham’s Ur: Is the Pope Going to the Wrong Place?
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Abraham’s Ur: Is the Pope Going to the Wrong Place?

Pope John Paul II is planning a millennium pilgrimage in 2000 that will take him to Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Sinai—and Iraq! Why Iraq? Because that is where the patriarch Abraham was born—at Ur. But wait a minute. The Pope may be going to the wrong Ur. Perhaps he should be going to Turkey. More than 40 […]

Books in Brief–Historical Essays; The Early Biblical Period, Philip J. King, BAR 12-06, Nov-Dec 1986.
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Books in Brief–Historical Essays; The Early Biblical Period, Philip J. King, BAR 12-06, Nov-Dec 1986.

This new volume appears at a time of explosive activity in the study of ancient Israelite history. Indeed, it is only the latest of at least a dozen histories of ancient Israel that have been published within the last six years. Some of them, like the third edition of John Bright’s A History of Israel […]

Sumerian “Firsts,” BAR 10-05, Sep-Oct 1984.
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Sumerian “Firsts,” BAR 10-05, Sep-Oct 1984.

For thousands of years, the Sumerians were a forgotten people. No book recorded their achievements; no spade unearthed their treasures. The Sumerians had passed out of history, until, in the mid-19th century, linguists studying Assyrian cuneiform writing discovered cuneiform tablets written in another language. Linguists and archaeologists alike soon began to realize that in Mesopotamia, […]

Inanna—The Quintessential Femme Fatale, Tikva Frymer-Kensky, BAR 10-05, Sep-Oct 1984.
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Inanna—The Quintessential Femme Fatale, Tikva Frymer-Kensky, BAR 10-05, Sep-Oct 1984.

Diane Wolkstein’s Inanna–Queen of Heaven and Earth is a retelling, with commentary, of one of the major texts about the Sumerian goddess Inanna. This is a difficult book for me to review. I could not possibly be more in sympathy with its aims. As a historian of religion, I find ancient mythology a fascinating and important […]

Woolley’s Ur Revisited, Richard L. Zettler, BAR 10-05, Sep-Oct 1984.
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Woolley’s Ur Revisited, Richard L. Zettler, BAR 10-05, Sep-Oct 1984.

Sir Leonard Woolley was, perhaps, the most famous archaeologist of his day. He was a man of enormous energy and a prodigious worker. Between 1907 and 1949 Woolley not only directed five major excavations in Egypt and Nubia, Syria and Iraq, but published the results quickly and in a highly professional manner. Between 1922 and […]

Claude Frederic-Armand Schaeffer-Forrer (1898–1982): An Appreciation
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Claude Frederic-Armand Schaeffer-Forrer (1898–1982): An Appreciation

The death of Claude Schaeffer of cancer at the age of 84 in his home at St. Germain-en-Laye, France, on August 25, 1982, marks the end of an epoch in the archaeology of the Near East. He was the last of those titanic figures whose achievements are sometimes hard for us to appreciate from our […]

Ancient Jerusalem’s Rural Food Basket, Gershon Edelstein and Shimon Gibson, BAR 8-04, Jul-Aug 1982.
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Ancient Jerusalem’s Rural Food Basket, Gershon Edelstein and Shimon Gibson, BAR 8-04, Jul-Aug 1982.

Until recently, archaeology—or at least Near Eastern archaeology—has been regarded primarily as a historical science. Its focus was history and particularly political history—kings and kingdoms, battles and destructions, the rise and fall of civilizations. That focus has now shifted somewhat. It is difficult to put a date on the change because it has occurred gradually […]

Beer-sheba of the Patriarchs
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Beer-sheba of the Patriarchs

The findings of archaeologists sometimes seem to confirm the Biblical text. At other times, the excavation results present a problem. Perhaps the best known case of the latter is Jericho. Most scholars date the Israelite conquest of Canaan to the Late Bronze Age, to a time (13th century B.C.) when, according to Jericho excavator Kathleen […]