Inside BAR

July/August 2017


From Canaanite temples and Israelite houses to Roman political figures and Herodian palaces, the July/August 2017 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review brings you the latest news in Biblical archaeology. The current issue features updates about the archaeological sites of Sidon, Machaerus and the Cave of the Skulls, as well as a study of ancient Israelite houses, analyses of the Biblical figures of Adam, Cain and Pontius Pilate, and so much more.

Many of us would love to visit a Mediterranean seaport this summer. For those unable to go in person, join Claude Doumet-Serhal on a survey of Sidon on the coast of modern Lebanon in “Sidon—Canaan’s Firstborn.” The city of Sidon is mentioned 38 times in the Hebrew Bible. Recent excavations have exposed part of the ancient Canaanite—and later Phoenician—city, including a massive temple and depictions of deities worshiped at Sidon.

From the coast of Lebanon, travel to Machaerus in modern Jordan with Győző Vörös in “Machaerus: A Palace-Fortress with Multiple Mikva’ot.” Several mikva’ot (Jewish ritual baths) have been uncovered at Machaerus, Herod’s palace-fortress on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea where Salome danced and John the Baptist was beheaded. Archaeologist Gyozo Vörös takes readers on a journey through past and present archaeological excavations that have resulted in the discovery of these ritual baths.

Then take a look at the archaeological evidence of the New Testament figure of Pontius Pilate with R. Steven Notley in “Pontius Pilate: Sadist or Saint?” The Gospels offer a surprisingly excusatory depiction of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea directly responsible for Jesus’ death. While the contemporary sources do not mention Pilate’s fatal involvement with the itinerant rabbi from Galilee, they reveal a governor determined to promote Roman religion in Judea and to ruthlessly suppress any form of dissent.

After hunting for the historical Pontius Pilate, enjoy a survey of ancient Israelite architecture with BAR’s Editor Hershel Shanks. In “The Four-Room House: Ancient Israel’s Major Architectural Achievement,” he analyzes whether or not so-called four-room houses are an infallible sign of the Israelites’ presence just because many have been found at sites identified as Israelite. It may be necessary to look for other historical evidence before we draw conclusions of ethnicity from the floor plans of early Iron Age houses in Biblical lands.

Also included in this issue are the First Person column “Should These Looters Go to Jail?” by Hershel Shanks; the Biblical Views column “Who Sinned First—Adam or Cain?” by John Byron; the Archaeological Views column “In the Cave of the Skulls—Again” by Eitan Klein, Uri Davidovich, Roi Porat, Amir Ganor and Micka Ullman; and a review by Cynthia Shafer-Elliott of Ancient Cookware from the Levant: An Ethnoarchaeological Perspective (Equinox, 2016) by Gloria London.

Visit us online at Bible History Daily to see the latest news in Biblical archaeology, as well as additional articles and videos about key Bible and archaeology topics, including an exclusive post by Shawna Dolansky about how the 10 Commandments would have been understood by their original audience. In the free eBook Who Was Jesus?, learn about the history of Jesus’ life and whether there is historical evidence to prove he existed. Visit our new BAS Streaming Video Site to stream or download lectures about the Bible and archaeology by world experts from the comfort of your home, office or classroom. And be sure to explore the BAS Library, which features every article ever published in BAR, Bible Review and Archaeology Odyssey, all footnoted articles in BAR Notables and Special Collections of articles curated by BAS editors, such as our Women in the Bible special collection, which explores how Biblical heroines—from Esther and Judith to Mary Magdalene—helped shape Biblical history.

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