Ancient Cultures

Ancient Cultures


Jul 18

First Person: The Sun God in the Synagogue

By: Hershel Shanks

The 92nd Street Y in New York City called me a few months ago, asking me to speak. We discussed possible topics, and I finally chose “What’s a Greek God Doing in an Ancient Synagogue?” They also agreed to my asking two real experts to join me on the platform: Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Steve Fine of Yeshiva University. We had a good time—and so did the enthusiastic audience—but we didn’t solve the problem, at least to my mind.


Jul 16

The Enduring Symbolism of Doves

By: Dorothy Willette

Few symbols have a tradition as long and as rich as the dove. Read about what it represents and how its use has been shared, adapted and reinterpreted across cultures and millennia to suit changing belief systems.


Jul 15

Two Shipwrecks for the Price of One

By: Nathan Steinmeyer

While exploring the famous first-century BCE Antikythera shipwreck off the southern coast of Greece, divers made some remarkable new discoveries. Among them was a previously […]

The Jerubbaal inscription. Photo by Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities Authority

Jul 11

Archaeological Evidence of Gideon the Judge?

By: Nathan Steinmeyer

Archaeologists officially announced the discovery of a 3,100-year-old inscription from the site of Khirbet al-Ra‘i that may be evidence of Gideon the Judge. Khirbet al-Ra‘i, […]

Excavations at Tel Habuwa

Jul 9

The Expulsion of the Hyksos

By: Noah Wiener

In the 16th century B.C.E., Ahmose I overthrew the Hyksos and initiated the 18th Dynasty and the New Kingdom of Egypt. Recent archaeological discoveries at Tel Habuwa shed new light on Ahmose’s campaign.

The graffito of the Hekatompedon, the lost Athenian Temple. Courtesy Langdon and van Rookhuijzen

Jul 8

On the Trail of a Lost Athenian Temple

By: Nathan Steinmeyer

Etched into a stone on a hillside some 12 miles from Athens is a graffito that may help scholars identify a 2,500-year-old Athenian temple. Although […]

Delphi Oracle

Jul 7

The Oracle of Delphi—Was She Really Stoned?

By: Jelle Zeilinga de Boer and John R. Hale

According to Strabo and other sources, the Pythia who gave prophecies on behalf of Apollo was inspired by mysterious vapors. Is there evidence that intoxicating gases actually drifted through the Temple of Apollo at Delphi?

Seder meal

Jul 6

Making Sense of Kosher Laws

By: Biblical Archaeology Society Staff

The origins of Jewish dietary or kosher laws (kashrut) have long been the subject of scholarly research and debate.

Replica of the Lachish Reliefs, showing Sennacherib's siege of Lachish. Courtesy Photo Companion to the Bible, 2 Kings

Jul 5

Sennacherib’s Siege Camp Discovered?

By: Nathan Steinmeyer

Have the siege camps set up during Sennacherib’s campaign against Judah (c. 701 BCE) been identified? According to an article published in the journal Near […]

Synogogue Zodiacs

Jul 4

Jewish Worship, Pagan Symbols

By: Walter Zanger

What are zodiac mosaics doing in ancient synagogues in Israel?