From the January/February 2018 Biblical Archaeology Review
Hello, I’m Bob Cargill, the new Editor of BAR. I am honored to be taking the reins from Hershel Shanks, the man who founded BAR and who devoted his career to exploring and promoting issues pertaining to archaeology and the Bible. Through BAR, Hershel has brought the latest archaeological discoveries from the Holy Land to you, our loyal readers, since 1975. I’ll say more about Hershel—and trust me, there is plenty more to say and many stories to tell—in our next issue.1 Hershel has been promoted to Editor Emeritus and will continue to write periodically for BAR. It has been a privilege apprenticing under Hershel over the past year, and I look forward to working with him for many years to come—as the BAR editorial staff works to bring you timely, responsible, credible, and entertaining information about archaeology and its relation to the Bible.
For now, I’m excited to introduce this year’s Dig Issue, which highlights the active excavations throughout the Biblical world, including Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq. BAR provides this resource in the hope that you might find an archaeological dig and sign up to participate as a volunteer. As a university student, I always valued this resource because it gave me the essential contact and cost information I needed to begin my search for the dig that was right for me in terms of location, time period being examined, and types of objects I just might uncover. We also provide some scholarships for those who might require financial assistance in order to participate in a dig.
And remember, you don’t have to be a student to go on a dig. Some of my best memories from digs are of seasoned carpenters, lawyers, forensic anthropologists, dentists, business-people, elementary school teachers, pest control owners, pastors, and retired armed services members who decided they wanted to do something different for their summers—something romantic, adventurous, exotic, and a little dirty that fed their passion for the Bible, its origins, its context, and the lands in which fate itself conspired with the people to produce the history of events that brought us the book so many of us have given our lives to studying. So if you’re recently retired or suffering from “empty nest” syndrome, there is no better way to travel the Holy Land than to work your way through it (literally!) on an archaeological excavation. It’s the most effective way to lose weight, get a great tan, exercise, and learn about what you love while traveling to exotic places you’ve only ever read about. And, oh, what great stories you will tell when you get home!
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to volunteer on an archaeological dig? I Volunteered For This?! Life on an Archaeological Dig is a free eBook that gives you the lowdown on what to expect from life at a dig site. You’ll be glad to have this informative, amusing and sometimes touching collection of articles by archaeological dig volunteers.
In this issue, we feature four articles that, in various ways, demonstrate the broad spectrum that the world of Biblical archaeology entails. My article, “Migration and Immigration in Ancient Israel,” focuses on the many peoples who have called the eastern Mediterranean home throughout history and spotlights some of the archaeological excavations taking place this coming year. Next, Tel Aviv University’s Yuval Gadot offers us a first look at his excavation in ancient Jerusalem. He argues that a portion of the southern Kidron Valley east of Jerusalem’s Old City was not merely a dump, but one of the earliest engineered landfills in antiquity. Danny Rosenberg of the University of Haifa and Jennie Ebeling of the University of Evansville in Indiana discuss the basalt vessel production industry at Hazor and the later Israelite admiration of this venerable Canaanite tradition. Finally, Jeremy Smoak of UCLA gives us another look at the Ketef Hinnom inscriptions and explains how “invisible writing” (written in such a way that no one could read it) functioned in ancient Israel.
I hope you will enjoy this first issue of 2018. You may begin to notice a few subtle changes in BAR, both in print and online (like the adoption of the Oxford comma), but I hope that you will take comfort in the fact that the entire staff and I are committed to preserving Hershel’s legacy here at BAR and building upon his lifetime of tireless work. For, as a wise man once said, a good editor is one “who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52).
“First Person: A New Chapter” by Robert R. Cargill originally appeared in the January/February 2018 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
1. The next issue of BAR will be a special double issue, reflecting on Hershel the man, his career, and what BAR has meant to the archaeological world.
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