First Person: A New Chapter

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.


Posted in Archaeologists, Biblical Scholars & Works.

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  • David says

    True Bible time lines should be the hallmark of any article. WHY are there STILL so many different ones? Is science changing it’s mind again (and again)? I am very interested in the letter below on time lines How about an aggressive debate article on the subject and an ongoing note of any possible changes due to new dig info.

  • DENNIS says

    Dear Mr. Cargill:

    Perhaps you could take a look at the “Bible History Daily” newsletter. When I first subscribed, it was very informative and useful between issues of BAR. Unfortunately, over the last few years, the informative BHD issues have become fewer and fewer while the “100% shilling” issues have become the majority.

    I know BAS needs income to pay for the BAR and I accept it, however those book/DVD ads should be kept as a short last entry on each newsletter. If the reason BHD has become a majority of ads is due to the lack of actual “Bible History” articles, perhaps BHD should become BHW or “Bible History Weekly”?

    Dennis B. Swaney

  • Helen says

    “…a few subtle changes in BAR, both in print and online (like the adoption of the Oxford comma)”

    Welcome — Oxford comma!


  • Larry says

    Best wishes to you in your retirement. Thanks for so much great information from BAR over the years. Interesting it’s “Herschel” and not “Mr. Shanks” (smile). That reflects the personal touch you gave to BAR.

    Dear Mr. Cargill,
    Welcome to BAR! BAR is an important communication about what is going on in the world of archaeology. But you should know that serious biblicists are forced to separate the archaeology from the archaeologist. That is, we take issue with the non-Biblical timeline and dates used by the archaeologists. The absolute dating for Shishak, David, Solomon and the Exodus are based on an eclipse in 763 BCE found in the Assyrian eponym. But 763 BCE is not the correct date for that eclipse; this eclipse would have been dated by the Assyrians in month two, not month 3. It is part of a series of predictable eclipses though, and the third eclipse experienced over Assyria would have occurred in 709 BCE. This eclipse was likely mentioned in the eponym because it was predictable based on the dating and pattern of the two previous eclipses in 817 and 763 BCE. When the correct eclipse is used to date the Assyrian Period, then Shishak’s invasion drops from 925 BCE down to 871 BCE, precisely where radiocarbon-14 dating from City IV destructive level at Rehov dates Shishak. In other words, the science of astronomy combined with radiocarbon-14 dating confirm each other for this critical event. In addition, the Bible parallels the rule of Rehoboam with that of Jeroboam whose rulership begins at the time of his divine appointment, prior to the death of Solomon. Thus when Shishak invaded Israel, it was in the 39th year of Solomon; Rehoboam had not yet become sole ruler by his 5th year. The context of scripture shows Rehoboam influenced all of Israel in this folly that led to Shishak’s invasion. In addition, the primary cities destroyed were all in the north, clearly an effort to limit the ability of Rehoboam to harass the northern kingdom, thus as a favor to Jeroboam, who likely was by his side during this campaign. Not realizing there was a 6-year co-rulership between Rehoboam and Solomon is another reason why the archaeologists are not taken seriously in a lot of their commentary.

    But ultimately, the correct eclipse dating from the Assyrian Period plus the radiocarbon-14 dating from Rehov, both pointing to year 871 BCE for year 39 of Solomon can be used to date every other critical event in the Bible. Solomon’s rule should thus be dated from 910-870 BCE, precisely where “low-chronology” dates the time of great statehood and monumental structures worthy of Solomon, only they think Omri must have done the building. David’s rule should be dated from 950-910 BCE, precisely when Israel Finkelstein dates the end of the Philistine Pottery Period. Solomon’s 4th year would fall in 906 BCE which in turn dates the Exodus to 1386 BCE, which agrees with Kathleen Kenyon’s dating for the fall of Jericho by the Israelites between 1350-1325 BCE (i.e. 1346 BCE, 40 years after the Exodus). So in reality, the true science available now completely supports the Bible’s internal dating for the Exodus in 1386 BCE.

    That is, the Exodus occurs 931 years prior to the return from Babylon, a period of 19 jubilees (19 x 49 = 931). That means, based on the Exodus occurring in 1386 BCE at the end of the rule of Amenhotep III (he and Amenhotep IV-Akhenaten were the pharaohs of the Exodus), the return from Babylon would have occurred in 455 BCE (1386 – 931 = 455 BCE). That’s the correct Biblical date for the 1st of Cyrus based on the baptism of Christ in 29 CE. Christ must appear to fulfill the 70th week of a prophecy of 490 years following the “word going forth to rebuild Jerusalem,” which occurred when Cyrus began his rule. The dating for the 1st of Cyrus was distorted by pagan revisionism, which added 82 fake years to the Persian Period. Thus again, per the Bible, Darius I only ruled for six years, followed by a king called “Artaxerxes,” which was simply an additional name for Xerxes. Xerxes and Artaxerxes I were actually the same king. Ezra 6:14,15, therefore, gives us the “accession year” of Xerxes/Artaxerxes in the sixth year of Darius I. This verse alone would remove 51 years from the Persian timeline. Point being, the Bible’s timeline and the pagan timeline are not compatible. When this phony timeline is used for dating events in the Bible, then the science now in place from astronomy and radiocarbon-14 dating shows up a discrepancy, David and Solomon appear too soon in the timeline. But when you use the Bible’s own dates for these events, 455 BCE for the 1st of Cyrus and the Exodus in 1386 BCE 931 years earlier, then the science completely confirms the exact dating!

    In conclusion, a magazine that calls itself “Biblical Archaeology” seems to be very much out of touch with what the Bible actually teaches. To think none of these so-called “Biblical archaeologists” have figured out that the Exodus occurred at the end of the reign of Amenhotep III is simply astounding. I plan to provide you with all the research you need to reflect the Bible’s own dates for major events which should be reflected in the archaeological commentary, now that Hershel has left and a new page has turned for BAR.

    Comparing RC14 from Rehov with the correctly dated Assyrian eclipse in 709 BCE would be a fantastic article to support Bible history. But also another great article would be the archaeology supporting the 6-year rule of Darius I. At Persepolis, Darius I began building in his 4th year but could only finish his palace, a 2-year project. So even Persepolis shows Darius I died in his 6th year! At the burial place of the Persian kings at Naqshi-Rustam, Artaxerxes is buried between Darius I and Darius II, where he should be. That’s because Artaxerxes I was the son of Darius I and the father of Darius II.

    In conclusion, BAR has a wonderful opportunity to reflect how archaeology supports Bible truth and Bible history while showing how the pagan history and timeline are incompatible with science, instead of the other way around. David and Solomon were true historical characters who are directly supported by archaeology when you date them to the correct times. What is a myth is Israel Finkelstein’s Aram-Damascus empire, which he was forced to invent because of not being aware of Greek Period revisions to the timeline and the misdated Assyrian timeline.

    I’ll be in touch and welcome to BAR and a new era of Biblical archaeology.

    Sincerely yours,

    Larry L. Wilson
    Biblical Chronologist

  • FREDERICK says

    When I was in the military I had the opportunity of spending 3 days in Cairo, Egypt. I hit all of tourist traps: Sphinx, Pyramids, museum, etc. when I arrived back home I told my Dad that I have a great interest in Egypt. He told me to read the Bible. So I have, 6 times now. But I wanted more. That’s when I found B.A R., Odyssey, and Bible Review. I got so into B.A.R. That many times I was late to work and/or appointments. Thank you Herschel for such a fine publication. If you ever get tired of the cold come on down and visit us flatlanders in Florida.

    God bless,
    Fred Leonard

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