2023 BAS Publication Awards

These prestigious awards have been made possible by a grant from the Rohr Family in memory of Sami Rohr.

Best Book on Archaeology (tie)

Why Those Who Shovel Are Silent: A History of Local Archaeological Knowledge and Labor
By Allison Mickel
(Louisville: University Press of Colorado, 2021)

Allison Mickel’s Why Those Who Shovel Are Silent sheds light on an aspect of archaeology that rarely receives attention: the role of local community members in the research process. By combining ethnographic research with a study of the practice of fieldwork, Mickel draws attention to the unique knowledge that local laborers possess and allows their voices to be heard. The author also illustrates how the inclusion of the local community leads to a more dynamic image of the past. Why Those Who Shovel Are Silent is a must read for anyone who does fieldwork or is interested in participating in an archaeological dig.

Age of Empires: The History and Administration of Judah in the 8th-2nd centuries BCE in Light of the Storage-Jar Stamp Impressions
By Oded Lipschits
(University Park, PA: Eisenbrauns, 2021)

Oded Lipschits’s Age of Empires is the culmination of a study that stretched over many years and covers the special phenomenon of stamped storage jar handles in the Kingdom of Judah and its role in the administration of the kingdom for 600 years. It examines the archaeological remains and explores the function of these jars in the political and economic life of Judah through the centuries.

Honorable Mentions

Under Jerusalem: The Buried History of the World’s Most Contested City
By Andrew Lawler
(New York: Doubleday, 2021)

Pearl of the Desert: A History of Palmyra
By Rubina Raja
(Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2022)

Hershel Shanks Award for Best Dig Report (tie)

Tel Reḥov: A Bronze and Iron Age City in the Beth-Shean Valley, Vols. 1–5
By Amihai Mazar and Nava Panitz-Cohen
(Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2020)[i]

Megiddo VI: The 2010–2014 Seasons
Edited by Israel Finkelstein and Mario A.S. Martin
(University Park, PA: Eisenbrauns, 2022)

The five-volume Tel Reḥov report, covering all 11 seasons (1997–2012), and the three-volume Megiddo VI report, covering the seasons from 2010–2014 (following the previous multi-volume publications of Megiddo III–V, which together presented the results of the 1994–2008 seasons), are each extremely comprehensive, publishing the results of multiple seasons at large, stratigraphically complex, and multi-period sites in a timely manner. They are what we would hope and expect major excavations to produce, but regrettably this has not always been the case.

Each includes synthetic chapters; chapters on the stratigraphy, architecture, pottery, and other artifacts (including inscriptions at Tel Rehov); and detailed scientific analyses, often involving teams of experts working together. The new information, analyses, and interpretations contained in both the Tel Rehov and Megiddo reports, which will be used and cited immediately and for a long time to come by other scholars and colleagues, expand and change our understanding not only of the sites themselves but the very fabric of the ebb and flow of history in this region, especially during the Bronze and Iron Ages, but also far beyond.

Honorable Mentions

Excavations in the City of David, Jerusalem (1995–2010)
By Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron
(University Park, PA: Eisenbrauns/AJP/IAA, 2021)

The Landfill of Early Roman Jerusalem
By Yuval Gadot
(University Park, PA: Eisenbrauns/AJP/IAA, 2022)

Ramat Raḥel VI
By Oded Lipschits, Liora Freud, Manfred Oeming, and Yuval Gadot
(University Park, PA: Eisenbrauns, 2021)

ODED BOROWSKI – Emory University
ERIC H. CLINE – George Washington University
DEBRA FORAN – Wilfrid Laurier University

Best Book on the Hebrew Bible

Purity and Pollution in the Hebrew Bible: From Embodied Experience to Moral Metaphor
By Yitzhaq Feder
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2021)

Where did the Hebrew Bible’s concepts of purity and pollution originate, and how did ancient Israel think about and communicate these ideas? In this insightful and creative book, Israeli anthropologist and biblical scholar Yitzhaq Feder builds upon previous scholarship and offers a nuanced way forward by synthesizing what are typically opposing views on purity and pollution. His explanations of the linguistic and historical issues involved are clear and accessible to a wide audience, and his engagement with both biblical and extra-biblical sources is thorough and careful. All the while, Feder never loses sight of the significance his research holds for better understanding the Hebrew Bible.

Honorable Mentions

Women and the Religion of Ancient Israel
By Susan Ackerman
(New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 2022)

Abraham’s Silence: The Binding of Isaac, the Suffering of Job, and How to Talk Back to God
By J. Richard Middleton
(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2021)

Samuel: The Making of the Monarchy, Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel
David Arnovitz, Editor-in-Chief
(Jerusalem: Koren Publishers, 2021)

ELIZABETH BACKFISH – William Jessup University
STEED DAVIDSON – Society of Biblical Literature
AMY-JILL LEVINE – Hartford International University for Religion and Peace

Best Book on the New Testament

The Pharisees
Edited by Joseph Sievers and Amy-Jill Levine
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2021)

The Pharisees is a landmark volume that tackles a longstanding problem in the field of New Testament studies by bringing together an astonishingly broad variety of relevant scholars with a stunningly wide breadth of expertise—including literary and archaeological perspectives, Jewish and Christian contexts, and ancient and modern purviews. The negative portrayal of Pharisees in the New Testament and its effects on the history of anti-Semitism have been long noted, including in relation to a difficult legacy of anti-Judaism that has been shaped and shaped by the academic study of the New Testament. This volume addresses the problem head-on, updating our historical understanding of this group in light of new data and approaches, while simultaneously modeling the relevance of the academic study of the New Testament for our understanding of our present and past.

Honorable Mentions

Rethinking the Dates of the New Testament
By Jonathan Bernier
(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2022)

What Makes a Church Sacred? Legal and Ritual Perspectives from Late Antiquity
By Mary F. Farang
(Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2021)

ANNETTE YOSHIKO REED – Harvard Divinity School
JORDAN RYAN – Wheaton College
ROBYN FAITH WALSH – University of Miami


[i] The first two volumes of the Tel Reḥov final publication were published in 2020, with the remaining three volumes published in the qualifying year of 2021.

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