Biblical Archaeology Review, Winter 2023

The Winter 2023 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review is packed with insightful, thought-provoking articles sure to promote enjoyable discussion during the holidays. In “Archaeology in the Land of Midian,” explore the ruins of Qurayyah, a thriving desert oasis that dominated northwest Arabia—biblical Midian—during the time of Moses and the Exodus. In “The House of Peter: Capernaum or Bethsaida?” visit El-Araj on the Sea of Galilee and examine new evidence that its Byzantine church was where early Christians commemorated the house of the chief apostle.

In “Hard Power,” learn about the impressive stone statues of the biblical Ammonites and why this small Iron Age kingdom developed such a monumental artistic style. And in “Warrior Women,” study a new mosaic from the Huqoq synagogue that depicts the prophet Deborah’s victory over the Canaanites.

BAR unearths the latest findings from the biblical world. Examine the “woman in the window” motif in Near Eastern art and the biblical passages that shed light on its meaning. Look for the origins of the world’s seven great wonders and find out why ancient authors could never quite agree on which sites to include. And BAR’s Test Kitchen delivers a savory meat cake from medieval Mongolia that will add the perfect amount of spice to any holiday meal.

Search for the Nativity story’s Star of Bethlehem and investigate the very different ways that ancient astronomers perceived and interpreted celestial events. Probe the origins of ancient Israel’s tribes to discover that the 12-tribe tradition was likely more idealized myth than historical reality. Finally, find out how artificial intelligence is revolutionizing Bible translation but also presenting new challenges for producing reliable and trusted results.

Visit us online, at Bible History Daily, to see the latest news in biblical archaeology or to delve into additional articles, eBooks, and videos about key Bible and archaeology topics. And be sure to check out this issue’s Web Exclusive, “The Great Paul Debate,” in which three leading Pauline scholars offer competing perspectives on the apostle’s mission and audience.

All-Access Members can explore the BAS Library, which features every article ever published in Biblical Archaeology Review, Bible Review, and Archaeology Odyssey, as well as Special Collections of articles curated by BAR editors.



Archaeology in the Land of Midian: Excavating the Qurayyah Oasis

Marta Luciani
The site of Qurayyah, in northwest Saudi Arabia, was possibly the center of ancient Midian, the desert wilderness of the Exodus story where Moses first encountered the Israelite God Yahweh. Recent archaeological exploration has uncovered a vibrant desert oasis that thrived for thousands of years and had close connections with the Levant and the Near East.

The House of Peter: Capernaum or Bethsaida?

R. Steven Notley
Today, Christian pilgrims frequently visit Capernaum to see the House of Peter memorial church. Early pilgrimage accounts and recent excavations at nearby El-Araj (possibly biblical Bethsaida), however, suggest that the true home of the chief apostle was more likely commemorated by a newly uncovered basilical church rather than the octagonal church at Capernaum.

Hard Power: The Stone Statues of Ammon

Katharina Schmidt
The Kingdom of Ammon had much in common with Israel and Judah, as well as its sister kingdoms to the south, Moab and Edom. But of all these peoples, the Ammonites alone produced statues in significant numbers. This monumental art reflects both the kingdom’s distinctive ideas about the display of power and its sustained interactions with the major Near Eastern empires.

Warrior Women: Deborah and Yael Found at Huqoq

Karen Britt and Ra‘anan Boustan
Huqoq’s synagogue, built c. 400 CE, continues to dazzle with its mosaic pavements of biblical scenes. Archaeologists recently uncovered depictions of Deborah and Yael, the heroines of Judges 4–5. These represent the earliest illustrations of Deborah and Yael by nearly a thousand years and attest to the continued importance of female biblical figures in late antique Judaism.



Gateway to the Underworld
Wine for the Departed
What Is It?
Milestone: Amnon Ben-Tor (1935–2023)
Pompeii Pizza?
Ethiopia at the Crossroads
Facelift: Restoring Egypt’s Medieval Murals
Understanding the Woman in the Window
Test Kitchen: Mongolian Meat Cakes
Classical Corner: The Seven World Wonders
Book Review: The Magi in History and Tradition
World Wonders: Mt. Tabor


What Was the Star of Bethlehem?
Clip Art
Artificial Intelligence and Bible Translation
Were There 12 Tribes of Israel?
Biblical Bestiary: Snake


Digging In
Queries & Comments
BAS Publication Awards
Caption Contest

Web Exclusive

The Great Paul Debate
More Queries & Comments