About Eric Cline

Eric Cline

Eric Cline is Professor of Anthropology, Classics and History and Director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at The George Washington University. A former Fulbright scholar, he is an award-winning author and teacher with degrees in Classical Archaeology, Near Eastern Archaeology and Ancient History. Author and editor of 16 books and almost 100 articles, Dr. Cline has three times won the Biblical Archaeology Society’s Publication Award for “Best Popular Book on Archaeology.” He is known for The Battles of Armageddon: Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age (2000); Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel (2004); From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible (2007); and Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction (2009). Cline, an experienced archaeologist, has 30 seasons of field excavation/survey, including ten seasons at the site of Megiddo (Biblical Armageddon) in Israel, where he is the USA Associate Director.


Presenter at

St. Olaf College Summer Seminar, July 19 – 25, 2020

Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction
Public interest in biblical archaeology is at an all-time high. Television documentaries pull in millions of viewers to watch shows on the Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Lost Tomb of Jesus. Important discoveries with relevance to the Bible are made virtually every year. In this illustrated lecture, based on his book that was awarded the Biblical Archaeology Society’s 2011 prize for “Best Popular Book on Archaeology” (Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction; Oxford University Press, 2009), Professor Cline will present an overview of this exciting field. You’ll meet some of the most well-known biblical archaeologists, including Kathleen Kenyon, Yigael Yadin, and Israel Finkelstein, and the sites that are essential sources of knowledge for biblical archaeology, such as Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, Lachish, Masada, and Jerusalem. Relive again some of the most important discoveries that have been made, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Mesha Inscription, and the Tel Dan Stele. You’ll come away with a concise knowledge of the field and a desire to go digging as soon as possible!

Raiders of the Faux Ark: From Pseudoarchaeology to Biblical Archaeology
The discussions concerning so-called “mysteries” of the Bible can be overwhelming. In this illustrated lecture, using material from his book that was awarded the BAS 2009 prize for “Best Popular Book on Archaeology” (From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible; National Geographic Books, 2007), Professor Cline will present, and discuss with the audience, topics such as the possible locations of Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Ten Lost Tribes–while at the same time taking a brief look at what we really do and do not know about these biblical mysteries.

Digging Up Armageddon: Chicago’s Search for the Lost City of Solomon (1925-1939)
The numerous publications produced by the Chicago excavators who dug at Megiddo from 1925-39 are still held in high regard – both used and debated — by archaeologists working in the region today. However, these provide virtually no insight into the daily activities of the team members or the stories behind their discoveries, including what are still commonly called “Solomon’s Stables.” Fortunately, they also left behind more than three decades worth of letters, cablegrams, cards, and notes, as well as their diaries, that are now in the archives of the Oriental Institute. Digging through these materials provides a glimpse behind the scenes, including intrigues, infighting, romance, and dogged perseverance over the years, situated against the backdrop of the Great Depression in the United States as well as the growing troubles and tensions in British Mandate Palestine between the two world wars. Based on the new/forthcoming book entitled Digging Up Armageddon by the speaker, some of the more interesting details will be shared in this lecture, including the fact that the excavations almost ended just one week after they began and that team members included a high school dropout and a possible spy for the Haganah.

Jerusalem Besieged: 4,000 Years of Conflict in the City of Peace
Jerusalem, whose name to some means the ‘City of Peace,’ has been anything but peaceful during the past four millennia. There have been at least 118 separate conflicts in and for this city since 2000 BCE — conflicts which ranged from local religious struggles to strategic military campaigns and which embraced everything in between. Many of these conflicts left evidence in the archaeological record and recent discoveries have shed new light on many of these successive struggles, including those involving Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites, Jebusites, Neo-Assyrians, Neo-Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Moslems, and Crusaders. In this illustrated lecture, based on his book that was a Main Selection of the Discovery Channel Book Club and a USA Today ‘Books for Your Brain’ selection (Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel; University of Michigan Press, 2004), Dr. Cline will present the evidence for 4,000 years of conflict in this holy city and illustrate how archaeology, politics, and nationalism are frequently linked in the troubled environment of the Middle East today, especially when ancient conflicts and their archaeology are used as propaganda by modern military and political leaders.

The Battles of Armageddon: From Har Megiddo to Armageddon
Armageddon. Students of the Bible know it as the place where the cataclysmic battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil will unfold. But few know that Armageddon is a real place, one that has seen more fighting and bloodshed than any other spot on earth, for Armageddon is a corruption from the Hebrew Har Megiddo and means literally “the mount of Megiddo.” At least 34 bloody conflicts have already been fought at the ancient site of Megiddo and adjacent areas of the Jezreel Valley during the past 4000 years. Based upon material from his book that was awarded the BAS 2001 prize for “Best Popular Book on Archaeology” (The Battles of Armageddon: Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age; University of Michigan Press, 2000), Professor Cline will introduce the audience to a rich cast of ancient and modern warriors, while tying together the wide range of conflicts that have been fought at Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age, in the place called Armageddon.

1177 BC: The Collapse of Civilizations and the Rise of Israel
Just after 1200 BC, the civilized world of the Mediterranean came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms, that had taken centuries to evolve, collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. Blame is usually laid squarely at the feet of the so-called Sea Peoples, known to us from the records of the Egyptian pharaohs Merneptah and Ramses III. However, it was probably not the result of a single invasion, but rather of multiple causes. In this illustrated lecture, based on his award-winning book that was considered for a 2015 Pulitzer Prize (1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed; Princeton University Press, 2014), Dr. Cline will discuss the various possibilities that have been suggested and will also note that the Collapse led to opportunities for new peoples to establish themselves in the area. These included the Israelites, who may have taken advantage of the power vacuum caused by the turmoil at the end of the Late Bronze Age as well as the Egyptian withdrawal from Canaan to settle down and establish themselves in the region.

Excavating Armageddon: New Discoveries and Old Debates at Megiddo (1994-2014)
Based upon his experiences while participating in ten seasons of excavation at Megiddo, Dr. Cline will present an illustrated overview of the excavations that have taken place at the site since the resumption of excavations in 1994. Unresolved questions including the palace, stables, and other ruins initially attributed to King Solomon’s building activities and the extent of King David’s involvement at the site will be re-examined, as will evidence from the various areas of the site, dating from the Early Bronze Age up to and including the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.

Of Canaanites and Kings: The Ongoing Excavation of a Middle Bronze Age Palace at Tel Kabri, Israel (2005-2019)
Excavations and survey from 2005-2019 at the site and environs of Tel Kabri, located in the western Galilee of modern Israel, have shown that the Middle Bronze Age Canaanite palace there is at least three times as large as previously thought, with much still remaining to be excavated. The palace is painted with what may be the earliest-known western art in the Eastern Mediterranean, for it is the earliest of the four known sites in Egypt and the Near East (Alalakh, Qatna, Daba, and Kabri) that have palaces decorated with frescoes painted in an Aegean manner, probably by Cycladic or Minoan artists. It also contains the oldest and largest wine cellar known from the ancient Near East – nearly 20,000 bottles in today’s terms. Highlights of the excavation seasons include the discovery of nearly 100 additional fragments of plaster, 60 of which are painted, from both a previously-unknown Aegean-style wall fresco with figural representations and a second Aegean-style painted floor; a monumental building, perhaps used for dining or feasting, with in situ orthostats; and a complex of storeroom filled with nearly 150 complete but smashed storage jars, most or all of which originally contained wine.

Canaan, Egypt, and the Evidence for Diplomacy during the Amarna Age
During the reigns of Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, for much of the so-called Amarna Age, the Pharaohs of Egypt pursued diplomatic connections at the highest levels: with the kings of Hittite Anatolia, Assyria, Babylonia, Mitanni, and Arzawa, as well as numerous vassal kings in Canaan. Textual and archaeological evidence also indicates contacts with the Aegean during this time, perhaps also at the highest diplomatic levels. Trade and contact with all of these areas was undoubtedly also conducted at lower commercial levels as well, but it is the evidence for diplomatic connections upon which we will focus in this illustrated talk, including a re-examination of Amenhotep III’s “Aegean List” at Kom el-Hetan and a discussion of the social and political networks of both pharaohs, especially with the various Canaanite kings.

What You Always Wanted to Know About Archaeology, But Were Afraid to Ask
Members of the general public frequently have pressing questions to ask of archaeologists, such as: “How do you know where to dig?;” “How hard is it to learn how to dig?;” “How do you know how old something is?;” “How can things that old be preserved?;” and “Do you get to keep what you find?” In this illustrated lecture, Professor Cline will attempt to answer these questions, drawing in part from his award-winning book, Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology (Princeton University Press, 2017) and his own fieldwork, including at Tel Anafa, Megiddo, and Tel Kabri in Israel. He will also discuss some of the improvements in technology that have allowed archaeologists to find new sites as well as to increase our knowledge of sites that were initially excavated long ago, including LiDAR and other forms of remote sensing, in addition to current problems, such as looting around the world. There will also be time for members of the audience to ask their own questions.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXI, November 16 – 18, 2018
Excavating Armageddon: Biblical Megiddo from Canaan to Chicago

The excavations at Megiddo, the ancient site of biblical Armageddon in Israel, are rightfully famous for the light that they shed on one of the most important cities in Biblical times. Nearly a dozen books and reports were published as a result of the excavations conducted at the site by the University of Chicago from 1925-1939, funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The twenty layers, uncovered one on top of another in the ancient mound, and the buildings and objects unearthed, including palaces, Canaanite altars, the so-called “Solomonic Stables,” and a fabulous hoard of ivory objects, have provided the backbone for our chronology and understanding of biblical archaeology in the region for nearly a century. Archaeologist and historian Eric H. Cline has pored through the final reports and presents here the fascinating details of those excavations and the tremendous discoveries. Perhaps even more importantly, he has also dug through the archives of the Oriental Institute to uncover the behind-the-scenes details of the internal workings of the dig, contained in more than a decade of letters, cablegrams, cards, and notes exchanged by the participants, which frequently read more like a script for a soap opera than a dry archaeological report. Cline, who spent ten seasons digging at Megiddo himself, brings the Chicago excavators and their discoveries to life, situating them in the context of both America and Palestine during the 1920s and 1930s, as well as showing how their discoveries fit into the larger scheme of the rise and fall of civilizations.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XX, November 17 – 19, 2017
Digging Deeper: An Insider’s Guide to doing Field Archaeology in and around the Holy Land

To really understand field archaeology, it helps to know the basics: where to dig, how to determine the age of discovered objects, and who gets to keep them. Apart from actually taking part in an archaeological dig, it is hard for the average person to really grasp what such an endeavor involves. As a field archaeologist, Eric Cline has spent more than 30 seasons trying to find what lurks beneath, using his expertise in the history, science, and technology of archaeology. Citing examples from his own experiences in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Cyprus, he shares the secrets of a field archaeologist, from finding sites to excavating and publishing them, including how technology is helping to transform the process.

Cline’s new book Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology (Princeton University Press; 2017) will be available for sale and signing following the lecture.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, November 20 – 22, 2015
Wine, Feasting, and Frescoes: the ongoing excavation of a Canaanite palace at Tel Kabri, Israel

Excavations and survey from 2005-2015 at the site and environs of Tel Kabri, located in the western Galilee of modern Israel, have shown that the Middle Bronze Age Canaanite palace there is at least three times as large as previously thought, with much still remaining to be excavated. The palace is painted with what may be the earliest-known western art in the Eastern Mediterranean, for it is the earliest of the four known sites in Egypt and the Near East (Alalakh, Qatna, Daba, and Kabri) that have palaces decorated with frescoes painted in an Aegean manner, probably by Cycladic or Minoan artists. Highlights of the 2009-2013 seasons include the discovery of nearly 100 additional fragments of plaster, 60 of which are painted, from both a previously-unknown Aegean-style wall fresco with figural representations and a second Aegean-style painted floor; a monumental building, perhaps used for dining or feasting, with in situ orthostats; and a palatial storeroom filled with nearly 40 complete but smashed storage jars which all originally contained wine. The audience at the Bible Fest will be the first to hear of the new discoveries made during the upcoming 2015 field season.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVI, November 22 – 24, 2013
1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

For more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1500 BC to 1200 BC), the Mediterranean region played host to a complex international world in which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all interacted, creating a cosmopolitan and globalized world-system such as has only rarely been seen before the current day. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. Large empires and small kingdoms that had taken centuries to evolve collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. Blame for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually laid squarely at the feet of the so-called Sea Peoples, known to us from the records of the Egyptian pharaohs Merneptah and Ramses III. However, the end of the Bronze Age empires in this region was not the result of a single invasion, but of multiple causes. The Sea Peoples may well have been responsible for some of the destruction that occurred at the end of the Late Bronze Age, but it is much more likely that a concatenation of events, both human and natural — including earthquake storms, droughts, rebellions, and systems collapse — coalesced to create a “perfect storm” that brought the age to an end. This illustrated lecture is based upon a forthcoming book by the same title that will be published by Princeton University Press in February 2014.

ASOR/BAS Seminar on Biblical Archaeology, January 13 – 15, 2012
Biblical Archaeology Through the Ages—From its Origins to the Present

Public interest in biblical archaeology is at an all-time high. Television documentaries pull in millions of viewers to watch shows on the Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Lost Tomb of Jesus. Important discoveries with relevance to the Bible are made virtually every year. In this illustrated lecture, based on his book that has just been awarded the BAS 2011 prize for “Best Popular Book on Archaeology” (Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction; Oxford University Press, 2009), Professor Cline will present an overview of this exciting field. Join him in reexamining the early pioneers such as Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie and William Foxwell Albright and the major controversies that first prompted explorers to go in search of objects and sites that would “prove” the Bible. Meet some of the most well-known biblical archaeologists, including Kathleen Kenyon, Yigael Yadin, and Israel Finkelstein, and the sites that are essential sources of knowledge for biblical archaeology, such as Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, Lachish, Masada, and Jerusalem. Relive again some of the most important discoveries that have been made, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Mesha Inscription, and the Tel Dan Stele. You’ll come away with a concise knowledge of the field and a desire to go dig in the Holy Land next summer!

In Search of Armageddon—The Excavations of Megiddo Through Time
Apocalypse. Judgment Day. The End Time. Armageddon. Students of the Bible know it as the place where the cataclysmic battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil will unfold. Many believe that this battle will take place in the very near future. But few know that Armageddon is a real place—one that has seen more fighting and bloodshed than any other spot on earth. The name Armageddon is a corruption of the Hebrew phrase Har Megiddo, and it means “Mount of Megiddo.” Professor Cline is currently the Associate Director (USA) of the Megiddo Expedition and has been involved in the excavations at the site from 1994 to the present. Based upon his experiences there, and using material from his book that was awarded the BAS 2001 prize for “Best Popular Book on Archaeology” (The Battles of Armageddon: Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age; University of Michigan Press, 2000), he will present an illustrated overview of the renewed excavations at the site and highlight some of the discoveries made during the 1994-2010 excavation seasons. Unresolved questions including the palace, stables, and other ruins initially attributed to King Solomon’s building activities and the extent of King David’s involvement at the site will be re-examined and discussed in detail, as will some of the numerous battles that have already been fought at Armageddon.

The Search for the Arks (Noah’s and of the Covenant)—Fruitful Quests or Fruitless Forays?
Numerous amateur archaeologists have sought some trace of Noah’s Ark, only to meet with failure. Although no serious scholar has undertaken such a literal search, many agree that the Flood was no myth but perhaps the cultural memory of a real, catastrophic inundation, retold and reshaped over countless generations. Likewise, many enthusiasts have searched for the Ark of the Covenant—brought to Jerusalem by King David and installed in the Temple by King Solomon, but now lost to history. In this illustrated lecture, using material from his book that was awarded the BAS 2009 prize for “Best Popular Book on Archaeology” (From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible; National Geographic Books, 2007), Professor Cline will examine several examples of such searches, while at the same time using the tools of his trade to lay out each mystery, evaluate all available evidence—from established fact to arguable assumption to far-fetched leap of faith—and propose possible explanations that reconcile Scripture, science, and history.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XIV, November 18 – 20, 2011
The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel Aren’t Lost (and never were)

Speculating on the whereabouts of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel has been popular for longer than the search for the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail. Suggestions for where they ended up have ranged from America and Britain to India and Africa, and virtually every place in between. However, few proper investigations of this “mystery” have been conducted. Now, utilizing three separate and completely independent sources—the Biblical account, the contemporary Neo-Assyrian inscriptions, and the archaeological remains from both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah—it can be confidently shown that the Ten Tribes of Israel were never lost.