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 from Dartmouth College, Yale University, and the University of Pennsylvania. 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” and has had his books translated into Bulgarian, Hungarian, Serbian and Korean. He is perhaps best 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). An experienced archaeologist, Dr. Cline has 30 seasons of field excavation and survey to his credit, including ten seasons at the site of Megiddo (Biblical Armageddon) in Israel, where he is currently the Associate Director (USA).

Presenter at

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.