About Jodi Magness

Jodi Magness

Dr. Jodi Magness (www.jodimagness.org) holds the endowed chair of the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is Past President of the Archaeological Institute of America. Magness received her B.A. in archaeology and history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1977) and her Ph.D. in classical archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania (1989). Her research interests, which focus on Palestine in the Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic periods, and Diaspora Judaism in the Roman world, include ancient pottery, ancient synagogues, Jerusalem, Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Roman army in the East. Three of Magness’ books have won awards: Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth (Princeton University, 2019); The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Eerdmans, 2002; revised edition 2021); and The Archaeology of the Early Islamic Settlement in Palestine (Eisenbrauns, 2003). Her other books include The 2003-2007 Excavations in the Late Roman Fort at Yotvata (co-authored with G. Davies) (Eisenbrauns, 2015); The Archaeology of the Holy Land from the Destruction of Solomon’s Temple to the Muslim Conquest (Cambridge University, 2012); and Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus (Eerdmans, 2011). In addition, she has published dozens of articles in journals and edited volumes. Magness has participated on 20 different excavations in Israel and Greece, including codirecting the 1995 excavations in the Roman siege works at Masada. Since 2011 Magness has directed excavations at Huqoq in Galilee (www.huqoq.org). She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem (and past Vice-President), and the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.


Presenter at

BAS Scholars Series, September 15, 2022
The Archaeology of Qumran 75 Years after the Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls

In 1946–1947, the first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by accident near the site of Qumran. Eventually the remains of approximately 1,000 scrolls were found in 11 caves surrounding Qumran. In this slide-illustrated lecture, we explore the archaeological remains of Qumran, which was inhabited by members of a Jewish sect who deposited the scrolls in the nearby caves, and examine the meaning and significance of the scrolls since their discovery 75 years ago.


Bible & Archaeology Fest XX, November 17 – 19, 2017 (Plenary Speaker)
Good God(s)! Modern India as a Window into Ancient Judaism and the Roman World

Although today many westerners think of our shared heritage as “Judeo-Christian,” culturally the world of Jesus was as far removed from ours as the Earth is from Mars. In this slide-illustrated lecture, we use modern India as a lens through which to understand certain aspects of ancient Judaism such as the concepts of ritual purity, monotheism versus polytheism, and temple worship.


Seminar at Sea, January 31 – February 7, 2016
Early Judaism and the Rise of the Synagogue

According to the New Testament, Jesus and Paul preached in synagogues. What did these synagogues look like? Where and when did synagogues originate? How did the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. impact the development of synagogues? In this seminar we explore the rise and spread of synagogues within their larger Jewish context, up to the sixth-seventh centuries. By the Late Roman period, many of these buildings were decorated with figured images and biblical scenes. We discuss the possible meanings of these images, including the surprising depiction of the Greco-Roman sun god Helios surrounded by the signs of the zodiac, which appears in several synagogues.


Bible & Archaeology Fest XVII, November 21 – 23, 2014
Samson in Stone: New Discoveries in the Ancient Village and Synagogue at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee

Since 2011, Professor Jodi Magness has been directing excavations in the ancient village of Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee. The excavations have brought to light the remains of a monumental Late Roman (fifth century) synagogue building that is paved with stunning and unique mosaics, including depictions of the biblical hero Samson. In this slide-illustrated lecture, Professor Magness describes these exciting finds, including the discoveries made in the summer 2014 season.


Bible & Archaeology Fest XV, November 16 – 18, 2012
The Ancient Village and Synagogue at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee

This slide-illustrated lecture surveys the finds from the 2011-2012 excavations at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee, an ancient (Roman-Byzantine period) Jewish village with the remains of a monumental synagogue building. Excavations in June 2012 revealed that the synagogue was decorated with a stunning mosaic floor that includes a scene depicting the episode related in Judges 15:4 (Samson and the foxes).


ASOR/BAS Seminar on Biblical Archaeology, October 5 – 7, 2012
The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls
In 1947-48, the first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves near Qumran. Eventually, the remains of over 900 different scrolls were found in 11 caves. These scrolls date to about the time of Jesus, and include the earliest copies we have of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). The scrolls were deposited in the caves by members of a Jewish sect who lived at Qumran. In this slide-illustrated lecture, we examine the archaeological remains at Qumran and the information from the scrolls to learn about the lifestyle and beliefs of this sect.

Ossuaries and the Burials of Jesus and James
In November 2002, the media announced that a small stone box (ossuary) had come to light that bore and inscription that read “Joseph brother of Jesus.” Did this ossuary contain the remains of James the Just, the brother of Jesus? In this slide-illustrated lecture, we survey ancient Jerusalem’s tombs, and then discuss what we know about how Jesus and his brother James were buried.


Bible & Archaeology Fest XIV, November 18 – 20, 2011
Roman Jerusalem: Hadrian’s Aelia Capitolina
Some sixty years after Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E., it was rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian as a pagan Roman city called the “Aelia Capitolina.” Much of the current plan and layout of the Old City goes back to Hadrian’s dramatic re-fashioning of ancient Jerusalem. This slide-illustrated lecture reviews the archaeological evidence for the Aelia Capitolina, including new discoveries that recent excavations have brought to light.


Bible & Archaeology Fest XIII, November 19 – 21, 2010
Masada: Last Stronghold of the Jewish Resistance against Rome
In the first century B.C.E., Herod the Great built a fortified desert palace atop the remote mountain of Masada, overlooking the Dead Sea. Sixty years after Herod’s death, the mountain was occupied by a band of Jewish rebels at the time of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome. Masada was the last fortress in Jewish hands to fall to the Romans (73 or 74 C.E.). In this slide-illustrated lecture, we review the history and archaeology of Masada, focusing especially on information from excavations that Professor Magness co-directed in the Roman siege camps in 1995.


Selected Articles by Jodi Magness