About Rami Arav

Rami Arav

Dr. Rami Arav is a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion as well as the Department of History at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from Tel Aviv University and a Ph.D. from New York University in Near Eastern Languages and Literature. Since 1987, Dr. Arav has directed excavations in the Biblical city of Bethsaida—he is also the director of the Consortium of the Bethsaida Excavations Project headed at UNO, as well as the director of the John and Carol Merrill expedition to the Cave of Letters. Professor Arav has published extensively in both scientific and popular literature, on the archaeology and history of the Land of Israel and of Bethsaida in particular. His latest books are Bethsaida, a City by the Northern Shores of the Sea of Galilee, Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4 in a series of 5 books (vol 1-3 co-authored and co-edited with Dr. Richard Freund, Harry Truman University Press, Missouri); Jesus and His World: Archaeological and Cultural Dictionary, co-authored with John Rousseau (Fortress Press, 1995) and Cities Through the Looking Glass (Eisenbrauns, 2007).

Presenter at

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, November 20 – 22, 2015
Shifting Orientations of Roman Galilee: the View from Archaeology

Historically, research on the Galilee region in the Roman period has primarily relied on texts written by Josephus or found in the New Testament. Due to archaeological excavations in the past few years, our knowledge of the Galilee during this period has been tremendously enhanced with surprising insights. This presentation surveys the previous knowledge derived from texts and contrasts it with archaeological discoveries with interesting results.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVII, November 21 – 23, 2014
The Origin of Israelites and the Theory of Liminality

In this presentation, Professor Arav examines the material known to us about the origin of the Israelites in the light of Liminality Theory put forward by the anthropologist Victor Turner and elaborated upon by his students. This theory maintains that human societies shift from social structures to anti-social structures and vice-versa. During the course of the lecture, Dr. Arav investigates those unique features of the anti-social structures that surprisingly apply to the origin of the Israelites.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVI, November 22 – 24, 2013
Redefining Biblical Archaeology

Biblical archaeology is now in the second decade of the 21st century. Many things have changed within this field, and with the very definition of its scholarship. This presentation surveys the different goals of Biblical archaeology since its infancy in the early 19th century, when the demand from Biblical archaeology was to prove the Bible correct, to the 21st century, when archaeologists deal primarily with reconstruction of ancient environments rather than issues derived from the Biblical texts. It examines how and why the scholarly objectives have changed, and what influences were at work in re-shaping the way scholars approach evidence. Finally, it offers a portrait of the field of Biblical archaeology today, and a considers the future of the discipline.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XV, November 16 – 18, 2012
Nihil Humani a Me Alienem Puto – “Nothing Human is Strange to Me”: The Peculiar Disposal of the Dead at the Dawn of Civilization

The dawn of history the Chalcolithic period is one of the most fascinating periods of time in human past. Society and religions made impressive strides in development although much of it is still a mystery. Some of the religious practices, like round structures for memorial and funerary purposes, are among the features of this society that are still with us today. Nevertheless, some of the funerary practices would seem rather odd – if not eerie – to a modern society. For example, the practice of excarnation, in which vultures consumed the flesh of the deceased, was quite popular in this period of time but was not fully observed and understood until very recently. This practice, known also as a “sky burial,” is still done by the Zoroastrians in India, some remote tribes in Tibet and until lately by the Naskapi tribe at Labrador Canada. This presentation will examine the material culture of this period and attempt to connect the aspects of funerary rituals and practices of excarnation. This presentation will attempt to relate sites such as Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, Stonehenge in England and other sites in the Levant through the funerary rites practiced at these places in ancient times.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XIV, November 18 – 20, 2011
Twenty Five Years of Excavations at Bethsaida: How Bethsaida has Helped Shape Biblical Research

This past season marked the 25th year of excavations at Bethsaida, an ancient town on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee that is the third most frequently mentioned in the New Testament. Over the years, the discoveries made at Bethsaida have helped to inform our modern understanding of Jesus’s world, as well as shape our approach to the study of the Bible and Biblical archaeology. In this presentation, Dr. Rami Arav, the director of excavations at Bethsaida for the past 25 years, guides us through some of Bethsaida’s most revelatory discoveries and how they have influenced our perception of the Biblical world.