About William Dever

William Dever

William G. Dever is an American Near Eastern archaeologist specializing in the Bible and is a much sought-after lecturer. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1966 and went on to serve as director of the American Schools of Oriental Research (later the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research) in Jerusalem from 1971 to 1975. In 1975, he joined the faculty of the University of Arizona, Tucson as Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology and Anthropology in the Near Eastern Studies and Anthropology Departments, later becoming the head of the Department of Oriental Studies (1978-81) and the head of the Department of Near Eastern Studies (1989-1994). Professor Dever retired from the University of Arizona in 2002. He is perhaps best known in archaeological circles as the excavator of Gezer, the major mound between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that, according to the Bible, was given to Solomon by pharaoh as part of his daughter’s dowry when she was given in marriage to the Israelite king. At Gezer, Professor Dever excavated a city gate attributed to King Solomon. Professor Dever has also excavated at numerous other sites in Israel, Jordan and Cyprus. His many popular books include What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? (2001); Who Were the Israelites and Where Did They Come From? (2003); and Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel, (2005). He is also the author of hundreds of scholarly articles, reviews and monographs. In 1982, he received the Percia Schimmel Prize from the Israel Museum for distinction in archaeology. He currently divides his time between his home in Cyprus, where his wife Pamela excavates, and Lycoming College in Pennsylvania, where he is Distinguished Visiting Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology.

Presenter at

Seminar at Sea, February 24 – March 3, 2017
Bible, Archaeology and New Reconstructions of Israel’s Past

Lecture 1:
“Biblical Archaeology”: 150 Years of Proving the Bible – Some Cautionary Tales
Professor Dever has been at the forefront of Biblical scholarship for over 50 years. The program begins with a lively presentation of stories of colorful figures and fierce controversies told from a very personal perspective.

Lecture 2:
Writing History with Text and Artifact: The Relationship between Two Sources
Primary source texts and material culture are the principal tools used by Biblical scholars to reconstruct the past. This lecture provides a critical evaluation and comparison of the reliability and use of Biblical texts and our current archaeological evidence.

Lecture 3:
Archaeology and the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of Israel: What Do We Really Know?
Using a synthesis of the most recent archaeological evidence, this presentation provides a summary of our new archaeological portrait of Israel’s remote ancestors in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Lecture 4:
Who Were the Ancient Israelites, and Where Did They Come From?
The debate over the identity of the ancient Israelites and their origins has been one of the most hotly contested topics in the field of Biblical archaeology. This lecture offers an archaeological critique of the Biblical Exodus and conquest narratives and current theories of Israel’s origins, as well as a new proposal.

Lecture 5:
The Golden Age of Solomon: Fact or Fiction?
Recent archaeological data has helped illuminate the rise of the Israelite monarchy. Responding to skeptics, this lecture examines this evidence and presents a positive view of the monarchy’s evolution.

Lecture 6:
Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel
Archaeological science has greatly contributed to our understanding of the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Israelites. This lecture examines the ways in which archaeology has revolutionized our understanding of what most people in ancient Israel really believed and practiced.

Lecture 7
Is It Possible to Write a History of Ancient Israel Without the Bible?
In this presentation, a bold initiative is discussed demonstrating how archaeology is now our primary source for writing any new and satisfactory history of ancient Israel.

Lecture 8
Faith and History: What Really Happened in Ancient Israel, and Does it Still Matter?
How much bearing do the events in ancient Israel have on modern beliefs? This lecture offers a discussion of the impact that new archaeological discoveries have had on religious faiths, and examines the question: What can modern, critical readers believe?

Lecture 9:
Q&A Session

Special Q&A Panelist at Bible & Archaeology Fest XV, November 16 – 18, 2012

Bible and Archaeology Fest XIII, November 19 – 21, 2010
Can a History of Israel be Written? Where We Stand Now

During the past two decades, Biblical scholars have become more skeptical about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible and more interested in it as literature. The European revisionists—also called minimalists—have declared that the Hebrew Bible is nothing more than an origin myth that was put together by Jews in the Hellenistic era that were in search of an identity. This presentation will explore some case studies of how a history of ancient Israel can be written, and how archaeological data illuminate the lives of the ordinary people in Israel.

Selected Articles by William Dever