The Biblical Archaeology Society invites you to join us this summer at our ever-popular St. Olaf Lecture Seminar program on the beautiful campus of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Dr. Rachel Hallote, Purchase College, State University of New York, and Dr. Eric Cline of The George Washington University will be your scholars-in-residence for the week. Their 20-lecture program Biblical Archaeology: Past and Present is a sharing of amazingly insightful information from this fascinating, specialized field.
Join us as we host this robust summer seminar in the beautiful and restorative setting of St. Olaf College. The campus boasts award-winning architecture nestled in a 350-acre woodland, set on a hilltop overlooking historic Northfield, Minnesota, a charming and welcoming town. Located just 35 miles south of St. Paul and Minneapolis, St. Olaf offers the best of two worlds: the quiet charm of a rural community and the convenience and excitement of the nearby Twin Cities.
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.” [More Bio]
Rachel Hallote is an archaeologist and Professor of History at Purchase College SUNY. She is the author of several books and numerous articles about biblical archaeology, and the history of archaeology, including Bible, Map and Spade: The American Palestine Exploration Society, Frederick Jones Bliss and the Forgotten Story of Early American Biblical Archaeology (2006), and The Photographs of the American Palestine Exploration Society (2012). [More Bio]
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.
From Treasure Hunting to Excavation: Why Dig up the Land of the Bible?
There was never a time that westerners weren’t interested in the land of the Bible. Long before archaeology was born, western artists would paint biblical scenes with the known ruins of Classical Greece and Rome as their imagined backdrops. But once religious pilgrims, intrepid travelers, and artists all began to pass through Ottoman Palestine in the 19th century, the western perspective on the Holy Land changed. No such large scale and glorious ruins existed there, and would-be archaeologists were disappointed. This is why biblical archaeology was born slowly, and in a less-than-scholarly fashion. The discipline began with actual treasure hunting, as the eccentric Lady Hester Stanhope attempted to dig for gold amid the ruins of ancient Ashkelon, and the French explorer Louis Félicien de Saulcy insisted that everything he found was from the time of the Old Testament, even Byzantine period tombs. This finally changed with the work of Captain Charles Wilson of the British Royal Corps of Engineers, who measured out every inch of Jerusalem and recorded all its antiquities, and the founding of the British Palestine Exploration society and its initial work in the 1860’s and 1870’s. This talk will also explore the missteps that happened along the path from treasure-hunting to true archaeology, such as how French scholar Charles Clermont-Ganneau’s lack of understanding of archaeology led to the destruction of some of the most important finds of the 19th century including the Moabite Stone and the earliest known scrolls.
The Not-So-Innocents abroad: How American Scholars Shaped the Discipline of Biblical Archaeology
In the 19th century England and France both had very clear political stakes in the Ottoman Empire, stakes which helped both western countries to establish an archaeological presence in Ottoman Palestine from an early date. In contrast, the United States had no such political involvement in the Near East in these years, as their international concerns were contained within the Americas. And yet, American explorers and scholars became extremely influential in early biblical archaeology, so that by the early 20th century, their importance couldn’t be denied. This talk will delve into the reasons for American interest in the land of the Bible, as well as early American expeditions to explore this land, such as that of Navy captain William F. Lynch’s trip to the Dead Sea, the seminal geography of Edward Robinson which is still used by archaeologists today, the creation of the American Palestine Exploration Society, the career of American archaeologist Fredrick Jones Bliss, the creation of the American Schools of Oriental Research, and more.
Politics and Archaeology: An Introduction.
This talk will describe the fascinating yet frustrating relationship between politics and archaeology. More and more, archaeology has become a pawn in various political agendas. Often this involves misuse and misinterpretation of archaeological remains. While examples of political uses and abuses of archaeology can be seen in the news almost every day, this is not a new development, as the discipline of archaeology was born in tandem with politics, at the moment when Napoleon marched his troops into Egypt in the late 18th century. Napoleon’s troops included a large contingent of scholars, as Napoleon saw himself as a modern-day pharaoh, and wanted the evidence to back this up. This talk will look at Napoleon’s relationship to ancient and modern Egypt and will then turn to what is sometimes considered the prime example of politics and archaeology, the case of Masada in Israel.
Digging in Jerusalem: Why is it so Controversial?
Archaeology is something of a national pastime in Israel, and archaeological sites are among the most popular tourist attractions in the country. But archaeological discoveries—or lack of discoveries—can become contentious. This talk will explore problems that stem from excavating near holy sites, and will also look at how recent excavations in Jerusalem—including those of Elat Mazar in the City of David—as well as illegal excavations on the Temple Mount—shed light on the biblical kingdom of David and Solomon and the problematic 10th century BC. Excavations in other parts of the country, such as the small site of Khirbet Summeily in the northern Negev desert similarly can help solve the problem of just how big (or small) Solomon’s kingdom really was.
Did the Exodus Really Happen?
The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is one of the best known yet most contested narratives of the Bible. For almost a century, scholarship has picked apart every aspect of it, from its possible date, to the possible name of the pharaoh that Moses encountered, to whether the Ten Plagues can be explained scientifically. Each one of these examinations pointed to the same thing—that there is no evidence for this event in Egyptian historical texts or in the archaeology of Egypt or Canaan. For many scholars this meant that the Exodus narrative is a mere literary construct made up in the Iron Age by the authors of the Bible. But this view is wrong. This talk (and the following one) will outline the main historical and archaeological problems with the Exodus, but will then move beyond them, to show that the core of the Exodus narrative reflects accurate history, even though the biblical authors changed some details and exaggerated others. We will look at the travel route between Egypt and Canaan, at details of Egyptian court practices that are recorded in the biblical narrative, and also at the tantalizing parallels between the Joseph cycle of stories in the Bible and Canaanite history and archaeology from 2000-1550 Bc. All this will help uncover the kernels of truth contained within the biblical Exodus narrative.
From Egypt to Israel (Location, Location, Location!)
Building on the previous lecture, this talk will continue to discuss the historicity of the Exodus narrative, by reexamining issues that have either been dismissed or neglected by modern scholarship. We will consider the biblical phrase “mixed multitude” used to describe the Hebrews who exited Egypt, and will also explore the pharaoh Merneptah’s relationship to the peoples who lived in Canaan. Finally, we will look at the origins and identity of the one God that the Israelites started to worship and discuss the question of whether they emigrated from Egypt as the Bible describes, or whether they emerged in Canaan in another manner altogether.
Was King Ahab really so bad? The 9th Century in History and Archaeology
The 9th century BC is the first period from which archaeologists have a significant number of non-biblical inscriptions that discuss the very same events mentioned in the Bible. These events are also illuminated by archaeological evidence. But do the archaeological materials and the inscriptions confirm the biblical narratives or do they tell a different story altogether? This talk will look at three 9th century inscriptions—the Kurkh Stele, the Mesha Stele and the Tel Dan Stele—and will compare the history they describe to the history that the Bible recounts about the reigns of Omri and Ahab—and to the archaeology of 9th century Israel.
Women in the Biblical World
There are at least two ways of learning about women’s role in society in the biblical world—by looking at what the biblical texts say about women, and by looking at the archaeological evidence of the Israelite household. Do these two sources give us the same story? This talk will demonstrate that in spite of an overlay of limitations placed on women in biblical narratives and laws, women’s roles in society were pivotal to in the world of ancient Israel, in fact, women’s participation in communal life helped shape Israelite and Judahite society as a whole.
Between Israel and Mesopotamia: Archaeology, Art and Myth
Ever since the decipherment of a particular cuneiform tablet in the 19th century, scholars as well as the public have been aware of the cultural connections between Mesopotamia and Israel. That tablet contained a story of a “great flood” that destroyed all of mankind except for one person, and the parallels to the biblical story of Noah were direct and undeniable. This shook the western world to its core, especially when it became clear that the Mesopotamian flood story, the most famous version of which is part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, was written well before the biblical story. Soon enough, the great archaeological finds of Mesopotamia, including great works of ancient art, seemed to eclipse the accomplishments of the world of ancient Israel. For a long time, scholarship put ancient Israel second and Mesopotamia first in terms culture, both literary and artistic. This talk will discuss the relationship of Mesopotamia and the biblical world in terms of similarities but especially in terms of differences, and will demonstrate how after almost two hundred years of scholarship, biblical Israel can once again take its rightful place of importance within the ancient Near East.
Where’d That Artifact Come From?
Where do museums get their artifacts? While this was never something that museum-goers worried about, today it has become an issue. In our post-colonial world, various countries in the Middle East and elsewhere have asked Western museums to repatriate artifacts back to their countries of origin. Perhaps the best-known example of this is Greece asking the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles (still sometimes called the Elgin Marbles). When an artifact is repatriated, what is lost and what is gained? This talk will examine five examples of artifacts that have not been repatriated, but might be in the future. Two of these come from Egypt, one from Iran, and one from biblical Israel.
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