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Bethsaida, a fishing town on the north end of the Sea of Galilee, plays a prominent role in the Gospels, was home for several of Jesus’ disciples, and was the location of the feeding of the 5,000 and many of Jesus’ other healings. However, the Golden Age of Biblical Archaeology all but ignored this important site until 1987 when a young Israeli archaeologist, Rami Arav, undertook a probe revealing early Roman pottery, coins, and the remains of domestic buildings. This led to a thirty-two-year-long research project at Bethsaida, adding to our knowledge of the Historical Jesus and his disciples, and acting as a window into the world of common first-century men and women going about their daily lives in the realm of the family of the Emperor Augustus and the Herodians. The big surprise was that layers below the surface (and a thousand years earlier), there also appeared a major iron-age capital city of the Geshurites with a magnificent palace, impregnable city walls, a massive four-chamber gate system, and many religious symbols.

This volume honors the work of Arav, who tirelessly dedicated himself to this dig, establishing the Bethsaida Excavations Project and bringing together a consortium of Universities and Colleges and a diverse team of international scholars who have joined in collaborative research to uncover the story of Bethsaida. In this volume, a representative selection of Bethsaida scholars shares their research to demonstrate the success of Arav’s venture spanning over three decades.

This volume is an archaeological analysis, history, and description of a key excavation of the site of biblical Bethsaida, the most important Holy Land location in the narrative of Jesus’ life. This volume presents some of the pre-eminent biblical archaeological scholars in the field, all of whom were associated with Professor John T. Greene, either in the process of decades of archaeological exploration of the ancient site of Bethsaida, or in some other related activity in the field of biblical studies and religion. Professor Greene has been a leading scholar in the excavation and publication of field reports and historical and biblical analysis of the rich lode of discoveries that Bethsaida has revealed to us. This volume will be the highly sought-after summary of the historical-biblical information now available about ancient Bethsaida, the location at which Jesus vacationed, taught, healed, and announced his self-perception as the promised Jewish Messiah who became a new kind of Christian Messiah after his death by crucifixion on a Roman cross in approximately 30 CE in Jerusalem.

Bethsaida in Archaeology, History, and Ancient Culture: A Festschrift in Honor of John T. Greene, describes the operational life of the ordinary people, religious communities, military movements, and socio-political hierarchy, from a ground-level perspective of the centuries before and during the lifetimes of Philo Judaeus, Jesus of Nazareth, and Flavius Josephus. It is unique in its popular presentation of this key era for scholarly research, appealing to both scholars in the field and informed non-professional readers, as well as scholars in corollary disciplines. This volume will be immensely sought after by a wide range of those persons who expect interesting, important, and highly readable works from municipal and academic libraries, as well as the popular book stores throughout the English speaking world.

Religion is a phenomenon that is inseparable from human society. It brings about a set of emotional, ideological and practical elements that are pervasive in the social fabric of any society and characterizable by a number of features. These include the establishment of intermediaries in the relationship between humans and the divine; the construction of ceremonial places for worshipping the gods and practicing ritual performances; and the creation ritual paraphernalia. Investigating the religious dimensions of ancient societies encounters problems in defining such elements, especially with regard to societies that lack textual evidences and has tended to lead towards the identification of differentiation between the mental dimension, related to religious beliefs, and the material one associated with religious practices, resulting in a separation between scholars able to investigate, and possibly reconstruct, ritual practices (i.e., archaeologists), and those interested in defining the realm of ancient beliefs (i.e., philologists and religious historians). The aim of this collection of papers is to attempt to bridge these two dimensions by breaking down existing boundaries in order to form a more comprehensive vision of religion among ancient Near Eastern societies. This approach requires that a higher consideration be given to those elements (either artificial -- buildings, objects, texts, etc. -- or natural -- landscapes, animals, trees, etc.) that are created through a materialization of religious beliefs and practices enacted by members of communities. These issues are addressed in a series of specific case-studies covering a broad chronological framework that from the Pre-pottery Neolithic to the Iron Age. (Cover illustration © German Archaeological Institute, photo N. Becker)
Recently, a travel account and 700 photographs came to light by the hand of Leo Boer, a former student of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française in Jerusalem who, at the age of 26 in 1953–4 visited many archaeological sites in the area of present-day Israel and the Palestinian Territories. These documents inspired 20 internationally-renowned scholars – many of whom excavated at the sites they describe – to report on what we know today of nine particular sites chosen from the many that Leo Boer visited 60 years ago: Jerusalem, Khirbet et-Tell (?i?), Samaria & Sebaste, Tell Balata (Shechem), Tell es-Sultan (Jericho), Khirbet Qumran, Caesarea, Megiddo, and Bet She’an. Rather than focusing on the history of these sites, the contributors describe the history of the archaeological expeditions. Who excavated these sites over the years? What were the specific aims of their campaigns? What techniques and methods did they use? How did they interpret these excavations? What finds were most noteworthy? And finally, what are the major misconceptions held by the former excavators? Several themes are interwoven amongst the contributions and variously discussed, such as ‘identification of biblical sites’, ‘regional surveys’, ‘underwater archaeology’, ‘archaeothanatology’, ‘archaeology and politics’, ‘archaeology and science’, and ‘heritage management’. This unique collection of images and essays offers to scholars working in the region previously unpublished materials and interpretations as well as new photographs. For students of archaeology, ancient or Biblical history and theology it contains both a detailed archaeological historiography and explores some highly relevant, specific themes. Finally, the superb quality of Boer’s photography provides an unprecedented insight into the archaeological landscape of post-war Palestine for anyone interested in Biblical history and archaeology.
Before the 1970s, "biblical archaeology" was the dominant research paradigm for those excavating the history of Palestine. Today this model has been "weighed in the balance and found wanting." Most now prefer to speak of "Syro/Palestinian archaeology." This is not just a nominal shift but reflects a major theoretical and methodological change. It has even been labeled a revolution. In the popular mind, however, biblical archaeology is still alive and well. In Shifting Sands, Thomas W. Davis charts the evolution and the demise of the discipline. Biblical archaeology, he writes, was an attempt to ground the historical witness of the Bible in demonstrable historical reality. Its theoretical base lay in the field of theology. American mainstream Protestantism strongly resisted the inroads of continental biblical criticism, and sought support for their conservative views in archaeological research on the ancient Near East. The Bible was the source of the agenda for biblical archaeology, an agenda that was ultimately apologetical. Davis traces the fascinating story of the interaction of biblical studies, theology, and archaeology in Palestine, and the remarkable individuals who pioneered the discipline. He highlights the achievements of biblical archaeologists in the field, who gathered an immense body of data. By clarifying the theoretical and methodological framework of the original excavators, he believes, these data can be made more useful for current research, allowing a more sober, reasoned judgment of both the accomplishments and the failures of biblical archaeology.
Archaeology and Bible--two simple terms, often used together, understood by everybody. But are they understood properly? If so, why are both subject to such controversy? And what can archaeology contribute to our understanding of the Bible? These are the problems addressed by Professor Dever in this book.

Dever first looks at the nature and recent development of both archaeology and Biblical studies, and then lays the groundwork for a new a productive relationship between these two disciplines. His “case studies” are three eras in Israelite history: the period of settlement in Canaan, the period of the United Monarchy, and the period of religious development, chiefly during the Divided Monarchy. In each case Dever explores by means of recent discoveries what archaeology, couples with textual study, can contribute to the illumination of the life and times of ancient Israel.

Given the flood of new information that has come from recent archaeological discoveries, Dever has chosen to draw evidence largely from excavations and surveys done in Israel in the last ten years--many still unpublished--concerning archaeology and the Old Testament.

Dever’s work not only brings the reader up to date on recent archaeological discoveries as they pertain to the Hebrew Bible, but indeed goes further in offering an original interpretation of the relationship between the study of the Bible and the uncovering of the material culture of the ancient Near East. Extensive notes, plus the use of much new and/or unpublished data, will make the volume useful to graduate students and professors in the fields of Biblical studies and Syro-Palestinian archaeology, and the seminarians, pastors, rabbis, and others. This book provides stimulating, provocative, and often controversial reading as well as a compendium of valuable insights and marginalia that symbolizes the state of the art of Biblical archaeology today.

Burton MacDonald presents an in-depth study of the archaeology and history of human presence over the past five-six thousand years in the southern segment of the Transjordan/Edomite Plateau and the Dead Sea Rift Valley to the west. The evidence from archaeology for the area spans the entire period though the time for which literary evidence is available is only the past 4000 years, from the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1550 BC). Once literary evidence is available, however, it complements the archaeological record and, as can be amply demonstrated, the written records can be clarified only through the archaeological data. These two sources are, thus, used to describe environments, resources, industries, settlement patterns, and the lifestyles of the inhabitants of this pivotal region. The result is a “story” of the people who lived in the area from the Bronze Age through the Islamic period. What is evident is that there were differences in certain archaeological periods in settlement patterns, as well as lifestyles, between those who lived on the southern segment of the Plateau and those who lived in the Dead Sea Rift Valley or in the lowlands immediately to the west. Moreover, it is obvious that when there were periods of trade and industry, for example, the spice trade and copper mining and processing, the population of the area was higher. Stable governance brought about growth in population and prosperity. But other factors also played their part in these ebbs and flows of population: climatic fluctuations affecting the availability of water and arable land; the development and adoption of new technologies in farming practices, raw material extraction and industrial methods, processes and transportation; and political change resulting in periods of relative stability and instability in government.
Recipient of the G. Ernest Wright Award for Best Archaeological Publication, American Schools of Oriental Research, 2011 In 2007 the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project (JCHP) was established as a joint research endeavor of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Among the project's diverse aims is the publication of numerous excavations conducted in Jaffa since 1948 under the auspices of various governmental and research institutions such as the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums and its successor, the Israel Antiquities Authority, as well as the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project. This, the first volume in the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project series, lays the groundwork for this initiative. Part I provides the historical, economic, and legal context for the JCHP's development, while outlining its objectives and the unique opportunities that Jaffa offers researchers. The history of Jaffa and its region, and the major episodes of cultural change that affected the site and region are explored through a series of articles in Part II, including an illustrated discussion of historical maps of Jaffa from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Recent archaeological discoveries from Jaffa are included in Part III, while Part IV provides a first glimpse of the JCHP's efforts to publish the Jacob Kaplan and Haya Ritter-Kaplan legacy from Jaffa. Together the twenty-five contributions to this work constitute the first major book-length publication to address the archaeology of Jaffa in more than sixty years since excavations were initiated at the site.
Revolutions in the Desert investigates the development of pastoral nomadism in the arid regions of the ancient Near East, challenging the prevailing notion that such societies left few remains appropriate for analytic study. Few prior studies have approached the deeper past of desert nomadic societies, which have been primarily recognized only as a complement to the study of sedentary agricultural societies in the region. Based on decades of archaeological field work in the Negev of southern Israel, both excavations and surveys, and integrating materials from adjacent regions, Revolutions in the Desert offers a deeper and more dynamic view of the rise of herding societies beyond the settled zone.


Rosen offers the first archaeological analysis of the rise of herding in the desert, from the first introduction of domestic goats and sheep into the arid zones, more than eight millennia ago, to the evolution of more recent Bedouin societies. The adoption of domestic herds by hunter-gatherer societies, contemporary with and peripheral to the first farming settlements, revolutionized all aspects of desert life, including subsistence, trade, cult, social organization, and ecology. Inviting processual comparison to the agricultural revolution and the secondary spread of domestication beyond the Near East, this volume traces the evolution of nomadic societies in the archaeological record and examines their ecological, economic and social adaptations to the deserts of the Southern Levant. With maps and illustrations from the author’s own collection, Revolutions in the Desert is a thoughtful and engaging approach to the archaeology of desert nomadic societies.


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