Qeiyafa Reveal

4 05 2012

Some of you have probably already heard, but there will be a major announcement at a press conference on May 8th regarding Kh. Qeiyafa.  The press conference info was sent out by Joseph Lauer and mentioned on several blogs already.  The press release mentions the importance on the news for history, archaeology, and the Bible.  So…no pressure.  I’m trying to find out some hints as to the nature of the finds.  My guess would be some kind of cultic find supporting the Judahite origins of the site in some round about way.

Lead Codices Redux

27 06 2011

A couple weeks ago I received a text from one of my Jordanian friends “I was wondering if you would be interested in looking at a really old Bible looking book my uncle came across.”  I was intrigued and told him I would be happy to take a look.  He emailed me a picture and I recognized the object immediately:

The tablets in this picture look remarkably similar to the “lead codices” made public a few months ago.  Those tablets are largely considered by the scholarly world to be forgeries.  However there is still some debate being carried out on their authenticity.  So, despite my first assumption that these were fake as well, I thought it prudent to do some investigating.  I was invited over to the home of the uncle who lets say “dabbles” in antiquities.  I went hoping to look at the tablets, take pictures, and attempt to find out more information about their origin.  My friend took me to his uncle’s house and we had a very nice visit with good food and homemade wine (which was quite tasty).

Unfortunately the tablets were no longer there.  The person who was trying to sell them (9 tablets for 85,000 JD!) had taken them back to show to another potential customer.  Apparently this customer was not willing to give two of the tablets back and had somehow been shot in the leg and was now in jail.  Now I might have some of the details in that previous sentence wrong, but the uncle was speaking a combination of English and Arabic (and the more wine and scotch we had the worse his English got).  I think the meeting went quite well and before we were ready to leave the uncle admitted he had a disc with pictures of all of the tablets.  But with a twinkle in his eye he said those were for next time.  As we were driving back to Amman my friend apologized and said he would try to get the pictures for me, but also said that his uncle really liked me and would tell me more about the man trying to sell them next time.

Hopefully I will have more to say on this subject in the near future.  And hopefully I will have a complete set of pictures of the tablets as well.

If anyone has insights as to the inscription on the tablet pictured above please let me know.


16 11 2010

I have been absent from this blog the last couple weeks because I have been preparing a paper and powerpoint presentation for the annual (ASOR) archaeology meetings in atlanta. Once I return I will post the paper and corresponding powerpoint. The presentation is on the middle bronze age at Tall Safut and is entitled “The Middle Bronze Age at Tall Safut: To Glacis or Not to Glacis.”

Tonight myself and two other archaeology grad students will be road tripping down to Atlanta. We have to drive overnight because Jacob has a meeting at 2PM. I will be attending both ASOR and SBL meetings and hope to do a few blog posts on the more interesting sessions.

A few of the highlights from ASOR should be:

-Philistia and the Philistines During the Iron Age (chaired by Aren Maeir and Jeffrey Chadwick my former director and supervisor at Tell es-Safi)

-Archaeology of Jordan I: Bronze and Iron Ages (but I might be biased, this is the session I’m presenting in)

-Reconstructing Ancient (Biblical) Israel: The Exact and Life Science Perspective. An Atlanta 2010 Update (this is the preliminary results on a joint project of Tel Aviv University (Israel Finkelstein) and the Weizmann Institute which employs science and new technologies to answer questions regarding archaeology and ancient Israel)

-Technology in Archaeology (pretty self-explanatory)

-Archaeology of the Near East: Bronze and Iron Ages, I (including reports on Shechem, Megiddo, and Jaffa)

-Warfare, Empire, and Society in the Ancient Near East I

-“The MB-­LB Transition and the Role of Egypt’s New Kingdom in Forming Southern Levantine Culture, Settlement Patterns, and Society” (paper by Joe Uziel, special interest to me due to the transitional nature of the MB ceramic assemblage from Safut)

-Current Issues in Biblical Archaeology (focusing on Jerusalem and the City of David, with Andrew Vaughn, Amihai Mazar, Avraham Faust, and Garth Gilmour presenting)


I’ll post some of the SBL highlights later in the week.



Roses and Razorwire

31 08 2010

The other day someone asked me where the name of the blog came from.  It is based on a poem I wrote upon returning to the States after living in Jerusalem for two years while working on my MA in Historical Geography.   For the title I was trying to think of a phrase that expressed the dichotomy one feels when surrounded by the beauty and conflict in the land.  I thought of a picture I had taken while helping reinforce the barbed wire around our campus after a break-in.  Here is the poem and the picture.

A year has gone by so fast

Like the passing of the dry

As clouds loom overhead

Ancient stones also loom

And then crack,



Rain has come and gone

Now hints of green are all that is left

People bustle, yell, and curse

Holiness remains in the whisper of the wind

Or the curl of smoke as censers clank

Similar to the weather and remnants of life

As the past is ever present and the future repeating

So my mind, my emotions, my being is in flux

Riding the spring gusts

Ever forward, ever higher

Being pounded into the gasping earth by winter torrents

But, it is this that makes me calm, at peace, enriched

Alone with my god

The brilliant hues in rose and red


Off the humble waves

They shimmer and vacillate

Rise and are subdued by the gentle breeze

Sitting on a precipice, the edge of earth; looking out

A foreign, alien landscape expands before me until the horizon

The cliffs, jagged and intimidating,

Rise and fall like the storm-driven waves of the sea

Lastly and most amazing are the squares

Perfect in size and shape

A portal to days long gone

In these earthen boxes the dirt shifts color, silently

Subtly revealing the layers of time with the passing browns and grays

The land is a shape-shifter; it is the people that remain the same

The land is a siren, a seductress

Tempting some with pieces of stone and metal, others earth and water

It is this metathesis, this opposition to itself that is so appealing

Between land and people, even land and land

There is beauty in this collision

There is love in the razorwire


27 08 2010

The New York Times has posted an article discussing a new wave in scholarly journals, reviewing articles online.  The main example is Shakespeare Quarterly which made several articles available for review online.  These articles were reviewed by several scholars (making up the traditional peer-review) and also by anyone who logged in.  The journal has deemed the experiment a success.

I wonder how applicable this format can be in the realm of ancient near eastern archaeology.  I’m sure that with, its resemblance to wikipedia style editing and the ability for almost anyone to comment online, some scholars (Jim West, Bob Cargill I’m looking at you) will be hesitant.  I think given certain strict guidelines this format could be quite successful.

  1. Require the same scholarly input as in peer reviewed journals
  2. Allow anyone to comment as long as there name and information could be authenticated
  3. To go along with #2, perhaps only subscribers to the journal or people who paid a nominal fee for an online version should be allowed to comment
  4. Having an online editor of public comments would be necessary as well
  5. A quicker turnaround must be required, especially of the scholars who are doing the peer-review

The most important point is the fifth one.  This faster turnaround is a must even for peer-review journals.  In this digital age, where excavations have blogs and are publishing raw data online, scholars must get their information published much quicker.  Hopefully this new online format is an impetus for scholarly journals to rethink the way articles are accepted and published.

Teaching Archaeology

27 08 2008

Today was my first real day of teaching.  It was basically an introduction about the basics of archaeology.  So naturally I had to show a clip of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, it was to show the difference between what Indiana Jones does in the jungles of South America (looting) and what the Nazi’s do in the Egyptian desert at Tanis (excavate).  I find it humorous that the only actual archaeological field work that goes on in any of the Indiana Jones movies is performed by the Nazis, under the guidance of the French archaeologist Belloq of course.

The other interesting thing I did was play a game.  I was talking about artifacts and how an interdisciplinary approach is necessary in order to properly understand them.  So I had the students describe an object they use every day, but only give its material and physically describe half or a quarter of the object.  It was hard to figure out what they were describing, but by asking a few questions about the object, i.e. is it broken, what size is it, is it a utensil, used in the kitchen, etc…they were able to figure out what each object described was.  The point was clear to all of them, context is key and understanding all material excavated is important.  So in other words, it is important to dig carefully and scientifically record everything.

Day 1

25 08 2008

Today began my (hopefully long and illustrious) teaching career.  I have 8 students in my Into to Archaeology class; 3 seniors, 3 juniors, and 2 freshman.  Some are anthropology majors, three have been on a dig, and one is a music major.  So it will be an interesting mix and hopefully 2 or 3 more will join in on the fun.  I wasn’t too nervous, I enjoy speaking in front of people and teaching is one of my gifts (I think).  Once the semester gets rolling and I get deeper into it, I’ll better be able to determine how its going, but so far so good.