Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

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1448-1449 George Kiraz – Preserving Culture in War: Aramaic

George Kiraz

George Kiraz

We continue our series of conversations focusing on the cultural ravages of the fighting in the Middle East by turning to the topic of Aramaic. The language has been spoken for more than 2,000 years in the region, and was the language that Jesus spoke (at least one of them). Today, ancient communities that have spoken Aramaic for thousands of years are being uprooted and forced to flee for their lives.

What will happen to our ability to explore biblical understanding through this door of language if Aramaic culture is extinguished? We explore this issue with George Kiraz, the founder of Gorgias Press and Beth Mardutho, the Syriac Institite.

1447 Katharyn Hanson – Preserving Culture in War, part 3

Katharyn Hanson

Katharyn Hanson

We resume our conversations with American archaeologists who are working to help Iraqis and Syrians preserve their cultural heritage in the midst of the fighting that continues to wreak havoc and destruction in the area that has often been called the cradle of civilization.

This week’s program features Katharyn Hanson, a University of Chicago grad who has been working with the Archaeological Site Preservation Program at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil, Iraq.

UPDATE: An article on how the churches of Erbil are serving the refugees who have come to their city.

1446 Lisa Mahoney – Art and Archaeology of the Crusades

Lisa Mahoney

Lisa Mahoney

A look at the Holyland’s biblical history through the eyes of the Crusaders, and the buildings and relics they left behind. Our guest is Lisa Mahoney, professor of Art History at DePaul University.

1445 Clyde Billington – Omrit, Polycarp and Battir

Assyrian seal from Omrit

Assyrian seal from Omrit

Three more news items discussed from the news digest of the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine: an Assyrian seal discovered at Omrit in northern Israel, completely out of context in a Roman temple; the excavation of the theater where the martyrdom of Polycarp took place; and the preservation of ancient agricultural terraces in the region around Jerusalem.

1444 Clyde Billington – Huqoq Mosaics and Bethsaida Site Survey

Huqoq mosaic detail

Huqoq mosaic detail

Continuing our review of recent discoveries in Biblical archaeology as reported in the summer issue of ARTIFAX magazine we discuss with professor Clyde Billington the discovery of curious mosaics at a Byzantine synagogue at Huqoq, and a shovel survey of what some archaeologists believe may be the real site of the biblical Bethsaida.

The first two seasons of excavations at Huqoq (near the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee) revealed mosaics depicting episodes in the life of Samson. But in this past summer’s third season the mosaics uncovered seemed to veer from the biblical account. One may even depict Alexander the Great.

What is usually called New Testament Bethsaida, the site of et-Tell, is a mile and a half from the NE shore of the Sea of Galilee. Thinking that et-Tell may be too far from the shore to be Bethsaida, some archaeologists are taking another look at Khirbet el-Araj, which is nearer the shore.

1443 Clyde Billington – The Stone Rejected by the Builders and Counting with Tokens

Herodian stones in the western wall of the temple mount.

Herodian stones in the western wall of the temple mount.

Discussing some of the items in the archaeology news digests in the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine, Professor Clyde Billington and I discuss the discovery of the Stone Rejected by the Builders in the western wall of the Temple Mount, the stone mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 21:42, quoting Psalm 118:22-23.

We also report on the discovery of counting tokens used several millenia after writing and record keeping supposedly transitioned from the use of tokens to cuneiform. The story of the invention of writing is intertwined with the biblical story and the history of Christianity. This is an intriguing development.

1441-1442 Brian Daniels & Corine Wegener – Preserving Culture in War

Tomb of Jonah destroyed

Tomb of Jonah destroyed

War and natural disasters like earthquakes, as destructive as they are, can be a boon for archaeologists centuries later. But the current fighting in Syria and Iraq, in addition to the devastating destruction wreaked on millions of lives, is also threatening the archaeological/cultural/religious resources of the region, which is sometimes called the Cradle of Civilization.

In these two programs we begin a discussion on efforts to try to preserve these resources with Brian Daniels, Director of Research and Programs, Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the Penn Museum. Brian is one of the modern Monuments Men, working with a network of archaeologists and museum professionals in the field of disaster risk management.

UPDATE: In program #1442 Corine Wegener joins the conversation relaying her experiences as an Army Reserve officer and a Smithsonian Institute employee.

 

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