Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology


1468 – 1471 Khirbet Summeily, in depth

Khirbet Summeily excavation

Khirbet Summeily excavation just after dawn

In this series of interviews, we go in depth to discover how a tiny little excavation on a far corner of the 10th century B.C. kingdom of Judah may reveal some major clues about the biblical world. We talk with Jeff Blakely, James Hardin, and Rachel Hallotte, the co-directors of the excavation, as well as epigrapher Christopher Rollston.

Among the top finds of the 2014 excavation season in Israel were a half-dozen bullae, clay seal impressions, that probably would have been missed by the typical archaeological excavation. But these simple bullae may give us some interesting facts about the much-disputed world of the biblical kings David and Solomon.

(photo courtesy of the Khirbet Summeily excavation)

1466 – 1467 Clyde Billington – Breaking News in Archaeology

Herodium Excavations

Herodium Excavations (photo by Ferrell Jenkins)

With these 2 programs we cover some of the stories from the news digests of the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine, the Winter 2015 issue, just out.

Items include the newly discovered monumental entrance at Herodium, the newly opened site of Herod’s palace in Jerusalem – where some say Jesus appeared before Pilate, and a commemorative Latin inscription to the Roman emperor Hadrian.

We also discuss a royal escape tunnel found at Iron Age Bethsaida (Geshur), a newly discovered temple of Tuthmosis III – possibly the pharaoh of the oppression in Exodus, and the 8,000-year old remains of olive oil domestication. These items and more, with commentary from professor Billington.


1464-1465 Charles Aling – Patterns of Exodus Evidence

Professor Charles Aling

Professor Charles Aling

Charles Aling, chair of the history department at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, was featured in the recent documentary Patterns of Evidence, which investigates the historical evidence for the Exodus of the Bible.

The documentary highlights the tensions between the theories for the early date for the Exodus and the late date and other issues related to the historicity of this founding event for two of the world’s major religions.

We discuss some of the theories presented in the documentary, why Dr. Aling supports the early date for the Exodus, and the issues he has with some of the other presentations in the documentary.

UPDATE: Christianity Today posted an excellent article by Gregory Alan Thornbury on “Why It Matters That the Exodus Really Happened.”

1463 Clyde Billington – Temple Mount Archaeology Update

Western Wall Stones

Western Wall Stones

Why are some stones in the Western Wall of the Temple Mount eroded and some as smooth as stones can be? On this program we discuss some of the latest reports on biblical archaeology related to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. That includes an investigation into western wall stone erosion, and some new information from the Temple Mount sifting project.

1462 Todd Bolen – Be Wary of Sensational Biblical Archaeology Stories

Todd Bolen

Todd Bolen

You knew those archaeology stories in the supermarket tabloids were suspect, but now with the internet, how can you tell what’s real and what’s fake? This is an important topic that we discuss with Todd Bolen of

Todd has identified some important clues that will tell you whether an internet account of a biblical archaeology discovery might be true or might be too good to be true. In fact, that’s one of his clues. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

#1461 Todd Bolen-Top Ten Archaeological Discoveries of 2014

Herodium Excavations

Herodium Excavations (photo by Ferrell Jenkins)

So what would be your top picks for 2014? There was a dearth of sensational discoveries in 2014, and without a bunch of discovery announcements in December it would have been a very slim year of exciting discoveries. But we do have a list, which was picked up by Christianity Today.

Tops on the list was the discovery of a new monumental entrance to Herodium, Herod’s fortress/palace in the desert near Bethlehem, an entrance that was apparently never used because Herod decided to close it up and build a mausoleum nearby instead.

The second discovery on the list: a half-dozen bullae (clay seal impressions) found at a small site called Khirbet Summeily, on the Judahite/Philistine border.

Item #3 is a scarab of Pharaoh Sheshonq, know in the Bible as Shishak.

#1460 Owen Gingerich – The Star of Bethlehem Mystery, part 3

Professor Owen Gingerich

Professor Owen Gingerich

For more on the October Conference at the University of Groningen on Mike Molnars explanation for the Star of Bethlehem, we talked with Owen Gingerich, a professor of Astronomy and the History of Science at Harvard University.

Professor Gingerich read professor Molnar’s paper at the conference, since Molnar couldn’t attend, and has been an early supporter of his approach. But he indicates that while the astronomers, historians, theologians and Bible scholars who attended the conference liked Molnar’s approach, they don’t necessarily agree with all of his conclusions.


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