Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology


1503 Clyde Billington – Galilee Mosaics and Nero’s House

HORVAT KUR 2015-KRP-Mosaic-200

Menorah depicted in the Horvat Kur mosaic.

Continuing coverage of archaeology news reported in the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine. We wrap up our review by discussing the excavation of an unusual mosaic in a Byzantine synagogue overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and the ongoing discovery and protection of the house built in Rome by the emperor Nero.

1502 Clyde Billington – Jerusalem Seal & Podium

SiftingSeal2-200From the middle of the piles of dirt discarded from a controversial building project on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a 10-year old Russian boy recovered an ancient seal from the time of King David. This discovery, reported by the Temple Mount Sifting Project, is one of the news items included in the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine, discussed on this program with my ARTIFAX co-editor, professor Clyde Billington.

In addition to this 3,000-year old seal, our program covers the recently announced discovery of a podium that was built alongside the recently excavated street that led from the Pool of Siloam up to the Temple Mount. The purpose of the podium is an archaeological mystery.

1501 Clyde Billington – Tut’s Tomb and the Acra Fortress


King Tut’s Tomb

The two hottest stories in archaeology right now are: the search for additional rooms in the tomb of King Tutankhamun (possibly the tomb of Nefertiti or some other pharaoh), and the discovery of the Hellenistic fortress known as the Acra, right outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

On this program, professor Clyde Billington (my co-editor on ARTIFAX magazine) brings our listeners up-to-date on what’s happening with these two stories and supplies some background information to help explain their significance and their connection to biblical archaeology.

1499-1500 Adam Zertal – The Altar on Mt. Ebal


Adam Zertal

On a chilly winter evening in 1993 I made my way to kibbutz En Shemer in Israel to interview Adam Zertal, a University of Haifa archaeologist, about his discovery on Mt. Ebal. Amidst museum displays highlighting the agricultural history of the kibbutz there was a small room highlighting the archaeological work done by one of its most famous residents, this archaeologist who decided to take up the search for biblical evidence during his recovery of wounds suffered during the Yom Kippur War.

As recently as 2009 we highlighted Zertal’s discovery of an underground quarry near Jericho. And his archaeological surveys may be his most important legacy.

But it was the 1980 discovery of a cultic structure on Mt. Ebal that Zertal may be most known for. Not every archaeologist believes that this is an actual altar, but Zertal believes the evidence is clear, and he is clearly intrigued by the possible connection to the account in Joshua 8:30 which says that the Israelites built an altar on Mt. Ebal. It is one of the amazing mysteries of biblical archaeology.

We learned last week that Adam Zertal died on October 18, 2015. He was 79. In honor of his dedication to archaeology in the land of Israel, we are once again highlighting that 1993 interview.

The second half of the interview, program 1500, focuses on Zertal’s survey archaeology in the hills of Samaria, and it’s Exodus connection.

Photo credit: “Adam Zartal” by Hanay – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –

1497-1498 Brent Seales – Reviving Carbonized Texts

prof. Brent Seales

prof. Brent Seales

I’m going to go out on a limb here and predicting that the top slot on our Top Ten discoveries in Biblical Archaeology list in two months is going to be this item, the reading of the oldest biblical text outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Earlier this year, it was announced that a CT scan of a cigar-shaped charcoal briquette, in reality the remains of a carbonized scroll from the fire-destroyed Byzantine synagogue at Ein Gedi, revealed the Old Testament book of Leviticus.

In this series of interviews we talk with University of Kentucky professor Brent Seales (a University of Wisconsin graduate) about his work, virtually unrolling and reviving ancient texts with computerized tomography and particle accelerators.

Archaeologists gather in Atlanta next month, and maybe somebody can top this. We’ll see.

1437 – 1439 Christopher Moroney – The Archaeology of Music

The Music of the Bible Once again we are featuring, from our archives, a series of interviews with Christopher Moroney of the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble. The interviews focus on SAVAE’s Ancient Echos Project, recreating the music of the Bible.

1495-1496 Aren Maier-Goliath’s Gath 2015

The area along the ancient border between the Israelites and the Philistines is one of the areas of particular interest in the field of biblical archaeology right now, and one of the largest sites of the more than half dozen currently under excavation is Tel es-Safi/Gath. Gath was not only the home of Goliath and his giant kin, but also the largest of the cities of the Philistine pentapolis.

We first talked with Arean Maier when he was beginning this excavation two decades ago, and it was time for an update on the latest discoveries, including a giant gate from the time of David and Goliath.


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