Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology


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1758-1759 Charles Aling – Post Exodus Disruptions in Egypt

Professor Charles Aling

Professor Charles Aling

The standard trope about the Exodus among archaeologists is that there’s no evidence for the Exodus. But maybe they just haven’t looked hard enough. Egyptologist Charles Aling has been looking and the information he shared at a recent board meeting of the Institute for Biblical Archaeology sounded pretty amazing.

Professor Aling has been examining the titles held by officials connected to the reign of Amenhotep II, which he believes is the pharaoh of the Exodus. He holds to the early date of the Exodus, which according to the Bible is around 1450 BC.

Professor Charles Aling is the president of IBA, which is one of the publishers of ARTIFAX, our Biblical Archaeology newsmagazine. He is the former chair of the history department at Northwestern College, which is now known as the University of Northwestern, St. Paul.

1757 Remembering Eilat Mazar


Eilat Mazar

Another loss for biblical archaeology, as we continue our unplanned series of remembrances. We are sorry to report that Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar died on May 25, 2021.

She was the granddaughter of Benjamin Mazar, one of Israel’s founding fathers of archaeology, and worked with her grandfather, beginning at age 11. But she made her own way, earned a PhD, and continued in the field, making a number of significant discoveries.

She was a part of The Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, one of Israel’s leading archaeologists, and not afraid of stirring up controversy. Although she said she was not religious, she proudly used the Bible to help guide her in her archaeological work.

When I interview Eilat Mazar in 2011, her recent discoveries included remains of a large building which she identified as the palace of King David, and walls near the Temple Mount that she believed were walls built by King Solomon.

1756 Remembering Professor Wilbur Williams

Professor Wilbur Williams

Professor Wilbur Williams

I decided to attend Marion College in Marion, Indiana (now Indiana Wesleyan University), because I wanted some basic Bible understanding. I took Old Testament and New Testament survey classes with Wilbur Williams. And that changed my life.

Professor Williams was an excellent teacher and the classes were exactly what I was looking for. A few years later, when I decided I wanted to have a summer vacation adventure, I decided to reconnect with professor Williams and accompany him to an archaeological excavation in Israel. I thought maybe biblical archaeology might become a career option, but quickly decided to stick with my first choice, radio news.

However, a few years after that, I started this radio news program on biblical archaeology called The Book & The Spade. That opened up a number of additional opportunities to interact with biblical archaeology over the ensuing decades, which has been greatly enriching and a real blessing in my life.

I owe a special debt to professor Williams, I think, although we all owe much to the many teachers we have had in our lives. I did have professor Williams on my radio program, once in 1997. In honor of his passing this past February, after a 50-year teaching career and 180 trips to Israel, that program is aired once again.

1755 Clyde Billington – Egypt’s Pompeii and Moses’ Kushite Wife

Egypts "Pompeiian" City

Egypts “Pompeiian” City

A previously unknown ancient city, abandoned 3400 years ago, has been excavated in Egypt. It’s state of preservation has been likened to Italy’s Pompeii. Thus, those who travel to Pompeii to see what everyday life was like in the Roman Empire during the time of Jesus will soon be able to travel to Egypt to see what everyday life was like in the Egyptian Empire during the time of Moses.

This is one of the biggest discoveries in Egyptian archaeology since the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamen (who may have been born about the time this city was abandoned).

Also on this program, we discuss several other stories from the latest issue of ARTIFAX, our biblical archaeology newsmagazine. That includes new evidence about the Kushite community in Egypt during the time of Moses, and the discovery of a 5th century AD church lintel that was found in secondary use in the ruins of a luxurious home, probably of a 7th century Muslim.

1754 Clyde Billington – Azekah and Royal Purple

Tower of David

Tower of David

Azekah, an ancient city overlooking the Elah Valley, was totally destroyed in the 12th century BC, according to the latest archaeological research. Azekah was one of the few sites excavated during 2020. Archaeologists analyzed remains found in what was left of a workshop of the period.

An inscription found in secondary use at Jerusalem’s Tower of David has redated the structure’s construction, around the 12th century AD. Workers are currently renovating the historic structure next to Jaffa Gate.

An amazing discovery at Timna, the copper mining site in southern Israel. Archaeologists are analyzing 3,000-year-old fabric that was dyed with royal purple, the prestigious dye that came from tiny murex snails.

1753 Clyde Billington – Old Scrolls, Older Basket

The world's oldest basket

The world’s oldest basket

For the first time in more than 60 years, no remnants of ancient biblical scrolls have been discovered near the Dead Sea. It’s not from the Qumran area, they’re not quite as old as the Qumran scrolls, but it’s a headline-making discovery nonetheless.

But this aggressive search of Dead Sea Scroll area caves yielded even more ancient artifacts, including the world’s oldest basket, 10,500 years old, from the pre-pottery neolithic period. Some archaeologists say this was even more important that the scroll fragments.

We talk about these discoveries as well as old DSS-related news items from the news digests of the newly-released Spring issue of ARTIFAX, our biblical archaeology newsmagazine.

1751-1752 Adam Zertal – Joshua Altar on Mt. Ebal

The Altar on Mt. Ebal

The Altar on Mt. Ebal

Workmen in the West Bank area of Israel recently damaged an archaeological site. The story is told in the news digest of the spring issue of ARTIFAX, our biblical archaeology news magazine. Road construction dislodged some stones that surrounded an ancient altar atop Mt. Ebal.

This is a famous site in the Bible. The book of Joshua in chapter eight describes how Joshua built an altar on Mt. Ebal, shortly after the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Then, in the early 1980s, Israel archaeologist Adam Zertal was surveying that area and discovered this construction, not realizing at first that it was an altar.

For some historical perspective on this recent controversy, I dug deep in our archives and found a 1986 interview with Adam Zertal, by my former co-host, professor Keith Schoville.

1750 Remembering James Sanders and George Bass

James Sanders

James Sanders

With this program we remember two more scholars of archaeology who have recently died. James Sanders was a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar and beloved professor at Claremont Graduate School of Theology. George Bass was the founder of the Nautical Archaeology Center at Texas A & M University. Both have been previously featured on The Book & The Spade.

On this program, we replay a talk from our archives, given in 1987, in which James Sanders describes the unrolling of the Great Psalms Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection.

1748-1749 Randall Price – New Dead Sea Scroll Discoveries

Randall Price

Randall Price

More than 70 years since the first Dead Sea Scroll discoveries were announced, some new Dead Sea Scrolls have been reported. Texts from two books of the minor prophets have been unearthed at a place called “The Cave of Horrors,” about 25 miles south of Qumran, where the original Dead Sea Scrolls were revealed.

Randall Price, Research Professor of Biblical and Judaic Studies at Liberty University is our guest as we discuss the recent announcement of the latest discoveries that included not only 2,000-year-old biblical texts, but the 6,000-year-old mummified corpse of a child, and a 10,000-year-old basket.

We also discuss the other Dead Sea Scrolls story in the news, new theories about the discredited manuscripts of Moses Shapira, decried as fakes and frauds in the late 19th century. Scholar Idan Dershowitz of the University of Potsdam is raising new arguments that those scrolls, which have since disappeared, may have been authentic after all.

University of Wisconsin Professor Menahem Mansoor was among the scholars over a half century ago who said, after the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, that Shapira’s scrolls deserved another look.