Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

Special programs about archaeology

1584-1586 Eric Cline – Three Stones Makes a Wall & a Tell Kabri Excavation Update

Assaf Yasur-Landau & Eric Cline

Assaf Yasur-Landau & Eric Cline

Eric Cline, a prolific author, experienced archaeologist, and professor of Classics and Anthropology at George Washington University, has a new book out: Three Stones Makes a Wall – The Story of Archaeology (Princeton University Press).

This is not dull and dry, as archaeology sometimes can be. Eric write “informatively and enthusiastically,” as one critic said. He has an easily accessible writing style and includes a lot of stories to engage the imagination. And he explains, with the title, why archaeologists need an imagination.

I highly recommend the book and it’s a pleasure to welcome Eric Cline back on the program for the fifth time in the last 10 years. We also talked about his excavations this summer at Tel Kabri in Israel, which he co-directs with Assaf Yasur-Landau.


1576 The Dead Sea Scrolls Documentary


Dead Sea Scroll scholars and archaeologists (clockwise from upper left) Yigael Yadin, William F. Albright, Roland DeVaux, and John Trever.

Twenty years ago, on the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, I produced a 14-minute documentary featuring audio I had collected for my radio program from presentations and interviews.

I also included audio from a series of public radio programs produced by University of Wisconsin professor Menahem Mansoor, from tape recordings which he bequeathed to me. These recordings included observations from William F. Albright (whom he had studied under), Yigael Yadin, and Roland DeVaux–key figures in the discovery and excavation of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran community.

I am presenting this program from The Book & The Spade archives to mark the 70th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

1509 Space Archaeologist Sarah Parcak

4745205c9770c78768ac398ed92412a0a015065a_254x191Technology continues to improve the tools available to archaeologists to investigate the ancient world. When Google Earth meets Indiana Jones you have the kind of work that Sarah Parcak has become known for.

Sarah Parcak is a professor of Anthropology and director of the Laboratory for Global Observation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the winner of the 2016 Ted Prize, which is worth $1 million. In this program, Sarah talks about what exactly she has been working on as a space archaeologist, and what she wants to do with the Ted Prize.

1506 Todd Bolen – Top 10 Biblical Archaeology Stories of 2015

prof. Brent Seales

prof. Brent Seales

It’s always fun to look back at the end of the year and see how Biblical Archaeology has opened up new perspectives on the biblical world. This year it was not just the discoveries of the year, but how discoveries from previous years were finally realized. Many of our Top 10 items were discovered decades ago, but their significance was only now becoming apparent in 2015.

Once again I was joined by Todd Bolen, the editor of, to discuss the news stories of 2015. And our top item on the list highlighted the work of University of Wisconsin alumnus Brent Seales, now a computer science professor at the University of Kentucky. His software developments could open the way for the reading of many more ancient texts, such as the carbonized scroll of Leviticus from the Engedi synagogue that we reported on this year.

Christmas – an archaeological perspective

I enjoyed this feature from CBN that takes an archaeological look at the Christmas story:


For more reflection: How December 25 Became Christmas – Biblical Archaeology Review


#1248 Jerusalem’s Sacred Esplanade


Kjell Magne Bondevik

Kjell Magne Bondevik - former Prime Minister of Norway


We haven’t had this many distinguished voices on the program since our Dead Sea Scrolls anniversary program featuring Yigael Yadin and William F. Albright. We had the opportunity to attend and record a special program of the Wisconsin Book Festival, sponsored by the Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions and the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. The focus of the program was a book we discussed almost a year ago, Where Heaven and Earth Meet, Jerusalem’s Sacred Esplanade. The program featured an introduction by former Norwegian Prime Minister (and Lutheran pastor) Kjell Magne Bondevik. The panelists were Benjamin Kedar, emeritus professor of history at Hebrew University and chairman of the board of the Israel Antiquities Authority; Mustafa Abu Sway, an associate professor of philosophy and Islamic studies at Al Quds University; and Guy Stroumsa, professor of the study of Abrahamic Religions at Oxford University.

The topic of discussion was the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, as it’s known to Jews and Christians, Haram es-Sharif as it’s known to Muslims. The book offers a new description of this contested plot of land, the Sacred Esplanade. But, as professor Kedar explained, it has had many other names over the years. A question about the archaeology of the Sacred Esplanade generated some controversy, which we included in the second half of this program.

The book looks fascinating, quite well illustrated, but a bit expensive at $75.

The Jerusalem Post has some late-breaking news about the Western Wall Plaza, right outside the Temple Mount.