Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology


1644-1645 John DeLancey – 2019 Excavation Plans and 2020 Israel Tour

Rev. Dr. John DeLancey

Rev. Dr. John DeLancey

Tour host John DeLancey joins us once again as we discuss some of the dig plans that have been announced for the 2019 excavation season. This is an annual tradition that we started way back around 35 years ago. Our discussion is designed to give listeners a quick overview of some of the institutional excavations, where they are happening, and their biblical connections.

In addition, we are once again inviting our listeners to join us on a trip to Israel to see the sites that we talk about. We first did a tour like this in 1985. We’ve done a number of tours since, most recently just last May. And we’re going to be going again in March, 2020. Find out more details on our Archaeological Adventure Study Tour website.


1643 Top 10 Biblical Archaeology Stories of 2018

Ring of Pilate

Ring of Pilate

It may take years before we know what was the most important Biblical Archaeology discovery of 2018, but every year I try to identify 10 of the top stories of Biblical Archaeology that were reported on during the year just past, some involving discoveries from many years ago.

For instance, our top item, a ring with Pilate’s seal, was actually discovered in the 1960s but not identified until 2018. And the statue head of the ancient king, our #2 discovery, was found in 2017 but didn’t create news until it was put on display in the Israel Museum in 2018.

This list is published annually by Christianity Today.

1641-1642 Dwight Longenecker – The Mystery of the Magi

The Wise Men of the Gospel narrative.The annual Christmas holiday has layers and layers of tradition that have accumulated over 2,000 years but in recent years we have tried to strip away some of the tradition and go back to the story of the birth of Jesus from the Gospels, particularly Matthew and Luke, and for some reason we’ve focused on the story of the Wise Men a lot in recent years. Dwight Longenecker, the author of a new book called The Mystery of the Magi, digs into this unusual story from Matthew’s Gospel and suggests that these Wise Men did not come from Persia, which was quite distant from Jerusalem and Bethlehem, but rather from the Kingdom of Nabatea, which was right across the Dead Sea.

1640 Tali Erickson-Gini – Ancient Copper Mines of Timna Park

Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini, 1994

Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini, 1994

Every Hanukkah for the past eight years the public has been invited to Timna Park in far southern Israel to engage in archaeology. The remains of ancient Egyptian copper mines are located in the park, dated to the 12-13th century BC.

Dr. Erickson-Gini was featured on our program almost a quarter-century ago and it’s good to connect with her again as she discusses this unique archaeological opportunity and what’s been found at Timna Park.

1638-1639 Matthew Adams – Jezreel Valley Project Update

Legio at Megiddo, site of the Roman Legion Camp.

Legio at Megiddo, site of the Roman Legion Camp, as seen from Tel Megiddo.

In the flat farm fields between the archaeological tel of Megiddo and the Megiddo prison a mile away (as shown in this photo), lie the remains for the only major Roman Legion base known in the eastern Roman empire. Inside the prison itself, archaeologists have discovered the remains of a second century Christian prayer house, one of the earliest known Christian worship buildings.

On these two programs, Matthew Adams, director of the Albright Institute in Jerusalem, fills us in on the latest details of the excavations that are part of the Jezreel Valley Project, and what will be happening when the prison is decommissioned and moved, by order of the Israel Supreme Court. We also discuss some of the other archaeology taking place in the Jezreel Valley area, which is becoming busier and busier as a location for biblical archaeology.

1637 Clyde Billington – Church of Nicea and Maresha Seal Impressions

The bell caves at Beit Guvrin, adjacent to Maresha.

The bell caves at Beit Guvrin, adjacent to Maresha.

The Council of Nicea was a critical meeting in A.D. 325 that shaped the history of the Christian church, and now a church has been discovered at the site where the council was held in NW Turkey. And it’s ten feet under water. That’s one of the stories from the news digest in the latest issue of ARTIFAX.

We also discuss some Hellenistic seal impressions found in an underground chamber at Maresha, a Hellenistic gold item found at the Givati Car Park excavation in Jerusalem, and the discovery of a first century tomb in Jordan filled with cartoons. That is, drawings on the wall, and some have captions in ancient Aramaic.

1636 Clyde Billington – Beit Lehi, Jordan Valley Camps, and Jerusalem Cable Car

View of Mt. Zion from the Mt. of Olives

View of Mt. Zion from the Mt. of Olives

More news items from the Autumn issue of ARTIFAX, starting with the excavation at Beit Lehi, “the house of the jawbone.” Lots of inscriptions in caves at this site, 60 miles SW of Jerusalem, lots of Hellenistic remains, a Byzantine church and one of the earliest Muslim mosques in Israel.

Excavations of stone structures in the Jordan Valley, first identified by Adam Zertal, now continuing under a new archaeological team. Zertal suggested that these structures may have been corrals for early Israelites, who lived in tents, and possible evidence for the Exodus.

A cable car plan is being discussed that is generating some controversy. The cable car would cross the Hinnom Valley to Mt. Zion and end at the Dung Gate of the old city. (Mt. Zion view shown above would have pylons holding the cable car cables.)