Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology


1627 Clyde Billington – Israelite Psalms Found in Egypt

Sphinx & pyramid

Sphinx & pyramid

Some of the Biblical Archaeology stories we report in ARTIFAX magazine come from Egypt, such as the item in our latest issue: Three Ancient Israelite Psalms Found in Egypt. Professor Billington discusses the significance of this finding (non-biblical Psalms have also been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, as I remember).

We also discuss the history of writing as it relates to Egypt, in the context of another Egypt digest item: First Known Semitic Abecedary in Egypt. This abedecary dates to the 15th century BC, roughly the time of Moses according to the biblical Chronology, an important connection that shows it’s not impossible to think that Moses could have written the Torah.

We also discuss the innovations of technology that help us better understand the ancient world, such as the new Virtual Reality tour of the Tomb of Nefertari, sometimes called the “Egyptian Sistine Chapel.” Nefertari was the primary queen of Ramses II, who ruled from 1279-1212BC.


1626 Clyde Billington – Carbon 14 + Sepphoris and Tiberias

Excavation of the underground winepress at Sepphori

Excavation of the underground winepress at Sepphoris.

Reviewing more reports from the summer issue of ARTIFAX magazine, we discuss research into the accuracy of Carbon-14 dating, and significant questions that have been raised.

We also discuss the discovery of an underground winepress at Sepphoris and a Jewish burial cave from Tiberias, the two cities thata served as the capitals of the Galilee during the time of Jesus.

And finally, brief mentions of a report that the government of Israel is going to invest $140 million in archaeology to benefit tourism, and an archaeological fraternity has been formed at George Washington University.

1625 Clyde Billington – Jonah’s Whale and Mosaic Discoveries

The spies of Huqoq

The spies of Huqoq

Reviewing some of the recent news reported in the summer issue of ARTIFAX magazine, we take a look at some mosaic stories. Once again this summer, another mosaic image is released from the Huqoq synagogue excavation in the Galilee: a picture of the two Israelite spies returning from Canaan with a large cluster of grapes.

We also mention the recent discovery of another beautiful mosaic on the property that is being excavated in preparation for the construction of a mosaic museum at Lod. And the excavation of St. Hilarion’s Monastery in Gaza, the oldest monastery in the region, will include mosaic remains.

We also discover archaeologists have found evidence that certain types of whales, which fit the story of Jonah, once actually were found in the Mediterranean, contrary to popular belief. The story comes from an excavation of Roman ruins at Gibralter.

1624 Clyde Billington – Who Is This Biblical King?

Likeness of a Biblical King from Abel Beth Maacah.

Likeness of a Biblical King from Abel Beth Maacah.

On the cover of the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine, the photograph of the head off of a small statue that is believed to be a king from the 9th century BC. But is it a king of Israel, Aram, Phoenicia, or somewhere else?

This faience face was excavated in 2017 at Abel Beth Maacah, a border town down through much of history, as it is today, located between Israel and Lebanon. It is now on display at the Israel Museum.

On this program we also discuss more of the news coverage featured in the latest ARTIFAX issue, in particular excavations at the two sites vying to be the biblical Bethsaida, home of three of the Apostles. Excavations continued this summer at et-Tell and El-Araj, the two sites near the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. First century A.D. remains were found at both locations. Excavations will continue again next year in an attempt to solve this biblical mystery.

1623 John DeLancey – Volunteering to Excavate at Gath

John DeLancey

John DeLancey

Archaeology is the rare science in which untrained laymen (and women) can make major discoveries. From the beginning we hosts of The Book & The Spade, and some of our guests, have invited listeners to volunteer to participate in these excavations, and some listeners have done so.

On this program we explore just exactly how one goes about volunteering for an excavation in Israel. Dr. John DeLancey, co-leader of our May Israel tour, has volunteered on three different excavations in recent years. This summer he spent a week at the excavation of Tel es-Safi/Gath, one of the five Philistine cities and the home town of Goliath.

John worked in the city gate area that is currently under excavation. On the program, he explains how he made arrangements to join the excavation, and what it was like. He also created a video of Tel es-Safi/Gath.

For those who want the official report on the Gath excavation from dig director Aren Maier, you can check out the excavation blog.

Here’s the account of another volunteer who excavated at Tel Jezreel.

1621-1622 Scott Stripling – Shiloh 2018

Scott Stripling

Scott Stripling

Shiloh, where the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant were located for several hundred years, is once again under excavation. Last year we heard from dig director Scott Stripling, and this year he has given us an update on what is probably the largest dig in Israel, in terms of the number of volunteers.

This large number of volunteers, over 140, means that the excavation had enough people to use the wet sifting process, which was responsible for the discovery of items like a cartouche, which otherwise would have been missed. Another significant discovery: a ceramic pomegranate. And there’s a lot more to talk about regarding this important Old Testament excavation site.


1620 The Jesus Trail

The Jesus Trail is one of Israel’s many hiking trails. It covers 40 miles, from Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up, to Capernaum, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus based his ministry. The Jesus Trail was established in 2007, and in May of 2018 I walked it. This week’s TB&TS program has a few observations and some audio clips about the archaeological sites that are along The Jesus Trail.

The Jesus Trail conjures up visions of walking grassy paths through olive groves, where you can almost see the dusty footprints of the apostles. Our experience was a little different. We did the trail in four days, in unseasonable heat. We visited two archaeological sites along the way. Following are photos from our 4 days on The Jesus Trail.

Mary's Well

Mary’s Well is probably the strongest link in Nazareth to the lives of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. As the city’s water source, Mary would have visited daily. And as the inset shows, it is the symbol of Nazareth found on manhole covers.

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