Tuesday, October 07, 2008

AN OBITUARY for Avraham Biran, who died last month, appears in the Chicago Tribune. (I know it says NYT, but if it was published there originally, I can't find it online.)
Archeologist of biblical sites

New York Times News Service
October 7, 2008

Avraham Biran, an archeologist of biblical sites who excavated Tel Dan, an ancient city along Israel's northern border, and uncovered an unexpected stone fragment bearing what might be the earliest reference to the House of David, died Sept. 16 in Jerusalem. He was 98.

Biran's death was confirmed by a spokesman from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, where Biran directed the institute's school of biblical archeology.

In 1993, after nearly three decades of digging at Dan, which is on the Syrian border and near the headwaters of the Jordan River, Biran and his colleagues discovered a foot-long piece of stone with a partial inscription in Early Aramaic.

The archeologists were able to decipher text on what was possibly a monument to commemorate victory in battle by a king of Aram over Israel. The inscription — which contained the words House of David — was dated to the 9th Century B.C. and was hailed by biblical scholars as a unique find and evidence of the antiquity of King David's lineage. Some scholars, however, have questioned the interpretation of the discovery and even the existence of King David.

May his memory be for a blessing.

For more on the Tel Dan Inscription, see here and here.

UPDATE: Here's the link to the NYT article (via Joseph I. Lauer's list).