Tuesday, December 23, 2008

BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW has published a number of free, complete articles recently on its website:
Digs Go Digital
Our annual guide to excavations tells you which digs are looking for volunteers, how you could win a scholarship to fund your experience, and some of the hi-tech tools that you might use while you’re there.

[Cross-file under Technology Watch.]

First Person: BAR—The Next Generation
By Dorothy D. Resig

When our editor, Hershel Shanks, told me several months ago that he was going to take a two-month sabbatical to work on his autobiography and that I’d be writing the First Person for this issue of BAR, I was both excited and overwhelmed by the task of deciding what to write. Hershel suggested that I consider things that give me a different perspective from his. While that offered me a few options, I settled on our age difference and decided to discuss what I’ll call “my generation” in Biblical archaeology.


Biblical Views: Breaking the Trend of Biblical “Breaking News”
By Craig A. Evans

Scholars and the general public alike have grown accustomed, perhaps even hardened, to sensational announcements every year that have something to do with the Bible, Jesus or Christian origins. From The Da Vinci Code to the supposed tomb of Jesus and his family, and the seemingly annual reports about finding Noah’s ark or the Ark of the Covenant, much of the news in our field is incredible—literally. And, of course, several artifacts (such as the Jehoash inscription and the James Ossuary inscription) were widely publicized before being declared forgeries—although the evidence in support of forgery is far from conclusive (see Strata).
In light of all of this noise, I would not be surprised in the least if the public interest in Biblical scholarship and archaeology begins to wane. Future discoveries, even important ones, may well be met with cynical responses such as “We have heard this before.” How is the average person supposed to know when a truly remarkable discovery has been made?

[The bulk of the article has some interesting observations on recent work on the Vision of Gabriel inscription. Background here.]

Archaeological Views: The Value of Experience
[Oded Borowski reflects on how his life experiences inform his work as an archaeologist.]
Also, if you subscribe to Joseph I. Lauer's list, you will have received the full text of three of this issue's "Strata" pieces.

UPDATE: Oh, yes, I meant to include this one too:
Leading Israeli Scientist Declares Pomegranate Inscription Authentic

BAR Special News Report
Updated December 16, 2008

An Israeli scientist employed by the defense in the Jerusalem forgery trial has concluded that the inscription on the famous ivory pomegranate (“[Belonging] to the Temple of [Yahwe]h, consecrated to the priests”) is authentic.

If the inscription is authentic, the pomegranate is probably the only surviving artifact from Solomon’s Temple.

Professor Yitzhak Roman of the Hebrew University examined the pomegranate under a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) to reach his conclusions. In the 1990s he was the academic director of Hebrew University’s SEM.

A committee led by Tel Aviv University’s Yuval Goren had previously concluded that the inscription was a forgery because three critical letters adjacent to an ancient break stopped before the break. The forger was apparently fearful of breaking off more of the pomegranate if he went too close to this fracture. The pomegranate itself is admittedly genuine. However, Professor Roman’s examination showed that the three critical letters, contrary to Yuval Goren’s finding, did in fact go into the ancient break.

There's a link to Professor Roman's report.

In another (long) e-mail, Joe Lauer concludes, "I wonder, though, how the claim of authenticity accords with the finding made years ago that the artifact (but not its incised writing) was from a period much earlier than that of the First Temple. Is that still the current thinking?"

Good question.