In 1978 I participated in an archaeological dig at Lachish. The site is mentioned in only 22 verses in the Bible. Yet it is one of the most important archaeological sites for understanding ancient Israelite history in relation to the imperial powers seeking to dominate the region at the time.
For me, archaeological sites are not simply “ancient stones.” They are storied places. People lived in these sites, worshiped their gods, raised families, and much more. Each site is alive with memory.
One of the ways tour members can prepare for a tour is to acquaint themselves with some of the ancient sites. Biblical Archaeology Review‘s website is a good place to visit now and then. There’s a wealth of information available there, even without subscribing to the magazine.
Here are a few examples. On this tour we will be visiting the Shrine of the Book (at the Israel Museum) as well as the ancient site of Qumran, where those scrolls were discovered. The scrolls have been in the news recently, as Jordan has asked Canada to return those scrolls currently on display in Toronto to Jordanian control. The News section of the website provides a link to the CBC news report on this item. Even more, BAR’s website includes a special section called “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Why They Matter.” BAR tends to be a bit controversial at times. But that’s part of the fun of archaeology, which is a cross between science, detective work, and creative imagination.
While I was working on the archaeological dig at Lachish, Gabriel Barkay was the junior archaeologist on the site, working under the supervision of now retired archaeologist David Ussishkin. On the BAR site I found an audio lecture by Barkay on “Ten Key Points on Authenticity of Artefacts.” Parts of this lecture may not make sense unless you’ve had a little experience with archaeology, but it is interesting nonetheless!