My wife and I are back with our kids after hearing some great things at the ASOR annual meeting in San Antonio. Here are some highlights from our experience.
Jerusalem’s Gihon Spring: The massive 18th century BC tower over the Gihon Spring has surprisingly given some radiocarbon dates for the 9th century BC, the time of the kings of Judah. Was this massive fortification built in the 9th century, or was it built in the 18th century and repaired in the 9th century? Not sure at this point. It’s a pretty big thing to re-date a well-known monumental structure by 900 years.
The Ark of the Covenant: We heard a proposal that two recently-discovered Iron Age (kingdom period) temples at Beth Shemesh and Tel Moza might relate to the Ark of the Covenant’s journey from its capture by the Philistines to its final home in Jerusalem. Further investigation is needed on this one.
Philistine skeletons: The excavators of a newly-discovered Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon reported details on their findings. (This discovery made the news this past summer.) The cemetery dates from the 10th to 8th centuries BC, making it contemporary with the monarchies of Israel and Judah. Some 200 skeletons of men, women, and children. Interesting burial practices. Groundbreaking stuff (literally and figuratively).
The Gezer Water Tunnel: We got an update on the project to clear the underground water tunnel at Gezer. They’ve been going at it for 6 years and are still going deeper. The bottom is surprisingly not yet in sight. There are some interesting carvings on the tunnel ceiling and side walls that deserve attention. They might relate to those massive monoliths discovered on the surface.
There were too many presentations to mention here, but a few other favorites covered new archaeological results from the biblical city of Azekah and the Judean Shephelah (foothills), some discussions on the Exodus from Egypt, and a paper on whether 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 refers to Roman emperor worship. (The presenter argued against this, based on an assemblage of inscriptions from that area.) In my previous post I mentioned some great sessions on Gath and our own excavations at Lachish.
Next year’s ASOR meeting is in Boston. It’s too early to know if I will be able to attend, but it promises a plethora of opportunities to learn of new discoveries from across the biblical world.