Lectures – Forthcoming



(University College London)


6.00 pm – Lecture Theatre G6, Ground Floor, Institute of Archaeology, University College, London WC1H OPY

The central hill country of the Holy Land, encompassed by the modern political boundaries of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, has long attracted the interest and curiosity of archaeologists and scholars. Since 1967 the areas occupied by Israel have been subject to intensive archaeological survey, salvage excavations and research projects conducted mainly by Israeli government and academic institutions. Since the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority in 1994, Palestinian institutions have also become engaged in a variety of archaeological projects, surveys and excavations. This lecture examines the results of Israeli and Palestinian data collection, mostly focusing on the West Bank and East Jerusalem Archaeological Database (WBEJAD) – a database covering thousands of archaeological sites surveyed or excavated by Israel from 1967 to 2007. By examining recording emphasis in West Bank inventories, this lecture interrogates the ways in which social, political, ideological or cultural values may affect different aspects of data collection and management.

Dr Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert is a research associate at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, where she completed her PhD in 2013. Her doctoral research explored data trends and variability in Israeli and Palestinian archaeological inventories in the occupied West Bank. She is currently a team member on an AHRC-funded project called Crowd- and Community-fuelled Archaeological Research (MicroPasts), which examines participatory methods of citizen science such as crowd-sourcing, in collaboration with the British Museum. Her main interests are cultural heritage documentation, archaeological databases, Geographic Information Systems, digital heritage, computer applications in archaeology, and 3D modelling.

(Organised jointly with the Institute of Archaeology, University College, London)



(University of Wisconsin)


4.00 pm in the Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre, The British Museum

Early 19th century explorers of south-western Palestine saw khirbets of the Roman and Byzantine periods and concluded that the environs of Wadi el-Hesi had been a productive agrarian region for millennia, with towns, villages, and hamlets dotting the landscape. The coming of Islam, however, was seen as the event that ended sedentary life for the region and soon initiated a millennium of a semi-nomadic lifestyle that was still practiced as they explored the region. With this perspective these 19th century scholars sought biblical sites in what they saw as an agricultural region, focusing on the city Lachish, a site first identified as Umm Lakis and later as Tell el-Hesi. By the mid-20th century Lachish was known to be located east of this region and Tell el-Hesi was thought to be a biblical town, Eglon, but soon even that identification was called in to question. By the start of the 21st century not a single site in the Hesi region could be identified as a specific biblical town or village and many scholars questioned whether the region was even within the borders of Judah. This was a significant shift in scholarly interpretation from a century earlier. The agricultural nature of the region, however, remained unquestioned. A recent reconsideration of the Hesi region’s archaeological record suggests that for all periods post-dating the Early Bronze Age, excepting the Roman and Byzantine periods, the region supported nomads or semi-nomads who generally herded sheep and goats. It was not farmland tilled by sedentary villagers as earlier scholars thought. For the 10th, 9th, and early 8th centuries B.C.E., in particular, the Hesi region was a pasturage controlled by governmental installations at Tell el-Hesi and Khirbet Summeily. The identity of the political entity, or entities, controlling Tell el-Hesi and Khirbet Summeily is far less clear, but one entity certainly could have been Judah.

Jeffrey A. Blakely attended Oberlin College, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Pennsylvania, where he wrote a Ph.D. in Oriental Studies with a concentration in the archaeology of the Levant. He has participated in the renewed excavations at Tell el-Hesi since 1971, now serving as co-director. He has also excavated at Caesarea Maritima in Israel, Aqaba in Jordan, Wadi al-Jubah in Yemen, and in numerous archaeological projects in the United States. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and teaches at the University of Wisconsin.

(Organised jointly with the Palestine Exploration Fund)

*Please ensure you book your ticket for this lecture by telephone at the British Museum Box office on: +44 (0)20 7323 8181 or online at www.britishmuseum.org