Lecture Summaries, 2017

JAMES AITKEN

LIGHT ON THE JEWS OF PTOLEMAIC EGYPT

Mosaic
Mosaic depiction of Hellenistic Egypt-Image: Courtesy of James Aitken

The Ptolemaic era in Egypt (third to first centuries BCE) was a prosperous time for Jews judging by the literary productivity that can be assigned there. Yet, we know little about the Jewish community in this important period. The slim information we have from inscriptions and papyri has now been supplemented by major finds. Placing the new finds in context, the lecture showed how we might construct a renewed appreciation of the place of Jews in Egyptian society.

James Aitken is Reader in Hebrew and Early Jewish Studies at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge. His research focuses on Second Temple Judaism, including the use of Hebrew and Greek among Jews. He is currently investigating the origins of the Greek Bible translation in third century BCE Egypt and its place within Egyptian society. Publications include The Semantics of Blessing and Cursing in Ancient Hebrew (2007), No Stone Unturned: Greek Inscriptions and Septuagint Vocabulary (2014) and the T&T Clark Companion to the Septuagint (2015).


GEORGE BROOKE

THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS

The cave of Qumran place of the Dead Sea Scrolls
The cave of Qumran place of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Creative Commons)

Marking the 70th anniversary of the first Dead Sea Scroll discoveries, Professor Brooke explored the Dead Sea Scrolls as archaeological artefacts, asking what can be learnt from their material culture. First he discussed some older analyses of the skin and papyrus remains, together with the more recent discoveries from multispectral imaging and other non-destructive investigations, and also recent findings about the inks used. He then looked at the varied shapes and sizes of the manuscript remains and their possible significance for evaluating compositions written on them, especially through the contrast between small and large de luxe manuscripts.

George J. Brooke is Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis Emeritus at the University of Manchester and Visiting Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Chester. Since 1992 he has been a member of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s international team of editors of the Dead Sea Scrolls and he is currently working on a revised edition of a series of manuscripts from Qumran’s Cave 4. He was awarded a D.D. (Doctor of Divinity) degree from Oxford University in 2010.


RUPERT CHAPMAN

NEW LIGHT ON THE PALACE OF THE KINGS OF ISRAEL

Excavations at Samaria in the 1930s
Excavations at Samaria in the 1930s (PEF archive photo)

The biblical account tells us that in the early ninth century B.C. Omri, King of Israel, bought land on which to found a new capital for his new kingdom.  While the excavations of Reisner and Kenyon made this one of the most extensively excavated sites in the region, it is still one of the least known.  This talk looked at the construction of the great royal compound, which included the palace itself and an enormous parade ground, as well as at the great platform on which the palace stood.  We offered the first attempted reconstruction of the palace, and we considered both its life and its destruction.

Dr Rupert Chapman was Executive Secretary of the Palestine Exploration Fund for 22 years, before joining the Middle East Department of the British Museum, where he was Curator of Levantine Antiquities and Departmental Librarian between 2006 and 2016. He has excavated in Mississippi, England, Wales, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Israel, and also in Oman and Saudi Arabia.   He is now working on the final report of the British Museum’s excavations at Tell es-Sa’idiyeh, Jordan, and researching the archaeology of ancient Samaria.


DR KEN DARK

SATELLITES OVER THE SEA: REINTERPRETING ROMAN & BYZANTINE LANDSCAPES AROUND THE SEA OF GALILEE

A Roman-period architectural fragment from the modern village of Migdal (Image courtesy of Ken Dark)

This lecture discussed recent work by the Sea of Galilee Project. The Project builds on previous site-specific research around the lake, adopting a new perspective on the Roman-period and Byzantine archaeology of the area that is based on the methods of landscape archaeology. It seeks to understand the extent to which specialised fishing formed the mainstay of local Roman-period economic activity and to investigate the social and economic consequences of this and of Christian pilgrimage in the fourth- to seventh- centuries.

Ken Dark is Associate Professor in Archaeology and History at Reading University, where he was Director of the Research Centre for Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, 2001-16. He has directed archaeological fieldwork projects in Israel, Turkey and Britain, and he has published widely on Roman-period and Byzantine archaeology.


YOSEF GARFINKEL

THE QUEST FOR THE HISTORICAL KING DAVID: NEW LIGHT FROM KHIRBET QEIYAFA AND KHIRBET EL RAI

Since the early 1980s doubts have been cast on the descriptions of King David in the biblical tradition. Some scholars claim that he was purely a literary and mythological figure, others that he was just a local tribal leader. Even Jerusalem has not yielded any clear archaeological data on the King David era. This situation changed completely with the excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa (2007-2013) and the ongoing excavations at Khirbet el Rai. The lecture concentrated on the major finds from Khirbet Qeiyafa and how they have transformed our knowledge.

Yosef Garfinkel is Yigael Yadin Professor of Archaeology of the Land of Israel at the Institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. From 2007 to 2013 he excavated the then unknown site of Khirbet Qeiyafa. This turned out to be the first known fortified city in Judah, from the time of King David, showing that in ca. 1000 BC the area had been transferred from tribal communities into a state. Since 2013 Yossi has been excavating at Tel Lachish, the second most important city in Biblical Judah, after Jerusalem.


MARK GELLER

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS MEDICINE IN THE BIBLE?

Was there ever such a thing as ‘medicine’ in the Bible? The identification of biblical ‘leprosy’ (Tzorat) has remained a perpetual problem for scholarship, since the ‘symptoms’ described in the Bible fit no modern patterns of illness, and certainly not leprosy or psoriasis. This lecture examined these passages from the point of view of contemporary medicine, which is well documented in cuneiform tablets, to put biblical ‘medicine’ into its proper context within ancient healing arts. Comparisons show many of the descriptions of this condition in the Bible have parallels which cast light on the passages in Leviticus, so that these passages take their proper place within the history of ancient medicine.

Mark Geller is Jewish Chronicle Professor and Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies in the Dept. of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at UCL.  He is currently on secondment to the Freie Universitaet Berlin, where he is Professor fuer Wissensgeschichte and Principal Investigator of a 5-year European Research Council Project “BabMed”, which investigates both cuneiform and Talmudic medicine.  He has recently published books on ancient Babylonian medicine and on healing magic in ancient Mesopotamia and is currently working on medicine in the Babylonian Talmud.


AYELET GILBOA

THE EMERGENCE OF ANCIENT ISRAEL AND ITS NEIGHBOURS: ARCHAEOLOGY, HISTORY AND BIBLE

Tel Dor
The Phoenician Site of Tel Dor and the 11th century BCE Wenamun Papyrus (Image courtesy of Ayelet Gilboa)

Around 1200 BCE all economic/political structures in the Ancient Near East dramatically collapsed and in the following so called ‘dark age’ several new identities were forged. This lecture followed these transformations in the Levant, especially the emergence of ancient Israel and its relation to the birth of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Beyond Israel, the consolidation of its neighbours – the Philistines and Phoenicians – since, as usual, neighbouring identities rise in contradistinction to each other.

Professor Ayelet Gilboa is former Chair of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, where she teaches various courses related to the Archaeology of the Near East in the Bronze and Iron Ages, and archaeological theory and practice. She specializes in Coastal archaeology, Phoenicians, Sea People, and Mediterranean interconnections. She co-directs the Tel Dor Excavations and directs the Tel Shikmona Publication Project –  both sites situated on Israel’s Carmel coast.


DAVID JACOBSON

THE PEF AND ITS PHOTOGRAPHS OF JERUSALEM
The Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF), founded in 1865 and the oldest society for the study of the southern Levant, holds an outstanding collection of photographs of the region going back to the 1850s. They include those taken by James McDonald for the Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem in 1864-65. Photography was conspicuous in every PEF expedition. Following a brief outline of the PEF and its founders, the lecture illustrated the Fund’s holdings of early views of Jerusalem and their significance today.

David Jacobson held the Chair in Manufacturing Technologies at Buckinghamshire New University and is Honorary Research Fellow in Hebrew and Jewish Studies at UCL. A member of the Executive Committee of the PEF for more than two decades, he edited its journal, the PEQ, from 2009 to 2015, restoring it to a quarterly publication. Most recent among his many books and articles are Antioch & Jerusalem: the Seleucids and Maccabees in Coins (2015) and Distant Views of the Holy Land with Felicity Cobbing (2015).


BRIAN JANEWAY

FINDING THE PHILISTINES: CERAMIC EVIDENCE OF THE NORTHERN SEA PEOPLES AT TELL TAYINAT

The discovery of the Kingdom of Palastin, with its putative capital at Tell Tayinat in the Amuq Valley in Turkey, has heightened interest in the migration phenomenon of Sea Peoples during the 12th century BC. Several hieroglyphic Luwian inscriptions found in the region provide written evidence of this kingdom. This lecture presented the results of a formal stylistic analysis of a distinctive painted pottery excavated at the site, that includes forms familiar to Aegean-type assemblages found elsewhere and a repertoire of revealing painted motifs. Were these newly-arrived settlers the Philistines, infamous as invaders of Egypt and enemies of Biblical Israel?

Dr. Brian Janeway works as an independent researcher on the Tell Tayinat Archaeological Project sponsored by the University of Toronto, Canada. In addition to Turkey, he has participated in excavations in Israel at Tell Hazor, Tell Rehov, and Khirbet al-Makater. His analysis of the LH IIIC pottery assemblage at Tayinat forms the basis of his recently published book, Sea Peoples of the North? Aegean-Style Pottery from Early Iron Age Tell Tayinat). Brian makes his living as a pilot with American Airlines.


ZULEIKA RODGERS

PROF. JACOB WEINGREEN OF TRINITY COLLEGE:
HIS LIFE, SCHOLARSHIP AND NEAR-EASTERN COLLECTION

Dr Rodgers traced Jacob Weingreen’s career, covering his appointment as Professor of Hebrew at Trinity College Dublin in 1937, the development of his interest in Near Eastern archaeology and his founding of a museum of biblical antiquities at Trinity. His personal background was explored, including Weingreen’s outstanding post-war work at the Displaced Persons Camp at Bergen-Belsen.

Zuleika Rodgers is assistant professor in Jewish Studies and Curator of the Weingreen Museum at Trinity College Dublin.

 


RACHAEL SPARKS

ADVENTURES IN ARCHAEOLOGY: FLINDERS PETRIE AT THE ‘MOUND OF THE CALVES’

Tell el-'Ajjul
Tell el-‘Ajjul, some of Petrie’s workers pose in the ruins of the Canaanite city (courtesy of the UCL Institute of Archaeology Collections).

 

The lecture explored the history and fortunes of Tell el-‘Ajjul, a small site that was once home to a bustling Bronze Age port, with densely packed mudbrick houses and a thriving Canaanite community. Later eclipsed by Gaza to the north, the site went into in decline, and was relatively unknown until Flinders Petrie’s five seasons of work there. This paper showed how his discoveries changed the understanding of ancient Canaan.

Dr Rachael Sparks is Senior Lecturer and Keeper of Collections at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. As Curator of the Petrie Palestinian Collection there, she catalogued the material from Flinders Petrie’s excavations in British Mandate Palestine. She has worked on ethnographic material from the southern Sudan at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, and on numerous excavations in the Middle East, including Pella, Teleilat Ghassul, Gharandal and Petra.


LINDSEY TAYLOR-GUTHARTZ

FAKES, FRAUDS & FANATICS:
THE SEAMY SIDE OF BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY

One of Moses Shapira’s ‘Moabite’ forgeries (courtesy of the Palestine Exploration Fund)

The stakes are so high in biblical archaeology that it’s no wonder that there have been many fakes, forgeries, and questionable incidents along the way. We’ll look at some of them, from the notorious Shapira affair in the nineteenth century to modern examples, and ask whether amateurs or professionals should ‘own’ Biblical archaeology.

Dr Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz is a Teaching Fellow at the London School of Jewish Studies, and an occasional lecturer at SOAS, Cambridge University, and Kings College London, as well as editing books for the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. For her PhD at UCL she investigated the religious lives of Orthodox Jewish women in contemporary London, after gaining a BA in Archaeology from Cambridge and an MA in Prehistory from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is involved in interfaith activities.