Biblical archaeology controversies in Israel


This video says about itself:

Monotheism, Disbelief and the Hebrew Bible, with Francesca Stavrakopoulou

20 September 2013

In the third interview in our series on ancient religious scepticism, Professor Tim Whitmarsh talks to Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou from the University of Exeter about monotheism and disbelief in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament. They discuss how these slippery concepts might be seen to intersect with the historical events of the formative ‘Persian period’ (mid-6th to mid-4th century BCE), when Cyrus the Great allowed Jerusalem elites to return to their city after a period of exile in Babylon. Professor Stavrakopoulou explains how the issue of belief vs disbelief is a Christian, confessional notion that cannot be easily retrojected onto the world of the Hebrew bible – a world that was, we discover, animated by debates about the relative power and strength of different divine beings. And she goes on to sketch the polytheistic backdrop to early Judaism with reference to the intriguing storyline of the Book of Job, in which we find Yahweh at a council of deities to test the religious steadfastness of the book’s unlucky protagonist.

Another video which used to be on YouTube used to say about itself:

Biblical Archaeology: City of King David | BBC Documentary

Jun 18, 2013

Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou examines how archaeological discoveries are changing the way people interpret stories from the Bible. Stavrakopoulou visits key archaeological excavations where ground-breaking finds are being unearthed, and examines evidence for and against the Biblical account of King David.

Was the God of Abraham unique? Were the ancient Israelites polytheists? And is it all possible that God had another half? Marshalling compelling evidence from archaeology, Islam and the Bible text itself, she identifies and visits the exact site of Eden.

Did King David’s Empire Exist?

Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou goes on the trail of the Biblical King David and his fabled empire. A national hero and icon for the Jewish people, and a divine king for Christians, David is best known as the boy-warrior who defeated the Philistine giant Goliath. As king, he united the tribes of Israel. But did he really rule over a vast Israelite kingdom? Did he even exist?

Stavrakopoulou visits key archaeological excavations where ground-breaking finds are being unearthed, and examines evidence for and against the Biblical account of King David. She explores the former land of the Philistines, home of the giant Goliath, and ruins in the north of Israel and in old Jerusalem itself purporting to be remains of David’s empire.

From Associated Press:

King David’s Palace Found? Biblical Archaeology Contentious

July 21, 2013 10:17 am

A team of Israeli archaeologists believes it has discovered the ruins of a palace belonging to the biblical King David, but other Israeli experts dispute the claim.

Archaeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel’s Antiquities Authority said their find, a large fortified complex west of Jerusalem at a site called Khirbet Qeiyafa, is the first palace of the biblical king ever to be discovered.

“Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,” said Yossi Garfinkel, a Hebrew University archaeologist, suggesting that David himself would have used the site. Garfinkel led the seven-year dig with Saar Ganor of Israel’s Antiquities Authority.

Garfinkel said his team found cultic objects typically used by Judeans, the subjects of King David, and saw no trace of pig remains. Pork is forbidden under Jewish dietary laws. Clues like these, he said, were “unequivocal evidence” that David and his descendants had ruled at the site.

Critics said the site could have belonged to other kingdoms of the area. The consensus among most scholars is that no definitive physical proof of the existence of King David has been found.

Biblical archaeology itself is contentious. Israelis often use archaeological findings to back up their historic claims to sites that are also claimed by the Palestinians, like the Old City of Jerusalem. Despite extensive archaeological evidence, for example, Palestinians deny that the biblical Jewish Temples dominated the hilltop where the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest site, stands today.

In general, researchers are divided over whether biblical stories can be validated by physical remains.

The current excavators are not the first to claim they found a King David palace. In 2005, Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar said she found the remains of King David’s palace in Jerusalem dating to the 10th century B.C., when King David would have ruled. Her claim also attracted skepticism, including from Garfinkel himself.

Using carbon dating, the archaeologists traced the site’s construction to that same period. Garfinkel said the team also found a storeroom almost 15 meters (50 feet) long, suggesting it was a royal site used to collect taxes from the rest of the kingdom.

Garfinkel believes King David lived permanently in Jerusalem in a yet-undiscovered site, only visiting Khirbet Qeiyafa or other palaces for short periods. He said the site’s placement on a hill indicates that the ruler sought a secure site on high ground during a violent era of frequent conflicts between city-states.

“The time of David was the first time that a large portion of this area was united by one monarch,” Garfinkel said. “It was not a peaceful era.”

Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University agreed that Khirbet Qeiyafa is an “elaborate” and “well-fortified” 10th century B.C. site, but said it could have been built by Philistines, Canaanites or other peoples in the area.

He said there was no way to verify who built the site without finding a monument detailing the accomplishments of the king who built it. Last week, for instance, archaeologists in Israel found pieces of a sphinx bearing the name of the Egyptian pharaoh who reigned when the statue was carved.

Researchers Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef from Tel Aviv University have discovered what may be a discrepancy in the history laid out in the Bible. Using carbon-dating to determine the age of the oldest-known camel bones, the researchers determined that camels were first introduced to Israel around the 9th century BCE: here.

After the June 1967 war, Dayan was a national – even international – idol. He was also known for his obsession with archeology. My magazine, “Haolam Hazeh”, investigated his activities and found that they were highly destructive. He started digging alone and collecting artifacts all over the country. Since the primary aim of archeology is not simply to discover artifacts but also to date them, and thus to put together a picture of the consecutive history of the site, Dayan’s uncontrolled digging created havoc. The fact that he used army resources only worsened matters: here.

The Trouble With the Maadana. Could an Israeli national symbol be a fake? By Daniel Estrin, March 16, 2016: here.

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4 thoughts on “Biblical archaeology controversies in Israel

  1. Pingback: Hittite empire fallen, Egypt attacked, 3,000 years ago | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  3. Pingback: Ancient Jewish scroll now legible | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: New butterfly species discovery in Israel | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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