Prof. Amihai Mazar
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Anthony McNicoll Visiting Lectureship, 2011
7pm, Wednesday 14 September, 2011
Footbridge Theatre, G2
University of Sydney
This event is free. No RSVP necessary
Hebrew University excavators have been exploring the archaeology of the two important Jordan Valley Old Testament sites of Tel Beth Shean and Tel Rehov for the past twenty years.
Early work focused on Tel Beth Shean, which has a long settled history stretching back over six thousand years. Major discoveries include an intact administrative complex from the earliest urban period, destroyed violently towards the end of the third millennium BCE. Later, northern immigrants (the so called “Khirbet Kerak” peoples from Transcaucasia) settled at the site. In the later, second millennium BCE city, a complete Canaanite temple was discovered, sealed below rich horizons of the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1450-1150 BCE).
Beth Shean served as the major garrison town of the New Kingdom in the Jordan Valley with Egyptianised temples containing rich offerings, Egyptian Governor’s Residences with inscriptions naming the governor, and nearby burial grounds featuring local and Egyptian mercenary troop interments, including the famous ‘grotesque’ anthropoid clay sarcophagi burials. According to the biblical narrative Beth-Shean remained Canaanite during the period of the Judges, and the Philistines, we are told, hanged the bodies of Saul and his sons on its walls following the battle of Gilboa. Archaeology provides a somewhat different view on the fate of the city during this period.
After nine seasons at Beth Shean, excavations recently moved to Tel Rehov, the largest site in the Jordan Valley. Here the archaeology of Iron Age Biblical Israel is featured, with a wonderfully preserved settlement of the tenth – ninth centuries BCE sealed below a thick destruction layer. This features almost complete housing units, with wooden foundations for floors and walls still preserved, the world’s first apiary, cult finds, including exquisite offering stands, and evidence for trade and foreign contacts that link Rehov to all the great centres of the Biblical world, including far-away Greece.
This lavishly illustrated lecture on the integrated excavations of Beth Shean and Rehov by one of the most prominent Israeli archaeologists of the last 50 years, offers an unparalleled insight into the Land of the Bible from the first urban beginnings to the coming of Rome.
Prof. Amihai Mazar is one of Israel’s most prominent archaeologists. Amihai studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he was awarded his doctorate on Philistine material culture. In 1979 he took up a post as a Research Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology in London, although his lecturing career had commenced in 1977 jointly at the Hebrew University and the Ben-Gurion University in the Negev. He has dedicated his career to the understanding of the Bronze and Iron Ages in the southern Levant, and recently retired as the Eleazar Sukenik Chair of the Archaeology of Israel at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem (1994-2011). He was awarded the Israel Prize for Research in Archaeology in 2009, was a member of the Council of the Israel Antiquities Authority (2000-2005) and Chairman of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1995-1998).
He has been director of archaeological excavations at Tell Qasile (1973-1974, 1982-1988), Tel Batash (biblical Timnah) (1977-1989), Tel Beth Shean (1989 – 1996) and Tel Rehov (1997 – 2010). He also undertook smaller scale field projects at the “Bull Site” in Samaria, Giloh, Khirbet Marjameh, Khirbet Abu et-Twein, Hurvat Shilhah and Hartuv.
Amihai Mazar is the author of Archaeology of the Land of the Bible (New York 1990) and author or editor of eight volumes of archaeological reports on the excavations at Tell Qasile, Tel Batash and Tel Beth-Shean, in addition to numerous research papers in biblical archaeology and the Philistines. He was editor of the Hebrew academic journal Qadmoniot (1994-1995) and is currently the co-editor of Israel Exploration Journal (from 2010).