Texts without Qumran and Qumran without Texts: Searching for the Latrines

By: James D. Tabor, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

 On the other days they dig a small pit, a foot deep, with a paddle of the sort given them when they are first admitted among them; and covering themselves round with their garment, that they may not affront the rays of God, they ease themselves into that pit.                                                                                  Josephus War 2.148

  This paper explores the complex and shifting dynamics of comparing texts with texts, texts with “sites,” and sites with themselves, but without texts. I use the term “sites” loosely to refer to the material or archaeological evidence that may or may not be related to a given text from antiquity. I see this as an extension of Jonathan Z. Smith’s interest and fascination with  “comparisons” so evident in much of his work over the past three decades.  But more particularly I have in mind the Louis H. Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion, delivered at the University of London in 1988, subsequently published as Divine Drudgery[1]. Fascinated by the “thick dossier of the history of the enterprise,” i.e., the comparison of “Christianities” and the religions of Late Antiquity, Smith undertakes what he calls “archaeological work in the learned literature” in order to highlight both theoretical and methodological issues. His operative question is what is “at stake” in the various comparative proposals? I am convinced that some of the same dynamics Smith finds operating in the development of the study of “Christian Origins,” namely Roman Catholic and Protestant apologetics and presuppositions, have been present from the beginning in considering the textual corpus known as the “Dead Sea Scrolls,” and in interpreting the physical site of the adjacent ruins of Qumran, as well as in the combining of the two—that is, texts and site. I want to expand a bit the comparisons of “words,” “stories,” and “settings” beyond their purely “textual” levels, and explore the methods of bringing in non-textual evidence, that is, evidence of “place.” In that sense I find Smith’s metaphor of the “archaeological” more than intriguing, and in this paper, with spade in hand (or perhaps I might say with “paddle” in hand!), I want to explore how the proverbial “mute stones” speak, or remain silent, in the presence of texts, and the ways in which the texts inform “place,” and “place” might enlighten the texts. Continue reading

2012 ASOR Annual Meeting Is a Tremendous Success

The 2012 ASOR Annual Meeting in Chicago
breaks records and is a tremendous success!

A record 925 ASOR members gathered in Chicago from November 14–17 for the 2012 ASOR Annual Meeting. The annual conference is the premier gathering for scholars, students, and lay enthusiasts who conduct research or are interested in the history and archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean region. This year there were more than 450 paper presentations on topics ranging from prehistoric to Islamic periods and the present. Topics covered everything from conservation strategies and the archaeology of Anatolia to current issues in biblical archaeology. While all of the papers were presented in English, many languages could be heard in the hallways with scholars in attendance from Iran, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Australia, Asia, Europe, North American, South America, and Central America. The event truly has become the premier international conference of the year for the history and archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean. Continue reading

Heritage Fellow’s Experience at Tel Akko

S Edwards By: Shane Edwards, Claremont Graduate University, 2012 Heritage Fellow

I just returned home from a wonderful experience on an archaeological excavation thanks to an ASOR Fellowship. The monies helped fund the four weeks I spent at the Akko tel located near the old city of Akko, Israel. This is my first opportunity to participate on a dig and it has given me a perspective that will aid with my religious studies research. Continue reading

Archaeology Weekly Roundup 11-9-12

masada israelIsraeli paleographer Ada Yardeni has recently identified 50 Dead Sea scrolls found near Qumran in Israel as having been penned by the same scribe, a scribe who also penned scrolls that have been found at the Herodian mountain-top fortress of Masada, where Jewish rebel zealots made their last suicidal stand against the Romans in 73 A.D.

New techniques reveal that the settlement of Polynesia first occurred within a 16 year window nearly 3000 years ago. The research, published November 7 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by David Burley and colleagues from Simon Fraser University, Canada, dates coral tools and reveals that the first human settlers lived in a founder colony on the islands of Tonga between 2830 to 2846 years ago. Continue reading

Cyprus: Interconnections in the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1700-1100 BC)

By A. Bernard Knapp
Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute, 11 Andreas Demetriou, 1066 Nicosia, Cyprus. Email.

Throughout its long prehistory and protohistory, the island of Cyprus was strategically situated between the cultures of ancient western Asia and the Aegean, if not those of the central Mediterranean. As a consequence, in literature both academic and popular, the island is frequently referred to as a ‘crossroads of civilizations’. This is especially the case for the Late Bronze Age (henceforth LBA, between ca. 1700-1100 BC), but it also holds true for the Iron Age, the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the Medieval and even the modern eras, albeit in very different ways.Cyprus

Continue reading

Cultural Heritage Month Comes to an End

We have had a successful October here, with a great range of posts on cultural heritage projects, the idea of heritage itself, and current problems in the field. If you haven’t read them all already make sure you do. Check out the list of posts below with brief summaries of each.

November 14-17 will be ASOR’s Annual Meeting in Chicago, and we will have some updates from the meeting, so be sure to check in for those! Also we will be focusing on the archaeology of Cyrpus this month, with posts from leading scholars on different periods of Cyprus’ history.

Additionally, La Sierra University is hosting, and ASOR is co-sponsoring, an archaeology weekend focusing on the archaeology of Cyrpus, November 10-11. Check out their program and stop by if you have a chance. Continue reading