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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Palestine (Recent Exploration, I.e. As of 1915)

Preliminary Consideration


1. Outside of Palestine

2. In Palestine

(1) Early Christian Period

(2) Period of Cursory Observation

(3) Beginning of Scientific Observation


1. Period of Individual Enterprise

(1) First Trained Explorers

(2) The Climax of Individual Exploration

2. Scientific Cooperative Surface Exploration

3. Most Recent Results in Surface Exploration


1. Southern Palestine

(1) Tell el-Hesy

(2) Excavations in Jerusalem

(3) Excavations in the Shephelah

(4) Painted "Tombs of Marissa"

2. Northern Palestine

(1) Tell Ta'annek

(2) Tell el-Mutesellim

(3) Tell Hum

3. Eastern Palestine


4. Central Palestine

(1) Jerusalem

(2) Samaria

(3) 'Ain Shems

(4) Gezer


Preliminary Consideration:

Previous to the last century, almost the entire stock of knowledge concerning ancient Palestine, including its races, laws, languages, history and manners, was obtained from Josephus and the Bible, with a few brief additional references given by Greek and Roman authors; knowledge concerning modern Palestine was limited to the reports of chance travelers. The change has been due largely to the compelling interest taken in sacred history and the "Holy Oracles." This smallest country in the world has aroused the spirit of exploration as no other country has or could. It has largely stimulated many of the investigations carried on in other lands.

I. Era of Preparation.

1. Outside of Palestine:

Much direct information concerning ancient Palestine, absolutely essential to the success of modern exploration in that land, has come through discoveries in other countries; but due in many cases to Biblical influence. All the most important Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and versions of the Bible and most of the Jewish Talmud and apocryphal and Wisdom books were found outside of Palestine. The pictures of its population, cities, fortresses and armies give a color and perspective to its ancient history far more vivid than can be found on any of its own contemporary monuments. The records of Thothmes 3 (15th century BC) describing the capture of Megiddo in the plain of Esdraelon with its vast stores of "chariots wrought with gold," bronze armor, silver and ebony statues, ivory and ebony furniture, etc., and of his further capture of 118 other Canaanite towns, many of which are well known from the Bible, and from which he takes an enormous tribute of war materials, golden ornaments and golden dishes, "too many to be weighed," find no parallel in any indigenous record - such records even if written having been doomed to perish because of the soil, climate and character of the rocks West of the Jordan. So circa 1400 BC, the Tell el - Amarna Letters (discovered in 1887) mention by name many Biblical cities, and give much direct information concerning the political and social conditions at that period, with at least 6 letters from the governor of Jerusalem, who writes to the Pharaoh news that the Egyptian fleet has left the coast, that all the neighboring cities have been lost to Egypt, and that Jerusalem will be lost unless help can be had quickly against the invasion of the Khabiri. The literature of the XIX th Dynasty contains many Hebrew names with much information concerning Goshen, Pithom, Canaan, etc., while in one huge stele of Menephtah the Israelites are mentioned by name. Later Egyptian Pharaohs give almost equally important knowledge concerning Palestine, while the Assyrian texts are even more direct. The black obelisk of Shalmancser 2 (9th century) catalogues and pictures the tribute received from Jehu; almost every king of the 8th century tells something of his relations with the rulers of Jerusalem or Damascus, throwing immense light on local politics, and the later Bah records give vividly the conditions previous to and during the exile, while the edict of Cyrus gives the very decree by virtue of which the Jews could return to their native land. Later discoveries, like the Code of Hammurabi at Susa (1901), the Sendjirli and other Aramaic texts from Northern Syria (1890,1908), and the Elephantine papyri, some of which are addressed to the "sons of Sanballat" and describe a temple in Egypt erected to Yahu ( Yahweh ) in the 5th century BC, may not give direct information concerning Palestine, but are important to present explorers because of the light thrown upon the laws of Palestine in patriarchal times; upon the thought and language of a neighboring Semitic community at the time of the Monarchy; upon the religious ritual and festivals of Nehemiah's day, and upon the general wealth and culture of the Jews of the 5th century; opening up also for the first time the intimate relations which existed between Jerusalem and Samaria and the Jews of the Dispersion. So the vast amounts of Greek papyri found recently in the Fayyûm not only have preserved the " Logia " and "Lost Gospels" and fragments of Scripture texts, early Christian Egyptian ritual, etc., but have given to scholars for the first time contemporaneous examples of the colloquial language which the Jews of Palestine were using in the 1st century AD, and in which they wrote the "memoirs" of the apostles and the Gospels of Jesus.

2. In Palestine:

(1) Early Christian Period.

At this time, during the first three or four centuries the ancient sites and holy places were identified, giving some valuable information as to the topographical memories of the earlier church. By far the most valuable of these carefully prepared summaries of ancient Bible places, with their modern sites, and the distances between them, was the Onomasticon of Eusebius, as it was enlarged by Jerome, which attempted seriously the identification of some 300 holy places, most of these being vitally important for the modern student of the Bible. While some of these identifications were "curiously incorrect" (Bliss) and the distances even at the best only approximate, yet few satisfactory additions were made to the list for 1,500 years; and it was certainly a splendid contribution to Palestinian topography, for the list as a whole has been confirmed by the scientific conclusions of recent investigators.

(2) Period of Cursory Observation.

The earliest traveler who has left a record of his journey into Palestine was Sinuhit, who, perhaps a century after Abraham, mentions a number of places known to us from the Bible and describes Canaan as a "land of figs and vines,... where wine was more plentiful than Water,... honey and oil in abundance ... all kinds of fruit upon its trees, barley and spelt in the fields, and cattle beyond number"; each day his table is laden with "bread, wine, cooked flesh and roasted fowl ... wild game from the hills and milk in every sort of cooked dish" (Breasted, Ancient Records , I, 496). A few other Egyptian visitors (1300-1000 BC) add little to our knowledge. The report of the Hebrew spies ( Numbers 13 ) records important observations, although they can only humorously be called "genuine explorers" (Bliss), and Joshua's list of cities and tribes, although their boundaries are carefully described (Joshua 13 through 21), are naturally excluded from this review.

The record of early Christian travel begins with the Bordeaux Pilgrim (332 AD), and during the next two centuries scores of others write out their observations in the Holy Land, but for 1,000 years there is scarcely a single visitor who looks at the country except through the eyes of the monks. A woman traveler of the 4th century reports some interesting facts about the early ritual of the Jerusalem church and the catechumen teaching, and surprises us by locating Pithom correctly (although the site was totally forgotten and only recovered in 1883), and the Epitome of Eucherius (5th century) gives a clear description of the holy places in Jerusalem; but almost the only other significant sign that anyone at this era ever made serious observations of value comes from the very large, fine mosaic of the 5th century recently discovered at Madeba, which gives a good impression of ancient Jerusalem with its buildings, and a careful bird's-eye view of the surrounding country (see below II, 3). By the middle of the 6th century the old "Holy Places" were covered by churches, while new ones were manufactured or discovered in dreams, and relics of martyrs' bones began to engross so much attention that no time was left in which to make any ordinary geographical or natural-history observations. A little local color and a few facts in regard to the plan of early churches and the persecution of Christians by Moslems constitute almost the sum total of valus to be gathered from the multitude of pilgrims between the 6th and 12th centuries. In the 12th century John of Wurzburg gives a few geographical notes of value; Theoderich notices certain inscriptions and tombs, describes accurately the churches and hospitals he visits, with their pictures and decorations, and outlines intelligently the boundaries of Judea and the salient features of the mountains encompassing Jerusalem; the Abbot Daniel notices the wild beasts in the Jordan forests and the customs at church feasts, and his account is important because of the light it throws on conditions in Palestine just after its conquest by the Crusaders, while in the 13th century Burchard of Mt. Zion makes the earliest known medieval map of Palestine, mentions over 100 Scripture sites, and shows unexpected interest in the plant and animal life of the country - but this practically exhausts the valuable information from Christian sources in these centuries. The Moslem pilgrims and writers from the 9th to the 15th centuries show far more regard to geographical realities than the Christians. It is a Moslem, Istakhri, who in the 10th century makes the first effort at a systematic geography of Palestine, and in the 10th and 13th centuries, respectively, Muḳaddasi , after 20 years of preparation, and Yaḳut , in a "vast work," publish observations concerning climate, native customs, geographical divisions, etc., which are yet valuable, while Naṣir - i - Ḳhusran , in the 11th century, also gave important information concerning Palestinian botany, gave dimensions of buildings and gates, and even noticed to some extent the ancient arches and ruins - though in all these there are pitiful inaccuracies of observation and induction. One of the best Moslem writers thinks the water of Lake Tiberias is not fit to drink because the city sewerage has ceased to flow into it, and Christian writers from the 7th century down to modern times continually mention the Jor and Dan as two fountains from which the Jordan rises, and continually report the most absurd stories about the Dead Sea and about its supernatural saltness never noticing the salt mountain near by and the other simple causes explaining this phenomenon. See DEAD SEA .

In the 14th century Marino Sanuto gave a "most complete monograph" (Ritter) of Palestinian geography, his maps being really valuable, though, according to modern standards, quite inaccurate. The Jew, Estoai ben Moses ha - Phorhi , in this same century advanced beyond all Christian writers in a work of "real scientific knowledge" (Bliss), in which he correctly identified Megiddo and other ancient sites, though the value of his work was not recognized for 400 years. The great name of the 15th century is that of the Dominican, Father Felix Fabri, who in his large book, Wanderings in the Holy Land , was the first to notice monuments and ruins to which no Biblical traditions were attached (Bliss), and who, within a decade of the discovery of America, described most vividly the dangers and miseries of the sea voyages of that era, and in most modern fashion narrated his adventures among the Saracens; yet notwithstanding the literary value of the book and his better method of arranging his materials, Fabri actually explained the saltness of the Dead Sea as due to the sweat which flowed from the skin of the earth! In the 16th century travelers showed more interest in native customs, but the false traditional identification of sites was scarcely questioned; the route of travel was always the same, as it was absolutely impossible to get East of the Jordan, and even a short trip away from the caravan was dangerous.

(3) Beginning of Scientific Observation.

In the 17th century Michal Nau, for 30 years a missionary in Palestine, De la Roque and Hallifix showed a truly scientific veracity of observation and an increasing accuracy in the recording and verification of their notes, and Maundrell advanced beyond all his predecessors in noticing the antiquities on the seacoast, North of Beirut; but all of these, though possessing fine qualities as explorers, were forced to travel hastily and limit their study to a very narrow field.

II. Era of Scientific Exploration.

1. Period of Individual Enterprise:

(1) First Trained Explorers.

True scientific exploration opened with the 18th century, as men began to think of this as itself an important life-work and not merely as a short episode in a life devoted to more serious pursuits. Th. Shaw (1722) carefully fitted himself as a specialist in natural history and physical geography, and scientifically reported a number of new facts, e.g. conditions and results of evaporation, etc., in the Dead Sea. Bishop Pococke (1738) had been well trained, was free from the bondage of tradition, and did for the antiquities of Palestine what Maundrell had done for those of Syria, making a large number of successful identifications of sites and contributing much to the general knowledge of Palestine. Volney (1783) was a brilliant literary man, in full sympathy with the scientific spirit, who popularized results and made a considerable number of original researches, especially in the Lebanon. Seetzen (1800-1807) and Burckhardt (1810-1812) are called by Bliss "veritable pioneers in the exploration of the ruins of Eastern and Southern Palestine." The former opened Caesarea Philippi to light, visited a large unexplored district and made important observations in almost every field of knowledge, zoology, meteorology, archaeology; the latter, having become an Arab in looks and language, was able to go into many places where no European had ventured, one of his chief triumphs being the discovery of Petra and the scientific location of Mt. Sinai.

(2) The Climax of Individual Exploration.

The climax of the era of scientific observation, unassisted by learned societies, was reached by the American clergyman and teacher, Edward Robinson. He spent parts of two years in Palestine (1838,1852) and in 1856 published 3 volumes of Biblical Researches . He strictly employed the scientific method, and showed such rare insight that scarcely one of his conclusions has been found incorrect. His knowledge was as extensive as minute, and although he gave, in all, only five months of steady labor to the specific task of exploration, yet in that time he "reconstructed the map of Palestine" (Bliss), and his conclusions henceforth "formed the ground work of modern research" (Conder). He studied Jerusalem, being the first to show that the ancient fragment of an arch (now "Robinson's") had been part of the bridge connecting the temple with Mt. Zion, and was the first to trace with accuracy the windings of the tunnel leading from the Virgin's Fount to the Pool of Siloam. All Judea, Galilee and Samaria were very well covered by him. He was the first to notice that the ruined building at Tell Ḥûm was a synagogue; from the top of one hill he recognized seven Biblical sites which had been lost for at least 1,500 years; he identified correctly at least 160 new sites, almost all being Biblical places. Robinson's results were phenomenal in number and variety, yet necessarily these have been constantly improved upon or added to in each generation since, for no man can cover the entire field or be a specialist in every department. W.M. Thomson in his Thomson, The Land and the Book (new edition, 1910) and G.E. Post, Flora of Syria, Palestine, and Sinai (1896), gave a needed popular resume of the manners, customs and folklore of the people, as these illustrated the Bible, and many books and articles since have added to this material.

In 1848 the United States sent an expedition under Lieutenant Lynch to the Dead Sea, which ascertained the exact width, depth, currents, temperature, etc., and many parties since have added to this knowledge (see e.g. DEAD SEA; and also PEFS , 1911, XII , 7). From 1854 to 1862 De Vogue thoroughly examined the monuments of Central Syria and remained the sole authority on this section down to the American Archaeological Expedition of 1899. Tabler (1845-63) scientifically described Jerusalem and its environs, and the districts lying between Jaffa and the Jordan, and between Jerusalem and Bethel. Guerin who studied Palestine during periods covering 23 years (1852-75), though limited by lack of funds, covered topographically, with a minuteness never before attempted, almost the whole of Judea, Samaria and Galilee, gathering also many new records of monuments and inscriptions, the record of which was invaluable because many of these had been completely destroyed before the arrival of the next scientific party. A most sensational discovery was that of F. Klein in 1868, when he found at Dibon the huge basalt tablet set up by Mesha, king of Moab (9th century BC), on which in a language closely resembling the Hebrew, he gave honor to his god Chemosh by describing his successful revolt against a successor of Omri, the latter being mentioned by name with many well-known Biblical places. In style, thought and language this inscription greatly resembles the early Old Testament records.

2. Scientific Cooperative Surface Exploration:

With the foundation of the Palestine Exploration Fund (1865) the work of exploration took on an entirely new phase, since in this case, not a single individual, but a large company of specialists entered the work, having behind them sufficient funds for adequate investigation in each necessary line of research, and with the British War Office furnishing its expert Royal Engineers to assist the enterprise. Under the auspices of this society during the next 15 years Jerusalem was explored as never before, and all Western Palestine was topographically surveyed (see below); a geological survey (1883-1884) of Sinai, Wâdy ‛Arabah and the Dead Sea, and later of Mt. Seir (1885) was accomplished under Professor Edward Hull; the natural history of the country was treated with great thoroughness by several specialists; Palmer and Drake in the dress of Syrian natives, without servants, risked the dangerous journey through the Desert of the Tih in order to locate so far as possible the route of the Exodus; Clermont-Ganneau, who had previously made the discovery of the Jewish placard from the Temple, forbidding strangers to enter the sacred enclosure, added greatly to archaeological knowledge by gathering and deciphering many ancient inscriptions, uncovering buried cemeteries, rock-cut tombs and other monuments. He also laid down important criteria for the age of stone masonry (yet see PEFS , 1897, LXI ); identified various sites including Adullam, found the "stone of Bethphage," "Zoheleth," etc., and made innumerable plans of churches, mosques, tombs, etc., and did an incredible amount of other important work. Capt., afterward Col., C.R. Conder did an equally important work, and as the head of the archaeological party could finally report 10,000 place-names as having been gathered, and 172 new Bible sites successfully identified, while the boundaries of the tribes had been practially settled and many vitally important Bible locations for the first time fixed. The excavations in Jerusalem under the same auspices had meanwhile been carried out as planned. After an introductory examination by Sir Charles Wilson, including some little excavating, Sir Charles Warren (1867-1870) and, later, Col. Conder (1872-1875) made thorough excavations over a large area, sinking shafts and following ancient walls to a depth of 80-150 ft. They uncovered the Temple-area from its countless tons of debris and traced its approximate outline; examined underground rock chambers; opened ancient streets; discovered many thousand specimens of pottery, glass, tools, etc., from Jewish to Byzantine periods; found the pier in the Tyropoeon Valley, where Robinson's arch had rested, and also parts of the ancient bridge; traced the line of several important ancient walls, locating gates and towers, and fixed the date of one wall certainly as of the 8th century BC, and probably of the age of Solomon (G.A. Smith), thus accomplishing an epoch-making work upon which all more recent explorers have safely rested - as Maudslay (1875), in his masterly discovery and examination of the Great Scarp, and Guthe (1881), who made fine additional discoveries at Ophel, as well as Warren and Conder in their work afterward (1884), when they published plans of the whole city with its streets churches, mosques, etc., 25 inches to the mile, which in that direction remains a basis for all later work. See JERUSALEM .

Perhaps, however, the greatest work of all done by this society was the Topographical Survey (1881-1886), accomplished for Judea and Samaria by Col. Conder, and for Galilee by Lord Kitchener, resulting in a great map of Western Palestine in 26 sheets, on a scale of an inch to the mile (with several abridged additions), showing all previous identifications of ancient places. These maps, with the seven magnificent volumes of memoirs, etc., giving the other scientific work done by the various parties, marked such an epoch-making advance in knowledge that it has been called "the most important contribution to illustrate the Bible since its translation into the vulgar tongue."

In addition to the above the Palestine Exploration Fund established a Quarterly Statement and Society of Biblical Archaeology from which subscribers could keep in touch with the latest Biblical results, and published large quantities of translations of ancient texts and travels and of books reporting discoveries as these were made. Altogether more advance was made during these 15 years from 1865-1880 than in the 15 centuries before.

3. Most Recent Results in Surface Exploration:

The next ten years (1880-90) did not furnish as much new material from Palestine exploration, but in 1880 the Siloam Inscription (compare 2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30 ) was accidentally found in Jerusalem, showing the accuracy with which the engineers of Hezekiah's day could, at least occasionally, cut long tunnels through the rock (see also Clermont-Ganneau, Archaeological Researches , 313); and in 1881-1885 Conder and Schumacher attempted their difficult task of making a scientific topographical map of Eastern Palestine. In 1881 H. Clay Trumbull rediscovered and properly described Kadesh-barnea, settling authoritatively its location and thus making it possible to fix previously obscure places mentioned in the account of the Exodus wanderings. Since 1890 continued investigations in small districts not adequately described previously have taken place, new additions to the zoological, botanical, geological and meteorological knowledge of Palestine have been frequent; studies of irrigation and the water-supply have been made, as well as investigations into the customs, proverbs, folklore, etc., of the Arabs; many districts East of the Jordan and through Petra down into Sinai have yielded important results, and many discoveries of surface tombs, ossuaries, mosaics, seals and manuscripts have been made in many parts of Palestine. This has been done perhaps chiefly by the Palestine Exploration Fund, but much by individuals and some by the newly organized excavation societies (see below). The most surprising discoveries made by this method of surface exploration (a method which can never become completely obsolete) have been the finding at different times of the four Boundary Stones of Gezer (1874, 1881, 1889) by Clermont-Ganneau, and, in 1896, of the very large mosaic at Madeba by Father Cleopas, librarian of the Greek Patriarch.

The latter proved to be part of the pavement of a 6th-century basilica and is a "veritable map of Palestine," showing its chief cities, the boundaries of the tribes, and especially the city of Jerusalem with its walls, gates, chief buildings, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and chief streets, notably one long straight street intersecting the city and lined with colonnades. As Madeba lies near the foot of Mt. Nebo, it is thought the artist may have intended to represent ideally a modern (6th-cent.) vision of Moses. George Adam Smith ( HGHL , 7th edition, 1901); Jerusalem (2 volumes, 1910), and E. Huntington, Palestine and Its Transformation (1911), have given fine studies illustrating the supreme importance of accurate topographical knowledge in order to understand correctly the Bible narratives and the social life and politics of the Hebrews.

III. Era of Scientific Excavation.

1. Southern Palestine:

(1) Tell El-Hesy.

(Palestine Exploration Fund). - E xploration must always continue, but excavation is a vast advance. The modern era in Palestinian study begins with Petrie at LACHISH (which see) in 1890. Though Renan was actually the first man to put a spade into the soil (1860), yet his results were practically confined to Phoenicia. From Renan's time to 1890 there had been no digging whatever, except some narrow but thorough work in Jerusalem, and a slight tickling of the ground at Jericho and at the so-called Tombs of the Kings. Nothing was more providential than this delay in beginning extensive excavations in Palestine, such as had been previously so profitably conducted in Egypt and elsewhere. The results could not have been interpreted even two years earlier, and even when these excavations were commenced, the only man living who could have understood what he found was the man who had been selected to do the work. Nearly two centuries before, a traveler in Palestine (Th. Shaw) had suggested the possibility of certain mounds ("tells") being artificial (compare Joshua 8:28; Jeremiah 30:18 ); but not even Robinson or Guerin had suspected that these were the cenotaphs of buried cities, but had believed them to be mere natural hills. The greatest hour in the history of exploration in Palestine, and perhaps in any land, was that in which on a day in April, 1890, W.M. Flinders Petrie climbed up the side of Tell el -Ḥesy , situated on the edge of the Philistine plain, circa 30 miles Southwest of Jerusalem, and 17 miles Northeast from Gaza, and by examining its strata, which had been exposed by the stream cutting down its side, determined before sunset the fact, from pieces of pottery he had seen, that the site marked a city covering 1,000 years of history, the limits of occupation being probably 1500 BC to 500 BC. This ability to date the several occupations of a site without any inscription to assist him was due to the chronological scale of styles of pottery which he had originated earlier and worked out positively for the Greek epochs at Naukratis a year or two before, and for the epochs preceding 1100 BC at Illahun in the Fayyûm only a month or two before. The potsherds were fortunately very numerous at Tell el -Ḥesy , and by the end of his six weeks' work he could date approximately some eight successive occupations of the city, each of these being mutually exclusive in certain important forms of pottery in common use. Given the surface date, depth of accumulation and rate of deposit as shown at Lachish, and a pretty sure estimate of the history of other sites was available. Not only was this pottery scale so brilliantly confirmed and elaborated at Tell el -Ḥesy that all excavators since have been able accurately to date the last settlement on a mound almost by walking over it; but by observations of the methods of stone dressing he was able to rectify many former guesses as to the age of buildings and to establish some valuable architectural signs of age. He proved that some of the walls at this site were built by "the same school of masons which built the Temple of Solomon," and also that the Ionic volute, which the Greeks borrowed from the Asiatics, went back in Palestine at least to the 10th century BC, while on one pilaster he found the architectural motif of the "ram's horn" (compare Psalm 118:27 ). He also concluded, contrary to former belief, that this mound marked the site of Lachish (Joshua 10:31; 2 Kings 18:14 ), as by a careful examination he found that no other ruins near could fill the known historic conditions of that city, and the inscription found by the next excavator and all more recent research make this conclusion practically sure. Lachish was a great fortress of the ancient world. The Egyptian Pharaohs often mention it, and it is represented in a picture on an Assyrian monument under which is written, "Sennacherib ... receives the spoil of Lachish" (see 2 Kings 18:14 ). It was strategically a strong position, the natural hill rising some 60 ft. above the valley and the fortification which Sennacherib probably attacked being over 10 ft. thick. The debris lay from 50-70 ft. deep on top of the hill. Petrie fixed the directions of the various walls, and settled the approximate dates of each city and of the imported pottery found in several of these. One of the most unexpected things was an iron knife dug up from a stratum indicating a period not far from the time when Israel must have entered Canaan, this being the earliest remnant of iron weapons ever found up to-this date (compare Joshua 17:16 ).

The next two years of scientific digging (1891-1892), admirably conducted by Dr. F.G. Bliss on this site, wholly confirmed Petrie's general inductions, though the limits of each occupation were more exactly fixed and the beginning of the oldest city was pushed back to 1700 BC. The work was conducted under the usual dangers, not only from the Bedouin, but from excessive heat (104 degrees in the shade), from malaria which at one time prostrated 8 of the 9 members of the staff, scarcity of water, which had to be carried 6 miles, and from the sirocco (see my report, PEFS , XXI , 160-70 and Petrie's and Bliss's journal, XXI , 219-46; XXIII , 192, etc.). He excavated thoroughly one-third of the entire hill, moving nearly a million cubic feet of debris. He found that the wall of the oldest city was nearly 30 ft. thick, that of the next city 17 ft. thick, while the latest wall was thin and weak. The oldest city covered a space 1,300 ft. square, the latest one only about 200 ft. square. The oldest pottery had a richer color and higher polish than the later, and this art was indigenous, for at this level no Phoenician or Mycenaean styles were found. The late pre-Israelitish period (1550-800 BC) shows such importations and also local Cypriote imitations. In the "Jewish" period (800-300 BC) this influence is lost and the new styles are coarse and ungraceful, such degeneration not being connected with the entrance of Israel into Canaan, as many have supposed, but with a later period, most probably with the desolation which followed the exile of the ten tribes (Bliss and Petrie). In the pre-Israelite cities were found mighty towers, fine bronze implements, such as battle-axes, spearheads, bracelets, pins, needles, etc., a wine and treacle press, one very large building "beautifully symmetrical," a smelting furnace, and finally an inscribed tablet from Zimrida, known previously from the Tell el - Amarna Letters to have been governor of Lachish, circa 1400 BC. Many Jewish pit ovens were found in the later ruins and large quantities of pottery, some containing potters' marks and others with inscriptions. Clay figures of Astarte, the goddess of fertility, were found in the various layers, one of these being of the unique Cypriote type, with large earrings, and many Egyptian figures, symbols and animal forms. See also LACHISH .

(2) Excavations in Jerusalem.

During 1894:1894-1897, notwithstanding the previously good work done in Jerusalem (see above) and the peculiar embarrassments connected with the attempt to dig in a richly populated town, Dr. Bliss, assisted by an expert architect, succeeded in adding considerably to the sum of knowledge. He excavated over a large area, not only positively confirming former inductions, but discovering the remains of the wall of the empress Eudocia (450 AD), and under this the line of wall which Titus had destroyed, and at a deeper level the wall which surrounded the city in the Herodian age, and deeper yet that which must probably be dated to Hezekiah, and below this a construction "exquisitely dressed, with pointed masonry," which must be either the remains of a wall of Solomon or some other preexilic fortification not later than the 8th century. He found gates and in ancient times paved streets and manholes leading to ancient sewer systems, and many articles of interest, but especially settled disputed questions concerning important walls and the levels of the ancient hills, thus fixing the exact topography of the ancient city. H. G. Mitchell and others have also carefully examined certain lines of wall, identifying Nehemiah's Dung Gate, etc., and making a new surveyor certain parts of underground Jerusalem, the results of the entire work being a modification of tradition in a few particulars, but corroborative in most. The important springs and reservoirs, valleys and hills of the ancient Jerusalem have been certainly identified. It is now settled that modern Jerusalem "still sits virtually upon her ancient seat and at much the same slope," though not so large as the Jerusalem of the kings of Judah which certainly extended over the Southwestern Hill. Mt. Zion, contrary to tradition which located it on the Southwestern Hill where the citadel stands, probably lay on the Eastern Hill above the Virgin's Spring (Gihon). On this Eastern Hill at Ophel lay the Temple, and South of the Temple on the same hill "above Gihon" lay the old Jebusite stronghold (David's City). The ancient altar of burnt offering was almost surely at es - Sakhra . The evidence has not been conclusive as to the line of the second wall, so that the site of Golgotha and the Holy Sepulchre cannot certainly be determined (see George Adam Smith's exhaustive work, Jerusalem , 2 volumes, 1907; Sir Charles Wilson, Golgotha and the Holy Sepulchre , 1906; and compare Selah Merrill, Ancient Jerusalem , 1908; C.R. Conder, City of Jerusalem , 1909; P.H. Vincent, Underground Jerusalem , 1911).

(3) Excavations in the Shephelah.

(Palestine Exploration Fund). - D uring 1898-1900 important work was done by Bliss and Macalister at 4 sites on the border land between Philistia and Judea, while five other small mounds were tunneled, but without important results. The four chief sites were Tell Zakariya , lying about midway between Jerusalem and Tell el - Ḥesy ; Tell eṣ Ṣāfi , 5 miles W. of Tell Zakariya , and Tell Sandaḥannah , about 10 miles South; while Tell ej - Judeideh lay between Tell Zakariya and Tell Sandaḥannah . As Tell ej - Judeideh was only half-excavated and merely confirmed other results, not being remarkable except for the large quantity of jar inscriptions found (37), we omit further mention of it.

(a) Tell Zakariya:

From this height, 1,214 ft. above the sea, almost all Philistia could be seen. A pre-Israelitish town was found under some 20 ft. of debris, containing pre-Israelitish, Jewish and Seleucidan pottery. Many vaulted cisterns, partly hewn from the rock, were found in the lowest level. In later levels Jewish pit ovens were found and inscribed jar-handles with winged Egyptian symbols, implements of bronze, iron, bone and stone, and Egyptian images of Bes and the Horus eye, etc., besides a strange bronze figure of a woman with a fish's tail which seems to represent Atargatis of Ashkelon. The ancient rampart was strengthened, perhaps in Rehoboam's time, and towers were added in the Seleucidan era. Only half of this site was excavated.

(b) Tell es-Safi:

The camp was pitched near here in the Vale of Elah. From a depth of 21 ft. to the rock, was found the characteristic pre-Israelitish pottery and much imported pottery of the Mycenaean type. A high place was also found here, containing bones of camels, sheep, cows, etc., and several monoliths of soft limestone in situ, and near by a jar-burial. In an ancient rubbish heap many fragments of the goddess of fertility were found. Many old Egyptian and later Greek relics were also found, and four Babylonian seals and the usual pottery from Jewish and later periods. With strong probability this site was identified as Gath.

(c) Tell Sandahannah:

This was situated circa 1,100 ft. above sea-level. The town covered about 6 acres and was protected by an inner and outer wall and occasional towers. The strongest wall averaged 30 ft. thick. The work done here "was unique in the history of Palestinian excavation" (Bliss). At Tell el - Ḥesy only one-third of each stratum was excavated; at Tell Zakariya only one-half; at Jerusalem the work was confined to the enclosures of the temple, a few city walls and a few churches, pools, streets, etc., but at Tell Sandaḥannah "we recovered almost an entire town, probably the ancient Mareshah ( Joshua 15:44 ), with its inner and outer walls, its gates, streets, lanes, open places, houses, reservoirs, etc." (Bliss). Nearly 400 vessels absolutely intact and unbroken were found. It was a Seleucidan town of the 3rd and 2nd century BC, with no pre-Israelitish remains. The town was built with thin brick, like blocks of soft limestone, set with wide joints and laid in mud with occasionally larger, harder stones chisel-picked. The town was roughly divided into blocks of streets, some of the streets being paved. The houses were lighted from the street and an open court. Very few rooms were perfectly rectangular, while many were of awkward shape. Many closets were found and pit ovens and vaulted cisterns, reached by staircases, as also portions of the old drainage system. The cisterns had plastered floors, and sometimes two heavy coats of plaster on the walls; the houses occasionally had vaulted roofs but usually the ordinary roof of today, made of boards and rushes covered with clay. No religious building was found and no trace of a colonnade, except perhaps a few fragments of ornament. An enormous columbarium was uncovered (1906 niches). No less than 328 Greek inscriptions were found on the handles of imported wine jars. Under the Seleucidan town was a Jewish town built of rubble, the pottery of the usual kind including stamped jar-handles. An Astarte was found in the Jewish or Greek stratum, as also various animal forms. The Astarte was very curious, about 11 inches high, hollow, wearing a long cloak, but with breasts, body and part of right leg bare, having for headdress a closely fitting sunbonnet with a circular serrated top ornament in front and with seven stars in relief. A most striking find dating from about the 2nd century AD was that of 16 little human figures bound in fetters of lead, iron, etc., undoubtedly representing "revenge dolls" through which the owners hoped to work magic on enemies, and 49 fragments of magical tablets inscribed in Greek on white limestone, with exorcisms, incantations and imprecations. It ought to be added that the four towns as a whole supplement each other, and positively confirm former results. No royal stamps were found at Tell el -Ḥesy , but 77 were found in these 4 sites, in connection with 2- or 4-winged symbols (Egyptian scarabaeus or winged sundisk). Writing-materials (styli ) were found in all strata, their use being "continuous from the earliest times into the Seleucidan period" (Bliss). From the four towns the evolution of the lamp could be traced from the pre-Israelite, through the Jewish to the Greek period. Some 150 of the labyrinthine rock-cut caves of the district were also examined, some of which must be pre-Christian, as in one of these a million cubic feet of material had been excavated, yet so long ago that all signs of the rubbish had been washed away.

(4) Painted "Tombs of Marissa."

In 1902 John P. Peters and Hermann Thiersch discovered at Beit Jibrı̂n (adjoining Tell Sandaḥannah ) an example of sepulchral art totally different from any other ever found in Palestine. It was a tomb containing several chambers built by a Sidonian, the walls being brilliantly painted, showing a bull, panther, serpent, ibex, crocodile with ibis (?) on its back, hunter on horseback, etc., with dated inscriptions, the earliest being 196 BC (see John P. Peters, Painted Tombs in Necropolis of Marissa , 1905). The writer (April 18,1913) found another tomb here of similar character, decorated with grapes, birds, two cocks (life size), etc. Perhaps most conspicuous was a wreath of beautiful flowers with a cross in its center. Nothing shows the interrelations of that age more than this Phoenician colony, living in Palestine, using the Greek language but employing Egyptian and Libyan characteristics freely in their funeral article

2. Northern Palestine:

(1) Tell Ta'Annek.

(Austrian Government and Vienna Academy). - D uring short seasons of three years (1902-4) Professor Ernst Sellin of Vienna made a rapid examination of this town (the Biblical Taanach ), situated in the plain of Esdraelon in Northern Palestine, on the ancient road between Egypt and Babylon. Over 100 laborers were employed and digging was carried on simultaneously at several different points on the mound, the record being kept in an unusually systematic way and the official reports being minute and exhaustive. Only a general statement of results can be given, with an indication of the directions in which the "findings" were peculiar. The absence of Phoenician and Mycenaean influence upon the pottery in the earliest levels (100-1600 BC) is just as marked as at other sites, the kind of pottery and the presence of Semitic maccēbhōth (see IMAGES ) in the Jewish periods are just as in previous sites, and the development in mason work and in pottery is identically the same in this first city to be excavated in Northern Palestine as in Southern Palestine. "The buildings and antiques might be interchanged bodily without any serious confusion of the archaeological history of Palestine... Civilization over all Western Palestine is thus shown to have had the same course of development, whether we study it North or South" (Macalister). This is by far the most important result of this excavation, showing that, notwithstanding divergences in many directions, an equivalent civilization, proving a unity in the dominating race, can be seen over all parts of Palestine so far examined. Iron is introduced at the same time (circa 1000 BC), and even the toys and pottery decorations are similar, and this continues through all the periods, including the Jewish. Yet foreign intercourse is common, and the idols, even from the earliest period, "show religious syncretism" (Sellin). From almost the oldest layer comes a curious seal cylinder containing both Egyptian and Babylonian features. On one pre-Israelite tablet are pictures of Hadad and Baal. The Astarte cult is not quite as prominent here as in Southern Palestine. No figures of the goddess come from the earliest strata, but from 1600 BC to circa 900-800 BC they are common; after this they cease. The ordinary type of Astarte found in Babylonia and Cyprus as well as in Palestine - with crown, necklace, girdle, anklets, and hands clasped on breasts - is found most frequently; but from the 12th to the 9th century other forms appear representing her as naked, with hips abnormally enlarged, to show her power of fecundity. One figure is of a peculiarly foreign type, wearing excessively large earrings, and this is in close connection with one of the most unique discoveries ever made in Palestine - a hollow terra cotta Canaanite or Israelite (2 Kings 16:10 ) altar (800-600 BC), having no bottom but with holes in its walls which admitted air and insured draft when fire was kindled below; in its ornamentation showing a mixture of Babylonian and Egyptian motives, having on its right side winged animals with human heads by the side of which is a man (or boy) struggling with a serpent the jaws of which are widely distended in anger; at its top two ram's (?) horns, and between them a sacrificial bowl in which to receive the "drink offering"; on its front a tree (of life), and on each side of it a rampant ibex. A bronze serpent was found near this altar, as also. near the high place at Gezer. Continuous evidence of the gruesome practice of foundation sacrifices, mostly of little children, but in one case of an adult, was found between the 13th and 9th centuries BC, after which they seem to cease. In one house the skeletons of a lady and five children were found, the former with her rings and necklace of gold, five pearls, two scarabs, etc. Many jar-burials of new-born infants, 16 in one place, were found, and, close to this deposit, a rock-hewn altar with a jar of yellow incense (?). Egyptian and Babylonian images were found of different eras and curious little human-looking amulets (as were also found at Lachish) in which the parental parts are prominent, which Sellin and Bliss believe to be "teraphim" (Genesis 31:19 , Genesis 31:34; but see Driver, Modern Research , 57, etc.), such as Rachel, being pregnant, took with her to protect her on the hard journey from Haran to Palestine (Macalister).

The high place, with one or more steps leading up to it, suggesting "elevation, isolation and mystery" (Vincent), is represented here as in so many other Palestinian ruins, and the evidence shows that it continued long after the entrance of Israel into Canaan. When Israel entered Palestine, no break occurred in the civilization, the art development continuing at about the same level; so probably the two races were at about the same culture-level, or else the Hebrew occupation of the land was very gradual. In the 8th century there seems to be an indication of the entrance of a different race, which doubtless is due to the Assyrian exile. A most interesting discovery was that of the dozen cuneiform tablets found in a terra cotta chest or jar (compare Jeremiah 32:14 ) from the pre-Israelite city.

These few letters cannot accurately be called "the first library found in Palestine"; but they do prove that libraries were there, since the personal and comparatively unimportant character of some of these notes and their easy and flowing style prove that legal, business and literary documents must have existed. These show that letter-writing was used not only in great questions of state between foreign countries, but in local matters between little contiguous towns, and that while Palestine at this period (circa 1400 BC) was politically dependent on Egypt, yet Babylonia had maintained its old literary supremacy. One of these letters mentions "the finger of Ashirat," this deity recalling the 'ăshērāh or sacred post of the Old Testament (see IMAGES ); another note is written by Ahi - Yawi , a name which corresponds to Hebrew Ahijah ("Yah is Brother"), thus indicating that the form of the Divine name was then known in Canaan, though its meaning (i.e. the essential name; compare Exodus 6:3; Exodus 34:6; Nehemiah 1:9; Jeremiah 44:26 ), may not have been known. Ahi -Yawi invokes upon Ishtar-washur the blessing of the "Lord of the Gods."

On the same level with these letters were found two subterranean cells with a rock-hewn chamber in front and a rock-hewn altar above, and even the ancient drain which is supposed to have conveyed the blood from the altar into the "chamber of the dead" below. It may be added that Dr. Sellin thinks the condition of the various walls of the city is entirely harmonious with the Bible accounts of its history (Joshua 12:21; Joshua 17:11; Judges 1:27; Judges 5:19-21; 1 Kings 4:12; 1 Kings 9:15; 1 Chronicles 7:29 ). So far as the ruins testify, there was no settled city life between circa 600 BC and 900 AD, i.e. it became a desolation about the time of the Babylonian captivity. An Arab castle dates from about the 10th century AD.

(2) Tell El-Mutesellim.

( Megiddo , Joshua 12:21; Judges 5:19; 2 Kings 9:27 ). - T his great commercial and military center of Northern Palestine was opened to the world in 1903-1905 by Dr. Schumacher and his efficient staff, the diggings being conducted under the auspices of His Majesty the Kaiser and the German Palestine Society. The mound, about 5 miles Northwest from Ta‛anach , stood prominently 120 ft. above the plain, the ruins being on a plateau 1, 020 X 750 ft. in area. An average of 70 diggers were employed for the entire time. The debris was over 33 ft. deep, covering some eight mutually excluding populations. The surrounding wall, 30 X 35 ft. thick, conformed itself to the contour of the town. The excavations reached the virgin rock only at one point; but the oldest stratum uncovered showed a people living in houses, having fire, cooking food and making sacrifices; the next city marked an advance, but the third city, proved by its Egyptian remains to go back as far as the 20th century BC, showed a splendid and in some directions a surprising civilization, building magnificent city gates (57 X 36 ft.), large houses and tombs with vaulted roofs, and adorning their persons with fine scarabs of white and green steatite and other jewelry of stone and bronze. It was very rich in colored pottery and little objects such as tools, seals, terra cotta figures and animals, including a bridled horse, and some worked iron is also said to have been found. In one pile of bodies were two children wearing beautiful bronze anklets. The city lying above this begins as early as the 15th century BC, as is proved by a scarab of Thothmes III and by other signs, although the scarabs, while Egyptian in form, are often foreign in design and execution. Anubis, Bes, Horus and other Egyptian figures appear, also 32 scarabs in one pot, much jewelry, including gold ornaments, and some very long, sharp bronze knives. One tomb contained 42 vessels, and one skeleton held 4 gold-mounted scarabs in its hand. One remarkable fragment of pottery contained a colored picture of pre-Israelite warriors with great black beards, carrying shields (?). A most interesting discovery was that of the little copper (bronze?) tripods supporting lamps, on one of which is the figure of a flute-player, being strikingly similar to pictures of Delphic oracles and to representations lately found in Crete (MNDPV , 1906, 46). This city was destroyed by a fearful conflagration, and is separated from the next by a heavy stratum of cinders and ashes. The fifth city is remarkable for a splendid palace with walls of stone from 3-5 ft. thick. This city, which probably begins as early as Solomon's time, shows the best masonry. An oval, highly polished seal of jasper on which is engraved a Hebrew name in script closely resembling the Moabite Stone, suggests a date for the city, and casts an unexpected light upon the Hebrew culture of Palestine in the days of the monarchy. The seal is equal to the best Egyptian or Assyrian work, clearly and beautifully engraved, and showing a climax of article In the center is the Lion (of Judah), mouth wide open, tail erect, body tense. Upon the seal is carved: "To Shema, servant of Jeroboam." This name may possibly not refer to either of the Biblical kings (10th or 8th century BC), but the stratum favors this dating. The seal was evidently owned by some Hebrew noble at a prosperous period when some Jeroboam was in power, and so everything is in favor of this being a relic from the court of one of these kings, probably the latter (Kautzsch, M u. N , 1904, 81). We have here, in any case, one of the oldest Hebrew inscriptions known, and one of the most elegant ever engraved (see MNDPV , 1906, 33). After seeing it the Sultan took it from the museum into his own private collection. A second seal of lapis lazuli, which Schumacher and Kautzsch date from about the 7th century BC, also contains in Old Hebrew the name "Asaph" (compare M u. N , 1906, 334; MNDPV , 1904, 147). There are several other remarkable works of art, as e.g. a woman playing the tambourine, wearing an Egyptian headdress; several other figures of women besides several Astartes, and especially a series of six terra cotta heads, one with a prominent Semitic nose, another with Egyptian characteristics, another quite un-Egyp, with regular features, vivacious eyes, curls falling to her shoulders and garlanded with flowers.

The sixth stratum might well be called the temple-city, for here were found the ruins of a sanctuary built of massive blocks in which remained much of the ceremonial furniture - sacrificial dishes, a beautiful basalt pot with three feet, a plate having a handle in the form of a flower, etc. Seemingly connected with the former town, three religious stones were found covered by a fourth, and one with a pyramidal top; so here several monoliths were found which would naturally be thought of as religious monuments - though, since they have been touched with tools, this is perhaps doubtful (Exodus 20:25 ). One incense altar, carved out of gray stone, is so beautiful as to be worthy of a modern Greek cathedral. The upper dish rests on a support of carved ornamental leaves painted red, yellow and cobalt blue, in exquisite taste, the colors still as fresh as when first applied. A blacksmith's shop was found in this stratum, containing many tools, including iron plowshares, larger than the bronze ones in the 3rd and 4th layers. Allegorical figures were found, which may possibly belong to the former town, representing a man before an altar with his hands raised in adoration, seemingly to a scorpion, above which are a 6-pointed star, crescent moon, etc. Another most wonderful seal of white hard stone is engraved with three lines of symbols, in the first a vulture chasing a rabbit; in the second a conventional palm tree, with winged creatures on each side; in the third a lion springing on an ibex (?) under the crescent moon. Near by was found a cylinder of black jasper, containing hieroglyphs, and much crushed pottery. The 7th city, which was previous to the Greek or Roman eras, shows only a complex of destroyed buildings. After this the place remains unoccupied till the 11th century AD, when a poor Arab tower was erected, evidently to protect the passing caravans.

These excavations were specially important in proving the archaeological richness of Palestine and the elegance of the native works of article They were reported with an unexampled minuteness - various drawings of an original design showing the exact place and altitude where every little fragment was found.

(3) Tell Hum.

( Capernaum ), etc. - I n April and May, 1905, the German Oriental Society excavated a Hebrew synagogue of the Roman era at Tell Ḥûm . It was 78 ft. long by 59 ft. wide, was built of beautiful white limestone, almost equal to marble, and was in every way more magnificent than any other yet found in Palestine, that in Chorazin being the next finest. Its roof was gable-shaped and it was surprisingly ornamented with fine carvings representing animals, birds, fruits, flowers, etc., though in some cases these ornamentations had been intentionally mutilated. In January, 1907, Macalister and Masterman proved that Khan Minyeh was not the ancient Capernaum, as it contained no pottery older than Arab time, thus showing Tell Ḥûm to be the ancient site, so that the synagogue just excavated may be the one referred to in Luke 7:5 . At Samieh , 6 hours North of Jerusalem, two important Canaanite cemeteries were discovered by the fellahin in 1906, consisting of circular or oval tomb chambers, with roofs roughly dome-shaped, as at Gezer (see below). A large quantity of pottery and bronze objects, much of excellent quality, was found (Harvard Theological Review , I, 70-96; Masterman, Studies in Galilee; Henson, Researches in Palestine ).

3. Eastern Palestine:


(German Oriental Society). - D uring 1908-9, Dr. E. Sellin, assisted by a specialist in pottery, (Watzinger) and a professional architect (Langenegger), with the help of over 200 workmen, opened to view this famous Biblical city (Joshua 6:1-24 ). Jericho was most strategically situated at the eastern gateway of Palestine, with an unlimited water-supply in the ‛Ain es - Sultan , having complete control of the great commercial highway across the Jordan and possessing natural provisions in its palm forest (Smith, HGHL ). It was also set prominently on a hill rising some 40 ft. above the plain. The excavations proved that from the earliest historic time these natural advantages had been increased by every possible artifice known to ancient engineers, until it had become a veritable Gibraltar. The oldest city, which was in the form of an irregular ellipse, somewhat egg-shaped, with the point at the Southwest, was first surrounded with a rampart following the contour of the hill, a rampart so powerful that it commands the admiration of all military experts who have examined it.

The walls even in their ruins are some 28 ft. high. They were built in three sections: ( a ) a substratum of clay, gravel and small stones

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Palestine (Recent Exploration, I.e. As of 1915)'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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