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Digging in the Land of the Bible Volume 51 Number 5, September/October 1998
by Neil Asher Silberman

[image] (Map by Lynda D'Amico) [LARGER IMAGE]

What can Bronze Age tombs and Iron Age citadels tell us about the Bible? How can archaeology help us better understand the wisdom of Solomon, the brute power of the Philistine armies, or the lure of the Promised Land? Early efforts to dig up landmarks and relics, to "illustrate" the Bible, have given way to meticulous excavations, regional surveys, and statistical analyses aimed at clarifying the social, economic, and environmental factors that shaped the biblical kingdoms of Israel, Judah, Phoenicia, Ammon, Moab, and Edom. Indeed, it is fair to say that biblical archaeology's most important achievement in the past half-century has not been a string of spectacular discoveries of ancient artifacts and architecture illustrating scriptural stories, but a far more demanding examination of the unique forms of nationhood, cult, and kingship that arose among this small group of Near Eastern Iron Age societies.

NEIL ASHER SILBERMAN is a contributing editor to ARCHAEOLOGY.
© 1998 by the Archaeological Institute of America