The Biblical Archaeology Forum (BAF) begins its thirty-second year in September with Maryland University professor Kenneth Holum looking back on his own three decades excavating King Herod’s monumental building at Caesarea and highlighting recent discoveries.
Please join us for a series of eight scholarly lectures on the latest archaeological research findings and related fields such as history, art and texts of ancient times. Reservations are not required. Fees per lecture are: free – high school students; $5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students and co-sponsors; $8 – BASONOVA & JCCGW members, and; $10 – the general public. For more information, please contact BAF.JCCGW@gmail.com.
Click here to subscribe to the BAF 2016-2017 lecture season.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016 • 8 p.m. • JCCGW
Kenneth Holum | University of Maryland
Caesarea Maritima is a fascinating archaeological site that continues to spring surprises on the public and the scholarly world, including recent finds of Islamic coins and Roman sculpture from the Mediterranean. Beyond these “blockbuster” discoveries reported in the press, work has continued on the site of the great pagan temple that King Herod dedicated to the goddess Roma and to the Roman emperor as a god.
Herod founded the city late in the first century BCE, even as he rebuilt the Second Temple to the God of Israel in Jerusalem. Work on the remains of the Caesarea temple, brought to light by Dr. Holum and his team in the 1990’s, has now clarified both temple’s design and the motives of the king in building it. Herod’s great pagan temple proves to have been a tool in his campaign to bring Caesarea and his Judean kingdom into the trading networks emerging in the eastern Mediterranean. Click here for the event page.
Monday, November 21, 2016 • 8 p.m. • JCCGW
Amnon Ben Tor | Hebrew University | Director of Excavations at Hazor
Hazor was strategically located in Canaan on ancient trade routes from the north, east and west. According to the Bible, the Israelites under Joshua burned Hazor; later, it was rebuilt by the Canaanites. At the advice of the prophetess Deborah it was taken by Barak, who went forth against the Canaanite king Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots and had ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. The result was one of the most remarkable victories for Israel recorded in the Bible.
Hazor is now the largest archaeological site in Israel. Documents discovered at Hazor, and some discovered in other places, shed a vivid light on various aspects of life of the inhabitants of Hazor, the major metropolis referred to in the Bible as “the Head of all Those Kingdoms” (Joshua 11:10). Ancient practices of law, education, economy, culture and international relations come to life in these texts as described by Hazor excavations director Amnon Ben Tor. Click here for the event page.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016 • 8 p.m. • JCCGW
Brien Garnand | Howard University
We often hear of conflict with Phoenicians—ancient Israelites fought against them (i.e. Canaanites) for control of the southern Levant; Greeks competed against them across the entire Mediterranean; and Rome fought three protracted Phoenician (Punic) Wars, nearly losing their empire to Hannibal—yet we rarely hear of Phoenician civilization.
Tyre and Sidon in Lebanon sent settlers westward as far as Spain and Morocco, spreading alphabetic literacy, expanding trade networks, and establishing urban centers. Their colonists at Carthage competed as equals against Greek colonists at Cyrene in Libya; those from Motya and Palermo competed against Syracuse in Sicily.
Perhaps we can attribute their exclusion from the ranks of the civilized to an overly credulous reading of hostile ancient sources; perhaps to modern scholars who have let racism (or Orientalism) cloud their assessment of Semitic cities, or; perhaps to allegations of ritual infanticide that present their culture as depraved. Click here for the event page.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 • 8 p.m. • JCCGW
Lisa Kahn | George Mason University
When Caesar Augustus appointed Herod as King of the Jews, the political and physical landscape of Judea was bleak. Herod, however, crafted a personal agenda that was to transform his country and his place in history.
Reviled for great cruelty, this king is now also recognized for his daring architectural innovations. Herod rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem and created the thriving port Caesarea Maritima with its Temple of Roma and Augustus overlooking a thriving harbor and one of his most luxurious palaces. He strategically placed other palace-fortresses throughout the country constructing a network of administrative centers. The archaeological evidence reveals an architectural genius, each palace designed with breathtaking synergy with its natural surroundings and clearly intended to impress.
Herod’s final project, his tomb at Herodium, further transformed the already remarkable site. These sites will be presented in light of current findings and analyses, revealing various aspects of this powerful ruler. Click here for the event page.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 • 8 p.m. • JCCGW
Betsy Bryan | Johns Hopkins University
More than 700 statues of the goddess Sakhmet in the form of a lion-headed woman were placed in the Temple of Mut (in Luxor, Egypt) on the order of Eighteenth Dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep III, ca. 1375 BCE, along with statues of him and his primary queen Tiye. Amenhotep “The Magnificent” and Queen Tiye were the parents of Akhenaten, the heretic Pharaoh.
The sheer magnitude of the production of these statues — which were also made and placed in Amenhotep’s funerary temple at Kom el Hettan — has held the attention of both scholars and the general public for two hundred years. This illustrated lecture will examine the statues in the context of the reign of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye and will highlight the temple rituals associated with the two temples where the statues were erected. Click here for the event page.
Sunday, April 30, 2017 • 7:30 pm • B’nai Israel Congregation
Sidnie White Crawford | University of Nebraska at Lincoln
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has dramatically increased our knowledge of the history of the text of the Hebrew Bible and the formation of the Jewish canon. This lecture will explore what the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal about the text of the Bible. How did the books of the Bible reach the form they now have? How did scribes copy and pass down their inherited traditions in the Second Temple period?
The lecture will also consider the process of “canon formation” in the Second Temple period. What biblical books were considered authoritative for all Jews? Why did different Jewish groups have conflicting lists of authoritative books? How did we get the present canon of Jewish Scripture?
Lavishly illustrated, this lecture will bring alive a little-known period of Jewish history through the lens of these transformative historical documents. Click here for the event page.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 • 8 p.m. • JCCGW
Jorge Bravo | University of Maryland
The Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea was host to one of the great athletic festivals of ancient Greece, the Nemean Games, on par with the ancient Olympics. The Games spanned more than three hundred years, beginning early in the sixth century BCE. The ancient Greeks connected the origin of the Games with the myth of the hero Opheltes, a baby whose sudden death created a ritual obligation to honor the child with funerary rites and games.
This illustrated lecture will show archaeological evidence from the Shrine of Opheltes at Nemea, combined with literary and artistic testimony, to shed light on how the bond between the Games and the child hero was celebrated throughout antiquity with ritual observances such as sacrifice and libations. Click here for the event page.