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Digging Stopped in Ancient Biblical Cities

For US archaeologists, major discoveries will have to wait until next year, at least.
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Digging Stopped in Ancient Biblical Cities
Image: Courtesy of Zvi Lederman, Tel Beth-Shemesh Excavations

Dale Manor had a plan for 2020: Unearth an ancient Canaanite shrine in the lowlands of Judah, about 20 miles west of Jerusalem. Like so many plans for 2020, it was interrupted by a global pandemic.

So now the professor emeritus of archaeology and Bible at Harding University in Arkansas has a plan for 2021: Unearth that Canaanite shrine in Beth Shemesh, the city where the Philistines returned the captured Ark of the Covenant to Israel in 1 Samuel 6.

There are some drawbacks to putting an excavation on hold, Manor told Christianity Today. “There is an increased risk of site deterioration, both from the elements and plundering,” he said.

A highway also runs through the ancient Beth Shemesh site, and it is in the process of being widened. There have been some conflicts in Israel between the people who want the road and the people trying to preserve the biblical history buried underneath it.

The pause couldn’t be avoided, however. For biblical archaeologists, 2020 will be remembered ...

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