324880 – Archeology and History in the Holy Land

Archeology and History in the Holy Land:

From Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages

Syllabus, Field Studies and Readings

Instructor – Yisrael Ne’eman


This course entails six weekly class sessions of two academic hours each, a two hour survey of the Hecht Archeological Museum at the University of Haifa, two full archeological Sunday field study days (equal to twelve academic class hours) and an in class final (short answer and/or multiple choice test).  Field Study dates will be announced during the first class.  This course finishes several weeks before the engineering classes.


First Week   Class 1,  March 15

What is archeology?  What does it prove and what significance does it have?  Do “Creation” and “Evolution” clash?

A survey of not quite human existence and its development into families, tribes and agricultural society.  A review of the archeological time period from the pre-historic Palaeolithic (hunting and gathering) through the Neolithic (New Stone Age) and Chalcolithic (Copper and Stone) Periods.

Second Week     Tour in the Hecht Archeological Museum March 22

Understanding archeology and the ancient time line in the Holy Land. Tuesday afternoon outing (instead of class) to the Hecht Museum at the Univ. of Haifa – Here is a full spectrum of archeology through the discovery of artifacts throughout the region.  The museum outlines all the cultures and periods under discussion.  For our purposes we will concentrate on the Neolithic, Chacolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages.  In particular displays of the material culture of Canaanites, Phoenicians, Israelites and Philistines (representing Greece) will be investigated.  This period of time corresponds to the literature of the Biblical period.

The exhibit on marine archeology and the boat displayed will be of special interest.

Wikipedia – Prehistory of the Southern Levant


Wikipedia – Southern Levant


Wikipedia – List of Archeological periods http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_archaeological_periods_(Levant)

 Third Week Class 2, March 29

  1. The Ancient Eastern Mediterranean – Using archeology and written texts we will piece together the cultures and histories of those peoples who lived in this region from the Bronze Age until the advent of the Greek conquest of Alexander the Great.

Britannica – Palestine: pages 1 – 9 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/439645/Palestine

Jewish Encyclopedia – Zoroastrianism


History of the Phoenicians


Canaanite Culture and Religion


Fourth Week Class 3, April 5

The clash between the Hebrew Scriptures and Biblical Archeology.  Archeology is presented as a tool to verify or negate the Biblical text leading to issues of belief vs. “rational” study.  Were the Israelites really hill dwelling Canaanites or was there truly an Exodus from Egypt?  Was there a Davidic and Solomonic Empire?

Wikipedia – The Bible Unearthed (by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman)


Printout from Moodle – Finkelstein, Yisrael, The Bible Unearthed – Chapters “The Transformation of Judah,” “Between War and Survival” and “A Great Reformation”

Hebrew Bible – Chronicles II, Chapter 34 (King Josiah’s central role in the writing of the Biblical narrative) – Download from Internet

Fifth Week  Field Study (Sunday) April 10

First Field Study – Pre-historic human existence took place in the Carmel Mountain range hundreds of thousands of years ago as was discovered at the Nahal Me’arot Archeological Dig.   According to archeologists how did we become the human beings that we are today and what do we know of this deep human past?

Wikipedia – Tabun Cave


Wikipedia – Natufian Culture


Megiddo Archeological Dig (Case Study) – We enter here from early recorded history until Biblical times.  A View of the scale model and tour of the site helps one to understand how archeologists worked in the past and the conclusions drawn through analyzing the layering of some 20 different civilizations.  Megiddo is mentioned briefly in the Hebrew Scriptures and at length in Christianity – “Book of Revelations”.

Britannica – Megiddo


Mukhraka on Mount Carmel – the Prophet Elijah faces down the prophets of Baal

Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) – Kings I Chapter 18


Fifth Week  Class 4,  April 12

Rome Defeats Greece and Builds an Empire – The story of the rise and domination of Rome from the defeat of Carthage and its destruction to the conquest of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean.  Focus will be on the era from Julius Caesar to Octavian (Augustus).  Focus on Herod in the Holy Land.

“Herod the Great” in Wikipedia – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_the_Great

“Herodian Architecture” in Wikipedia – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodian_architectureעותק שמור – דפים דומים עותק שמור – דפים דומים

Roman Emperors DIR Augustus


Printout from Moodle – Avi Yonah, Michael, The Second Temple, Jews Romans and Byzantines

Sixth Week – First week of May: No class (lecturer not present)

Seventh Week  Field Study (Sunday) May 8

Second Field Study – An outing to Tzippori to survey the archeological remains and testament to the pluralistic relations between Rome, the Byzantines and the dwindling Jewish community of the Galilee.  In particular we will investigate the mosaic motifs, both geometric designs and those depicting the Greco-Roman gods of yesteryear including the world famous “Nile Mosaic” and “Mona Lisa of Galilee”.

Tzippori National Park


Caesarea (Case Study) – This famous port city built by Herod the Great represents Rome in all its glory from the time of Herod through the Byzantine Christianization and into the early Arab Muslim period.  We will tour the ruins of classical Rome including the theatre, palace, hippodrome, bath house and even public latrine.  Entering what is left of the walled city we will overview the most impressive harbor built at the time.  Here excavations by marine archeologists were at their height.  Lastly we will take in the Byzantine Street in Christian Caesarea.

We will see two audio-visuals, one a brief history of Caesarea until the final conquest by the Mamluke ruler Baybars and the second on the ancient building techniques used to construct both the city and port.

Caesarea- from Roman city to Crusader fortress


Seventh Week  Class 5, May 10

The Development of Christianity – The Greco-Roman World conquered Judea and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE.  The resulting universalist religion grew from a small persecuted sect originally made up of Jews who believed Jesus to be the Messiah.  What brought about the development of the Byzantine Empire and eventual Christianization of the Western World?

Christian Scriptures – Gospel of Matthew – Chapters 26 – 28 (Download from Internet)


Jesus Christ Biography


Eighth Week  Class 6 May 17

The Rise of Islam and the Muslim Arab invasion of the Holy Land resulting in the defeat of the Christian Byzantines in the 630s.  Zoroastrian Persia captured and Christendom defeated in North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula.

Wikipedia – Islam (read through Abbasid era)


Ninth Week  Final Exam  (Date to be announced)

  1. Final exam – This is a 25 question test, mostly multiple choice and part short definition. All questions are based on the list of names and terms handed out earlier in the semester. Included are the archeological sites visited.