This course is a survey of the archaeology of ancient Israel, also called the southern Levant. The course will cover archaeological, Biblical, and other contemporaneous textual sources to explore this topic, from the Middle Bronze Age to the end of the Babylonian Exile (ca. 2000-300 BCE). The course will also explore the current state of the archaeology of the Bible, and consider the various viewpoints in this discipline.
We begin with the history of archaeology in the region, and an exploration of the various schools of thought in Biblical archaeology. The remainder of the course covers a chronological study what is known from archaeology about the various cultures and peoples of the southern Levant, from the Middle Bronze Age (the time of Patriarchs) until the return of the Israelites from the Babylonian exile during the Persian Empire. This portion of the class will cover the known information of the cultures of the various peoples, including subjects such as religion, architecture, food ways, ceramic styles, decorative arts and subsistence patterns. We will study the archaeological material from these time periods to fuel discusses the various issues and shortcomings of the Bible as historical text.