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Archaeology I Definitions, Methodology, Etc. Old Testament Backgrounds. Definitions.

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  • “Archaeology is that science or art – it can be maintained that it is both – which is concerned with the material remains of man’s past. There are two aspects to the archaeologist’s concern. The first of these is the discovery and reclamation of the ancient remains; this usually involved field excavation or at least surface collecting. The second concern is the analysis, interpretation and publication of the findings.” (Braidwood, quoted in Hoerth 14)
  • What’s the purpose of Archaeology?
    • Illumination?
      • Cultural / Historical Settings
      • People, Places, Events, Things
    • Confirmation / Authentication?
      • Where did this come from?
      • What is wrong with it?
  • Why does it matter?
yamauchi s circles
Yamauchi’s Circles
  • Traditions (Bible)
  • Inscriptions (Artifacts with writing)
  • Materials (Artifacts)

“It is a mistake to insist that traditions – including the Old Testament stories – must interlock with other evidences before they can be believed.” (21)

yamauchi s fragments
Yamauchi’s Fragments
  • Very little of what was made or written in antiquity survives to this day
  • Very few of the ancient sites have been surveyed or even found
  • Probably less than two percent of the known sites have been meaningfully excavated
  • Few of these sites have been more than scratched (many would take centuries to fully excavate)
  • Only a fraction of the fraction that has been excavated has been published and become available to the scholarly world.

Bottom Line: A very small fraction of the information from antiquity is available to us. Our faith must rest in God’s unchanging word, not in the latest archaeological find.

city locations factors
City Locations - Factors
  • Water Source
  • Food source (agricultural or grazing potential)
  • Trade and communication routes (commercial & military)
  • Security (usually a hill of some sort)
  • Religion

These factors usually meant that the same place would be settled repeatedly, building upon the abandoned / destroyed city below. This results in a layered mound.

a tell or khirbet
A “Tell” or “Khirbet”

Tell: No remains visible

Khirbet: Remains visible

sherds ostraca
Sherds / Ostraca

Sherds - pieces of pottery.

Ostracon - piece of pottery used as a “notebook” (e.g. Lachish Letters)

Sherds collected at one site in Israel.

dating pottery
Dating - Pottery

Experts can identify the period of the pottery with a surprisingly small sherd.

limitations of archaeology
Limitations of Archaeology
  • Relatively young study – new methods are constantly being developed.
  • Poor excavation – It is destructive and cannot be repeated.
    • Gezer!
    • Need non-destructive methods
  • Poor recording
  • Poor or incorrect interpretations.
    • Jericho
  • Circular reasoning / assumptions involved in pottery typology