It’s amazing how much of ancient Israel is still around, though beneath the ground. Archaeologists continue to do their work during the summer digging seasons, uncovering new finds every year.

Archaeology doesn’t always confirm biblical accounts: in fact, it often calls them into question, but a couple of recnt excavations have been particularly interesting.

The Bible never says exactly what happened to Shiloh, for example, where young Samuel served under Eli in a tabernacle that housed the Ark of the Covenant. 1 Samuel 4 describes a fierce battle with the Philistines to which the Israelites had foolishly brought out the Ark of the Covenant in hopes of gaining additional divine help. The Ark was captured and the Philistines defeated. Shiloh drops out of the story, and the next time Samuel appears, he’s in Rama.

Biblical scholars have often assumed it likely that the Philistines pushed on beyond the battle site and destroyed Shiloh. Recent evidence uncovered at the Shiloh site (a broken vase and a layer of ash dated to the appropriate period) provides support for belief that Shiloh was indeed destroyed by the Philistines.

In Jerusalem, in a long-running and wide-ranging and sometimes controversial dig on the Hill of Ophel, Eilat Mazar continues to turn up massive walls and other evidence from the 9th-10th centuries BCE, suggesting that she has found monumental buildings from the time of David and Solomon. Whether they include parts of the palace, as she has suggested previously, is unclear, but they are in the right place, and date to the right time, to have been on site when Solomon ruled as king.

A video highlighting some of the recent finds and an overview by Mazar can be found here.

If you’d like to see Israel in more than pictures and video, Campbell University Divinity School is sponsoring a trip to Israel and the West Bank this spring, May 15-26, and we’ve extended the deadline for registration to January 31. If you’d like to learn more, check out the brochure and registration form at this link, and consider joining us for a once-in-a-lifetime visit to the Holy Land that will include a number of archaeological sites, and even a day spent working at an active dig.

It’s an experience you’ll never forget — give it a look!

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