HBU Press Releases

HBU Press Releases

Archaeology Exhibit and Conference at Houston Baptist University Will Feature Christianity Today’s Top Biblical Archaeology Discovery of 2013

January 27, 2014
Kim Andrews

           Leading the list of top ten biblical archaeological discoveries of 2013 is a small stone artifact found at Khirbet el-Maqatir, thought to be the site of the biblical city of Ai, conquered by Joshua after the fall of Jericho.  The carved Egyptian amulet, also known as a scarab, is shaped like a dung beetle and dates to the Late Bronze period (1550 – 1450 B.C.), about the time the city was destroyed by Joshua, as described in Joshua 7-8.  Until recently, scholars have been uncertain of the location of Ai, and some have even denied the historicity of the biblical account of Joshua’s battles at Jericho and Ai and the Israelites’ entrance into the land of Canaan.  However, excavators at Khirbet el-Maqatir are accumulating evidence that this was indeed the site of Ai, and the little scarab helps date the city to the time of Joshua. 

            Throughout 2014, the Dunham Bible Museum at Houston Baptist University will be hosting an exhibit featuring 40 objects from the Khirbet el-Maqatir excavations, including the scarab, brought from Israel to HBU for the exhibit Khirbet el-Maqatir: History of a Biblical Site

            An Archaeological Conference will be held February 8 in the University’s Belin Chapel, featuring four of the archaeologists who have worked on the excavations. Dr. Bryant Wood made a careful study of the biblical account of Joshua to determine the most likely location of Ai and has directed the excavations since 1995; he will present the geographical and archaeological evidence that Khirbet el-Maqatir is the biblical city of Ai.  Dr. Eugene Merrill, a distinguished Old Testament scholar now at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the author of numerous books, and past president of the Evangelical Theological Society, will consider how the events of Ai relate to Old Testament chronology and why it matters. Dr. Scott Stripling, Chair of Humanities and Foreign Languages at Wharton County Junior College and recently appointed new Director of the excavation, will describe the first-century village which later existed on the site, evidence for practices of ritual purity, and the first Jewish revolt against Rome.  Renowned architectural archaeologist Dr. Leen Ritmeyer, who has been a consultant and illustrator for groups as diverse as Hollywood movie companies, National Geographic, and the ESV study Bible, will consider whether the Byzantine Church at Maqatir reflects the sacred architecture of the Temple in Jerusalem.
           Cost for the conference is $25, which includes lunch on Saturday. Registration can be made online at www.hbu.edu/ArchaeologicalConference. For more information, contact Diana Severance at 281-649-3287 or by email at dseverance@hbu.edu.
           Khirbet el-Maqatir: History of a Biblical Site and the Archaeological Conference are made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Photo credit for the scarab artifact should be given to Michael Ludini.

About the Dunham Bible Museum
The Dunham Bible Museum, with its large collection of rare Bibles, is dedicated to telling the story of the history and influence of the Bible, the most influential book in individual lives and in the culture of Western civilization. The Museum is located in the Morris Cultural Arts Center of Houston Baptist University and is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m., except days when the University is closed. There is no entrance fee to the Museum, but donations are welcomed. For more information or to schedule a group tour or presentation, contact Dr. Diana Severance at (281) 649-3287 or dseverance@hbu.edu.
About Houston Baptist University
Founded in 1960, HBU is an independent Christian university that offers enriched academic and student life experiences in a major metropolitan area.  As a result of implementing its twelve-year vision, The Ten Pillars: Faith and Reason in a Great City, HBU is on a trajectory to become a comprehensive, national university.  By fostering the intellectual, moral, and spiritual development of its students, the University provides A Higher Education, one that prepares students to succeed not only in their careers but also in life.  For more information about HBU, please visit www.hbu.edu.