an announcement from Israel Finkelstein
- Israel asked me to pass this along, so I'm happy to do so:
/*Reconstructing Ancient (Biblical) Israel: The Exact and Life Sciences
A project titled ‘Reconstructing Ancient (Biblical) Israel: The Exact
and Life Sciences Perspective’ has been approved for funding by the
European Research Council. The Advance Grant of ca. three million Euros
was given to Israel Finkelstein of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel
Aviv University (Principal Investigator) and Steve Weiner of the Kimmel
Center for Archaeological Science at the Weizmann Institute of Science,
Rehovot (Co Investigator).
Following is the abstract of the proposal which was submitted to the
European Research Council in March 2008:
The study of Ancient Israel’s texts (the Hebrew Bible), material culture
and history has been a keystone of European scholarship since the
Enlightenment. Biblical exegesis and archaeology contributed
impressively to our understanding of Ancient Israel. Yet, in certain
areas conventional research has reached a stalemate. With very few
real-time historical records, with the biblical testimony written a long
time after the events described (if not mythical) took place, and with
the strong theological agenda of both the original authors and some
modern scholars, reconstructing the world of Ancient Israel is a complex
The exact and life sciences are not restricted by these preconceptions
and are able to reveal data that is not visible to the naked eye.
Advances made in the last decade in archaeological science show that
this is the wave of the future. The novelty in this proposal is to
deploy an arsenal of 10 research tracks from the exact and life sciences
in order to better understand Ancient Israel:
A. The time of Ancient Israel: A1. Radiocarbon: correlating the
chronology of Ancient Israel with neighboring lands.
B. The genesis of Ancient Israel: B1. Human genetics and paleodiet. B2.
Geo-archaeology: tracking the subsistence economy of Ancient Israel. B3.
Palynology: relating paleoclimate to settlement oscillations.
C. The life of Ancient Israel: C1. Ceramic petrography: reconstructing
trade patterns. C2. Metallurgy: tracking technological advances.
D. The mind of Ancient Israel: D1. Daily mathematics of dimensions:
pottery and architecture. D2. Epigraphy: the use of advanced
computational methodologies (e.g., artificial intelligence algorithms)
in the study of writing in Israel and Judah.
E. The identity of Ancient Israel: E1. Residue analysis of pottery
vessels, and- E2. Archaeo-zoology; both aim at elucidating diet,
foodways and possibly identity boundaries.
This project has the potential to revolutionize the study of Ancient
Israel. Such a broad research plan in the realm of archaeology and the
sciences, focused on a single period/theme, has never been conducted
The project will be directed by Israel Finkelstein and Steve Weiner,
with the help of Shirly Ben Dor and Yuval Gadot. The different tracks of
the project will be carried out by Elisabetta Boaretto, Alexander
Fantalkin and Eliezer Piasetzky (radiocarbon); Ruth Shahack-Gross
(geoarchaeology); Thomas Litt, Frank Neumann and Mordechai Stein
(palynology); Yuval Goren (ceramic petrography); Naama Yahalom and Adi
Eliyahu (mettalurgy); Yitzhak Benenson and Elena Zapassky (daily
mathematics); Nathan Intrator, Eli Piasetzky, Benjamin Sass and Arie
Shaus (epigraphy); Dvora Namdar (residue analysis). The project will
support additional post-doctoral researchers and Ph.D. students.
Communication with the project should be directed to Shirly Ben Dor:
Jim West, ThD
http://jwest.wordpress.com - Blog
http://sites.google.com/site/biblicalstudiesresources/ - Biblical Studies Resources