Archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania Museum have been involved participants in amplifying modern perceptions of the ancient Canaan. The Beth Shan excavations under the direction of the Museum's Egyptian division widened and perhaps complicated a simplistic message of their day, confirming the bible true. Beth Shan, a rich and highly egyptianized sites particularly at the end of the Late Bronze and early Iron periods, was one of the first known sites to show the extent of Egyptian occupation at the end of the second millennium. From the mid 50s to the 70s, James B. Pritchard led excavations at Gibeon, Tell es-Sa'idiyeh and Sarepta. Pritchard's excavations have made lasting contributions in the areas of ceramic chronology of Phoenicia, burial practices in the Bronze Age, and industry and technology in the Iron Age to mention just a few. Recently Patrick McGovern has contributed to our understanding of the Baq'ah valley in the Late Bronze and Iron Age.
Of course, Penn's archaeologists are hardly alone in contributing to modern understanding. It may be fashionable today to criticize Williams Foxwell Albright or Nelson Glueck for their sincere belief that a religious truth lay under their spade, but both scholars made lasting contributions to our methodology, the corpus of material culture, and to today's understanding and appreciation of antiquity. Much of what follows may in some specific instances disagree with their particular interpretations of remains, but in summary it is their original detailed research-- as well as that of the Oriental Institute, J.L. Starkey and Olga Tufnell, Flinders Petrie, Kathleen Kenyon, Roland De Vaux, G. Ernest Wright, Yigael Yadin and Yohanan Aharoni-- which form the base of this and other works.
The following explanation is visual to say the least, and follows an approach used by Pritchard in Ancient Near Eastern Pictures (ANEP), a compendium volume to Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET). Pritchard presented a corpus of images organized in useful categories. Each image was accompanied by a short description covering provenance, date, citation and few lines of comment. In a similar manner, this less expansive work augments Pritchard's ANEP by reproducing artifacts and archaeological contexts almost exclusively from ancient Palestine. It draws heavily on the collections in the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the excavations at Baq'ah, Beth Shan, Beth Shemesh, Gibeon, Sarepta and Tell es-Sa'idiyeh. (NOTE: The Beth Shemesh excavation of Haverford College now resides in the University Museum's collection.) The current draft covers the time frame from Middle Bronze I (circa 2200/2000 B.C.E.) down to the end of the Iron Age (about 550/500 B.C.E.).
I use a hypertext environment, World-Wide Web, to tie the images to short descriptions, thus creating an annotated slide collection perhaps. The format consists of a short description, length is confined to one computer screen in most cases, of a topic followed by links to digital images, motion video or related texts. The present work contains well-over 1000 images as well as selected archaeological contexts from tombs (Beth Shan tombs 7, 42 and 90; Gibeon tombs 3, 10, 15 and 50; Tell es-Sa'idiyeh cemetery), temples/shrines (Beth Shan temples in strata VII and VI; Sarepta Shrine 1) and domestic structures (Tell es-Sa'idiyeh stratum V). I have also attempted to reproduce some archaeological contexts using the latest software modeling and simulation tools. In addition, I use extensive cross-referencing in the work to help students analyzing developments and changes in style and technology from Middle Bronze I to the end of the Iron Age.
Archaeology for itself has always seem to me to be less than a satisfactory way to discuss antiquity. A more cogent approach would be to use archaeological material carefully with literary evidence. I realize that today it is less in vogue to talk about discoveries in terms of understanding the bible; nevertheless, present-day scholarly overreaction to the past's overemphasis may not be even good pedagogy, let alone good scholarship. Since I use the material in undergraduate courses at my university, the bible and other literary evidence provide an opportunity to discuss collateral and interesting issues of methodology and interpretation that prove exciting and even thought-provoking to younger minds being exposed to biblical scholarship for the first time.
Students may use the work in a variety of ways. I suggest that interested undergraduates and others work through the information using the general topic index. Use this electronic work in conjunction with some of the excellent printed textbooks written by Aharoni, Mazar or Kenyon and Moorey. More knowledgeable readers and colleagues in Near Eastern study may find the full index at the end of the work a more useful way to traverse this information web. In particular, I think that they will be pleased that I have rephotographed the most important material in the Museum's collection related to material remains from this region. Although the photographs on the Web have been reduced in size to provide quick access to the material for study purposes, high quality digital photos do exist and are available upon request to me and permission from the Museum.
This work will remain incomplete and unfinished. This corpus of material is certainly much larger than almost all published work covering the material culture with the notable exception of site reports from major excavations like Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, Lachish, Farah (S), or Tell en-Nasbeh; however, I am well-aware that this work is far from comprehensive. The work draws heavily on a few important sites and at this point does not include photographs and detailed information from other excavations unless of particular importance in the overall discussion of a topic. In the future, I hope to expand the work by including published material particularly from Megiddo, Lachish and Hazor.
The following conventions are used herein. Unless otherwise noted, all dates are before the common era (B.C.E.). I have chosen to employ the chronology and naming conventions used in the Cambridge Ancient History (second edition) for the convenience of the reader. The identification of biblical cities with sites are only made for those sites which most excavators agree on the identification between the modern tell and biblical town (e.g Gibeon= el Jib).
I like to express my appreciation to colleagues who have assisted me in the preparation of this material. I am in debt to my advisory board at Penn whose suggestions on improving the texts and selection of images from their collections end up in producing a better work than I originally thought possible. I want to acknowledge their help: Barry Eichler, James O'Donnell, Robert Kraft, David O'Connor, Holly Pittman, and Jeff Tigay. To Vince Pigott, Richard Zettler, Linda Brigstein and others on the staff of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, I wish to express my appreciation for their help in rephotographing material and support in improving this work. With their help, we have rephotographed some 300 pieces currently in storage and another 400 on display. I want to express special appreciation to Jim Pritchard for his assistance and suggestions at every step of this project particularly in keeping me focused on making sure that the presentation serves and is directed towards a general audience. Last, I want to acknowledge the key help that my friends and staff members, Jay Treat and Michael Nenashev, who provided assistance in designing the Web environment and proof reading the final document. Without their help, it wouldn't have reached this stage.
John R. Abercrombie Bryn Mawr, PA June, 1995