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Biblical Archaeologist

Perspectives on the Ancient World from Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean
A Publication of the American Schools of Oriental Research

Volume 59 Number 2
June 1996

74 The Strange Search for the Ashes of the Red Heifer
Daniel C. Browning, Jr.
Never heard of the "search for the ashes of the Red Heifer?" Is Vendyl Jones absent from the index of your latest book on the Dead Sea Scrolls? While occasioning many a scholarly blank stare, Vendyl Jones and his excavations in the Cave of the Column in the vicinity of Qumran have vast popular appeal. With an idiosyncratic reading of the Copper Scroll, Jomes claims to know the hiding place of the ashes of the Red Heifer. His excavations have produced a substance he claims is the long-hidden remains of the incense mixture used in the Jerusalem Temple. Do Jones's claims have any merit? Can he be safely ignored as a harmless fool or do competent archaeologists have a responsibility to respond publicly to his assertions?

90 Terqa and the Kingdom of Khana
Mark Chavalas
The ancient history of Syria becomes more vivid with each passing archaeological season. Recent excavations at Terqa have added new chapters to the urbanization of the third millennium as well as the competitive Old Babylonian period. In the third millennium BCE Terqa served as an important bridge between coastal sites of the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia proper. Its massive defensive system testifies to its strategic importance. After Mari fell to Babylon, the twenty acre tell ruled much of the middle Euphrates and featured a large administrative complex and a temple of Ninkarrak.

104 Biblical Archaeology and the Press: Shaping American Perceptions of Palestine in the First Decade of the Mandate
Lawrence Davidson
The work of archaeologists in Palestine in the 1920s constituted big news: newspapers such as The New York Times turned the story into one of dramatic proportions. The press created an "archaeological theater." Stories of discovery took on a melodramatic quality that emphasized the universal significance of biblical archaeology. The act of excavation became the confirmation of the truth of the Bible and its world-enveloping vision. How did this "theater" play in Peoria? In subtle ways, a temporal transposition was carried out. Stories described the biblical past with sufficient theatrical effect to make it more real than the Arab present, with tangible consequences for the future of Palestine.

115 The Disappearance of the Goddess Anat: The 1995 West Semitic Research Project on Ugaritic Epigraphy
Theodore J. Lewis
The Syrian warrior deity Anat: was she a cannibal or a lover with a "fatal attraction?" The slender epigraphic cord upon which scholars have long hung such depictions of this Ugaritic goddess has now been definitively severed. In their photograph of the famous tablet KTU 1.96, West Semitic Research Project's Ugaritic project principal researchers Wayne T. Pitard and Theodore J. Lewis have provided the first eipgraphically reliable record of the tablet. Voila: the goddess Anat disappears from the text as does the certainty of three and a half decades of scholarly reconstructions of her cannibalistic nature.

122 The Enigma of the Shekel Weights of the Judean Kingdom
Yigal Ronen
Inscribed stone and bronze shekel weights are a distinctive feature of late Iron II Judah where they were used to weigh pieces of silver in monetary transactions. But a curious circumstance has always plagued their interpretation. The weights themselves are arranged in a system of 1, 2, 4, 12, 16, 24, and 40 shekels, but the hieratic numerals inscribed on them are 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, and 50. Another curiosity has never before been noticed: why does the system of weights employ base eight when people in Judah counted by units of ten or six? Yigal Ronen can solve both enigmas.