Five years ago I came up with the idea of a traveling museum exhibit on the excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir. I saw it as a great way to educate the public about our excavation, recruit volunteers, and buttress the reliability of the biblical text.
The painstaking permission process included approvals from the Israel Antiquities Authorities, the U.S. State Department, and the Israeli State Department. Finally, it had to be published in the Federal Registrar. By God's grace all of these things happened. Houston Baptist University agreed to provide the initial venue, and with the help of Dr. Diana Severance, Director of the Dunham Bible Museum, it all came together. In 2015, the exhibit moved the 5ive Points Museum in partnership with Lee University. Lee sends students each year to work with us in Israel, and Lee professors Dr. Brian Peterson and Dr. Bill Simmons work as supervisors on our dig. In 2016, Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama hosted the exhibit.
Even while the exhibit was at 5ive Points Museum, I began talks with Tommy Chamberlain from the University of Pikeville in Pikeville, Kentucky. Pikeville lies in the heart of eastern Kentucky, not far from the West Virginia border. Tommy wanted to raise the money to turn 'Khirbet el-Maqatir: History of a Biblical Site' into a world-class exhibit. We agreed to bring the exhibit to Pikeville in 2017. Tommy upheld his end of the bargain. Not only did he raise significant money, but he also brought the Horn Archaeological Museum and the Dorsey Archaeological Museum on-board as partners. The exhibit now boasts over 250 artifacts from around the Mediterranean world.
On January 20-21, the now world-class exhibit opened in Pikeville in the historic York House where the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud ended. The City of Pikeville actually spent $100,000 to renovate this venue that had sat dilapidated for the past two generations. Our exhibit inaugurated this new venue. Non-stop visitors flowed through the exhibit on the opening weekend. Dr. Bryant Wood and I gave tours, along with Dr. Connie Gane, Director of the Horne Museum and Co-director of excavations at Tall Jalul in Jordan, and Sarah and Phillip Bollinger from Evangelical Seminary and the Dorsey Museum of Biblical Archaeology. Among the dignitaries attending the opening banquet and visiting the museum were the university president, the mayor of Pikeville, and the former governor of Kentucky.
Local news media reported very favorably on the event. Tim Riddle, Doug Carico, and Colonel Ralf Newman, veterans of the Khirbet el-Maqatir excavation, drove in for the grand opening. Doug even came a few days early to help with the frantic last minute set-up of the exhibit. Volunteers and donors are the lifeblood of an excavation, so needless to say, we were thrilled to see them. I hope that you have the opportunity to travel to Pikeville in 2017. It is the only place where the Hatfields and McCoys meet Biblical Archaeology. You will be blessed and amazed by your experience in Pikeville - I know that I was.
Currently, the exhibit is scheduled to be open every Friday and Saturday from that date through the summer.
Buy your Tickets Today to visit: Khirbet el-Maqatir & A Journey through Biblical History (off site link).
The local Hilton Garden Inn has a special rate for visitors for the exhibit: Hilton Garden Inn (off-site link).