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The Near East Archaeological Society (NEAS) annual meeting held in conjunction with the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) was, as expected, significantly different this year because of COVID 19. In talking with the ETS conference organizers, the change in venue for the conference to a virtual environment impacted the number of attendees. While the NEAS meetings also showed a slight reduction in attendees, we had, on average, 24 attendees at the live Question and Answer sessions held over the conference’s three days (November 17-19). 

Typically, during these three days, the NEAS produces five sessions, each containing 4-5 individual presentations for a total of 20-25 presentations presented live with a short Q&A session following each presentation. This year, the presentations were pre-recorded and made available for viewing the week before the actual meeting. In fact, registered meeting attendees can still access these presentations for a few more months, which is one of the benefits obtained from the virtual meeting format. There were five Q&A sessions devoted to the NEAS presentations, each lasting approximately one hour during the meeting week. Participants were afforded the opportunity during each Q&A session to interact with the presenters and ask specific questions associated with the individual presentations. 

So, while the meeting was not the same physically, seeing and hearing the participants was fantastic. We collectively learned some intriguing information concerning various archaeological sites, technological enhancements, techniques, and chronological proposals affecting our understanding of Scripture. Of specific interest to members of Associates for Biblical Research was the wet sifting facility presentation by Scott Stripling. Wet sifting was established at Tel Shiloh and used to re-sift archaeological dump piles from former excavations at Shiloh. Additionally, we heard discussions on the Iron I & 2 houses identified at Khirbet el Maqatir, especially those along the northwest wall. Steve Rudd’s apparatus ensures that our discarded sherds at Tel Shiloh do not contain any writing. We also were updated on a couple of items from Tel Shiloh. First, Brian Peterson presented a talk on the “fish-head” bead found at Tel Shiloh, and secondly, Mark Hassler discussed some ideas related to the gate from which Eli fell at Tel Shiloh. Finally, Rick Lanser presented an updated presentation on his chronological understanding of the reign of Herod.

This year we had a session devoted to the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project with five presentations related to the excavation. Our guest speaker, all the way from Israel, was Shey Bar, who spoke about possible Israelite early Iron I locations, especially the foot-shaped sites. His discussion paved the way for additional presentations at the annual meeting. Finally, we also had two Byzantine period excavation reports in Jordan. All in all, despite the virtual aspect of the annual meeting, it still provided a great assortment of subject matter for all who attended these virtual sessions. 

As mentioned previously, one impressive result of having the annual meeting in a virtual platform is that the presentations and Q&A sessions are available to all registered attendees. All that is needed is the login and password used to access the sessions during the conference week. Also, I have just learned that if you desire to register for the conference, the ETS is keeping the registration open until June 2021. Wow, this is an excellent opportunity for those who did not attend the conference to see the presentations and Q&A sessions customarily presented during the annual meeting and the ETS annual meeting. 

Of course, we all look forward to getting together next year from Wednesday, November 17th to Friday, November 19th in Fort Worth, TX, where the focus area will be “The Archaeology of Wealth and Poverty.” 

Donald McNeeley
Tidewater Bible College
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

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