The Associates for Biblical Research are very pleased to announce the official kick off for the archaeological excavations at Shiloh in Israel. After 18 months of prayer and intensive preparation, our first week of digging at the former site of the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant was a smashing success!
The Shiloh Excavations represent the third archaeological excavation operated by the Associates for Biblical Research in the Highlands of Israel, under the auspices of the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria. Dr. David Livingston founded the ABR ministry and pioneered the Khirbet Nisya Excavations (1979-2002), while the Excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir were established by Dr. Bryant Wood (1995-2013), and then were completed under the direction of Dr. Scott Stripling (2014-2016), who is now the Director of the Shiloh Excavations (2017-present). Our goals for excavating at Shiloh can be found in this article by Dr. Stripling: The Israelite Tabernacle at Shiloh by Dr. Scott Stripling (PDF).
This year, over 100 people will be participating in various aspects of the Shiloh Excavations, which has been combined with a 10-day post-Dig Tour (June 18-27). This is the largest group of volunteers and staff we have assembled since we began excavations in the Highlands of Israel. We praise God for the outpouring of support, volunteers, prayers, skilled staff and financial means to conduct a complex and multi-faceted excavation in Israel. Our team has been able to assemble a team of scholars and volunteers from the following institutions (*major sponsors):
Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies
Ben Gurion University College of Biblical Studies
College of Biblical Studies
Frontier School of the Bible
Mid-Atlantic Christian University
The Bible Seminary*
Tidewater Bible College
University of Northwestern, St. Paul*
University of Pikeville*
Virginia Beach Theological Seminary
In addition, we have recruited and trained a powerhouse team of scholars and staff with extensive field and academic experience:
Dr. Scott Stripling - Director of Excavations
Rev. Gary Byers - Senior Archaeologist
Suzanne Lattimer - Field Archaeologist
Dr. Brian Peterson - Field Archaeologist
Dr. Mark Hassler - Square Supervisor
Dr. Boyd Seevers - Square Supervisor
Dr. David Graves - Square Supervisor
Dr. Phil Silvia - Square Supervisor
Henry B. Smith Jr. - Administrative Director & Square Supervisor
Don McNeeley – Director of Information Technology
Matt Glassman – Square Supervisor
Abigail Leavitt - Objects Registrar & Square Supervisor
Greg Gulbrandsen - Wet Sifting Supervisor
Ellen Jackson - Metal Detectorist
Dr. Doug Petrovich - Assistant Square Supervisor
Andrew Kvasnica - Assistant Square Supervisor
Dr. Kevin Larsen – Assistant Square Supervisor
Lydia Terry – Assistant Square Supervisor
Carlos Mora - Assistant Square Supervisor
Pastor Durwin Kicker - Assistant Square Supervisor
Dr. Bill Simmons - Assistant Square Supervisor
Cassie Wells - Assistant Square Supervisor
Seth Adcock - Assistant Square Supervisor
Ruth Vanderford - Assistant Square Supervisor
Dr. Lou Klauder - Pottery Registrar
Ann Klauder - Asst. Pottery Registrar
Destry Jackson - Ceramicist
Sandy Souza - Administrative Asst.
Mike Luddeni - Photographer
Dr. Leen Ritmeyer - Architect
Dr. Yoav Farhi - Numismatist
Peretz Reuven - Ceramic Typologist
Dr. Bryant Wood - Ceramic Typologist
Dr. Orna Cohen - Conservationist
Avi Levy - Flint Specialist
Frankie Snyder - Flooring Specialist
In most cases, the first week of an archaeological excavation is fraught with delays and difficulties that prevent any significant digging. Not so with Team Shiloh! After Dr. Stripling gave the new volunteers a tour of Shiloh, our team made immediate progress on Day One.
Before we even began digging, Abigail Leavitt found a legible seal impression from the Middle Bronze III period lying on the surface. In my own square, we found 3 coins, several pieces of stone vessels, a jar handle with an imprint, a sling stone and two Byzantine era terrace walls. Dr. Mark Hasslers team exposed more of the Middle Bronze Canaanite fortifications, which his team has now connected with the section exposed by the Danish team in the 1930s. Suzanne Lattimers team is working near the storage room where six large pithoi (storage jars) were found by the Danish excavations. She is hoping to find similar storage jars soon. Two ivory decorations (a pendant and disc) from the Bronze Age period were also discovered. Dr. Boyd Seevers' team uncovered part of a Roman house with a grinding installation and fragments of a clay oven.
View Photos of the Shiloh Excavation on the ABR FaceBook Page: Shiloh Excavations Photo Album 2017
The ABR Shiloh Excavation has introduced two new innovations:
First, we are the first archaeological excavation outside of Jerusalem to implement wet sifting into our operation. This same process was extensively used by the Temple Mount Sifting Project in Jerusalem. Each archaeological square first dry sifts the dirt extracted from the square, looking for small artifacts that would otherwise have been lost. Then, the sifted material is transported to the wet sifting station, where it is carefully sifted with water by supervisor Greg Gulbrandsen and his team. As a result, we expect to find many amazing discoveries that would otherwise been lost. We already have found a beautiful biconical yellow glass bead in Dr. Boyd Seevers' square that was part of a larger piece of jewelry. Each of these discoveries helps us reconstruct the occupational history of Shiloh.
Second, the Shiloh staff worked vigorously in the period leading up to the Dig to prepare for full digital data entry in the field instead of using a paper recording system. We are the first archaeological excavation in Israel to fully implement a fully digitized recording system. Each supervisor uses a tablet to record their excavation data, eliminating paperwork and saving considerable time. We are quickly working out the bugs, and are pleased that the process has gone well overall. This is a tribute to the leadership of Dr. Stripling and the team oriented commitment of the Shiloh Staff, who all volunteer their time and expertise to the Shiloh Dig and the ABR ministry more broadly.
We are excited and energized by the tremendous success and progress we have already experienced in our first week digging at Shiloh. Like Khirbet el-Maqatir, our team has worked hard and with great joy, comradery and perseverance. We also would like to extend our thanks to Hananya, Ella, and Reut from the antiquities authority who have been most helpful to us. They have been great partners in helping our team get the Shiloh Dig off the ground.
Your prayers for the coming weeks are greatly appreciated. And we encourage you to begin making plans to join us in 2018! If you would like to contribute financially to our work at Shiloh, just follow this link. Please note in the "Instructions" that your gift is designated towards the Shiloh Excavations.
Henry B. Smith Jr.
Shiloh Archaeological Excavations, Israel
Daily Hebrew and Arabic Language Lessons on the Bus Ride from Dr. Boyd Seevers