Tuesday, September 17, 2013

First Season of Excavations at Abel Beth Maacah

The excavators of Abel Beth Maacah provide a summary of their first season of digging at the ASOR Blog. After an introduction, they explain what they are looking for.

For one thing, there is Abel’s Aramean connection. References to a political entity called “Aram Maacah” (1 Chronicles 19:6) and to the “king of Maacah” (2 Samuel 10:6, 8) evoke possibilities of Aramean presence at the site, allowing us to examine such an entity in relation to other presumed Aramean sites like Bethsaida, Tel Hadar, and En Gev. Even though the Arameans are specifically mentioned in ancient records, we know very little about them “on the ground,” especially within the borders of modern Israel. Can they be defined in terms of a distinct material culture? The location of Abel Beth Maacah on the northern borders of Israel (then and now) makes this site a viable candidate for the study of Aramean cultural and political influences.

Passages in the Hebrew Bible suggest that Abel Beth Maacah became an Israelite town during David’s reign, and it apparently remained so until its destruction by the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III in 733 BCE. In the story of the Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah (2 Samuel 20:14-22), the city is enigmatically referred to as “a mother in Israel.” Her power and influence is apparent in that she directly negotiates the surrender of the Benjaminite rebel Sheba ben Bichri with Joab, David’s military commander.

The Abel Beth Maacah project is also intent on pursuing Phoenician connections in Iron Age II. The city’s location on a branch road of the International Highway leading north to Ijon (Tell ed-Dibbin) in Lebanon’s Marj Ayyun Valley, and roads leading west to Tyre and Sidon, will enable us to study cross-cultural ties with coastal Lebanon during the Bronze Age and Iron Age.

The report continues with some suggestions as to why the site has never been excavated before along with a description of this season’s prize find. I’m hoping they find another copy of the Tel Dan Inscription. Intact, of course.

We’ve written about Abel Beth Maacah previously here and here.


The Huleh valley with Abel Beth Maacah and Mount Hermon.
Photo by A.D. Riddle.

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  • For those of us who love to look at the area in Google Earth, would you, please, consider giving Lat/Long coordinates to these sites? occasionally, I can find a site you have highlighted, but many times I can't. As with this one.

    Thank you. I love this blog and read it every day.

    M. Howard Kehr

    By Blogger The Lone Dingo, at Tue Sep 17, 12:04:00 PM  

  • Howard,

    Thanks for your kind words and your suggestion. For ABM:

    Lat: 33°15'31.07"N
    Long: 35°34'50.40"E

    I can't make any promises about including coordinates in the future. Time is at a premium.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Tue Sep 17, 12:38:00 PM  

  • That worked perfectly, Dr. Bolen, thank you!

    I don't wish to take up anymore of your time but: I appreciate the work you have done, especially with the Pictorial Library of Biblical Lands. I have the whole set as well as the Matson collection. Just outstanding!

    God's grace and Peace to you and Dr. Rodriquez (and anyone else I missed)

    M. Howard Kehr

    By Blogger The Lone Dingo, at Wed Sep 18, 11:35:00 AM  

  • Thank you, Howard!

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Wed Sep 18, 09:22:00 PM  

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