Research Articles: All posts by Gary Byers MA

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Digging Up Joshua's Ai: Week Two of the 2014 Season 6/11/2014 - by Gary Byers MA

The 12th season of excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir is now complete.

Digging Up Joshua's Ai: Week One of the 2014 Season 5/24/2014 - by Gary Byers MA

Week one of the 12th season of excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir is over. It is Saturday and we didn’t have to get up at 3:45AM, eat breakfast at 4:15 and be on the bus at 5:00! But the first 5 days of digging were worth it, producing some AMAZING results.

Home Cooking: Old Testament Israelite Style 12/13/2013 - by Gary Byers MA

As a guy who is terribly equipped to do much in the kitchen, except start and stop the microwave oven, it’s almost hypocritical for me to discuss cooking in the ancient world!

In Search of Joshua’s Ai: 11th Season of Excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir Now Complete 6/6/2013 - by Gary Byers MA

The 11th season of excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir is now in the books. The first week was pretty amazing so that would make the second week almost spectacular!

In Search of Joshua’s Ai: 11th Season of Excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir 5/26/2013 - by Gary Byers MA

We have just finished our first week of excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir 9 miles north of Jerusalem in Israel’s West Bank. Dr. Bryant Wood and a team of 41 are staying at the Yad HaShmonah dig headquarters, while other friends have joined the group almost every day.

The Christmas Story: How Well Do You Know It? Part Five 11/6/2012 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers discusses the historical context and archaeological background surrounding the Birth of Christ. Part Five consists of a summary and a question and answer session.

The Christmas Story: How Well Do You Know It? Part Four 11/2/2012 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers discusses the historical context and archaeological background surrounding the Birth of Christ. Part Four continues with more of the relevant Biblical texts and houses from the 1st century AD.

The Christmas Story: How Well Do You Know It? Part Three 10/30/2012 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers discusses the historical context and archaeological background surrounding the Birth of Christ. Part Three continues with more of the relevant Biblical texts.

The Christmas Story: How Well Do You Know It? Part Two 10/26/2012 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers discusses the historical events surrounding the Birth of Christ. Part Two includes a further discussion of the relevant biblical texts.

Coming and Going: Doors and Doorways in the Biblical World 10/19/2012 - by Gary Byers MA

As a pastor in Frederick, Maryland for almost two decades, I visited thousands of homes in the community. In order to earn the right to share my message with those in each house, I soon learned the importance of being able to make a connection with them. One of the ways I learned to do that was to pay attention to the things that were visibIe in their home and attempt to find common ground about it. Redskins gear was an easy connection for me, Dallas Cowboy stuff was not!

The Christmas Story: How Well Do You Know It? Part One 10/19/2012 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers discusses the historical events surrounding the Birth of Christ. Part One includes an introduction to the relevant biblical texts.

Khirbet el-Maqatir: Week Two 2012 6/14/2012 - by Gary Byers MA

At our final debriefing on Friday evening June 8th, Dig Director Dr. Bryant Wood, noted that this was probably the most productive season in our 10-year excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir (KeM) in relation to illuminating all 4 occupation periods at our site – Late Bronze 1 (time of Joshua), Iron Age 1 (period of the Judges), Early Roman (New Testament time) and the Byzantine period (5th century AD).

Khirbet el-Maqatir: Week One 2012 6/4/2012 - by Gary Byers MA

With our dig team of almost 40 people, this may have been our most productive and interesting week in 10 years of our excavation. With 15 squares open we have found stuff from the time of Joshua (15th century BC) to the Byzantines (5th century AD).

The Value of Archaeology in My Faith Walk 3/13/2012 - by Gary Byers MA

Growing up on the east coast of the United States, my father instilled in me a love of American history. He regularly took me to historic battlefields and famous forts where I could often imagine myself in that place at the time important events occurred there. After my own spiritual awakening during my first year of college, my interest in American history shifted to an interest in the world of the Bible. Results of archaeological excavations in the Holy Land fascinated me. From the beginning of my spiritual walk, God used archaeology to encourage my faith.

The Search for Joshua’s Ai at Khirbet el-Maqatir 2011 7/18/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

The 9th season of the Associates for Biblical Research’s (ABR) excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir was held in May and June, 2011. All 9 seasons have been sponsored by ABR and under the direction of Dr. Bryant Wood. Located 9 miles north of Jerusalem in Israel’s West Bank, we call this dig “The Search for Joshua’s Ai at Khirbet el-Maqatir”.

The Search for Joshua’s Ai at Khirbet el-Maqatir, 2011: Days Seven to Ten 6/6/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

On Friday June 3, we finished the 9th season of ABR’s Excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir. Before the day was over, we had been treated to a second breakfast by the Palestinian family who has stored our tools for the last 3 dig seasons, we hosted a visit by the Master’s College IBEX study tour group, we filmed 3 YouTube videos and wrapped up our excavation.

Mud Bricks and Walls in Archaeology with Rev. Gary Byers 6/3/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers explains how ancient peoples built walls with mud bricks.

The Search for Joshua’s Ai at Khirbet el-Maqatir, 2011: Day Six 5/30/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

We have now started our second week at Khirbet el-Maqatir. Much to Dr. Bryant Wood’s chagrin, we have not made much progress on the Late Bronze 1 fortress (the Ai of Joshua).

The Search for Joshua’s Ai at Khirbet el-Maqatir, 2011: Days Three to Five 5/28/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

I got lost in a flurry of activity this week and have missed a couple days of reporting. Today is Saturday and a bunch of us went to the Shabbat service with Jewish believers in Jesus here at Yad HaShmonah. Earlier this morning we actually experienced the latter (spring) rains frequently mentioned in the Scriptures. This one, a short but hard downpour about 9 AM, was a really later latter (spring) rain for this country. But, in all honestly, it brought no significant relief from the heat – 96 degrees yesterday!

Doorways in Archaeology with Rev. Gary Byers 5/25/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers describes doorways used in the ancient world at Tall el-Hammam, Jordan.

The Search for Joshua’s Ai at Khirbet el-Maqatir, 2011: Day Two 5/24/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

For the first day of the dig, we were pretty pleased at how well we got things going. Today, we got into our squares in earnest. While pottery, tools, weapons and jewelry are interesting, my favorite find in archaeology is architecture. Walls and floors make me a happy archaeologist, and today I was really feeling it!

The Search for Joshua’s Ai at Khirbet el-Maqatir: Season 9-Day One 5/23/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

At 4:30 this morning, I believe we had the best early breakfast ready and waiting for us in the 9 years I have been digging at Khirbet el-Maqatir and staying at Yad Hashmona!

The Search for Joshua’s Ai at Khirbet el-Maqatir: Season 9-Set Up Day 5/22/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

Tomorrow we begin the first day of excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir, 10 miles north of Jerusalem in Israel’s West Bank. Directed by Dr. Bryant Wood, this is the dig’s 9th season, all sponsored by the Associates for Biblical Research.

Spiritual Lessons from the Pool of Siloam (Part 5) 5/20/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

Question and Answer session with Rev. Gary Byers about the Pool of Siloam, and the miracle associated with the blind man of John 9.

Spiritual Lessons from the Pool of Siloam (Part 4) 5/17/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers explains the archaeology and history of the Pool of Siloam, and the miracle associated with the blind man of John 9.

Spiritual Lessons from the Pool of Siloam (Part 3) 5/2/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers explains the archaeology and history of the Pool of Siloam, and the miracle associated with the blind man of John 9.

Our Rich History and the Future of ABR 4/29/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

For the past forty years, the Associates for Biblical Research has demonstrated how archaeological evidence lines up with the biblical text. From its inception, ABR (as it has come to be known) was founded on the belief that the Bible can be trusted as an accurate source of historical information and that the results of archaeological investigation will line up with what the Bible says...

Foundations in Archaeology with Rev. Gary Byers 4/27/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers describes house foundations from the time of Abraham at Tall el-Hammam, Jordan.

Spiritual Lessons from the Pool of Siloam (Part 2) 4/11/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers explains the archaeology and history of the Pool of Siloam, and the miracle associated with the blind man of John 9.

Spiritual Lessons from the Pool of Siloam (Part 1) 4/1/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers explains the archaeology and history of the Pool of Siloam, and the miracle associated with the blind man of John 9.

Great Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology: The Rosetta Stone 3/4/2011 - by Gary Byers MA

Traveling with the French army when Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798 were 175 scientists. They studied known sites as well as previously unknown places.

The Baltimore Running Festival, the 300 and Esther 11/15/2010 - by Gary Byers MA

This past month, for the third year in a row, I again participated in the half-marathon race as part of the 2010 Baltimore (Maryland) Running Festival. Just for the record, running does not really describe what I did, and this year was my worst effort to date. But enough about me, participation in the event prompted me to consider a bit more carefully the origin of the event, which led me back to Queen Esther. My own academic work and interests have always been in the earlier periods of Biblical history. In fact, I have tended to consider the Persian period as modern history. I have had minimal contact with Persian material in my archaeological field work and my interest in that period has basically centered on my annual cycle teaching the book of Esther.

Limitations in Biblical Archaeology 10/15/2010 - by Gary Byers MA

Gary Byers briefly explains limitations in archaeology in this video clip.

Biblical Archaeology at Capernaum: Part Three 10/7/2010 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers, in his humorous and engaging style, examines the details of the story in Mark 1, including archaeological excavations uncovering Peter's house and the Synagogue at Capernaum...

Biblical Archaeology at Capernaum: Part Two 9/27/2010 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers, in his humorous and engaging style, examines the details of the story in Mark 1, including archaeological excavations uncovering Peter's house and the Synagogue at Capernaum.

Biblical Archaeology at Capernaum: Part One 9/24/2010 - by Gary Byers MA

Rev. Gary Byers, in his humorous and engaging style, examines the details of the story in Mark 1, including archaeological excavations uncovering Peter's house and the Synagogue at Capernaum.

CSI Hammam: The Fifth Season of Investigating a Biblical City 4/14/2010 - by Gary Byers MA

The Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project is a joint scientific project between Trinity Southwest University’s College of Archaeology & Biblical History and the Department of Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. TeHEP is a multi-year study focusing on the relationship of this immense and strategically-located site within its ancient socio-cultural, economic and political context...

Silver Coins in Syria and Rejoicing in Heaven 3/17/2010 - by Gary Byers MA

A March 2, 2010 press release by the official Syrian news agency, SANA, and a March 4, 2010 AP article by Albert Aji provide information about the discovery of 252 silver coins from the time of Alexander the Great. A man in the Manbej area of northern Syria found them while digging the foundation for a new house. Youssef Kanjo, head of the excavations department at the Aleppo Department of Archaeology and Museums, confirmed there were 115 silver drachmas and 137 silver tetradrachmas found in a bronze container...

The Biblical Cities Of Tyre And Sidon 1/26/2010 - by Gary Byers MA

The names Tyre and Sidon were famous in the ancient Near East. They are also important cities in the Old and New Testaments. Both are now located in Lebanon, with Tyre 20 mi south of Sidon and only 12 mi north of the Israel-Lebanon border. Today each is just a shadow of their former selves...

Tyre and the Tell El-Amarna Tablets 11/20/2009 - by Gary Byers MA

Tyre’s significance in the 14th century BC can be seen in the Amarna Letters. These cuneiform-inscribed clay tablets found in Tell el-Amarna, Egypt, represent correspondence between minor Canaanite kings ruling under Egyptian auspices during the reign of Egyptian Pharaohs Amenhotep III and his son Akhenaten. This is the century immediately following Joshua’s initial assault on Canaan, according to Biblical chronology...

The Pastor and the Christmas Story 11/8/2009 - by Gary Byers MA

It was my 12th year as pastor of the same church. I had done a Christmas series of messages every December each year. Over the last couple of years it became increasingly difficult to come up with a new take on the old story. You might not have considered it before, but finding new material for every Christmas is not an easy task for a pastor – especially after being in the same church for a dozen years!

In Quest of the Temple Mount 11/3/2009 - by Gary Byers MA

In a sense, this book is the culmination of Leen Ritmeyer’s life and career. Of the April 1984 International Congress of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem, when his collaborative work with Benjamin Mazar was presented, Ritmeyer wrote, “At this defining moment in my life, I realized the unraveling of the mysteries of the Mount had become my personal quest (p. 12)”.

Away In a Manger But Not In a Barn 10/26/2009 - by Gary Byers MA

We all know the Christmas story…or do we? I would like to suggest a slightly different view on the subject, based on a careful reading of the Biblical text and insights from archaeology.

The Beni Hasan Asiatics and the Biblical Patriarchs 9/9/2009 - by Gary Byers MA

The modern village of Beni Hasan is one hundred sixty miles south of Cairo (and just north of Amarna on the map). Named after the local Bedouin tribe living for centuries, it sits adjacent to the ruins of Monet-Khufu, ancient capital of the sixteenth (Antelope) nome in Middle Egypt. Little of the city is left, except the rock-cut tombs in the cliffs high above the Nile’s eastern shore. Here Egyptologists found a now-famous tomb painting which offers important insights into the world of the Biblical Patriarchs...

The Bible According to Karnak 8/13/2009 - by Gary Byers MA

The Bible indicates that many important Biblical characters spent time in Egypt: Abraham (Gn 12:10–13:1, Jacob (Gn 46–50), Joseph (Gn 39–50), Moses (Ex 2–12), Joshua, (Nm 14:26–30), Jeremiah (Jer 43:6–8) and even baby Jesus (Mt 2:14–21). Trade routes led from Canaan directly to the Nile delta region, where Goshen was located. Called Lower Egypt because the Nile flows from the mountains in the south (Upper Egypt) to the Mediterranean Sea in the north, this is the part of Egypt where most Biblical characters lived and Biblical events took place...

Tall el-Hammam 2008: A Personal Perspective 1/12/2009 - by Gary Byers MA

In January 2009, we will be back in the field for our fourth season of excavating at Tall el-Hammam, Jordan. Situated seven miles north of the Dead and nine miles east of the Jordan River, it is the largest site in the southern Jordan River Valley...

Israel in Egypt 9/24/2008 - by Gary Byers MA

The main route between Canaan and Egypt was along the northern coast of Sinai. A number of Biblical figures no doubt traveled this road. Known to the Egyptians as “the Way of Horus,” and in the Bible as “the road through the Philistine country” (Ex 13:17), it ended in the eastern delta in the Goshen region. This is the part of Egypt where most Biblical characters lived and Biblical events took place...

New Evidence from Egypt on the Location of the Exodus Sea Crossing: Part II 8/23/2008 - by Gary Byers MA

If the Reed Sea can be located somewhere along the marshy lake district of the Isthmus of Suez, which separates the cultivated delta from the barren desert, then the place names in the Exodus account can be centralized to a specific area...

New Evidence from Egypt on the Location of the Exodus Sea Crossing: Part I 8/19/2008 - by Gary Byers MA

It may come as a surprise to many students of the Bible that in the original Hebrew text the body of water the Israelites crossed when leaving Egypt is called yam suph, “Sea of Reeds,” not Red Sea...

Egypt and the Bible 7/26/2008 - by Gary Byers MA

Throughout history, Egyptians lived almost exclusively in the Nile River Valley and its expanded delta. Only ten percent of Egypt’s surface, it has supported 99 percent of the nation’s population from earliest times...

Has Anyone Discovered Noah's Ark? 5/21/2008 - by Gary Byers MA

ABR staff members Gordon Franz and Rick Lanser have spent considerable time and research with respect to Noah's Ark. There are two possible candidates ABR has identified within the region of Ararat. 1. Mount Cudi, a view held by Bill Crouse and ABR Staff Member Gordon Franz. 2. Mount Ararat, a view held by Rick Lanser, ABR Staff Member. Both views have significant merits, so we urge you to read the research and decide for yourself!

The Lost Ark of the Covenant: Still Lost 5/5/2008 - by Gary Byers MA

The Ark of the Covenant is in the news again. This time it comes from a world-renowned, truly distinguished, widely published scholar who is speaking from his field of expertise. Tudor Parfitt is professor of Jewish Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London...

Ark of the Covenant: Lost or Found? 5/1/2008 - by Gary Byers MA

Long pondered by the community of Biblical scholarship, the rest of the world began considering this question with the release of the hit motion picture “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Today there are no lack of possibilities...

The Ark of the Covenant: Where has It Been? 4/2/2008 - by Gary Byers MA

Where is the lost Ark of the Covenant? There are numerous theories and, occasionally, even claims. Unfortunately, nothing substantial has ever been produced demonstrating the Ark's present whereabouts...

The Jordan River Valley, the Jordan River and the Jungle of the Jordan 6/6/2007 - by Gary Byers MA

Spending a month excavating in the Jordan Valley at Tall el-Hammam last winter caused me to rethink some of what I thought I knew about the region. I decided a better understanding of the geology, geography and ecology of the area would help me better interpret our archaeological data...

Great Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology: The Atra-Hasis Epic 10/25/2006 - by Gary Byers MA

The Bible is not the only ancient record of Creation and the Flood. Well-known in antiquity is the Atra-Hasis Epic. Atra-Hasis, meaning “exceeding wise,” is the name of the story’s principal character. Dating from the 17th century BC...

After the Hype: The Significance of The Gospel of Judas 6/14/2006 - by Gary Byers MA

The Judas Gospel comes from a well-known genre of ancient literature called Gnostic Gospels. We know of about 50 of these ancient texts from discussions by early church fathers who rejected them as heretical...

Rameses: Wrath of God or Man? 5/3/2006 - by Gary Byers MA

The Discovery Channel special Rameses: Wrath of God or Man? suggested the eldest son of Rameses II (the Great) was the firstborn son of the Egyptian Pharaoh killed by the tenth plague...

Great Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology: The Merenptah Stela 3/15/2006 - by Gary Byers MA

The only mention of Israel in Egyptian texts, and the earliest mention of Israel anywhere outside the Bible, is a seven-foot tall granite monument from the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Merenptah...

The Cave of John the Baptist: The Stunning Archaeological Discovery that Redefined Rabbinic Judaism 2/22/2006 - by Gary Byers MA

The title of this article is a take-off on the book 'The Cave of John the Baptist: The Stunning Archaeological Discovery that has Redefined Christian History', by archaeologist Shimon Gibson. I am sure his title will sell a lot more books...

The Historical Basis of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code 11/28/2005 - by Gary Byers MA

There is none! But that doesn't make for much of an article, and I have some really important things to say about this book. This article is not a book review, but a response to the novel because of the impact it has had on the general public...

So You Want To Be An Archaeologist? 11/5/2005 - by Gary Byers MA

Just as it happened to me, many people I meet have a great interest in archaeology - especially Biblical archaeology. Unfortunately, there are very few positions to excavate in the Middle East, especially for foreigners. So, even Indiana Jones had a day job - as a university professor!

The United Monarchy Under David and Solomon 9/26/2005 - by Gary Byers MA

During the past half century, many in the academic world have come to discount the historical basis for most of the Bible's early characters. You can pretty much throw away the first six books of your Bible and not really miss a thing!

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