Meet the Dig Staff

Dr. Scott Stripling became the Director of the Khirbet el-Maqatir excavations on January 1, 2014. He serves as the Chair of the Humanities and Foreign Language Department at Wharton County Junior College and as an Adjunct Professor at Belhaven University (Biblical Archaeology and English) and The Bible Seminary (Church History). Scott has earned two Master's degrees (English & Biblical Literature) as well as a D.Min. with an emphasis in Ancient Near Eastern archaeology. He pastored for two decades and has written and spoken publicly on a variety of ministry, archaeology, education, and public policy issues. Previously, he worked as a Field Supervisor at the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project in Jordan and for two seasons as a supervisor at the Temple Mount Salvage Operation in Jerusalem. Articles recently published include: Maqatir Monastery Money, Livias: A Lost City, and, Is Tall el-Hammam on the Madaba Map? Scott's book, The Trowel and the Truth, has been adopted as an archaeology textbook by several Universities. Scott is currently working on his Ph.D. thesis at Trinity Southwest Seminary.

Dr. Bryant G. Wood is the Archaeological Director Emeritus of the Khirbet el-Maqatir Excavations and presently serves as the Dig's ceramic typologist. He founded the Khirbet el-Maqatir excavations in 1995 and directed the Dig through 2013. He earned a M.A. degree in Biblical History from the University of Michigan in 1974, and a Ph.D. degree in Syro-Palestinian archaeology from the University of Toronto in 1985. In 1989–90, Dr. Wood was visiting professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto. In addition, he has served as adjunct professor at Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield PA; Evangelical School of Theology, Myerstown PA; Faith Theological Seminary, Los Angeles; Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA; and Toronto Baptist Seminary, Toronto. Dr. Wood’s extensive archaeological field work includes serving as co-director of a survey of three reservoir areas in northern Jordan, 1978; area supervisor for the Wadi Tumilat Project excavation at Tell el-Maskhuta, Egypt, 1979, 1981, and 1983; volunteer at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev excavation at Haruvit in the northern Sinai, 1981; member of the Wadi Tumilat Project survey of the Wadi Tumilat, Egypt, 1983; field archaeologist for the Associates for Biblical Research excavation at Khirbet Nisya, Israel, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994; and Director of the Kh. el-Maqatir excavation, Israel, 1995–present. Wood is a specialist in Canaanite pottery of the Late Bronze Age. He is author of The Sociology of Pottery in Ancient Palestine: The Ceramic Industry and the Diffusion of Ceramic Style in the Bronze and Iron Ages (1990), as well as numerous articles on archaeological subjects published in various academic journals. Dr. Wood received international media attention for his research on ancient Jericho that demonstrated the historicity of the Biblical account of the capture of the city by the Israelites. Dr. Wood has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Endowment for Biblical Research to carry on his archaeological research. He is a member of the Near East Archaeological Society and a Fellow of the Institute for Biblical Research. He is currently Director of Research with ABR and senior editor of Bible and Spade magazine.

Rev. Gary A. Byers serves as Senior Archaeologist for the Khirbet el-Maqatir Excavations. Gary graduated with a BS and MCE from Liberty University, and an MA from Baltimore Hebrew University. His MA thesis subject was: Domestic Architecture in Iron Age I Palestine. He was the founding and senior Pastor at Fredericktowne Baptist Church, Walkersville, MD from 1974-1991. Gary’s excavation and field experience include: Senior Archaeologist at Tall el-Hammam, Jordan (2006-present); Administrative Director at Khirbet al-Maqatir, Israel (1995-present); excavation staff at Khirbet Nisya, Israel (1993-1994) and Tel Miqne (Ekron), Israel (1984). He also serves on the archaeological survey team for the ArcImaging Archaeological Expedition to Mount Ararat, Turkey (2005-present). A member of the Board of Directors of the Near East Archaeological Society, Gary is also the Program Chairman for the group’s Annual Meetings. He is presently Spiritual Life Director at the Helping Up Mission in Baltimore, Maryland, where 400 men reside in a 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program for drug and alcohol addiction.

Dr. Eugene H. Merrill has generously served as a Square Supervisor at the Khirbet el-Maqatir Excavations since 1996. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, Tx. Dr. Merrill's academic credentials greatly contribute to the work of ABR, which include: B.A., Bob Jones University, 1957; M.A., 1960; Ph.D., 1963; M.A., New York University, 1970; M.Phil., Columbia University, 1976; Ph.D., 1985. Dr. Merrill has published over 190 articles in various theological journals and written or contributed to 13 books. As a scholar, Dr. Merrill regularly contributes to leading journals, periodicals, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and commentaries. He is one of the most well-known and exceptional OT scholars in the Church today.

Mrs. Suzanne Lattimer serves as a Field Archaeologist at Khirbet el-Maqatir. She attended Bryan College in Dayton, TN and received her B.A. in Bible and Piano Performance, with a minor in Koine Greek. She went on to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) in Deerfield, Illinois and received her M.A. in Near Eastern Archaeology and Semitic Languages. While at TEDS, she studied under James Hoffimeier, Kenneth Kitchen, and K. Lawson Younger Jr. Suzanne participated in ABR's excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir during the 1999 and 2000 seasons, and served as a square supervisor in 2010, 11 and 12. She has also dug at Tel Dor in Israel, in the Great Smoky Mountains with the National Park Service, and interned at the ABR office. She has written articles for children in Bible and Spade, and has spoken to many children and adult Sunday School classes about the importance of archaeology.

Mr. Michael Luddeni NAPP, has graciously served the ministry of ABR for over 20 years. An avid lover of archaeology and the Bible, Mike has served as the Dig photographer at Khirbet el-Maqatir excavations since 1995. He also served at the ABR excavations at Khirbet Nisya under the direction of ABR founder, Dr. David Livingston. Mike also works as the photographer at the excavations at Tall el-Hammam, Jordan. Mike has traveled extensively through Europe and the Middle East photographing ancient sites and museum objects and artifacts of the Biblical world. He formerly served on the ABR Board of Directors and has archived thousands of pictures for the ABR ministry, volunteering as the photo and graphics editor for ABR's flagship publication, Bible and Spade magazine.

Dr. Brian Peterson has worked at Khirbet el-Maqatir since 2010, and presently serves as a Field Archaeologist. His passion is marrying the truth of the Word with historical records and archaeology. In 2003, he completed a Master of Theological Studies from Beeson Divinity School and in 2004 completed his second master’s degree, a MAOT, from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Brian graduated in 2009 with a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from the University of Toronto. Since then Brian has taught classes at the Gambia Theological Institute in the Gambia, West Africa as well as spending a year (2010) as an Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Prairie Bible College in Alberta, Canada. In the summer of 2011, Brian joined the faculty of Lee University in Cleveland, TN as a part of the School of Religion in the Theology Department where he presently teaches a variety of Old Testament classes and Introductory Hebrew. Brian has published several articles and essays. His dissertation has been published by Wipf and Stock in the Princeton Theological Monograph Series entitled “Ezekiel in Context: Ezekiel’s Message Understood in its Historical Setting of Covenant Curses and Ancient Near Eastern Mythological Motifs." Brian also has a book forthcoming in 2014 with Fortress Press entitled, "The Authors of the Deuteronomistic History."

Mrs. Sandy Souza lives in Concord, California, and works in the Pathology Department at the local hospital as a medical transcriptionist. She has dug 8 seasons at Khirbet Nisya and 9 seasons at Khirbet el-Maqatir and worn many hats for ABR. She also dug with the ABR group at Hazor in 2004, traveled to Egypt in 2005 for the Biblical Egypt Tour, and attended one session working on the Temple Mount Project in 2008. Sandy has coordinated and supervised object registration at both Khirbet Nisya and Khirbet el-Maqatir. Sandy gladly instructs and trains others in this vital and important function. The most rewarding comment to Sandy from these diggers has been: "I wish I had learned this on the first day of the dig because it has made both the digging process and everything to do with the pottery more interesting, interrelated with the digging, and concatenated." Sandy attends New Life church in Alamo where she serves on the Women's Missions Committee.

Mr. Henry B. Smith Jr. is the Administrative Director of the Khirbel el-Maqatir Excavations and the Managing Editor of Bible and Spade magazine. He has been the Director of Development for ABR since October 2004. Born and raised in northwestern New Jersey, he graduated with a B.A. in Economics from Rutgers University in 1992. With a 13 year sales and management background, he earned an M.A. in Theology with an emphasis on Apologetics from Trinity Seminary in Indiana, graduating with high honors in 2005. He is graduating in Fall 2014 from the M.A.R. program at Westminster Theological Seminary, emphasizing apologetics and Biblical languages. He is also an adjunct professor for the School of Online Biblical Apologetics for the Institute for Creation Research. Henry served as a volunteer at the Hazor excavations in 2007, was the host of the ABR Biblical Egypt Study Tour in 2008, the host of ABR's Israel Tour in 2010, and is a square supervisor at Khirbet el-Maqatir.

Dr. Louis T. Klauder Jr. has degrees in physics from Princeton Univ. and the Univ. of California at Berkeley. Most of his career has been in physics, in computer programming, and in railroad track geometry engineering. He became interested in the archaeological work being carried out by ABR as a result of attending a 2007 lecture by Dr. Bryant Wood on the excavations at Khirbet el Maqatir. Dr. Klauder first participated in the excavation in May/June 2009. After that season, Dr. Klauder began assisting Dr. Wood with preparation of digital image files portraying the more significant pottery finds in the style and format commonly used for publication of archaeological pottery. He participated in the Spring 2011 and 2012 seasons at Khirbet el Maqatir as pottery registrar, spending most of the time processing pottery and recording the critical details (shape, diameter, color, hardness, roughness, surface treatment, inclusions, etc.) needed for publication of each significant sherd. Between digs Dr. Klauder continues to assist in creating digital pottery drawings to help prepare for publication of the archaeology of the site.

Ms. Abigail Leavitt is a square supervisor at Khirbet el-Maqatir and objects registrar. She is an archaeology aficionado, and has participated in the dig at Khirbet el Maqatir since 2010. She first became interested in archaeology when she watched ABR’s The Second Great Battle of Jericho as a child. Her first experience with archaeology was as a volunteer at the Temple Mount Salvage Operation in Jerusalem in 2008 and 2009. Abigail participates in both the summer and winter digs at Khirbet el-Maqatir and has has served as a square supervisor since 2012, and as an objects registrar since 2011. Abigail lives in Lewiston, ID and speaks at local churches about her archaeological experiences when invited to do so.

Mr. Don McNeeley became the Director of Information Technology for Khirbet el-Maqatir excavations in January 2014. He is a faculty member at Tidewater Bible College in Virginia Beach, VA, where he also serves as its president. Don has earned two Master's degrees (Logistics Management & Biblical Theology) as well as a Doctorate in Biblical Studies with an emphasis on the integration of anthropological concepts with the scripture. He has participated in three dig seasons at Khirbet el-Maqatir. Don has presented several articles at the Near East Archaeological Society annual meeting, the most recent was The Falasha of Ethiopia and the Essene Community: Are they related? and currently serves as the society’s website administrator and program chair for its annual meeting. Additionally, Don has held several biblical archaeology conferences in Virginia Beach and has provided presentations on archaeology to various churches and other organizations.

Mr. Steven Rudd serves as a Square Supervisor at Khirbet el-Maqatir and has been part of the dig team since 2011. Steve also serves as the dig photographer at Maqatir during winter seasons. He is part of the active Noah's ark excavation team and has twice worked at the summit (2012, 2013) with plans to return in the 2014. Past excavations include a variety of "day digs" in Jerusalem including the pool of Siloam, Hezekiah's wall, David's Palace, the Temple Mount Sifting Project, and Joshua's altar on Mt. Ebal. A native Canadian who has served as the full-time minister of the Hamilton Church of Christ for over 30 years, Steve is keen to participate first hand at digging up Bible stories as evidence that scripture is an accurate record of true world history.

Mr. Jacob Figueroa has worked as a volunteer at the Temple Mount Salvage Project, Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project, and as a Square Supervisor at ABR’s winter dig at Khirbet el-Maqatir since 2011. He also serves as a sketch artist and an Arabic interpreter. Jacob holds a B.A. in linguistics from the University of North Texas. He has studied Latin, Hungarian, Arabic, and Russian. He is currently pursuing a second B.A. in German.

 

Dr. Mark A. Hassler is a Square Supervisor at Khirbet el-Maqatir. Since 2010 Mark has been teaching classical Hebrew at The Master’s Seminary and facilitating the seminary’s Distance Learning courses. He has also taught classes in Hermeneutics and the Torah at Foothill Institute for Theological Training. Mark received his academic training at the Montana Bible College (B.A., 2004) and The Master’s Seminary (M.Div., 2008; Th.M., 2010; Th.D., 2013). For four years he served as a Research Assistant in the areas of church history and exegesis of the Psalms. Before attending seminary, Mark worked as a fly fishing guide near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

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ABR Security Statement

ABR is closely monitoring the violence in Israel. While we deplore the violence in the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip and the coastal region of Israel, we are grateful that it has not spilled over into the West Bank where the Khirbet el-Maqatir excavation is located. Our dig is in Area C, or the disputed territories; therefore, the Israeli military maintains a tight control there, including a guard tower that overlooks our site. In addition, we have armed security guards on our site while we are excavating. We have never needed the guards or felt in any way at risk. The Israeli Antiquities Authority will not allow us to excavate if there is any risk involved. There is no indication that they are concerned. We are confident that the 2015 excavation will be uninterrupted and safe. If the situation changes, we will take appropriate steps. Please join us in praying for peace in the land of the Bible.

Associates for Biblical Research
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