San Antonio, Texas, the city of the Alamo, was the location of the 2016 Near East Archaeological Society (NEAS) annual meeting. The meeting affords biblical archaeologists an opportunity to renew acquaintances and engage with new members. Additionally, since we are in partnership with the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), we are part of a group of evangelicals meeting together to share our research efforts supporting the veracity of the Scriptures. Over 2,600 men and women descended on three hotels sitting on the "Riverwalk" hosting the various meetings. Of course, walking the "Riverwalk"—or, as many did, taking the boat tour—was definitely a must-do event for the attendees. The availability of different restaurant venues made it difficult deciding on where to get dinner. Finding a great Mexican restaurant with real Mexican food was very easy, and yes, it was definitely authentic!
Restaurants and great sightseeing were only a small part of the annual meeting. Over the course of three days, attendees were afforded a selection of over 500 different sessions on Scripture, theology, spirituality, philosophy, hermeneutics, etc., and, of course, biblical archaeology. There were 20 NEAS sessions presented during these hectic days, not to mention the ability to spend some time in the exhibit hall where various ministries and publishers presented their wares. Of course, there were some great bargains; in some cases, up to 60% off the regular prices (we had Black Friday early!).
The Associates for Biblical Research was well represented with Bryant Wood, Boyd Seevers, Abigail Leavitt, and Scott Stripling presenting papers, and myself serving as the program chair for the event. We had a wide range of topics. The first two sessions focused on Old Testament archaeology, while the two sessions on Wednesday focused on the meeting theme: "The Archaeology of Worship." The final session on Thursday afternoon was a catch-all for various miscellaneous topics. While all the presentations were informative, one of my favorites was the presentation on the route of the Ark of the Covenant during its movement from Shiloh to Jerusalem via three stops (first in the hands of the Philistines, then at Beth-shemesh, at the house of Abinadab at Kiriath-jearim, and then at Perez-uzzah and the house of Obed-edom the Gittite) prior to being taken into Jerusalem. The presentation discussed the possibility that a terminus had been built to commemorate the Ark at the three locations after the return from the control of the Philistines. This is an interesting suggestion. In another presentation, Bob Smith from Mid-Atlantic Christian University showed us a beautiful icon from the second century of a pilgrim carrying a book, probably a Bible.
During the annual Board of Director's (BOD) meeting we had a special presentation for Dr. Edwin Yamauchi, who is retiring from attending the meetings. The BOD, in recognition of Dr. Yamauchi’s long and committed service to biblical archeology and his profession in the areas of teaching, research and service, conferred upon Dr. Edwin Yamauchi the title and position of President Emeritus.
Next year, the NEAS conference will be held in Providence, RI from November 15-17, 2017, the week before Thanksgiving. The theme for the meeting will be the "Archaeology of Reformation in Scripture." I hope to see many of you in the audience in Providence. RI.