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Biblical Archaeology Society of Northern Virginia (BASONOVA)

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Upcoming Lectures



Discoveries At Nefertiti's Sun Temple

Jacquelyn Williamson

This event is Sponsored by the DC chapter of ARCE (American Research Center in Egypt)

Stone relief fragments were recently excavated from Kom el-Nana at Tell el-Amarna in Egypt, the site of Nefertiti’s Sun Temple. They date to approximately 1350 BCE, the period when Pharaoh Akhenaten closed Egyptian temples and dismissed the priesthood, declared the sun deity Aten as the true God, and with his wife Nefertiti established a new capital of Egypt at Amarna.

In an illustrated presentation, Jacquelyn Williamson reconstructs the architecture, art, and inscriptions from the site to demonstrate Kom el-Nana is the location of Queen Nefertiti’s ‘Sunshade of Re’ temple as well as another more enigmatic structure there that served the funerary needs of the non-royal courtiers at the ancient city.

The art and inscriptions provide new information about Queen Nefertiti and challenge assumptions about her role in Pharaoh Akhenaten’s religious movement dedicated to the sun god Aten.

Jacquelyn Williamson is Assistant Professor of Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Mediterranean World at George Mason University

This event will be held at Bamian Afghan Cuisine:  5634 Leesburg Pike / Falls Church / Virginia / 22041.

The luncheon begins at 2 pm; the lecture begins at 3 pm




Destination: Holy Of Holies
An Archaeological Walk Through The Jerusalem Temple

Joan Branham

This event is Sponsored by Temple Rodef Shalom

King Herod designed and built the Jerusalem Temple in the late first century BCE. Herod wanted a grander complex than the one hastily constructed after the return from the Babylonian exile. His Temple lasted less than a century, as it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. In its time, it was, and continues to be, a powerful symbol of sacred space; it continues to influence Judaism and Christianity to this day. It has been emulated, co-opted, exploited, and reinterpreted by religious traditions, from early churches and synagogues to Orlando's evangelical theme park with its mock Temple recreation.

This illustrated talk will serve as a guide through the Jerusalem Temple by following in the footsteps of the High Priest and worshippers (including Jesus) and navigating the barriers of sanctity and systems of blood, purity, sacrifice, and gender.

Joan Branham is Professor of Art History and Associate Dean, School of Arts and Sciences at Providence College. She is also Chair of the W.F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research

This event will be held at the Jerusalem Mediterranean Restaurant: 3400 Washington Drive / Falls Church / Virginia / 22041

The luncheon begins at 2 pm; the lecture begins at 3 pm

Aegean-Style Wall Painting


The Brilliance of Aegean Bronze Age Wall Paintings

Emily Egan

This event is sponsored by the Hellenic Society Prometheus

The arc of magnificent Aegean-style wall painting began in Minoan Crete during the Middle Bronze Age. This style of pictorial art then spread to other Aegean islands and to the Mycenaean mainland.

By the collapse of the Bronze Age at the end of the thirteenth century BCE, this Greek art form had reached its apex, especially demonstrated in the extraordinary development and novel uses of color. Notable in this development was the use of “abstract" or "artificial" color, in which artists decorated subjects with seemingly nonsensical hues that veered away from naturalism. Among the subjects of this bold coloration were flora and fauna, particularly sea life.

This presentation explores this use of colors with prominent examples of wall paintings from Knossos, Mycenae, Tiryns, and Pylos.

Emily Egan is Assistant Professor of Eastern Mediterranean Art and Archaeology at the University of Maryland

This event will be held at Raaga Indian Restaurant: 5872 Leesburg Pike / Falls Church / Virginia / 22041

The luncheon begins at 2 pm; the lecture begins at 3 pm

Prior Lectures


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Recent Excavations Reveal the Real History of the Trojan War

C. Brian Rose

In 1988 archaeologists renewed their excavations of the Bronze Age, Greek, and Roman times at the site of Troy in modern-day Turkey. Work was concentrated primarily on the theater, Temple of Athena, Council House, and the Sanctuary of the Samothracian Gods. The Bronze Age fortifications and Roman houses in the Lower City were also extensively investigated.

Excavations thus far have clarified the nature of habitation at the site during the late Bronze Age (15th - 12th centuries B.C.E.), which includes the time of the famous Trojan War. Significant findings were also made in the period of the rise in the city's fortunes during the reign of Augustus (27 B.C.E. – 14 C.E.) and his Julio-Claudian successors.

These recent discoveries uncovered at Troy will be contrasted with the Homeric tradition: How have the excavations confirmed or altered our understanding of the Trojan War?

C. Brian Rose is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania; Curator-in-Charge, Mediterranean Section, University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; Head of Post-Bronze Age Excavations at Troy, and; Co-Director of the Gordion Excavations

Ancient Excavation

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Archaeology at Tel Akko: New Approaches to Excavating and Preserving Akko’s Cultural Heritage

Ann Killebrew

As one of the few safe anchorages along the southern Levantine coast, Akko has served as a major maritime center and crossroads between east and west over five millennia. Located on the outskirts of the modern Israeli city of Akko, the tel was inhabited from the Early Bronze Age into the Hellenistic period.

The renewed excavations at Tel Akko under the direction of Penn State’s Ann Killebrew incorporate a novel, integrated, “total archaeology” approach to exploring and preserving the site’s past, present, and future.

This lecture will present the results of ten years of excavations at Canaanite and Phoenician Akko, including the discovery of a Phoenician iron smithing industrial center; the development of cutting-edge technologies to document and reconstruct the site’s past, and; the role of the city’s diverse local communities in the protection of Akko’s shared cultural heritage.

Ann Killebrew is an Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University and Co-Director of Excavations at Tel Akko.

Location: Duangrat's Thai Restaurant / 5878 Leesburg Pike | Falls Church, VA 22041   Time:  2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Philistine Cemetery

Sunday, November 3, 2019

DNA Evidence for the Origins of the Philistines

Daniel Master

Groundbreaking testing of Philistine DNA reveals they migrated across the Mediterranean and settled in Ashkelon by the twelfth century BCE. These recent genetic results may help resolve the long-disputed origins of the Philistines.

Philistine DNA input was found in bone samples taken from infants buried under the floors of their homes as well as from remains in a newly discovered cemetery in Ashkelon. Researchers determined Philistines from across all time periods derived most of their ancestry from the local Levantine gene pool. Individuals who lived in early Iron Age Ashkelon, in contrast, had a European-derived ancestral component that was not present in their Bronze Age predecessors.

The study further demonstrated this European-related genetic component was subsequently diluted over the next centuries by the local Levantine gene pool, suggesting intensive admixture between local and foreign populations. While the study revealed a change in the Philistines’ genetic profile over time, archaeological discoveries there show continuity in their ethnicity.

Daniel Master is Professor of Archaeology at Wheaton College and Director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

Illustration of the City Hazor

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Trowel v Text: Which Tells the Real Stories of the Fate of Hazor?

Elizabeth Bloch-Smith

Hazor was once the largest and most important city in biblical-era Israel. The Bible gave it the title: "the head of all those kingdoms." Today, Tel Hazor presents a unique opportunity to study physical remains in conjunction with biblical texts. Detailed publication of the well-excavated site allows a reconstruction from its Late Bronze Age settlement that ended in a 13th century B.C.E. conflagration through its Iron Age II destruction in 732 B.C.E. and abandonment.

In this illustrated presentation, variant biblical texts in Joshua, Judges, and Kings will be examined anew in light of the actual events documented by archaeological evidence at the site. Together, the physical remains and the various texts suggest a necessary reconstruction of Israelite traditions, both oral and written, of the conquest and settlement of the site.

Elizabeth Bloch-Smith is an archaeologist and scholar who teaches at the Princeton Theological Seminary.



Sunday, February 23, 2020

From Sectarianism to Consensus: The Rise of Rabbinic Judaism

Lawrence Schiffman

This event is Sponsored by the Haberman Institute for Jewish studies and co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

The late Second Temple period (second century BCE onward) was an era of spiritual and religious ferment that manifested itself in a variety of Jewish groups such as the Sadducees, Essenes, Pharisees, Zealots, Nazarenes, and Boethusians. Each sect had its own approach to Jewish Law, religious and national identity, and social constructs.

The competition between these groups eventually helped to bring about the Great Revolt against Rome (66-73 CE) and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. In the aftermath of the destruction, a consensus eventually emerged around rabbinic Judaism that would sustain the Jewish people for two millennia.

Based on both textual sources and archaeological discoveries, this presentation reconstructs the nature and trajectory of this process and its testimony to the vitality of the Jewish tradition.

Lawrence Schiffman is the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University and Director of the Global Institute for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies.

This event will be held at 7:30 pm at B'nai Israel Congregation: 6301 Montrose Road / Rockville / MD / 20852

This event does not require a reservation. Cash or check at the door.