Top Three Reports in Biblical Archaeology – May 2022

This month featured news related to two famous biblical people, as well as a the first remains dating to a particular period in Israel. Here were the top three reports in biblical archaeology in May 2022.

3.  Excavations to Begin at Tel Timna, Joshua’s Hometown

Khirbet Tibna/Tel Timna. Photo: Todd Bolen/

New excavations are set to begin at Khirbet Tibna/Tel Timna, which is identified as biblical TImna, the hometown of Joshua. The excavations will run from July 24-Aug. 19, 2022 and are directed by Dvir Raviv and Avraham Tendler of Bar Ilan University. Initial surveys have indicated that the city reached its height during the Iron Age II and early Roman periods. Some have suggested there is evidence of a Hellenistic-Hasmonean fortress at the site. The book of Joshua records, “When they had finished dividing the land into its allotted portions, the Israelites gave Joshua son of Nun an inheritance among them, as the LORD had commanded. They gave him the town he asked for-Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim. And he built up the town and settled there.” The site of biblical Timna has never been excavated before.


2. 2100-Year-Old Farming Settlement Discovered in Galilee

Iron Tools discovered at a Hellenistic-era farmstead in the Galilee. Photo: Dafna Gazit/Israel Antiquities Authority

A salvage excavation at Horbat Asad in the eastern Galilee has unearthed a Hellenistic/Hasmonean-era farmstead and an earlier, Iron Age agricultural settlement. The Hellenistic/Hasmonean farmstead appears to have been suddenly abandoned, with iron tools and loom-weights discovered as if they’d been left behind. Coins were also found which, when cleaned, may provide a more specific chronology of the site. These are the first remains from this era discovered in the Galilee. According to the lead excavator, “It is a very important and valuable site to teach us about the spread of the Hasmonean Empire and daily life in the Hellenistic period.” Archaeologists also uncovered the remains of a substantial agricultural settlement from the 10th century BC. Loom weights indicated herds of sheep and goats were kept, and cooking pots helped the excavators date this layer at the site.


1. Herod the Great’s Alabaster Tubs Made With Stone from Israel, Not Egypt

The alabaster bathtub of Herod the Great from his fortress at Kypros . Photo: Prof. Amos Frumkin/The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The results of a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports has demonstrated that the alabaster bathtubs from Herod the Great’s Kypros fortress near Jericho were made from local stone, and not Egyptian alabaster as previously thought. The authors of the study analyzed the chemical composition of the stone using a number of tests: inductively coupled plasma (ICP) analysis, routine infra-red (IR) spectroscopy, 1H- and 31P- solid state NMR (ssNMR) experiments; and C and O stable isotope ratio analysis to determine their composition and their crystalline structure. All of the tests were consistent in pointing to the fact that the alabaster came from the Te’omim cave, located on the western slopes of the Jerusalem hills near modern-day Beit Shemesh. In the Bible, Herod the Great was the king at the time of Jesus’ birth. Further, the Herodian palaces would have no-doubt been familiar to Jesus who spent time near Jericho (Mt 20:29; Mk 10:46; Lk 18:35).


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