Richard J. Karam, J.D.
why all the excitement about digging up the past? Well, if the
archæological dig is in the Middle East or Egypt, it is
BIG, because since civilization on this earth began in the Middle
East and Egypt, a dig in the right spot may uncover the earliest
evidence of ancient civilization, maybe 5000 years old, or more.
A dig even in the wrong spot, could easily uncover artifacts
1000 years old or so, and that's not bad for a dry hole. To
archaeologists, the Middle East is a treasure trove of incredible
potential the proportions of which are not seen any where else
in the world. Overlapping this phenomena is the fact that the
Bible also has its geographic setting in the area, and some
of the earliest time-line events come to us from the Bible.
To the world's 3 billion Christians, Moslems and Jews, the Middle
East is of primary importance, both historically and religiously.
Consequently, it is no wonder that the sciences of Biblical
Archaeology and Syro-Palestinian Archaeology are fast developing
parallel fields of science.
In the Holy Land today, countless digs have been commissioned
in the quest of reconstructing biblical as well as social history.
There are at least 30 major digs ongoing in Israel at this time,
several in Lebanon and several in Syria. Many of the workers
are volunteers from American universities who register for the
privilege of working at one of the major sites. Many of those
workers are well versed in the early Semitic languages of Syriac,
Aramaic, Phoenician and Hebrew. What is happening today on a
major scale is the reconstruction of the entire history of the
area, including the early history of the Syrian and Lebanese
people, and their predecessors, the Canaanites.
A dig presently receiving a lot of coverage in the syndicated
press is the excavation at Hazor, an ancient Canaanite city
about 9 miles north of the sea of Galilee. This city was first
settled in the 27th century B.C. and became a major center for
commerce in tin, silver, gold, and precious stones because it
was located along a central trade route between Egypt and Babylon.
The excavations so far have unearthed a wealth of information
about life in the Canaanite period which lasted from the 18th
to 13th Century B.C., but the finds thus far are considered
to be the tip of the iceberg. The Hebrew University professor
who heads the excavation, Amnon Ben-Tor, said that the artifacts
discovered to date (3000 year- old multiplication tables, etc.)
point to the existence of two royal archives at the site located
in the yet to be excavated palace rooms. Ben-Tor states that
"the tablets discovered so far are in my opinion the most
important of all documents found in this country". If Ben-Tor
is correct about uncovering royal archives in the palace rooms
sometime next year, it could indeed be the find of the century.