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The Archaeology of the Ostraca House at Israelite Samaria
Epigraphic Discoveries in Complicated Contexts - ASOR Annual 70

By Ron E. Tappy

The Archaeology of the Ostraca House at Israelite Samaria
Hardback, 240 pages £74.00
Published: 2017
ISBN: 9780897570954
Format: 280mm x 216mm
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Subjects: American Schools of Oriental Research, Ancient Near East, Archaeology

The Israelite Ostraca, or pottery fragments, are among the most important finds ever recovered by the Harvard Expedition to Samaria in 1908 according to George Andrew Reisner, who led the expedition to excavate the site of the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Israel.

The fragments depict Hebrew-character inscriptions of Biblical names and memoranda of commercial shipments, but the precise provenance of these historic inscriptions has remained unclear.

This new book considers in great detail the depositional history of the Ostraca House and its immediate surroundings. First, it seeks to clarify the date and nature of the archaeological contexts from which excavators recovered the inscriptions, and evaluates the quantity and quality of data presented in the official excavation report. And finally, the study draws on previously unpublished material from the handwritten daily journals and private diaries of members of the original expedition, including David Gordon Lyon, George Andrew Reisner, Clarence Stanley Fisher, and Gottlieb Schumacher.

The previously unpublished records not only provide supplementary data crucial to a study of the ostraca – now held in the collections of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums - but reveals the archaeological and administrative trials faced by the excavators, who found themselves betwixt and between international and local powers and events during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire and the coming of World War I.  Despite this, the struggles of a start-up expedition in a burgeoning academic field, and the vicissitudes of world affairs did not prevent the Harvard Expedition from becoming one of the most influential projects of the early twentieth century.

Dr. Ron Tappy is the G. Albert Shoemaker Professor of Bible and Archaeology at Pittsburg Theological Seminary, and Director of the James L. Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology there. He is also project director and principal investigator of the Zeitah Excavations, an archaeological field project at Tel Zayit, Israel.  His research centres on the interrelated nature of the cultural, political, and economic history of Iron Age Israel as well as the various cultural groups with whom Israel interacted. He has written articles on topics including biblical archaeology, ancient Israelite burial customs and beliefs about the afterlife, the 23rd Psalm, and the Ten Commandments. He is a leading authority on the archaeology of Israelite Samaria and has written widely on the subject.

Publications include:

Literate Culture and Tenth-Century Canaan: The Tel Zayit Abecedary in Context, R. E. Tappy and P. Kyle McCarter, eds. (Eisenbrauns, 2009). Winner of the 2009 Frank Moore Cross Award from the American Schools of Oriental Research.

The Archaeology of Israelite Samaria: Vol. II, The Eighth Century BCE. Harvard Semitic Studies 50. (Eisenbrauns, 2001).

The Archaeology of Israelite Samaria: Vol. I, Early Iron Age through the Ninth CenturyBCE. Harvard Semitic Studies 44. (Scholars Press, 1992).

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 240 pages
 280mm x 216mm

BIC Code:
  HIS002000, HIS026000, SOC003000
 American Schools of Oriental Research


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