Banias Is Still the Best Candidate
Increasingly, BAR has become a journal of record, where many excavators first publish their findings and where fellow archaeologists and interested lay people trust they can turn for readable and reliable information. It is, therefore, important that BAR authors take responsibility for providing full and reasoned accounts so as not to create the impression of certainty where none yet exists—and more importantly, not to create a “false datum” that the less well-informed will rely on and disseminate. I think that the magazine has fallen down on the job with “Reconstructing Herod’s Shrine to Augustus” (BAR 29:02).
Certainly the temple that the Macalester College team has been uncovering at Omrit is spectacular. The authors—J. Andrew Overman, Jack Olive and Michael Nelson—have demonstrated that there are two phases, both imperial Roman in style, and they have provided clear and well-documented reconstructions of both structures. The argument that this monument is likely to be the temple that Herod the Great dedicated to Augustus is, however, not so well-documented and is quite a bit less certain than the article implies.