Biblical Archaeology Review 3:3, September 1977

Thoughts on Archaeological Method

By Henry O. Thompson

Anson Rainey’s eulogy to Yohanan Aharoni (“Yohanan Aharoni—The Man and His Work,” BAR 02:04) notes Aharoni’s refusal to “bow down and worship at the balk.”a As one who has helped remove more than one balk, I appreciate Aharoni’s flexibility. I note with interest too, his openness to new evidence and his refusal to waste energy perpetuating his own infallibility. Here is the continuing spirit of William Foxwell Albright.

What really caught my eye, however, was Aharoni’s judgment against chopping up strata in a restricted space because this ruins the horizontal picture for future excavation.

A review of near eastern archaeological method would move first from tomb robbers after gold, to pot-hunters after museum pieces. Then, along the way to modern bulldozers, we would find tunnelers, trenchers, and the architectural school with its concern to expose the foundations of buildings.

(The reference to bulldozers is not entirely facetious for they have been used to clear debris; one suspects that debris on occasion included the more recent deposits on a site in which the excavator was uninterested.)

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