Biblical Archaeology Review 37:2, March/April 2011

Archaeological Views: Teaching Biblical Archaeology

A view from the trenches

By Eric H. ClineRachel Hallote

We are two longtime friends who teach at different universities, one a midsized private university (George Washington University in Washington, D.C.—Cline) and the other a branch campus of a large state university (Purchase College, State University of New York—Hallote). We offer a variety of different classes, but we have one in common: Biblical Archaeology. Each of us has taught the class numerous times over the years, with enrollments ranging from 25 to 110 students (depending on how early in the morning the class is offered!).

Teaching Biblical archaeology to undergraduates is very different from teaching the subject to graduate students. While we would have no qualms about discussing the intricacies and nuances of Iron Age IIA pottery, architecture or mortuary practices with graduate students, we cannot do so with undergraduates, for two main reasons.

1. Biblical archaeology is often the first—and often only—archaeology class these students will ever take. They need to grasp the basics before all else.

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