Biblical Archaeology Review 37:6, November/December 2011

ReViews: A Museological Moment

Chronicles of the Land celebrates the recent expansion of the Israel Museum and the lavish new installation of archaeological treasures displayed there. Beautifully photographed and produced in full color with a text geared to the intelligent layperson, this is more than just a coffee-table book to be schlepped home by excited tourists. Chronicles of the Land documents a museological moment of great significance, the first thorough reinstallation of the Israel Museum since it was opened in 1965.

Many of the objects illustrated here are by now iconic, like the Chalcolithic copper hoard from the so-called Cave of Treasures, the stone gate from Hazor, the Pontius Pilate inscription from Caesarea and the Late Antique menorah from Hammath Tiberias. Happily, the editors included many less-known treasures. Of particular interest to me are the recently discovered and reconstructed Heliodorus inscription,a a text of great significance for interpreting the Hasmonean revolt (commemorated at Hanukkah) and an inscribed lead weight of the Bar-Kokhba revolt (132–135 C.E.). An extremely important dedicatory inscription from the Rehov synagogue is published here for the first time. Scholars from many fields will find much here that enhances their work.

Unusual for a museum catalog, this volume illustrates reconstructed Late Antique church and synagogue environments. Visitors—as well as scholars—can really get a sense here of how the curators of this generation imagine these ancient buildings.

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