Ashkelon 3 The Seventh Century B.C.By Lawrence E. Stager, Daniel M. Master and J. David Schloen, eds. Harvard Semitic Museum Publications (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011) 817 pp; $99.50 (hardcover)
Hazor: The 1990–2009 Excavations: The Iron AgeBy Amnon Ben-Tor, Doron Ben-Ami and Debora Sandhaus (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2012) 672 pp., $120 (hardcover)
These two massive, enormously expensive volumes to produce represent the epitome of archaeological field reports today, far beyond the scope (or for that matter the means) of projects a generation ago. They set an enviably high standard. Yet they also raise some disturbing questions.
The Ashkelon volume—consisting of 28 chapters by 26 contributors, extending over 817 quarto pages—covers only the seventh-century B.C.E. remains excavated in Grids 38 and 50 between 1982 and 1997. There the late Philistine marketplace, winery and quarry were violently destroyed by the Babylonian campaigns in 604 B.C.E., producing a mass of material for the archaeologists.