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Biblical Archaeology Review 47:4, Winter 2021

Queries & Comments

Biblical Archaeology Review

Our Summer 2021 issue generated an enthusiastic response, from touching tributes for our late founder, Hershel Shanks, to constructive feedback about the magazine. Here we share thoughts on early artistic depictions of Noah’s ark and questions about inscribed ossuaries mentioning figures from the New Testament. You can find more letters online, along with a few responses, at

Remembering Hershel Shanks

The tributes published to Hershel Shanks (“Remembering Our Founder,” Summer 2021) are richly deserved. They also resonate with me as someone who had numerous dealings with him and contributed to his publications.

For me, one of his most notable but least acknowledged achievements was the conference he convened at Lehigh University in 1994, on archaeology’s publication problem.a On this subject, Hershel was forthright and outspoken. In “Archaeology’s Dirty Secret” (BAR, September/October 1994), he argued that “archaeologists love to dig, but hate to write excavation reports. As a result, final reports are lacking for a number of archaeological digs, even for some major excavations … To the scholars at the [Lehigh] session, it was not a dirty secret. They all knew about it, only too well.”

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