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Biblical Archaeology Review 49:1, Spring 2023

Milestone: Father Bill Broughton (1929–2022)

By Robert A. Mullins

On September 22, 2022, biblical archaeology lost one of its greatest fans: the Reverend Canon Dr. William Broughton, affectionately known as “Father Bill.” He was 93.

Bill grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where as a child he dreamed of a life at sea. That dream came to pass when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy at age 17. After four years of service, Bill decided to enter the ministry and attended college and then seminary to be ordained in the Episcopal Church in 1959.

In 1964, while serving with the Archbishop in Jerusalem, Bill participated in a new excavation project at Gezer directed by archaeologist G. Ernest Wright. At Gezer, where Bill’s team helped uncover the famous tenth-century “Solomonic” gate, he became fond of saying, “You can’t appreciate the Bible without getting your hands dirty.”

Bill’s gregarious spirit endeared him to many. Among his closest friends was the late Larry Stager of Harvard University. Bill was a regular at the site of Ashkelon, where Stager excavated. He was also a frequent guest at the W.F. Albright Institute in Jerusalem. Bill regularly attended Thanksgiving meals there, led carol singing at the Christmas luncheons, and even joined the Albright fellows on a tour of Lebanon and Syria in 2001.

As a minister, Bill never tired in his quest for peace between Israelis and Palestinians or to promote ecumenism among Israel’s religious communities. Until his death, reconciliation was in his bones.

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