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Biblical Archaeology Review 49:1, Spring 2023

Digs 2023: Archaeology Off the Beaten Path

By Nathan Steinmeyer

Thwack, thwack, thwack—the sound of pick­axes and trowels rings out through the sloping hills of Lower Galilee. Looking past the balks of excavation squares, you can practically step into the village of Shikhin that still lies beneath the soil after 1,700 years. Shikhin is not a large archaeological site or the proposed location of a biblical event. Yet, without sites like Shikhin, our picture of the past would be incomplete. Whether it opens a unique window into history or allows for a clearer view of a particular ancient practice, archaeology “off the beaten path” deserves more attention.

When thinking about Holy Land archaeology, we often think about large urban sites (tells), such as Hazor and Shimron, or sites with clear biblical connections, such as Jerusalem’s Ophel (all accepting volunteers this year!). While all these sites are important, there is a whole host of smaller or lesser-known sites that are just as fascinating. So, why is it important to study sites off the beaten path, and what draws some archaeologists to excavate them year after year?

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