An Israeli soldier named Ofer Broshi recently found by accident a partially buried ancient bronze figurine of a bull. With Broshi’s help, archaeologist Amihai Mazar was able to locate and later excavate the early Israelite cult site in northern Samaria where the bull had been buried. In “Bronze Bull Found in Israelite ‘High Place’s from the Time of the Judges,” Mazar illuminates the shadowy history of early Israelite religion when the cult of the golden calf competed with the worship of Israel’s God Yahweh. Mazar’s acquaintance with archaeology started early. When he was six years old, his father took him to visit his uncle Benjamin Mazar’s excavations. These visits, to Beth Shearim, Beth Yerach and Tell Qasile, continued over the years and when he was 15, Mazar himself began digging, Now senior lecturer at Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, Mazar has excavated at Tel Batash and has conducted an extensive survey of Jerusalem’s ancient aqueduct system. He says his most exciting field work was at Tell Qasile where he discovered the first Philistine temple.
On May 14, 1929, a 30-year-old French museum curator, Claude Schaeffer, who had just begun excavating the corner of a 50-acre mound on the Syrian coast, unearthed a clay tablet written in an unknown cuneiform language. The site, now identified as ancient Ugarit, eventually yielded an archive of several thousand texts including some of the most important comparative material for understanding the Hebrew of the Bible.