Final Program of Conference: “Biblical Exegesis through the Ages”

Below is the final program of the international conference “Biblical Exegesis through the Ages”, held under the auspices of the Faculty of Jewish Studies and the Zalman Shamir Department of Bible at Bar-Ilan University, along with the Israel Society for Biblical Research, and the RIAB Minerva Center, will take place on Wednesday-Thursday, May 9-10, 2018.

Here is the program: Final program May 2018 bible dept conference


Workshop on the Abel Beth Maacha Excavations, 26/4/18

On Thursday, April 26th, 2018, the RIAB Minerva Center, in collaboration with the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University, conducted a workshop on the excavations at Tel Abel Beth Maacha. The workshop was conducted in the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University.

At the workshop, in which close to 80 people participated, the directors of the excavations, Drs. Nava Panitz Cohen and Naama Yahalom Mack, along with Dr. Izaak de Hulster and Ms. Ruhama Bonfil, presented lectures on the results of the excavations. Following this, a hands-on exhibit of selected finds (and in particular, the pottery) from the excavations were presented in the collections room of the institute.

The excavations at Abel Beth Maacha are of particular interest to those studying the interaction between Israel and Aram in the Iron Age, due to the geographic location of the site, just on the border between current day Israel and Lebanon. As such, it is one of the few sites currently being excavated in a region that may represent southern Aram.

The lectures and the exhibit generated a lively and very interesting discussion among the participants, indicating how important such workshops are for moving ahead research on this and related matters.

Here are some pictures from the workshop:

Workshop on Ancient Maskes (April 25th, 2018)

Prof. Angelika Berlejung, co-director of the RIAB Minerva Center, conducted an excellent workshop on masks at Bar-Ilan University, on Wednesday, April 25th in the RIAB Minerva Center and Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project lab.

In the workshop, Prof. Berlejung gave to presentations: 1) On masks (or the lack thereof) in the biblical texts; 2) An overall survey of masks in the early southern Levant.

These presentations were based on the recent volume that Angelika recently published:  Berlejung, A., and Filitz, J. E., eds. 018. The Physicality of the Other: Masks from the Ancient Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean. Orientalische Religionen in der Antike 27. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

In addition, a small exhibition of masks was set up in the lab for the workshop, including three replicas of masks from the Israel Museum (thanks to Dr. Eran Arieh for arranging this) – one from LB Hazor and two from Iron Age Achziv; an LB mask from Tel Burna (thanks to Itzik Shai) and an LB mask from Tell es-Safi/Gath.

The workshop was extremely interesting and generated some fascinating discussions.

Here are some pictures of the workshop.

Workshop on ancient masks – April 25, 2018 – updated schedule

The Minerva Center or the Relations between Aram and Israel in Ancient Times

invites you to a workshop:

Masks in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible? Masks in Ancient Israel/Palestine

Prof. Angelika Berlejung, University of Leipzig/University of Stellenbosch/Bar-Ilan University

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018, 8:30 to 11:30 am

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project and RIAB Minerva Center Laboratory

Basement Floor of the Judaic Studies Faculty Building (Building #410)

Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel



The title of this workshop has a question mark. This question mark has proven to be justified, for I have not succeeded in finding clear evidence of masks in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. This, of course, does not mean that there were no masks in ancient Israel/Palestine, since we now have archaeological evidence of many things that are not mentioned in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Masks (and protomes) of all sizes are well-documented in Israel/Palestine until the Roman Period.

When the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible does not speak of something for which there is clear archaeological evidence in Israel/Palestine (especially for the 1st millennium BCE), it can be asked why it is not mentioned. In the case of masks the question is: are masks censored, ignored or simply forgotten? Are they so important that they are intentionally erased, or so unimportant that they are not worth talking about? If it is true that masks are media through which their bearer can physically contact “the Other” (god/gods, ancestors, etc.), what are the alternatives in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible if there are really no masks? Or have masks remained hidden in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible without being discovered thus far?

The workshop takes as its starting point the different terms which have been discussed in past scholarship as possible evidence for masks. There will be an introduction into the different types and possible uses of masks which were not limited to be worn on human faces.

Following the lecture, there will be a hands-on discussion at which several examples of masks from archaeological contexts in Israel will be presented.



8:30 – Gathering and refreshments

9:00 – A. Berlejung: Masks in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible? Masks in Ancient Israel/Palestine

10:15: Break and refreshments

10:30: Hands-on discussion with examples of ancient masks

11:30: End of workshop