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

International Conference: Biblical Exegesis Through the Ages (BIU, May 9-10, 2018)

Dr. Leeor Gottlieb, RIAB Center member, is the organizer of a very interesting international conference “Biblical Exegesis Through the Ages”, which will be held at Bar-Ilan University, on May 9-10, 2018. The conference will be held under the auspices of the Faculty of Jewish Studies of BIU, the Israel Society for Biblical Research, the RIAB Minerva Center, and the Zalman Shamir Dept. of Bible at BIU.

Here is the detailed program of the conference:May 2018 biblical interpretation conference_Page_1May 2018 biblical interpretation conference_Page_2

Reminder: Abel Beth Maacah Workshop: April 26, 2018 (Hebrew University)

Here’s a reminder of a upcoming workshop of the RIAB Center that we notified about a few months ago:

The RIAB center is happy to be an organizer of the following workshop:

Five Seasons of Excavation at Tel Abel Beth Maacah: An Interim Assessment

The Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Thursday, April 26, 2018


This workshop will present a summary of the stratigraphic and architectural contexts, as well as major material culture finds, uncovered during the course of five seasons of excavation. Focus will be on the Iron Age I and II, with highlights from the Middle and Late Bronze Age, as well as the Persian-early Hellenistic period, in order to better understand the occupation sequence.

Following this presentation, a discussion will take place on issues generated by the finds and the research questions that guide the project, particularly, how the archaeological data from Abel Beth Maacah illuminate cultural and historical developments in the Hula Valley, from the Late Bronze Age city state of Hazor to the Iron Age IIA territorial kingdoms of Israel and Aram-Damascus. A presentation of pottery and other finds from these periods will take place and serve as the basis for a chronological, contextual and cultural discussion.



15:00: Convening and refreshments

15:15-17:00: Presentation of the archaeological field and artefactual data

17:00-17:30: Break

17:30-19:00: Presentation of pottery and other finds and discussion


If you are interested in participating, please contact:


Evening in honor of the publication of the 3rd edition of “A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic”

Prof. Michael Sokoloff of the Dept. of Hebrew and Semitic Languages at BIU, is without a doubt, the premier lexicographer of ancient Aramaic and its various dialects.

To mark the appearance of the 3rd edition of his “A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic”, a meeting (organized by RIAB Center member Dr. J. N. Ford) will be held on at BIU, on Wednesday, March 21st, 2018.

The RIAB Center is happy to co-sponsor this event, along with the Faculty of Jewish Studies, the Dept. of Hebrew and Semitic Languages, and Samuel Noah Kramer Institute of Assyriology.

Here is the detailed schedule:

Invitation to Sokoloff event