Trumpet Followers, Meet AMIBA
It was around five or six years ago now that Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry first mentioned his plan to start an archaeology institute. I remember the mix of emotion I experienced listening to the idea—the excitement and anticipation pickled in gravity and trepidation.
The idea was logical. We have practiced archaeology in Jerusalem, mainly in support of Dr. Eilat Mazar and Hebrew University, since 2006. We’ve helped Dr. Mazar uncover some truly astonishing biblical artifacts, including King David’s palace and the clay seal of Judah’s King Hezekiah. Our predecessor, the late Herbert W. Armstrong, worked alongside Prof. Benjamin Mazar, Eilat’s grandfather, for almost 20 years. After 50 years of participating in (and even sponsoring) archaeological digs, starting an archaeology institute was the next logical step.
Still, founding an institute would mark a major development. It would require an office in Jerusalem, qualified staff and researchers and a substantial research library. It would mean in-depth research, working alongside scholars and scientists, and then publishing. It would be a pretty audacious enterprise!
How did we get on?
This past weekend (January 16-17)—exactly 36 years after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong and less than one year after the death of Dr. Eilat Mazar—we finalized and launched the website of the Armstrong-Mazar Institute of Biblical Archaeology (amiba).
We have an archaeology institute!
At ArmstrongMazar.com, visitors can access scientific reports, read articles on biblical archaeology and history, watch informative videos and documentaries, listen to archaeology podcasts, study interactive maps and illustrations, and peruse online exhibits. Even now ArmstrongMazar.com is jam-packed with fascinating articles and products, but this is only the beginning—over the next few months we plan to add even more features and products.
Last week, we sent the first issue of Let the Stones Speak (formerly Watch Jerusalem) to the printer. Produced by amiba, this 32-page bimonthly print magazine brims with compelling, informative articles about biblical archaeology and history, as well as enlightening maps, charts, illustrations and quality photography. The institute works with archaeologists and scholars from Israel and around the world, and often interviews these individuals. You can read these interviews in Let the Stones Speak. (A pdf of the latest issue is available at ArmstrongMazar.com.)
Why does this field need another archaeological institute? What is the purpose of amiba?
Mr. Flurry answers this question in detail in his article “Why We Are Starting a Biblical Archaeology Institute.” Unfortunately, the field of biblical archaeology today is in a state of malaise and decline. Scientists and scholars are bitterly divided about the role of the Bible in archaeology. The momentum right now is with the biblical minimalists, who discredit using the Bible as a reliable historical text in archaeology.
Through amiba we want to do our part to reverse this gloomy trend.
amiba is a nonprofit, academic and educational institution headquartered in Jerusalem, Israel. The ultimate mission of this institute is to showcase and share Israel’s biblical archaeology with the largest audience possible, especially the people of Israel.
In addition to ArmstrongMazar.com and publishing Let the Stones Speak, amiba will sponsor public seminars, create archaeological exhibits in Jerusalem and around Israel, and conduct tours of ancient Jerusalem, primarily the Ophel and the City of David. Tours are now available, so if you’re in Israel or plan on visiting and would like a tour, visit ArmstrongMazar.com and click the Tours tab.
amiba will also continue to sponsor and participate in archaeological excavations in Jerusalem. Even now we are working with Hebrew University and the various authorities and organizations in Israel to plan a new excavation. We hope to announce this new dig over the next few months.
And what about a research library? We have that too. When Dr. Eilat Mazar died last May, she left behind a splendid library of about 4,000 books and research materials, many of which she inherited from her grandfather, Prof. Benjamin Mazar. When a scholar dies, it is common for his or her research library to be consolidated and sold at auction.
We asked Dr. Mazar’s family about their plans for her library, and inquired about purchasing it. After a few short discussions, Eilat’s family agreed to sell us the library. In November, thanks to the tireless efforts of Avital Mazar (Eilat’s sister) and Eilat’s children to catalogue and process the books, we began taking possession of the library. In addition, we acquired another 4,000 archaeology and history-related books and research materials from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
This means the Armstrong-Mazar Institute of Biblical Archaeology now has a research library of about 8,000 volumes. Roughly half of the books are in English; the rest are mostly Hebrew, with some in German, French and other languages.
Finally, if you are interested in biblical archaeology and would like to follow the latest trends and developments in the field, as well as amiba’s work in Israel, you should sign up to receive the amiba Brief. This e-mail service will keep you informed of all of our activities.
Although biblical archaeology might presently be in a state of malaise, it’s actually an incredibly exciting time for the field. Archaeologists today are armed with some amazing technology and follow a rigorous scientific methodology. When you combine the science with the rapidly growing number of artifacts associated with the Bible—underscoring the importance of using biblical history in archaeological excavation—we really ought to be in the heyday of biblical archaeology.
This isn’t the case right now. But at amiba, we are doing our best, working as hard and as scientifically as we can, to usher in a new golden age of biblical archaeology.