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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Azusa Pacific University Leads First Excavation of Historic Site in Israel

For Immediate Release
From Azusa Pacific University
Contact, Rachel White
Assistant Director of Public Relations
(626) 815-4502 | rewhite@apu.edu 

ISRAEL (ANS) -- This spring, Azusa Pacific University (APU) embarks on an exciting joint expedition with the Hebrew University of Israel to oversee an archeological dig at Abel Beth Maacah, a site of historical interest long envied by the world’s archeologists.

Abel Beth Maacah site

To date, the mound has not been excavated. Robert Mullins, Ph.D., associate professor of biblical studies at APU, leads the team along with Nava Panitz-Cohen and Ruhama Bonfil, faculty at the Hebrew University. On Jan. 25—26, 2012, team members plan to conduct an initial survey of the site in preparation for the May 27—31 excavation.

“I can’t overstate the huge potential of this project,” said Mullins. “First, it is an honor to partner with Israel’s oldest and most prestigious university. Given the site’s connection with the period of David and later Kings of Israel, the dig will draw worldwide interest. We can potentially solve questions regarding the nature of Israel’s ties with neighboring Phoenicia and Syria, as well as documenting through the destruction levels the various Aramean and Assyrian military campaigns mentioned in the Bible and other ancient records.”

Azusa Pacific University is the only Christian university in California with an excavation site in Israel. Ruhama Piperno-Beer of the Hazor Archeological Project is surveyor and architect for the dig. Respected archaeologist Amihai Mazar, the former Eliezer Sukenkik chair of biblical archaeology at the Hebrew University, serves as the project’s archaeological adviser.

Abel Beth Maacah map

Abel Beth Maacah was a town at the very north end of the Huleh Valley—about 4 mi. [6.5 km.] west of Dan. The location of the site is along one of the major sources of the Jordan River. During the reign of David, Joab pursued the rebel Sheba to the town and there the citizens beheaded him after “negotiations” between Joab and a “wise woman.” (2 Samuel 20). It was along the route, coming from the northeast, through which the Arameans (Ben–Hadad; 1 Kings 15:20; 2 Chron 16:4 [Abel Maim]) and later the Assyrians invaded Israel (Tiglath–pileser III; 2 Kings 15:29).

Mullins has a doctorate from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and spent many years living in Israel. His interests encompass the fields of archaeology, history, geography, and biblical studies in an effort to better understand the world of the Ancient Near East. Mullins’ work on several archaeological excavations includes Beth-Shean (1 Samuel 31:10; 1 Kings 4:12) and Tel Rehov in the Jordan Valley. His publications over the years include entries in the Anchor Bible Dictionary and Encyclopedia Judaica. His latest work is Excavations at Tel Beth-Shean, 1989-1996. Volume II. The Middle and Late Bronze Ages, written and co-edited with project director Amihai Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He delivers speeches for the Biblical Archaeology Society and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. As part of his passion to excite students about the world of the Bible, Mullins heads the Azusa Pacific University study abroad program to Israel.

Azusa Pacific University (www.apu.edu) is an evangelical, Christian university committed to God First and excellence in higher education. With 53 undergraduate majors, 37 master’s degrees, 21 credentials, 7 doctoral programs, and 5 certificates, the university offers its more than 9,200 students a quality education on campus, online, and at seven regional centers throughout Southern California.


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