Last summer, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary launched a monumental archaeological expedition into the water system at Tel Gezer in Israel. The dig will continue for the next two summers.
To say that the NOBTS-led has caught the attention of archaeological community would be an understatement. NOBTS professor Dennis Cole is featured prominently on the cover of the January/February 2011 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR). The cutline for the cover on page 3 identifies Cole and speaks briefly about the project. The NOBTS dig is also featured with the list of other digs taking place in Israel this summer. BAR’s website features detailed information about the Gezer Water System Expedition (http://digs.bib-arch.org/digs/tel-gezer.asp)
Dan Warner, associate professor of Old Testament and archaeology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and Tsvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist for the Israel Parks and Nature Authority, are directing the excavation of the large, rock-hewn water tunnel. It is believed that the Canaanites cut the tunnel between 1800 and 1500 B.C. – around the time of Abraham.
Joining Warner on the dig last summer were several other NOBTS professors: Dennis Cole, professor of Old Testament and archaeology and chairman of the Division of Biblical Studies; Harold Mosley, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; and Jim Parker, associate professor of biblical interpretation and associate vice president of facilities.
Last summer the team began the arduous tasks of removing tons of rubble from the tunnel. During the three-week dig, they cleared 72 tons of dirt and rocks. Team members dug out the tunnel and put debris in large sacks which were hoisted out with a crane. Due to the 38-degree slope, Parker compared it to working on a steeply pitched roof.
This year the team made it within about 20 to 30 feet from the water source and the cave entrance. Warner and Parker believe they will reach the water source next summer, if they can assemble a sizable team. Once inside the cave, the men hope to find the trenches dug by Macalister in 1908.
The rubble they have encountered thus far is not from the ancient times, but from some time after Macalister’s excavation. Once they reach the cave the team will carefully analyze every inch of dirt they remove.
Next summer’s dig will take place May 21 through June 11. In order to reach the water source, Warner hopes to recruit 10 to 15 people to help with the project. The trip is open to students and alumni. The cost is $1,500 for three weeks of room, board and weekend travel in Israel. Air travel to Israel is extra and each participant is responsible for arranging his or her flight.
Graduate students can also earn six hours of academic credit for participating in the expedition. Additional tuition charges will apply.
For additional information about Gezer or participation in the dig, contact Dan Warner, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dennis Cole, email@example.com
The Gezer Water System project is co-sponsored by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary under the direction of Tsvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist at INPA, and Dan Warner, co-director of the Center for Archaeological Research at NOBTS.