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Archaeology of the Bible Lands (Online)

Key facts

TypeOnline and Distance Learning
DatesWed 24 Sep to Fri 5 Dec 2014
Subject area(s)Archaeology
CATS points10
FeesFrom £245.00
Application statusApplications being accepted
Course codeO14P448AHV
Course contactIf you have any questions about this course, please email onlinecourses@conted.ox.ac.uk.


This course introduces students to the discovery of the ancient southern Levant, first by biblical scholars and later, as their discipline developed, by archaeologists. The aim is to explore the vibrant material world of the region from the second millennium to the early Roman period.
For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.


The southern Levant – home to three of the world’s major religions – has long excited the interest of the west. Explorers and scholars of the nineteenth century, often inspired by the Bible, laid the foundations for the archaeological discovery of the region. The course investigates the archaeological richness of the Canaanite and Israelite worlds of the second and first millennia B.C., considers the evidence for Assyrian and Persian domination as well as discussing the material complexities of life under Roman rule. It is designed for those wishing to acquire an understanding of the nature of archaeological evidence including recent research, and the extent to which it can be used to illustrate or supplement biblical and historical narratives.

Programme details

1. The rediscovery of the southern Levant: from pilgrims to archaeologists
2. Canaanite city-states in the Middle Bronze Age
3. Canaanite religion
4. Egyptian rule and international trade in the Late Bronze Age
5. The coming of the Israelites
6. The Philistines
7. The united monarchy from Saul to Solomon
8. Life and death in the Israelite world
9. The Assyrian, Babylonian and Achaeminid domination
10. Life and death in the Roman empire

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.



Dr Bjornar Storfjell

Role: Tutor

Course aims

Course Aim:
This course aims to introduce the participant to the discovery of the biblical world in the 19th and 20th centuries and to show how two very different disciplines -- biblical studies and archaeology – came together to form the new discipline of Biblical archaeology. Case studies will be used to show the usefulness and limitations of archaeology in recreating biblical worlds.

Course Objectives:
This course will enable students to:
• Understand the variety and complexity of the material and historical evidence from the southern Levant.
• Develop critical awareness of the context of the evidence, in particular the problems caused by the history of certain excavations and developments in archaeological techniques, and to appreciate how these affect our understanding of the world reflected in the bible.
• Recognise the main features of life in the southern Levant in the Canaanite, Israelite and Roman periods.
• Discuss some of the more contentious issues (such as archaeological evidence for the Israelite conquest) that have been debated by scholars.
• Critically analyse and discuss set written, visual and material evidence.


This course is accredited and you are expected to take the course for credit. To be awarded credit you must complete written contributions satisfactorily. Successful students will receive credit, awarded by the Board of Studies of Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. The award will take the form of 10 units of transferable credit at FHEQ level 4 of the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS). A transcript detailing the credit will be issued to successful students. Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following texts:

Mazar, A. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible – 10,000-586 B.C.E. (2007) London: Doubleday.

Background Reading:
The bibliography on the southern Levant is vast and not always reliable. This is a selected list of introductory texts. Further reading on particular topics will be given with each topic covered.

Murphy-O’Connor, J. The Holy Land. An Oxford Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (1998) Oxford: OUP.

Davis, T.W. Shifting sands. The rise and fall of Biblical Archaeology (2004). Oxford: OUP.

King, P.J. and Stager, L.E. Life in Biblical Israel (2001). London: Westminster John Knox Press.

Nakhai, B.A. Archaeology and the Religions of Canaan and Israel (2001). Boston: ASOR.

Pritchard, J.B. The Ancient Near East: an anthology of text and pictures (1975). Princeton: PUP.

Tubb, J. Peoples of the past, Canaanites (1998). London: British Museum.

www.bibleplaces.com: good images of sites and links to related webpages

www.archaeowiki.org: a comprehensive academic site, concentrating upon the 2nd and first millennia B.C.

Teaching methods

• Guided reading of particular texts
• Guided use of particular websites
• Use of tutor notes and handouts
• Discussions of particular issues and responses to reading in the unit forms
• Close critical analyses of particular pieces of visual, written and material evidence
• Two quizzes (not assessed)

Teaching outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:
• The significant features of each archaeological period from the 2nd millennium B.C. to the first century A.D. and the problems involved in understanding them.
• How the excavation and study of the southern Levant has been influenced by changes in biblical history and archaeological theory and practice.
• The limitations and possibilities of historical and archaeological evidence.
• Some of the main issues currently being discussed by archaeologists, historians and biblical scholars

By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:
• Ability to assess the context and importance of different types of evidence
• Ability to think laterally across a range of issues, to see how different types of evidence interrelate
• Ability to critically discuss particular issues in a clear and effective manner

Fee options

Programme Fee
Home/EU Fee: £245.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00

Apply for this course

If you are unsure whether you are eligible to pay `Home/EU` or `Non-EU/overseas` fees, please read the UKCISA guidance notes to help establish your fee status.

You can apply for this course in the following ways:

Apply online
enrol onlineto secure your place on this course now
Apply by post, email or fax
Download a PDF application form PDF document.

Terms and Conditions, Student Contract.

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