Professor Ron Tappy - 2015

Aspects of Antiquity - May 14

'Strangers at home: the give and take of life in the borderlands of Judah'

After early studies at the University of Virginia and in Jerusalem, followed by an MA at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, Ron Tappy studied at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago in 1985, then moved to Harvard for graduate research leading in 1990 to his PhD there in Near Eastern languages and civilization. His focus on Semitic languages, Syro-Palestinian archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern History led to appointments at Michigan, Westmont College and in 1997 Pittsburgh, where he is now Professor of Bible and Archaeology, Director of the Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology and Director of the excavations at Tell Zayit (Zeitah) in Israel. This work is affiliated with ASOR and the Albright Institute in Jerusalem. Prior to this he built his 30 years of field experience by participation in a Tombs Survey project in Jerusalem, and at Tel Haror and Ashkelon. He is visiting UNE by courtesy of the Australian Institute of Archaeology in Melbourne.

Professor Tappy's interests focus on the cultural, political and economic situation of Iron Age Israel and other societies with which Israel interacted. He has published three major books (and numerous articles) on his areas of interest, including The archaeology of Israelite Samaria, vol. 1. Early Iron Age through the Ninth Century BCE (Harvard Semitic Studies 44; Atlanta, 1992); vol. 2. The Eighth Cent1y BCE (Harvard Semitic Studies 50; Winona Lake, 2001); and (ed. with P.K. McCarter), literate culture and tenth-centwy Canaan. The Tel Zayit Abeceda1J1 in context (Winona Lake, 2008). In 2009 ASOR awarded this book the Frank Moore Cross award.


The large site of Tel Zayit lies in the strategic Beth Guvrin Valley, roughly halfway between Lachish to the south and Tell es-Safi (Gath of the Philistines) to the north. Although this area generally belonged to the lowlands district of ancient Judah, it lay in an often-contested zone wherein cultural and certain ly political associations might shift from time to time, primarily between the highlands to the east and the coastal plain to the west. This lecture will outline the enduring status of Tel Zayit's strategic position as a borderland community. The presentation will draw on historical, textual, and archaeological evidence from three different periods in the 3,500-year depositional history of the tell that amply demonstrate the betwixt-and-between nature of daily life that the inhabitants surely understood. The collage includes: (1) Tel Zayit's shifting allegiances during the tenth and ninth centuries BCE, (2) its fate in the wake of Sennacherib's Third Campaign in 701 BCE, and (3) its service to the Romans as a fortified outpost following the reign of Hadrian.


Humanities Seminar Series - May 15

'The linear alphabet and the Longue Duree'

After early studies at the University of Virginia and in Jerusalem, followed by an MA at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, Ron Tappy studied at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago in 1985, then moved to Harvard for graduate research leading in 1990 to his PhD there in Near Eastern languages and civilization. His focus on Semitic languages Syro-Palestinian archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern History led to appointments at Michigan, Westmont College and in 1997 Pittsburgh, where he is now Professor of Bible and Archaeology Director of the Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology and Director of the excavations at Tell Zayit (Zeitah) in Israel. This work is affiliated with ASOR and the Albright Institute in Jerusalem. Prior to this he built his 30 years of field experience by participation in a Tombs Survey project in Jerusalem, and at Tel Haror and Ashkelon. He is visiting UNE by courtesy of the Australian Institute of Archaeology in Melbourne.

Professor Tappy's interests focus on the cultural, political and economic situation of lron Age Israel and other societies with which Israel interacted. He has published three major books (and numerous articles) on his areas of interest, including The archaeology of Israelite Samaria, vol. 1. Early Iron Age through the Ninth Centwy BCE (Harvard Semitic Studies 44; Atlanta, 1992); vol. 2. The Eighth Cent1y BCE (Harvard Semitic Studies 50; Winona Lake, 2001); and (ed. with P.K. McCarter), literate culture and lenth-centwy Canaan. The Tel Zayit Abecedary in context (Winona lake, 2008).

Near the conclusion of the 2005 excavation season at Tel Zayit in Israel, the excavators recovered a large stone bearing an incised, two-line inscription. The special importance of the stone derives not only from its archaic alphabetic text (a twenty-two-letter Abecedary), but also from its well-defined archaeological context in a structure dating securely to the tenth century BCE. This lecture will focus on the long-term historical trends, particularly in Egypt, that gave rise to the development of a linear alphabet that grew out of but dramatically simplified older, pictographic writing. The discussion will chart the long development of the new, alphabetic writing system across the second millennium BCE. The Tel Zayit Abecedary will be shown to represent the linear alphabetic script of central and southern Canaan at the beginning of the first millennium BCE, a transitional script that developed from the Phoenician tradition of the early Iron Age and anticipated the distinctive features of the mature Hebrew national script.