Past Exhibits

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Ancient Figurines: Making Identities, Controlling Bodies

(January-May 2015, Badè Museum Gallery)

Archaeologist Doug Bailey provokes new thoughts about figurines and about the ways that past peoples defined their identities in his new exhibit, Ancient Figurines: Making Identities, Controlling Bodies. Bailey’s photographs probe the consequences of making manifest the human form and then (literally) manipulating it, while modern and ancient anthropomorphic objects sit together in display cases disrupting the easy ways we thought we understood identity.


Sorting Out Tell en-Nasbeh: Processing and Reconstructing the Broken Pieces of the Past

(June 2015 - August 2015; Badè Museum Gallery)

“But this restoration work is extremely important, for if done systematically and perseveringly it will become a valuable aid to the scientific work of the expedition.”
- William F Badѐ, A Manual of Excavation in the Near East, 1934

Sorting Out Tell en-Nasbeh: Processing and Reconstructing the Broken Pieces of the Past traces pottery from its archaeological context at Tell en-Nasbeh through its documentation and processing, allowing for the observation of the steps taken by Badѐ and the excavators each season from 1926 to 1935. The sorting and recording of pottery at Tell en-Nasbeh were large scale processes and included the documentation, photography, and reconstruction of a wide range of previously unrecorded ceramic forms. Many of the records, photographs, and slides created at Tell en-Nasbeh are still in use today. Badѐ deduced that humble finds such as pottery can often be the objects which are the most revealing about the human past.

This show is the product of a joint venture entitled “Mining the Collection” in which The Badѐ Museum and The Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education’s Doug Adams Gallery in which resident artists work together with members of the Badѐ Museum staff, sharing ideas and concepts to create two joint exhibits that draw inspiration from the Tell en-Nasbeh collection. Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang’s exhibit, “Finding Meaning in the Mess” features works of art comprised of present day plastic artifacts that draw attention to environmental issues and their conservation efforts at the Point Reyes National Seashore.


Unintentional Artifacts: The Material Traces of People and Practice in the Badè Museum Collection

(April 2014-Fall 2014; Badè Museum Gallery)

The primary purpose should be the application of a technique that will enable us to unriddle, by the aid of all scientific means and at whatever pains, the meaning of the human materials embedded in the strata. Often the humblest of these materials - ashes, bones, potsherds, carbonized seeds, etc. - are the most revealing. Even a museum specimen is valuable only in proportion to our knowledge of its human background. Every fact turned up by the spade feeds that knowledge, and any fact overlooked by an excavator, or misread through haste and incomplete study, may be an irreparable loss.”

~ W. F. Badè, first preliminary report, quoted in A Manual of Excavation in the Near East, 1934

A focus on the material traces of people and objects from the Badè Museum Collection reminds us of the individuals that played an important role in the life history of these ancient artifacts. The practices with which objects were made left unintentional, as well as intentional, traces of the people that created them. At times these marks can unite disparate objects with a single individual or historical period, as Dr. Badè demonstrated by matching fingerprints that were left on the surfaces of vessels at Tell en-Nasbeh. Other times these traces can confirm a shared knowledge of a particular crafting technology or speak to a desire for marking ownership. The three sets of objects on display demonstrate such material connections to the people and practices of the ancient world. While viewing the objects on display, look upon each not as static material in a display case, but rather as objects that were shaped by culturally valued practices, that convey aspects of individual identity, and that continue to this day to play a formative, interactive role with the modern audience.

This show is the product of the joint venture between the Badè Museum and the Doug Adams Gallery, entitled Mining the Collection, in which the Badè Museum curators work with a resident artist at the Doug Adams Gallery to explore the Tell en-Nasbeh collection together to create two exhibits that revolve around a shared interest in a particular aspect of the collection. The Doug Adams Gallery exhibit is entitled "Evidence of Life," featuring the work of Marianne Lettieri.

'Behind the Scenes' at the Badè Museum

(October, 2011-September 2014; Badè Museum Hallway Display Cases)



While the Badè Museum Gallery often stands as a symbol of the larger entity and efforts of the museum, and offers the public a clear and comprehensive visual representation of the Tell en-Nasbeh collection, much of the cutting-edge work takes place out of public view. Ongoing research of specific artifacts and object types from the collection, for example, is often carried out in the museum office and storage areas in Holbrook Hall. Working on these projects are the museum staff and visiting scholars, the latter often carrying out additional work from their home research institutions, both in the United States and abroad.

The summaries and photographs in this exhibit highlight the projects currently in progress at the Badè Museum. While being linked by a common base, the Tell en-Nasbeh collection, this group of projects is truly diverse, ranging from artifact-oriented inquiries, digitizing the Tell en-Nasbeh collection, to the revitalization of the museum’s educational outreach program, our popular traveling exhibit. This display, accordingly, brings to light the innovative and often unknown aspects of museum work by offering a unique window to the “behind of the scenes” of the Badè Museum.

The Current Projects on Display include:

  • Cooking at Tell en-Nasbeh: An Archaeological Interpretation of Iron Age Diet and Identity
  • The Tell en-Nasbeh Bioarchaeology Project
  • The Badè Museum’s Traveling Exhibit Program
  • Household Archaeology at Tell en-Nasbeh: A New Approach to Old Material
  • Digitizing, Databasing, and Disseminating the Tell en-Nasbeh Collection
  • Iron Tools and Agriculture at Iron Age Tell en-Nasbeh
  • Mining the Collection 2013: No Stone Left Unturned

    (May 2013 - Spring 2014; Badè Museum Gallery)



    Stone was one of the most commonly used materials in ancient Israel. Its local abundance made it suitable for use in the manufacture of many different types of artifacts. Limestone was the most available stone, and was used in building construction as well as in the production of weights, weapons, jewelry, and agricultural tools. Basalt, a volcanic stone, was also commonly used in ancient Israel. The porous nature of basalt made it an ideal material for grinding tools. Despite the prolific use of stone in ancient Israel, it is often undervalued by archaeologists in favor of “prettier” or “more interesting” artifacts. However, stone has much to contribute to the understanding of daily life and the use of natural resources in the ancient world.

    We conceived of this exhibit as a response to David Sleeth’s Mining the Collection 2013 exhibit, “Site/Structure,” which is on display in the Doug Adams Gallery from June 6th-August 23rd, 2013. Inspired by David’s pieces, we chose to focus on stone as material and medium. Rather than presenting stone in its archaeological context, we decided to display different sizes, shapes, textures, and types of stone artifacts to illustrate the variety and aesthetics of each individual object. De-contextualizing the objects and interpreting them in this abstract manner is a direct reaction to David’s pieces, which re-imagine individual artifacts and stone architecture. Our approach aims to put the two exhibits in a dialogue of opposition and complement.


    This show was the product of the joint venture between the Badè Museum and the Doug Adams Gallery, entitled Mining the Collection, in which the Badè Museum curators work with a resident artist at the Doug Adams Gallery to explore the Tell en-Nasbeh collection together, sharing a variety of ideas and concepts, and creating two exhibits that revolve around a shared interest in a particular aspect of the collection. As noted above, the Doug Adams Gallery exhibit, entitled "Site/Structure," featured the work of David Sleeth, though this exhibit is no longer on display. For more information, visit the Doug Adams Gallery Website.

    "The Part Which the Camera Plays"

    (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014; Badè Museum Gallery)

    Photographing temple from high stand 1927

    The importance of capturing on film the decisive and transient moments of an archaeological expedition was not lost on William F. Badè, the director of excavations at the ancient site of Tell en-Nasbeh from 1926 to 1936. Each season the team went into the field with an assortment of cutting-edge photographic equipment best suited for such grueling terrain. While excavations progressed, Dr. Badè was sure to have all aspects of the dig visually documented, from the discovery of important objects in situ, to the transient stages of unearthing complex structures such as tombs. The shifting appearance of the site’s architectural remains was also recorded through a series of general views taken from an elevated viewpoint, as demonstrated in the image above. By the end of each season the team had amassed an unfathomable number of 5 x 7 inch negatives and their black-and-white photograph counterparts, 3¼ x 4¼ inch negatives that were later used to produce lantern slides, and a record-book documenting each photograph taken that season. Photograph numbers were also included on basket tags and in the main object registry book, which now permits cross-referencing of this vast collection of materials.
    Owing to Dr. Badè’s forward-thinking and organized scientific approach, the Badè Museum now has a very rare and uniquely insightful digital library for the excavations at Tell en-Nasbeh. Such a collection of photographs permits us to see the remains of this ancient city through the eyes of the excavators, to experience what they must have experienced when they first laid eyes upon an object in situ that had not been seen for close to 2700 years. Thanks to Dr. Badè we can better understand the experience of “recover[ing] from the earth the still fragmentary story of man’s past.” (Badè, A Manual of Excavation in the Near East, 1934).

    Tell en-Nasbeh Photographers:
    George P. Hedley (1927, 1929); Wesley A. Havermale (1932); Robert Branstead (1935)


    Metallurgy in the Ancient Levant

    (October 2012 - Spring 2013; Badè Museum Gallery)



    “For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land - ... a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills,” - Deuteronomy 8: 7-9

    The exploitation of metal is one of the most important technological innovations in human history. Metals were first used in ancient Israel/Palestine during the Chalcolithic Age (ca. 4300-3000 BCE). The word "chalcolithic" derives from the Greek words for "copper" (khalkos) and "stone" (lithikos). Copper is a naturally occurring soft, malleable metal that could be melted down and molded with relative ease. Copper was abundant and was mined for thousands of years in the southern Arabah desert. The metal seems to have been used by the inhabitants of the Chalcolithic era largely for personal adornment and as ceremonial objects. Because copper is so soft, it would not have been as practical as stone for use in agricultural tools or as weaponry. However, copper was highly valued as a luxury material, and was used to make beautiful items such as crowns and ceremonial maceheads.

    Bronze began to be used widely around 3000 BCE. Initially, copper was alloyed with arsenic; around 2000 BCE true bronze, an alloy of 90% copper and 10% tin, took over. While sources of arsenic are local, tin had to be imported from afar. Tin, is found associated with granite rock, in Anatolia (modern Turkey), and in sources in Afghanistan. Stronger and more brittle than copper and stone, bronze represented a technologically advanced material used for weaponry, tool, and armor manufacturing.

    Around 1000 BCE iron began to be used in ancient Israel. Unlike copper and tin, iron did not have to be mined from the ground but was extracted from ore on the earth’s surface. However, because the iron ore indigenous to ancient Israel was of poor quality, the Israelites may have imported iron ore from regions such as Syria, Gilead, or Anatolia. Iron that was made through a process called carburization (coming into contact with carbon) and then quenched (cooled) in cold water was the hardest and strongest metal available to the ancient Israelites. Therefore, iron replaced bronze as the metal of choice for weaponry as well as agricultural tools. Yet, bronze and copper continued to be used for the manufacture of specific products. For example, copper was used to make luxury bowls and cauldrons while bronze was used to produce statues, figurines, jewelry, and other vessels.


    Full House: Family Dynamics and Domestic Space at Tell en-Nasbeh

    (September 21, 2012-Spring, 2013; Badè Museum Gallery)



    Archaeological evidence from houses and households provides detailed insight into everyday life of families in the biblical world. A basic Israelite house consisted of only three or four rooms, providing a family with limited space for performing the many daily tasks necessary for survival. Families thus came to depend on accessing the resources of their neighbors, sharing courtyards, storage rooms, roof tops, and ovens to complete daily activities. These dwelling compounds often shared interiors walls, fostering close living arrangements. Archaeological remains from Tell en-Nasbeh provide evidence of linked residential structures that were inhabited by extended families of ancient Israel.

    These shared living and activity spaces within residential complexes supported participation in communal production and subsistence practices among extended families and neighbors. Male and female residents of all ages cooperated in activities, such as textile production and food preparation, in multifunctional, open-access rooms and courtyards. This type of communal setting allowed for different practices and crafts to intersect, and encouraged interaction, learning, and multi-tasking among household members on a daily and seasonal basis.

    The specific types of activities taking place around the home varied depending on the seasons. While weaving and spinning were mainly conducted inside during rainy winter months, ceramic and mudbrick production were usually practiced outside in the arid spring and summer because they required large, dry, open spaces. In contrast, some spaces were reserved for specific uses that remained consistent throughout the year; for example, ritual spaces and storage areas, though changes in family size and resources might alter their size and placement.

    We can access these types of social interactions and family activities in domestic space through studying the architectural and material remains of ancient houses. Such cooperative family dynamics contributed significantly to the health and livelihood of a settlement’s community, as is evidenced by the remains from Tell en-Nasbeh, and were the foundation of ancient Israelite society.

    ~This exhibit is dedicated to the memory of William G. Badè, son of W. F. Badè, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at UC Berkeley, and long-serving Advisory Board Member of the Museum (1924 –2012)



    Shedding Light on the Layers of a Lamp:
    Creation, Production, and Symbolism at Tell en-Nasbeh

    (March 21, 2012 - October, 2012)

    “A lamp is not merely that which gives light; it is the quintessence of cheer
    and security which, on a larger scale, the sun radiates upon the world”

    ~Smith, “The Household Lamp of Palestine in Old Testament Times,” 1964

    To truly appreciate the multifaceted nature of the lamp in antiquity, one must look past its unassuming size and relative simplicity, and consider instead its less conspicuous layers of creation, functionality, and symbolism. In a world that could not depend on electricity and far-reaching lighting systems, humans had two natural light sources, the sun and fire. While the sun provided an excellent light source for outdoor activities during the daytime, lamps allowed for work to be done both after sunset and in enclosed spaces, therein profoundly altering and manipulating the natural environment for the benefit of humans. This invaluable ability resulted in the production and use of lamps in almost all regions and time periods during antiquity. Yet like any modern commodity, lamps changed throughout time and place as a result of increasing technologies, wavering fashions, and changing environments.

    From an archaeological perspective, this consistent use and development of the lamp through place and time makes it a very useful means of dating stratigraphic levels at a single site and between different sites in a similar region. Archaeologists can also learn a lot about the activity areas of an ancient site based on the specific findspots of lamps. Lastly, lamps offer incomparable insight into the varying levels of artistic skills and production in antiquity. Yet, at a deeper level, lamps also attest to the importance of cultural style and to the connection tangible objects can have with ideological and spiritual beliefs within a specific culture and social group.

    All of these facets of the lamp are evinced by the archaeological and textual remains from Tell en-Nasbeh, and neighboring regions: from the physical objects themselves, to associated tools and materials used in their creation, and even the textual materials produced by the culture to whom they belonged. There was not a single area or mindset of ancient life at Tell en-Nasbeh that was not in some way lit, whether visually or spiritually, by the flame of a lamp.

    This show is the product of the joint venture between the Badè Museum and the Doug Adams Gallery, entitled Mining the Collection, in which the Badè Museum curators work with a resident artist at the Doug Adams Gallery to explore the Tell en-Nasbeh collection together, sharing a variety of ideas and concepts, and creating two exhibits that revolve around a shared interest in a particular aspect of the collection. The Doug Adams Gallery exhibit is entitled "Dimensions of Dark," featuring the work of Cathy Richardson.


    From Seeds to Celebration

    (September 2, 2011 - March 21, 2012)

    Exhibition pictures >>


    There were many occasions in ancient Israel that warranted a feast. Both the Hebrew Bible and archaeological research provide us with valuable information about the way the biblical peoples feasted during the Iron Age. Many feasts were associated with religious observances and holidays, though feasting could also play a role in more mundane activities, such as community building projects. The scale of Israelite feasts could also differ. Those held more frequently were often smaller and were hosted by individual households for their families, a few close friends, and neighbors. Larger feasts, in contrast, involved the entire community and were often supplied by elite households, the king, or priestly class. There were strict regulations governing these gatherings regarding who ate what, and where each person sat. In this way the feast reinforced the existing social order. Three examples of such community-wide events include feasts celebrating the harvest; unleavened bread, which is known more commonly as Passover; and the festival of booths, which commemorated an annual practice when the Israelites temporarily lived in shelters in their fields in order to protect the olive trees just before their annual harvest. Weekly and monthly feasts were held on the Sabbath and the New Moon respectfully.

    An example of one of the better-known feasts is the Marzeah, which is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and was perhaps the most infamous of all of the Israelite feasts. This feast is thought to be a part of the mourning rituals that took place after the death of an individual. Amos describes this elaborate feast as including the most luxurious aspects of society, and thus it was likely reserved for its wealthiest members.

    They lie on beds of ivory and sprawl on their couches, eating lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall. They sing to the tune of the harp, and like David improvise song. They drink wine from bowls, and smear themselves with choicest oils. (Amos 6:4-6)

    Though the details of the many feasts may differ, each one played an important role in Israelite culture, ritual, social hierarchies, and the strength of community bonds.



    Archaeology Then and Now: A Look at “Dig Life” Over Time

    (September 8, 2011 - January 17, 2012)


    Pursuit of the unknown and the thrill of discovery have always been driving forces behind archaeological fieldwork. Those forces, along with early mornings, back-breaking labor, and dirt permeating everything you own are the hallmarks of “dig life.” Since the 1920’s and 1930’s when William F. Badè conducted his excavation at Tell en-Nasbeh, many things about dig life have changed a great deal. For example, some excavations are now virtually paperless. Their teams take computers on site and enter information into databases in real time. In other instances ground-penetrating radar is used to image what is underneath the surface before excavation even begins. This allows archaeologists to be more accurate and targeted in where and how they choose to dig. Thanks to digital cameras, endless images can be shot and saved, allowing archaeologists to better reconstruct and understand information from an excavated site after fieldwork has concluded.

    Some things about dig life, however, have not changed much. Tools today may be more sophisticated, but the daily responsibilities of an archaeologist in the field remain the same. Each layer of earth must be carefully removed so as not to miss any information that can be gained by the context, or provenance, of any artifacts uncovered. All of the data must be meticulously recorded, organized, analyzed, and published. Artifacts must still be reconstructed and conserved. The fundamental principle that archaeology is a destructive process has not changed; once a site has been excavated, it is essentially “destroyed” and cannot be excavated again. The hard work of those early mornings and dirty, back-breaking labor still make up the majority of dig life. And, at its heart, the pursuit of the unknown and thrill of discovery remain the inspirations driving archaeologists to return to that life season after season.

    This exhibit showcases photographs and tools from dig life on W. F. Badè’s excavation of Tell en-Nasbeh. These are paired with images from excavations in which our Museum staff has participated over the past several seasons. This contrast illustrates the fact that while these pictures were taken nearly ninety years apart, the activities and processes shown remain similar; it is mainly the tools and technology that have changed.


    From Dirt to Display: The "Life" of an Artifact

    (March 31, 2011 - September 2, 2011)

    Exhibition pictures >>

    Objects excavated at an archaeological site reveal a lot about the people that inhabited the settlement where they are found. These artifacts can tell us what people ate, did on a daily basis, and how they looked at the world around them. Today they remain as physical reminders of those people and provide us with a tangible connection to a long extinct world. However, aside from this information, what is the meaning of the artifact itself? Does it in fact have a “life” of its own and what roles does it play in the different stages of that “life?”

    An artifact’s life story is often very interesting. We may consider them simple objects that are good for historical data and aesthetic appeal, but in fact artifacts serve many different purposes over their lifetimes. The purpose of an artifact at the time of its creation is usually very different than the purpose it serves while on display at a museum. Since the artifacts cannot talk with us directly, examining their “lives” can give us new insight into just how drastically we, and our relation to these artifacts, change over time.

    In this exhibit, you will be able to see what happened to the artifacts from Tell en-Nasbeh before they ended up in the displays before you. We will trace their “lives” from the time they were created, then used and abandoned, to when they were excavated, cleaned, catalogued, researched, and finally put on display. Every artifact has a life story; in the case of the artifacts you see here, the stories are often over 4,000 years long! By looking at these stories, we will also be able to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what archaeologists do as well as the work that goes into managing a museum collection.


    “Global” Economies of the Biblical World

    (January 22, 2011 - March 14, 2011)

    The economies of biblical societies were primarily agricultural and pastoral. Everyday life was supported by subsistence farming and tending flocks that followed the rhythms of the seasons. Production of finished goods, many of which are on display here at the Badè Museum, was a local process focused around families and their households. Surpluses were small, and excess goods did not travel far.

    Yet archaeological finds and ancient texts hint at wide reaching contacts during the 10th-5th centuries BCE. These periods are prominent at Tell en-Nasbeh, the site that makes up the core of our Museum collection. Economic texts in the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East alone are too scarce to recreate a full picture of these interconnections. However, archaeological evidence helps to fill in the gaps in our understanding of ancient commerce in this region. Recent research on objects from Tell en-Nasbeh allows for a reconstruction of interregional and long-distance trade networks, helping us to better understand the “global” economies of the biblical world.


    Lived Experience in Ancient Judah

    (April 8, 2010 - January 27, 2011)

    Exhibition pictures >>

    The field of Near Eastern Archaeology has undergone several transformations throughout its 150-year history. In that time the process of archaeology has developed from an amateurish hobby for the wealthy Victorian traveler to a scientific endeavor with systematic excavation and recording of ancient sites and their artifacts. This adoption of more methodical means of investigation was especially pioneered by William F. Badè who believed, "the primary purpose [of excavation] should be the application of a technique that will enable us to unriddle, by the aid of all scientific means and at whatever pains, the meaning of the human materials embedded in the strata."

    For Badè and several generations of archaeologists after him, the goals of the archaeological enterprise have been to understand the function and meaning of things like ancient ceramic vessels, arrowheads, and buildings. Only a few have dared to image how these objects and places constituted a real lived experience by ancient peoples.

    For example, can we hold a small lamp and consider not only its particular form or utility, but also imagine how warm it feels in the palm of your hand? How you must walk slow so as not to spill the olive oil that serves as the fuel? Or how the dim light barely illuminates your footsteps? In other words, can we move beyond a rigid, scientific approach to understand how life was truly experienced in ancient Judah?

    This exhibition represents a meditation on this sensory approach to the archaeological record. It is based on artifacts excavated at the ancient town of Mizpah (modern Tell en-Nasbeh), a 2,500-year-old settlement located in the hill country north of Jerusalem. One way to conceptualize personal lived experience is through narrative, in this case through the voice of Hannah, a teenage girl who is a member of a modestly wealthy household at Mizpah.

    The encounters Hannah has as she goes about the business of living in this town, though fictitious, are based directly on archaeological, textual, and ethnoarchaeological evidence. Hannah’s story offers us an opportunity to reflect upon the sights, sounds, tastes, smells—the feelings—of living in this ancient town.

    This show is the product of the joint venture between the Badè Museum and the Doug Adams Gallery, entitled Mining the Collection, in which the Badè Museum curators work with a resident artist at the Doug Adams Gallery to explore the Tell en-Nasbeh collection together, sharing a variety of ideas and concepts, and creating two exhibits that revolve around a shared interest in a particular aspect of the collection. The Doug Adams Gallery exhibit, entitled "An Archaeology of the Senses," featured the artwork of Pamela Blotner. For more information, visit the Doug Adams Gallery Website.


    William Frederic Badè: Theologian, Naturalist, and Archaeologist

    (April 27, 2009 - Spring 2011)

    William Frederic Badè was many things: teacher and scholar, naturalist and outdoorsman, companion and biographer of John Muir, and an archaeologist and excavator. In 1902 Badè came to Berkeley to fill the position of professor of Old Testament Literature and Semitic Languages at the Pacific Theological Seminary (later named the Pacific School of Religion). In the course of his career, Badè published a number of innovative, inspirational, and at times controversial works on the Bible, Palestinian archaeology and its methodology. As literary executor, he made available the unpublished works of his close friend and fellow naturalist John Muir. Furthermore, his many interests took him across the globe to the site of Tell en-Nasbeh in Palestine, where he spent a number of years uncovering the Biblical site of Mizpah.

    Thanks to his loving and supportive wife, Elizabeth Badè, William F. Badè’s memory and work have lived on for many years atop Holy Hill at the Badè Museum of Biblical Archaeology. This exhibit highlights one of PSR’s premier educators and innovative scholars. The collection of material on display was chosen with the hopes of representing the truly dynamic and multifaceted character of William F. Badè. He was a family man, a dedicated teacher, a loving friend, and an innovative and passionate archaeologist.

    This exhibit was made possible by the contributions of the Badè family and Kay Schellhase.

    He was easily the most versatile man who has ever been attracted to the field of Palestinian archaeology, and all who came in contact with him fell under the spell of his personal charm. His passing is a great loss to each of the many spheres of life in which he was an outstanding figure.

    ~W.F. Albright, author of The Archaeology of Palestine and the Bible, 1932



    Tell en-Nasbeh: The Original Sustainable Community

    (January 28 - March 19, 2010)

    The health of our environment is one of the greatest concerns facing the world today. Increasing populations and the luxury of “disposable” goods have created a threat to living space and agriculture. Many governments and environmental groups are now focusing on making communities more sustainable in an effort to reduce waste. Taking advantage of natural resources and recycling wherever possible would allow cleaner living not just for us, but for generations to come. In many ways, these new efforts harken back to daily life in the ancient world, where these issues were of the utmost importance.

    Out of necessity for subsistence, the lives of ancient Israelite inhabitants at Tell en-Nasbeh revolved around agriculture and animal husbandry, food and water storage, sharing communal activity spaces, and the reuse of as many products as possible. Thus it may be said that Tell en-Nasbeh is a prime example of the original “sustainable community.”



    Hope and Reflection: Images of Kurdish Culture from Turkey and Iraq

    (May 14 - December 3, 2009)

    Exhibition opening and reception pictures >>

    Hope and Reflection: Images of Kurdish Culture from Turkey and Iraq features hopeful images of daily life in a troubled region and intimate portraits of the Kurdish people. The exhibit presents a selection of photographs taken during four visits to Diyarbakir Province, Turkey in the summers between 2005 and 2008 and one month spent in Northern Iraq in 2008. Photographer Jon Vidar developed close relationships with residents of cities and villages throughout the region, capturing a Kurdish culture that is largely unknown by Western observers.


    Ancient Tell, Modern Art:
    GTU Artists' Responses to Artifacts from Tell en-Nasbeh

    (March 5-May 7, 2009)

    Exhibition opening and reception pictures >>

    How does a contemporary voice respond to an ancient story? This exhibition seeks to answer that question by sparking an interdisciplinary dialogue between archeology and the contemporary arts. Students, faculty and alumnae of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) have created works of original art in response to themes and objects within the archeological displays at the Badè Museum. These objects derived from the ancient site (or tell) of Tell en-Nasbeh, excavated by William F. Badè between 1926 and 1935.

    Ancient artifacts have an inherent beauty that is often overlooked as scholars focus on their functional nature. The gentle curve of a vase, the rough texture of a grinding stone, fingerprints on a hand-molded figurine are all aesthetic features that allow these artifacts to "speak" to people in different ways. The current reactions reflected in these works of art provide fresh perspectives in the hopes of engaging the viewer to see these objects in a whole new light.

    The idea and framework for this exhibition was fostered in a Museum Literacy class taught by Carin Jacobs through the Center for Art and Religious Education (CARE). This show has come to fruition through collaboration between Jennifer Leighton, artist and M.A. student at the GTU, and Catherine Foster, archeologist and Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley. Financial support has been generously provided by CARE and the Badè Museum of Biblical Archaeology.



    Fallen through the Cracks:
    Microarchaeology and Ancient Households in Turkey

    As the basic unit of society, households contain a wealth of information about cultural practices, social structures and everyday tasks. Microarchaeology is one way of discovering and interpreting the artifacts that have fallen through the cracks. These microartifacts (see photo above) are less than one centimeter in size and can be the sole remaining clue of the activities that took place. Microartifacts become unintentionally embedded in the surfaces within and surrounding ancient houses and give us a glimpse of domestic life that is not usually accessible through normal excavation. Due to their size they are also less likely to be disturbed by regular cleaning or abandonment of a house. The focus of this exhibit is households at Kenan Tepe, a Late Chalcolithic (3600-3000 B.C.) site in southeastern Turkey.

    Microarchaeology requires a keen eye and lots of patience to sort a sample bag into data that is useful and relevant. The samples we receive at the Badè Museum have been excavated from domestic areas that include floors, ovens, alleyways and trash middens. Each bag is sorted by hand in a meticulous process that separates the microartifacts from the sediment. With the aid of a microscope these artifacts are classified according to material and type, such as ceramic, bone, shell, etc. With these data we are able to correlate microartifact patterns within households to better understand uses of space. The end result allows for a statistical analysis of artifact use that would otherwise go undetected by regular excavation techniques.

    The unique origin of each sample we sort allows our study to contribute to our knowledge of what "home" meant to the community at Kenan Tepe and how these households relate to each other. By adding our microarchaeological results to the larger picture of domestic life we gain insight into the way past people's activities and behavior affected their larger environment. We can determine their use of space over time, compare patterns between households in the same community, and document their relations with the larger world through trade and interaction. The valuable information gathered from these minute artifacts allows us a fuller and more nuanced picture of domestic life in ancient Turkey.

    Begin the exhibit slide show »



    Finding Women of Valor:
    The Daily Lives of Women in Ancient Israel


    Women do not seem to have played a central role in most stories, histories, and poetry of the Hebrew Bible. Thus it has long been posited that society in Biblical Israel was male dominated. Given their relative absence in the text, how do we determine what women's lives were like in ancient Israel? In light of new, progressive methodologies, scholars have begun to reexamine archaeological remains and the texts of the Hebrew Bible to answer this question. Although their written words are scarce, women’s voices are not as silent as we may think.

    Israelite culture was traditionally divided into public and private spheres, much like modern Middle Eastern societies. Most non-elite Israelite women's lives were centered in the private sphere of the extended household. The household was the most important unit in ancient Israelite society because each was largely independent and economically self-sufficient. Thus women's oversight of the household was of utmost importance to the foundations of Israelite culture, economy, and religion. Archaeologists are now paying closer attention to household remains and have found several areas where women played large roles: food preparation, cloth production, childcare, and religious observance. Through analysis of the remains associated with these activities, we can finally shed light on a vital aspect of the daily lives of women in ancient Israel.


    Lights! Camera! Dig!
    Photographs from the Tell en-Nasbeh Expedition

    Between 1926 and 1935, Dr. William Frederic Badè of the Pacific School of Religion and his team carried out the most complete excavation of a site to date in Israel/Palestine at Tell en-Nasbeh. Originally suggested to Dr. Badè by the renowned archaeologist William F. Albright, the ancient mound seemed promising as the possible site of the biblical city of Mizpah. Perhaps more importantly, Dr. Badè also viewed the project at Nasbeh as an opportunity to develop more rigorous field techniques and record keeping in the young discipline of Biblical archaeology.

    Photography played a key role in this effort because archaeology is a destructive process. In order to see what is below, what is above must be documented and removed, in essence destroyed. Photography allows for a permanent visual record of what archaeologists uncover during an excavation. In five seasons at Nasbeh over 2,800 photographs were taken. These pictures cover a wide range of subjects; from digging scenes, to images of objects and architecture, to pictures of the staff working on the non-digging tasks of the excavation. The photographs in this exhibit come from that collection and chronicle the expedition from digging in the field to display in the Museum.

    Begin the exhibit slide show »



    Making Cakes for the Queen of Heaven: Family Religion in Ancient Israel

    The city of Jerusalem and its famed Temple of Solomon lay in ruins.

    Uncertainty hung in the air as the Babylonian armies devastated the Kingdom of Judah in 586/87 BCE. The Prophet Jeremiah and others escaped northwards a few miles to the city of Mizpah, the main settlement in the region of Benjamin (Mizpah is typically identified with the archaeological site of Tell en-Nasbeh, excavated by W.F. Badè of the Pacific School of Religion in the 1920–30s. The majority of the Badè Museum's collection is from these excavations at Mizpah/Nasbeh).

    This was a period of theological instability. The Temple, the house of the Israelite deity on earth and the center of official Judean worship and cult, was destroyed. The victorious attackers carried sacred items and the treasury from the Temple back to Babylon, along with any remaining royalty, court officials, priests, and elite families. It is not surprising that the common people who remained in the land questioned the recent nationalistic worship of Yahweh alone, focused in Jerusalem. Had not hard times come as older polytheistic ways were shunned? Could not the success of the imperial powers of first Assyria and then Babylonia be blamed on a turning away from the worship of time-honored deities along side Yahweh, especially the great Goddess who had brought bounty to the region for so long?

    In telling passages in the Book of Jeremiah (7:18; 44:17–25), it is precisely at this time that the worship of the Queen of Heaven is revitalized, although it is condemned by the Prophet. This worship involved the whole family, as children gather wood for fuel, fathers light the fires, and mothers make dough and bake cakes to offer in thanks to the great Goddess.



    Artifacts Holding Artifacts

    Oftentimes while on excavation, archaeologists need to rely on the supplies that are available to them. For example, cigarette and match boxes were used by Dr. Badè and his team to hold various small objects, such as beads and pendants, that were excavated at Tell en-Nasbeh. Apart from the artifacts that they held, the boxes themselves are imbued with their own history and give us a window into the British Mandate of Palestine (modern-day Israel/Palestine) during the late 1920s and 1930s.

    Before 1921, the territory of Israel/Palestine was under control of the waning Ottoman Empire. Tobacco cultivation and cigarette manufacture were strictly regulated by the Turkish "Régie" Tobacco Monopoly, which stated that tobacco production could only be carried out in certain regions of the Empire, most notably Egypt and parts of modern-day Turkey.

    In 1921 and during the years that followed, as the Ottoman Empire disintegrated to be replaced by the modern Turkish Republic, control of Israel/Palestine came under the responsibility of Britain and was designated as the British Mandate of Palestine. Under the British, the Turkish "Régie" Tobacco Monopoly was abolished and manufacturing began in the region.

    The chief factories were: Karaman, Dick and Salti, based in Haifa; the Arab Cigarette and Tobacco Factory Ltd. in Nazareth; and Baddour Ltd. located in Haifa. The regional tobacco industry was fully managed and run by Arabs. It was mostly self-sufficient, relying on locally grown crops and only a small amount of imported tobacco. Overall domestic manufacturing met the most of local demand and greatly heightened the burgeoning regional economy.



    The Iron (Age) Chef: Food and Dining in Old Testament Times

    Our collection at the Badè Museum is focused around the archaeology of the ancient Israelite fortified village of Mitzpeh, modern Tell en-Nasbeh. Located eight miles north Jerusalem, Mitzpeh was the main settlement in the region of the tribe of Benjamin. William F. Badè, Professor of Old Testament at PSR, excavated two-thirds of the site over five seasons from 1926 to 1935. W.F. Badè was well ahead of his time in that he collected the remains of ancient grains, seeds, and animal bones, a trend in archaeology that did not really come into vogue until the 1960s.

    For ancient and modern traditional societies the procurement of food and water was a focus of daily existence. Thus it is not surprising to find so much material from the ancient site of Mitzpeh that is related to agriculture and herding. Plants and animals were raised to provide the Israelites with basic foods and other secondary products. Large cisterns aided in the gathering of water, and stone-lined silos were constructed to hold surplus grains after harvest time. Smaller amounts of grain and other food was stored in individual households for use by the extended family throughout the year.

    Daily meals and holiday banquets nourished the Israelites and provided a time for family, tribal, and national unity. The farmers and herders sustained the community that gave humankind one of its most enduring set of sacred documents that feeds our spirit and intellect to this very day, the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.