I recently participated in an amazing conference in Ein Kerem, on the western edge of Jerusalem. “Temple and Cult in the Iron Age: Resuming the Discussion Considering the Ongoing Discoveries at Tel Moẓa” took place in the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (18-22 September 2023). It was directed by Shua Kisilevitz (Tel Aviv University and Israel Antiquities Authority) and Florian Oepping (University of Osnabrueck, Germany). The conference was funded by Germany’s Minerva Stiftung (https://www.minerva.mpg.de/). Founded in 1962, the Minerva Foundation is the oldest of all German-Israeli cooperation programs. Conference participants stayed at the bucolic Notre Dame de Sion Guest House in Ein Kerem (http://www.notredamedesion.org/centres/ein-kerem-guest-house/).
Nearly thirty archaeologists, biblical scholars, and museum curators participated in the conference. They came from Israel, Germany, England, Malta, Austria, and the United States. (I was the only American participant). We were joined for two days by Judaic Studies graduate Amanda Bauer, who is now pursuing her doctorate in archaeology at Tel Aviv University. The paper I presented was entitled “Changing Scholarly Perspectives on Ancient Temple and Cult.”
In addition to listening to fascinating papers, and having lots of time for discussion and dialogue, we also had guided tours of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, the new campus of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem, and the Bronfman Wing for Archaeology in the Israel Museum. Excavator Amihai Mazar, Professor emeritus at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, led us on a tour of Tel Qasile, a site he excavated some fifty years ago. Shua Kisilevitz and Florian Oepping led us on a tour of Tel Moẓa, just outside of Ein Kerem. Tel Moẓa is vitally important for many reasons, not least of which is the discovery of a temple contemporary with the Iron Age II (Solomonic) Temple in Jerusalem. Moẓa’s temple is two-thirds the size of the Jerusalem Temple, and only four miles to its west!