We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Welcome to Oxford Biblical Studies Online's photo essays. These essays are intended to provide background information on important topics in the field using images as well as links to supporting material within OBSO. New essays will be added for each update.

Tell Beth-shemesh

Tell Beth-shemesh has been the site of an extensive archaeological dig since the 1920s. Dale Manor (Harding University) collates the artifacts and other findings to show the development of the site from the Bronze Age into the Byzantine era.



Katherine Shaner (Wake Forest University) discusses the archaeological history of Ephesus, focusing on the evolution of religious practice and belief in the city following the introduction of Christianity.


Tell en Naṣbeh

Jeffrey R. Zorn (Cornell University) shares his ongoing excavation of Tell en Naṣbeh, a site usually identified with biblical Mizpah of Benjamin. In the sixth century B.C.E., the site was an important fortress on the northern border of Judah and the capital of what remained of Judah following the Neo-Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem.


Tel Dan

At the headwaters of the Jordan River lie the ruins of Dan, a city that grew to prominence as a religious center in the seventh and eighth centuries BCE. Archaeologist David Ilan (Hebrew Union College) provides a tour of the excavation, taking the reader from the first Neolithic settlements through the kingdom of Israel and up to the Persian and Roman eras.


Philistine Ekron (Tel Miqne)

Ekron, one of the five Philistine capital cities mentioned in the Bible, is located at the site of Tel Miqne (Khirbet el-Muqanna') on the northern border of the territory of Judah. Seymour Gitin and David Ben-Shlomo (W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem) provide a tour of the excavation, uncovering the customs and cultures of the inhabitants stretching as far back as the Bronze Age.


Tell es-Safi: Gath of the Philistines

Gath is known from the Bible as one of the five major cities of the Philistines, appearing often in the books of Samuel. It was not until 1997 that major excavation of the area began, directed by Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University. In this photo essay, Professor Maeir details the artifacts and architecture of the site, from its Early Bronze Age origins through the Crusader conquest in the 12th century.


Ancient Jerusalem's Necropolis

Ancient Jerusalem was surrounded by a necropolis of rock-cut tombs, dating from the First Temple Period to the Second. In this photo essay, archaeologist Jodi Magness (UNC Chapel Hill) provides a glimpse of these burial sites, and explains what they reveal about the lives and beliefs of the city's inhabitants.


Mary, the Mother of Jesus

The Virgin Mary features surprisingly little in the New Testament; only the Gospels refer to her, and the Gospel of John fails even to provide her name. Mary's importance for early Christians was linked to the effort by followers of Jesus to work out his nature and purpose. In this photo essay, Mary Joan Leith (Stonehill College) discusses some of the artistic interpretations of Mary across several cultures and traditions, showing how they address the tension between the human and the divine.



Relative to its size and importance, the ancient city of Corinth has received more than its share of attention. No doubt this is due in part to the unique location of the city and its prominent role in trade and commerce between the eastern and western ends of the Roman Empire. Because of its history, Corinth also provides an unparalleled example of a Greek city destroyed by a Roman army and later rebuilt as a Roman colony. Within such an environment, scholars can find unlimited opportunities to study political, social, and religious identity in the Roman world. In this photo essay, archaeologist Daniel Schowalter (Carthage College) takes the user on a tour of the ancient city using maps, artwork, and photos from his own personal research.


Jerusalem in the Roman Period

Using ancient artwork, archaeological discoveries, and modern photographs, Ryan Abrecht (UCSB, Department of History) explores the complicated and contentious relationship between the Roman Empire and the city of Jerusalem. Over the course of nearly seven hundred years, this relationship would shape the Western world, and would influence the development of the major monotheistic religions. The essay links to the wealth of material within OBSO dealing with the Roman occupation, the Jewish resistance, and the cultural developments of the era.


Update Alert Service: to receive an email notice and details when the site is updated, sign up for Oxford Biblical Studies Online update alerts.

Oxford University Press

© 2022. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice