As the Director of Excavations for the Associates for Biblical Research, Dr. Scott Stripling has been sifting the sands of Israel for over two decades in search of Biblical treasure. He also serves as Provost and Director of the Archaeology Institute at The Bible Seminary in Katy, Texas. ABR is a Christian organization that combines Biblical research and archaeology to advance both disciplines mutually.
Dr. Stripling is currently in Shiloh, heading ABR’s excavations, a job he has had since 2017. Due to pandemic restrictions, he has been unable to run excavations in Israel since 2020. He began digging on May 22 with 135 registered volunteers, most Christians from the US. He is also occasionally joined by Israeli groups who arrive daily to help.
“We are better understanding the stratification and see a clearer late bronze age presence,” Dr. Stripling said. “For the first time in 38 years, we are working in area ‘D’. We are finding more bone deposits,” he added significantly.
In addition to its significant archaeological relevance, Shiloh is essential for being mentioned in the Bible as the site of the Jewish Tabernacle for 369 years. Dr. Striping is convinced that the site he is excavating hosted the Tabernacle. Still, many Israeli archaeologists dispute that claim and even the historicity of the Biblical account of the Tabernacle.
As the Tabernacle was made of skins, there is no hope of finding actual artifacts. Still, his theory has been bolstered by finds like a ceramic pomegranate, a motif that has been found at other sites connected with the priests, and the large number of animal bones that are consistent with the Biblical sacrificial system.
“Now we have thousands of more bones and hundreds more pottery fragments,” With our new technology, we will be able to do much more with that than we could 38 years ago,” Dr. Stripling said. “It is hard to quantify how much the Tabernacle was used, but this is definitely evidence of the Tabernacle in Shiloh right after the conquest and settlement of Israel.”
His theory of placing the Tabernacle at Shiloh took on even more credence in 2019 when the team discovered three altar horns. The horns were an essential part of the altar and were used in the Temple service.
Slaughter the bull before Hashem, at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and take some of the bull’s blood and put it on the horns of the mizbayach with your finger; then pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the mizbayach. Exodus 29:11-12
“Biblical archaeology is really a great way to bring Jews and Christians together,” Dr. Stripling said. “We are literally working side by side. But no one is trying to convince anyone of their world or religious view. We all share a strong common goal of proving the historicity of the Bible.”
Over the years, Dr. Stripling and his team have developed personal friendships with the local residents.
“The Shiloh community has embraced us,” Dr. Stripling said. “Almost every day, some of them stop by to encourage us, and we are connected on social media. They help guard the site for us as well when I am in the US.”
The season will end on June 24, totaling just five weeks of digging. But Dr. Stripling assured the readers that five weeks of digging, four weeks of excavation, and one week of restoration, provide him with a full year of material for research.
Most recently, Dr. Stripling generated an academic earthquake in the world of Biblical archaeology when he announced his deciphering of a “curse amulet” discovered on Mount Ebal. The ancient Hebrew inscription consisted of 40 letters and is centuries older than any known Hebrew inscription from ancient Israel. The two-centimeter lead tablet was discovered using wet sifting of the discarded material from a previous excavation.
“The discovery reset the timeline of events to earlier than previously thought,” Dr. Stripling said.
“My goal was to wet sift a pile of material that had been sifted already dry sifted and to compare the results,” Dr. Stripling explained. I was doing a project to demonstrate the importance of wet sifting. I wasn’t really looking for any amazing finds. It is safe to say that I made my point.”
The peer-reviewed articles on the Ebal curse tablet will appear in two journals shortly.
Dr. Stripling recently participated in the filming of a documentary produced by Gesher Media starring Kevin Sorbo and Craig Evans. The documentary followed the trail of the Ark of the Covenant.
“Everywhere it was in Israel, we filmed,” Dr. Stripling said. “Of course, Shiloh was the centerpiece.”