Confessions Of An Armchair Archaeologist -- By: Vanessa Morton

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 28:2 (Spring 2015)
Article: Confessions Of An Armchair Archaeologist
Author: Vanessa Morton


Confessions Of An Armchair Archaeologist

Vanessa Morton

I fell in love with scriptural Jericho when I was eight years old. My teacher, Mrs. Walker, was standing next to the felt storyboard, tacking up flannel-backed cutouts of Rahab, the spies, and the city walls while she told us the story of how Jericho’s walls “came a-tumblin’ down.”

My imagination filled in the gaps…brave Rahab gathering her family close to the red cord, the rumbling footfalls of hundreds of thousands of warriors, and the blood-chilling roar of an entire nation reverberating across the Jordan Valley. What kind of power toppled a city without even touching it?

Fast forward a few years to Wednesday night youth meetings, when our leader began to teach a faith lesson about Jericho’s walls. Excited, I leaned forward in my seat, but my friends elbowed me in the ribs and snickered behind their hands about walls falling down all by themselves. A first, fragile crack splintered my young faith.

Enthralled by ancient history, I later earned a BA in history, but relegated Rahab and other heroes to that drawer in my brain’s filing system labeled “Fairy Tales and Legends.”

With a career and family, I quietly fed my history craving with tomes and journals until 2008, when I stumbled on Dr. Bryant Wood’s report about Tell es-Sultan—the site of ancient Jericho. His analysis of Jericho’s destruction matched Mrs. Walker’s lesson from the book of Joshua. In that moment, my faith took flight like a wounded bird released from captivity.

Inspired by Dr. Wood’s research, I buried myself in archaeology reports about the history of this strategically located city-state in the Jordan valley and its world of political and trading partners.

When Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) announced they were seeking volunteers for Dr. Wood’s 2010 dig season at Joshua’s Ai (near Jericho), there was no doubt in my mind I would go.

Michael Luddeni

The 2010 Khirbet el-Maqatir dig team. The author is in the red shirt near left center of the photo.

Michael Luddeni

The author hard at work at Khirbet el-Maqatir in 2010.

That season in the Holy Land took me far outside my comfort zone and resulted in the trip of a lifetime. I could talk for hours about the wild beauty of the Holy Land, or the sweaty toil of lugging archaeology tools back and forth to our dig squares every day, or the patience of our...

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