1: G. Buccellati, June 2002

Catholic Biblical Association

      Thanks to Urkesh, Hurrian civilization is emerging as one of the fulcrums of the development of early Near Eastern civilization.
      Biblical scholars are interested in our world because it is being understood more and more as the cultural matrix which helped shape the Old Testament.
      And we are interested in the Bible because it provides the earliest link we have through a continuous tradition that harks back as far as our ruins. In this respect, the Bible is like the earliest ethno-archaeological evidence at our disposal.
      Of the many examples from our excavations, we select one that is especially monumental. We have just interpreted the deep underground structure next to the palace (shown in the photo) as a necromantic shaft. It dates to at least 2300 B.C., but is most likely even earlier. Some 13 centuries later, the witch of Endor evokes the spirit of Samuel, in response to a request from king Saul: and she is called eshet baalat 'ob "the woman in charge of the pit" (1 Samuel 28:7), because her necromantic craft was exercised in just such a shaft as the one depicted here. The word for "pit" goes back to a Hurrian original ābi, indicating the fundamental influence that this cultural, and linguistic, antecedent retained over almost one and half millennium! The Urkesh shaft is the only one of its kind ever to have been identified, and it is at the fountainhead of Hurrian traditions.
Photo V14d2079 G. Gallacci

      Members of the staff have organized a continuing seminar for the 2002 CBA meeting in Cleveland. It dealt with precisely these issues, placing them in the larger context of the relationship between the methods of archaeology and those of textual exegesis.

     CBA members are welcome to apply for participation in the excavations. For modalities please inquire directly from the directors, Dr. Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati or Dr. Giorgio Buccellati.