Archeological Teams Uncover Biblical City

by University Relations

Abel Beth Maacah, an archeological site in northern Israel near the Lebanese border, holds significant historic, geographic, and biblical significance. Robert A. Mullins, Ph.D., Azusa Pacific professor in the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, in partnership with Nava Panitz-Cohen, Ph.D., of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, began excavating the mound in 2013 along with students from their respective institutions and volunteers from around the world. The first two years produced remains from the Iron I, Late Bronze, and Middle Bronze ages, including a hoard of silver pieces found in a small jug. The latest find, however, has revealed a major administrative complex dating back to the time of Samuel and Saul.

This section of the site, termed the “lower city,” includes an altar in the main entrance, as well as evidence of bronze and iron metalworking activity in an adjacent hallway. In the “upper city,” the teams discovered a major building that appears to date to the reign of Tiglath-Pileser III, the Assyrian king who conquered Abel Beth Maacah when he invaded the northern kingdom of Israel in 733 BC as recounted in 2 Kings 15:29.

The Bible also references Abel Beth Maacah in the time of Joshua (Joshua 13:13) and David (1 Chronicles 19:6-7) as an Aramean city that David later conquered and incorporated into Israel. According to 1 Samuel 13:19-21, the Philistines had a monopoly over iron production in order to keep it away from the Israelites. If this site is indeed Aramean, the presence of iron suggests that the Arameans also had access to this valuable metal, which was stronger than bronze and therefore better for weapons.

As Mullins, Panitz-Cohen, and their teams revisit the region to explore the site this summer, they continue to add fresh insight into ancient civilizations and contribute valuable data to the collective body of biblical and historical knowledge. The APU student contingent will welcome the assistance and collaboration of peers from Cornell University, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Indiana Wesleyan University, and the University of Arizona.

For more information on the excavation, visit

Originally published in the Summer '16 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.