Adventist Archeology and Madaba Plains Project
As part of this year’s homecoming celebration, we are delighted to include a few events highlighting the 50th anniversary of Adventist archaeology in the Middle East.
Walla Walla University’s involvement in the 50th anniversary of Adventist archaeology in the Middle East actually began with the graduation in 1947 (70 years ago) of Siegfried Horn, the dean of Adventist archaeology.
Horn went on to set in motion one of the oldest, most long-lived, continuously running archaeological projects anywhere in the Middle East, the Madaba Plains Project (MPP). The project began auspiciously, having been set to start on June 5, 1967 at the site of Hesban in Jordan. All excavation activities were upstaged by the first day of hostilities in the Six Day War in Israel/Palestine and so the excavation actually opened over a year later in July 1968. The three major MPP sites of Hesban, ʿUmayri, and Jalul have fielded a total of 56 excavation seasons and engaged more than 2,200 participants from around the world. In 1987 (30 years ago), WWU joined the Madaba Plains Project consortium excavations at Tall al-ʿUmayri, Jordan, supporting the project through financial contributions and intra-campus collaboration (Theology, Engineering, English, History, Art), as well as seeing a total of more than 100 WWU students, staff, and faculty (many repeat offenders) on this project over the years. We would like to invite as many of these participants as possible to join us for a variety of celebratory events over the course of the Alumni weekend, 2018.
In addition to the Madaba Plains Project, WWU-connected individuals are also part of other recent initiatives in Jordan:
1. The renewed excavations at Khirbat Baluʿa in south-central Jordan—the Baluʿa Regional Archaeological Project (BRAP)—the largest Iron Age site in the ancient territory of Moab, and
2. A recently initiated endeavor to establish a state-of-the-art museum in Madaba, Jordan—the Madaba Regional Archaeological Museum Project (MRAMP)—which contains artifacts from a large area surrounding the city of Madaba in central Jordan.
The Madaba Plains Project’s golden anniversary has provided opportunity for reflection on changing with the times AND staying with the basics. While it all began immersed primarily in biblical history, the project and its component parts quickly adapted to include several scientific lines of inquiry. These were further enhanced with new technologies and digital recording techniques. Today MPP is no less interested in its biblical roots, but has attempted to maintain an open and aggressive posture toward new approaches, seeking to wring every possible byte, KB, MB, GB, and terra byte of information from what its teams have exposed over the past 50 years.
Peterson Memorial Library lobby
- Thursday afternoon 4–5 p.m.
- Sabbath afternoon 2–4 p.m.
Friday, April 27
Seminar: “The Life of a Pot"
2 p.m. | Peterson Memorial Library
Jody Washburn (’05) and Monique Vincent (’07)
In this lecture, Jody Washburn and Monique Vincent use the visual of an ancient pot to illustrate the myriad avenues of inquiry that come together in archaeological research. Digging into the making, use, and reuse or discarding of a pot brings to life numerous aspects of the socio-cultural framework of ancient societies, and reminds us that the people who handled this pot thousands of years ago shared many of the same concerns regarding life and death that we have today.
Seminar: "Adventist Archaeological Work in Jordan: MPP@50
3 p.m. | Administration 117
Douglas Clark (‘70) and Kent Bramlett (‘94)
The Madaba Plains Project (MPP) is one of the most long-lived, continuously running archaeological projects in the Middle East. Siegfried Horn (WWU ’47) set this project in motion. In this lecture, Doug Clark and Kent Bramlett focus on findings from the MPP-ʿUmayri excavations, with which WWU has been involved for the past 30 years. Reception following.
For more on Doug Clark's work on archeology, please visit:
Sabbath, April 28
Sabbath Seminar: The Madaba Plains Project @ 50: Reinventing Biblical Archaeology
10:30 a.m. |Canaday Technology Center 105
Kent Bramlett (‘94), Monique Vincent (‘07), Jody Washburn (‘05)
The history of MPP is a story of transitions, significant pivots, major changes. What began primarily with theologians on a quest to understand, even prove components of early biblical history, morphed over time into something quite different. Surrounded and engulfed as it was by an international decades-long debate about the nature and value of Near Eastern archaeology in relation to the Bible, the MPP moved beyond the text-based “biblical archaeology” of W.F. Albright and G.E. Wright to an archaeology of biblical lands and peoples based more on scientific inquiry and empirical results, where the goal was to illuminate the Bible instead of prove it.