Avraham "Avrim" Biran has spent a considerable amount of his life unearthing the past from the ancient soil of Palestine and then Israel. The archaeologist, Hebrew Union College Professor and Jerusalem resident is famous for his excavations at Tel Dan. The five thousand year old "Tel" is a mound formed by layer-upon-layer of remnants from civilizations that once occupied the site. The Tel has yielded many artifacts, including Biran's discovery of stone fragments inscribed with what some archaeologists interpret as references to "The House of David."
Born in 1909 in Galilee, then part of the Ottoman Empire, Biran was seven years old when General Allenby rode on horseback through the gates of the Old City and established British authority over Palestine. In 1948,
during the waning days of the British Mandate, Biran, at that time a District Officer in Jerusalem, packed up Jewish property deeds so the owners could reclaim their lands and houses following the anticipated war. In this act, he sees parallels with the experiences of another Jew who hid property titles in the Judean Hills to protect them from Roman legionnaires almost two thousand years ago.
Biram is criticized by some archaeologists for interpreting his discoveries as validating the accuracy of the bible as history. Such accusations are not unique to him and criticism of political, religious, or cultural bias swirl around many digs in the contested soil of the Middle East. Archeology is used by both sides searching for evidence of the superiority of their historical claim to the land.
Biran remains unapologetic for Israel's control of the land. In his assessment of the conflict, one can see elements of the archaeologist who reads in each layer the success of one civilization at the expense of another: "In times of war, the victor takes over the possession of the vanquished," he says. That's what the Jordanians did in the Old City and in the areas which they held and that is what the Israelites did after 1967," he says.
Biblical Archaeology Review - "David" Found at Dan
Biblical Archaeology Review - "House of David" Built on Sand
Biblical Archaeology Review - "House of David" Is There!
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