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Emmaus Faculty Member Returns from Archaeological Dig

On Friday, Emmaus Bible College faculty member Dr. Steven H. Sanchez returns to Dubuque after four months in Zambia, Africa and almost three months in Israel. Steve has been on academic sabbatical since December when he, along with his family, left to work with the Samfya Bible School in Zambia. They left Africa in May to go to Israel, where Steve participated in the excavations at Tel Gezer.

“Participating in this archaeological excavation was a professional highlight for me,” says Steve. “This fall, Emmaus will be offering an Introduction to Biblical Archaeology course for the first time in its history. The Tel Gezer experience was an excellent developmental opportunity.”

A press release issued by the directors of the dig, Steven Ortiz and Sam Wolff, notes that some of this season’s results were a surprise. “In this, the sixth season of excavation, one goal was to remove a portion of the city wall built in the Iron IIA period (10th century BCE) in order to investigate a Late Bronze age destruction level (ca. 1400 BCE) that lay below it. To the surprise of the team, in the process of excavating the city wall, an earlier wall system dating to the Iron Age I (1200-1000 BCE) was discovered.” This is significant because the common understanding is that during this period, the beginning of the United Monarchy in lsrael, cities were not fortified in this manner. This could be the city to which David drove his Philistine enemies (2 Sam 5:25). This wall was uncovered in the square Steve Sanchez and other team members were digging in!

Of this experience Steve says, “When people think of archaeology they imagine finding small artifacts. Think of a city wall as a very, very large artifact. In this case, an artifact that changes our understanding of what cities were like in the Iron Age I. For me having a small part in this discovery was incredibly rewarding.”

More information about the Gezer excavation can be found at