The Holy Land Revealed

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lots of Archaeological Information Released 2010, but I presume mostly still accurate. An excellent, broad-ranging source of information, mostly fact with some theology. The focus is on archaeology. Little about sociology and population statistics, economics, income distribution, or taxation. The theology relies on the Hebrew bible. She says reliable when I think she means valid. The course notes do ask some questions about reliability and validity but say little about answers. However, you can read between the lines- for example in the comparison of Joshua and Judges. No exploration of misogyny or repression of women- no "feminist viewpoints" which so outrage many reviewers. Visuals are very useful. Many visuals show a dry, barren, desolate land, with life in a good year stated to be subsistence living and that one in three live births survived to adulthood. The only discussion of water distribution concerns Jerusalem. Recommended. In my admittedly limited experience, the best archeological information I have ever seen on the area. With this information a visit to Israel would be far more productive.
Date published: 2020-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fully Knowledgeable and Passionate Lecturer! You'll find immediately that this lecture is staffed by a very passionate, and deeply knowledgeable instructor. The level of detail for those looking to increase their biblical knowledge will not disappoint and make you wish you could communicate with the instructor directly. The lecture space forces her to truncate her depth of study and understanding of the Holy Land.
Date published: 2020-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant clarity for a very complex topic This is a topic for which I have a real interest but my knowledge was jumbled and scattered across the period with little chronology or understanding - until now. Jodi helped me to see the people, the events and the how and why's of it all using an engaging style which made what could be a very dry subject (excuse the pun) full of life and character. Her passion for the topic radiates throughout the lectures and I learnt an enormous amount and most importantly I finally learnt it in a way that I could understand and absorb. Jodi has inspired me to visit the areas she discussed - especially Masada. In the short term though I just need to find someone to talk to (chew their ear off...) about it all. That's the new challenge!!!
Date published: 2020-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Presentation For weeks Professor Magness's course on the Holy Land has been my personal treat at the end of long days. I loved every minute of the programs and constantly was presented with information I never knew before and found all of it very interesting. As a devout Catholic, I also feel much more in touch with the earliest days of the Church and it's Jewish roots. Thank you Professor Magness; this has been such a wonderful experience.
Date published: 2020-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging and Enlightening The Prof kept my attention all the way through. She was careful not to tread into any religious biases/theories, etc. I learned a lot and finally sorted out the who's who in ancient Israel and environs.
Date published: 2020-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course Well-researched, clearly presented, and objective.
Date published: 2020-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Archeology, Ancient Writings, and History Several things I loved about the course: the chronological order; the various ancient texts used and explained; and the archeological findings that back up our understanding. It was interesting, not just the lecture, but the information used. Old texts, translations, pictures and drawings - all added to the user friendliness of the course. I enjoyed it a lot!
Date published: 2020-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can't turn it off! We are enthralled with this course! Ms. Magness is a wonderful instructor. She is dynamic, fast-paced and presents complex material in a very well organized manner. We toured the Holy Land this past March, and Ms. Magness adds much more detail to the sites we visited than we were able to get on our tour. This course is a must for anyone interested in Biblical history.
Date published: 2020-08-21
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The Holy Land Revealed
Course Trailer
The Land of Canaan
1: The Land of Canaan

What do we mean by "holy land"? What is the difference between archaeology and history? How reliable is the Hebrew Bible as a window into life in ancient Israel? Discover answers to these and other questions in this introductory lecture, and take a peek at the region's earliest recorded inhabitants, the Canaanites.

31 min
The Arrival of the Israelites
2: The Arrival of the Israelites

Explore what archaeologists have uncovered about the arrival of the Israelites into Canaan. Among the many intriguing artifacts you examine are an ancient Egyptian stele featuring the earliest reference to Israel, the remains of Jericho's walls, and a Philistine temple similar to the one Samson destroyed in the book of Judges.

32 min
Jerusalem-An Introduction to the City
3: Jerusalem-An Introduction to the City

Here, survey the topography and layout of Jerusalem-perhaps the most important city in religious history. Then, review biblical accounts of Jerusalem from the arrival of David around 1000 B.C.E. to the start of the Babylonian exile in 586 B.C.E. (including the remains of a dramatic Assyrian siege on the city of Lachish).

29 min
The Jerusalem of David and Solomon
4: The Jerusalem of David and Solomon

In this first lecture on the remains of the biblical City of David, comb through the fascinating remains of a scribe's house located behind a city wall; grasp the development of biblical Hebrew script; and examine rare examples of this script in a clay sealing, a piece of pottery, and a victory stele.

32 min
Biblical Jerusalem's Ancient Water Systems
5: Biblical Jerusalem's Ancient Water Systems

Continue your archaeological exploration of the City of David by focusing on its ancient water system, centered on the Gihon Spring. Learn about the three different water systems that were created-Warren's Shaft, Siloam Channel, and the impressive engineering feat of Hezekiah's Tunnel-due to the spring's location outside the city walls.

31 min
Samaria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel
6: Samaria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel

Turn now to Israel as it was ruled under the Omride dynasty between Solomon's death and the Assyrian invasion in 722 B.C.E. Here, explore important ruins, including the High Place at Dan (where the cult statue of a golden calf once resided) and the acropolis at Samaria (which holds the remains of King Ahab's palace).

28 min
Fortifications and Cult Practices
7: Fortifications and Cult Practices

Delve into aspects of everyday life in the kingdoms of ancient Israel. Focus on how elaborately recessed gates were designed to protect cities like Gezer from enemies, and how altars, amulets, painted figures, and inscribed pottery vessels reflect the religious beliefs and practices at Kuntillet Ajrud and other sites.

32 min
Babylonian Exile and the Persian Restoration
8: Babylonian Exile and the Persian Restoration

In 539 B.C.E., after the Babylonians were subsumed by the Persian Empire, the exiled Judeans were allowed to return to Jerusalem. So what happened next? Find out with this penetrating look at the Persian administration of the Holy Land, the influence of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the birth of early Judaism.

32 min
Alexander the Great and His Successors
9: Alexander the Great and His Successors

Alexander the Great's conquests of the Near East introduced Greek culture to the Holy Land. Professor Magness uses archaeological findings- including the personal belongings of murdered Samaritans and the remains of towers at an ancient fortification-to illustrate the profound influences of Alexander and his successors.

28 min
The Hellenization of Palestine
10: The Hellenization of Palestine

Continue examining the Hellenistic influence on the Holy Land-this time on non-Jewish populations in the area. Focus on three distinct cities: Iraq el-Amir (with the remains of an impressive temple or pleasure palace); Marisa (with its fascinating series of caves); and Tel Dor (with its distinctly Hellenistic architectural style).

30 min
The Maccabean Revolt
11: The Maccabean Revolt

Turn now to the impact of the Greeks on the Jewish population of Judea. Tour the tumultuous years between 167 and 103 B.C.E., which saw Antiochus IV's imposition of Greek beliefs on the population; the subsequent revolt under Judah Maccabee; the reigns of the Hasmoneans; and more.

31 min
The Hasmonean Kingdom
12: The Hasmonean Kingdom

In this investigation of the Hasmoneans, meet individuals including the cruel king Alexander Jannaeus and his accomplished queen and widow, and examine the civil war between their successors. Then, meet their neighbors to the south: the Nabataeans, a desert people best known for the tombs cut into the cliff faces of their capital city at Petra (in modern-day Jordan).

32 min
Pharisees and Sadducees
13: Pharisees and Sadducees

By the mid-2nd century B.C.E., various Jewish sects had established themselves. Here, compare and contrast two of the most dominant of these sects: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. What parts of society did they represent? What were their views on religious innovation and free will? With which group did Jesus probably debate?

32 min
Discovery and Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls
14: Discovery and Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Travel to Qumran, the archaeological site located adjacent to the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered in the late 1940s. As you tour the caves and the site itself (including an ancient scriptorium and dining room), you'll learn what scholars know about the mysterious community that once lived there.

30 min
The Sectarian Settlement at Qumran
15: The Sectarian Settlement at Qumran

Continue touring the site at Qumran, with a focus on three distinctive features of the settlement. These are animal bones found in pots; an elaborate water system that channeled flash floods into pools used for ritual bathing; and a vast cemetery containing more than 1,000 graves.

31 min
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes
16: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes

Scholars believe the Qumran community, commonly identified with the Essenes, was a sect that lived in anticipation of the End of Days. What was it like to be a member of this ascetic community? What strict codes of purity did it live by? What is Jesus's relationship to this apocalyptic group?

32 min
The Life of the Essenes
17: The Life of the Essenes

In this final lecture on the Qumran sect, investigate the ancient latrines and hygienic practices of the community. Your three sources for insights into this little-explored aspect of everyday life: passages from the Dead Sea Scrolls, observations by the historian Josephus, and remains unearthed from the archaeological site itself.

29 min
From Roman Annexation to Herod the Great
18: From Roman Annexation to Herod the Great

Witness the rise of Herod the Great-the ruthless king who governed Judea between 40 and 4 B.C.E. and who is most infamous for ordering the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem. It's an engrossing tale filled with court intrigue, jealousy, warfare, betrayal, and murder.

31 min
Herod as Builder-Jerusalem's Temple Mount
19: Herod as Builder-Jerusalem's Temple Mount

In the first of several lectures on Herod's great buildings, many of which served as the backdrop to Jesus's life and ministry, walk through the reconstructed Second Temple and Temple Mount. You'll visit the remains of magnificent structures, including Solomon's Stables, Robinson's Arch, the Western Wall, and the Hulda Gates.

32 min
Caesarea Maritima-Harbor and Showcase City
20: Caesarea Maritima-Harbor and Showcase City

During his reign, Herod also built Greco-Roman style cities in his non-Jewish territories. Here, Professor Magness guides you through the most famous of these: the port city of Caesarea Maritima (where Paul was imprisoned, according to Acts 23-24). Comb through the ruins of the city's harbor, hippodrome, aqueducts, and more.

30 min
From Herod's Last Years to Pontius Pilate
21: From Herod's Last Years to Pontius Pilate

Visit Herod's winter palace at Jericho, where he spent his final years, and his fortified palace at Herodium, where-in 2007-archaeologists discovered his tomb. Then, explore the divided kingdom he left to his three sons, with a special focus on the rule of Herod Antipas (who would play a critical role in Jesus's story).

31 min
Galilee-Setting of Jesus's Life and Ministry
22: Galilee-Setting of Jesus's Life and Ministry

Tour the remains of Galilean towns and villages that date back to the time of Jesus, including Sepphoris (with its theater) and Capernaum (with its neighborhood of private houses). Then, conclude with a look at the recent discovery of a house at Nazareth that may shed light on Jesus's boyhood.

32 min
Synagogues in the Time of Jesus
23: Synagogues in the Time of Jesus

What do we know about the synagogues that served as the setting for the teachings of Jesus and Paul? After surveying the history of this religious institution, explore some of history's earliest synagogues at sites such as Masada, Gamla, and the most recent one uncovered in 2009 at Migdal.

33 min
Sites of the Trial and Final Hours of Jesus
24: Sites of the Trial and Final Hours of Jesus

Explore the Antonia Fortress, the Church of the Sisters of Zion, three successive lines of fortification walls, the ruins of a burnt Jewish villa, and other archaeological finds in Jerusalem intricately linked with both the final days of Jesus's life and the city's destruction in 70 C.E. by the Romans.

33 min
Early Jewish Tombs in Jerusalem
25: Early Jewish Tombs in Jerusalem

Chart the development of ancient Jewish rock-cut tombs and burial customs. First, peer inside an Iron-Age cemetery at Ketef Hinnom and view the scant remains of the epic Mausoleum at Halicarnassos. Then, ponder the undiscovered Tomb of the Maccabees, and crawl through the burial chambers of Jason's Tomb in Jerusalem.

30 min
Monumental Tombs in the Time of Jesus
26: Monumental Tombs in the Time of Jesus

Turn now to burial customs spanning the Second Temple period, with a particular emphasis on the use of stone ossuaries to store the bones of the deceased. You'll also examine stunning examples of the more than 900 rock-cut tombs that have been discovered around Jerusalem, including the Tomb of Bene Hezir and Nicanor's Tomb.

32 min
The Burials of Jesus and James
27: The Burials of Jesus and James

Place the Gospel accounts of the death and burial of Jesus within an archaeological context. The highlight of this lecture is the discussion of two recent-and highly controversial-discoveries: the Talpiyot Tomb (the supposed tomb of Jesus and his family) and the James Ossuary (connected to Jesus's brother).

34 min
The First Jewish Revolt; Jerusalem Destroyed
28: The First Jewish Revolt; Jerusalem Destroyed

Relive the first Jewish revolt against Rome between 66 and 70 C.E. You'll follow the infighting among Jewish rebel groups, explore the sites of fierce battles between rebels and Roman soldiers, and follow the tactics of Roman generals such as Vespasian and Titus as they besiege Jerusalem.

31 min
Masada-Herod's Desert Palace and the Siege
29: Masada-Herod's Desert Palace and the Siege

After the end of the first Jewish revolt, three Herodian fortresses remained occupied by Jewish rebels. The most famous of these: Masada. Here, discover what archaeological evidence reveals about how an estimated 8,000 Roman soldiers encircled the mountain, built camps, and laid siege to the fortress and its 967 rebels.

29 min
Flavius Josephus and the Mass Suicide
30: Flavius Josephus and the Mass Suicide

Pore over the remains of a ramp that was instrumental in the Roman victory at Masada. Then, take a closer look at controversies over the mass suicide of the Jewish rebels and the views of the historian Josephus-whose writings are our most important source of information about this event.

31 min
The Second Jewish Revolt against the Romans
31: The Second Jewish Revolt against the Romans

Investigate archaeological finds from the last 50 years that have shed unprecedented new light on the second major Jewish uprising: the Bar-Kokhba Revolt. Central to this lecture are two mysterious caves-the Cave of Letters and the Cave of Horror-whose contents tell us much about the Jewish families who hid there.

32 min
Roman Jerusalem-Hadrian's Aelia Capitolina
32: Roman Jerusalem-Hadrian's Aelia Capitolina

The Roman emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as the pagan city Aelia Capitolina. Witness the results of his rule, including the iconic Damascus Gate, a towering statue of Hadrian, and two public forums built at the northern and western ends of the city.

32 min
Christian Emperors and Pilgrimage Sites
33: Christian Emperors and Pilgrimage Sites

The legalization of Christianity under Constantine radically transformed the landscape of ancient Israel. In the first of two lectures on the Holy Land under the Byzantine Empire, tour two major churches built during this period: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the once-lost Nea Church devoted to Mary.

30 min
Judaism and Synagogues under Christian Rule
34: Judaism and Synagogues under Christian Rule

As Christianity spread across the Holy Land, synagogues became increasingly larger and more elaborate in an attempt to bolster Judaism. See how this was done by peering closely at the remains of the synagogues at Capernaum, Hammath Tiberias, and Beth Alpha-as well as their (sometimes surprising) decorations.

32 min
Islam's Transformation of Jerusalem
35: Islam's Transformation of Jerusalem

The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are the two most potent examples of the spread of Islam into the Holy Land beginning in the mid-7th century C.E. Discover what archaeologists have learned about these two spectacular buildings and their importance to the Muslim faith.

32 min
What and How Archaeology Reveals
36: What and How Archaeology Reveals

What is it like to work alongside an archaeologist in the field? In Professor Magness's final lecture, experience how archaeologists reconstruct their delicate pictures of the past-from deciding where to start digging to reassembling broken artifacts uncovered from the earth to publishing their eye-opening findings and conclusions.

32 min
Jodi Magness

I love sharing the excitement of archaeology with others.


University of Pennsylvania


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

About Jodi Magness

Dr. Jodi Magness is the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned her B.A. in Archaeology and History from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and her Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania. For her engaging teaching, Professor Magness won the Archaeological Institute of America's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Her other honors include a Fulbright Lecturing Award from the United States-Israel Educational Foundation, and fellowships from institutions including the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A trained archaeologist with more than 20 years of field experience, Professor Magness has excavated throughout Israel and in Greece and has codirected excavations of the Roman siege works at Masada and a Roman fort at Yotvata. She is the author of numerous scholarly books on the archaeology of the Holy Land. Among them are The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, which won the 2003 Biblical Archaeology Society's Award for Best Popular Book in Archaeology, and The Archaeology of the Early Islamic Settlement in Palestine, which won the Irene Levi-Sala Book Prize.

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