A specialist in biblical archeology criticized by his peers for lack of rigor


In recent years, we have witnessed a return of the passion for archeology in Israel. The rapidly publicized discoveries multiply and worry academics who demand that the announcement of inventions be filtered by committees of peers, before any presentation to the press, to avoid unsound declarations.

Gershon Galil is a former chair of the Department of Jewish History at the University of Haifa in Israel. Last December 14, this professor emeritus declared in a report on Channel 14 to be managed to decipher five new inscriptions of King Hezekiah who reigned in the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries BC

According to Galil, this text is "one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time in Israel", as it is the most complete royal inscriptions ever discovered. “They are further evidence that the kings of Israel and Judah wrote royal inscriptions that recorded their names and deeds,” the professor said. Beyond the invention, it is its historical sense that Galil insisted on highlighting for whom "these inscriptions also support the thesis that the writings of the Book of Kings are based on texts from chronicles and inscriptions royalty, and that the Bible reflects historical reality and not imagination".

In recent times, Professor Galil has multiplied the announcements of discoveries which annoy the academic community, because they are hasty and sometimes he does not provide any proof. Thus, in March 2022, he announced in the media that he had discovered on Mount Ebal a tiny tablet with Hebrew inscriptions, including "YHWH", the name of God. The researcher used high-tech scans at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, in Prague.

Dating the artifact to 1 BC would prove that the Hebrews already had writing when they arrived in the future land of Israel. "It's a text that is only found every 200 years," he said. If the discovery was made by an international team of archaeologists, Galil publicized it to the general public without providing clear images or scans allowing his peers to authenticate them. The object had been found in the rubble of a site already excavated in the 1s, which greatly complicates the dating.

A methodological problem discrediting the findings

Gilal's recent statement regarding the inscription of King Hezekiah has been followed by a statement on December 24 of his colleagues denouncing, without naming him, the publication of discoveries in the popular press and on the networks before their scientific examination.

After recalling, without detailing, the recent news of archaeological publications, the 34 signatories recall that "one of the foundations of any research and any discovery is that the results must go through a process of peer review before publication”, to check quality, suggest improvements and comments and, in some cases, reject a suggestion.

Faced with this necessary caution mentioned by his peers, Professor Gilal told The Times of Israel that the letter had been written by "bitter" and "jealous" colleagues, eager to settle accounts with him.

The daily claims in this December 27 article that it had asked him more than once last October to take high-resolution photos of the Hezekiah inscription. The researcher had promised to deliver before claiming that his anonymous publisher did not authorize it, says The Times of Israel, which adds that he had sent hand-drawn copies and images in too low a resolution to be enlarged.

Jean Sarpedon

Image credit: Shutterstock / ChameleonsEye

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