Scholar Digs Up the Past with Talks on Ancient History

Pharaoh’s downfall in the Red Sea (Exodus 14), published 1886. (

Chevrei Tzedek Congregation hosts its first Scholar in Residence March 2-3 with Dr. Barry M. Gittlen, professor of biblical and archaeological studies at Towson University.

Gittlen says his goal was to put together a trilogy of talks that explore the relationships between biblical and other ancient literature and archaeology.

The first talk, entitled “The Amazing Aquatic Adventures of Noah and Moses,” takes place on March 2 at noon. This talk, Gittlen says, is about Moses and Noah, whose stories both begin with incidents in water. The talk delves into the stories of what happens to them as a consequence of these events.

The second talk, “Dirty Words: How Ancient Inscriptions Illuminate Biblical Israel,” begins at 7:15 p.m. that same day. This talk looks at archaeologically discovered texts that give scholars a fuller picture of Israelites in ancient times. The third and final talk, called “CSI Ekron: The Complicated Cold Case of One Dead Philistine,” is March 3 at 10 a.m. It examines the limits of archaeology in solving the mysteries of the past.

Dr. Roger Marcus, chairman of Chevrei Tzedek’s education and cultural programming committee, which sponsors the event, says that the talks are meant to be educationally enriching for members and the community at large. Gittlen — whose fascination with archaeology began at 10 years old when someone gifted him a book about dinosaurs — agrees.

“I want [the audience] to take away an excitement for the past,” Gittlen said, “and by the end of this [series] have a broader and deeper understanding of biblical literature.”

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