BYU Participates in Syrian Dig
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“BYU Participates in Syrian Dig,” Ensign, Dec. 1981, 72

BYU Participates in Syrian Dig

BYU is cosponsoring a six-year archaeological excavation in Syria with the Catholic Biblical Association and the Zion Research Foundation under the sponsorship of the American Schools of Oriental Research, an old and prestigious American research organization focused on the Near East.

John M. Lundquist, instructor in ancient scripture and anthropology at BYU, has been appointed its director. He has already left to make preparation for the dig, which begins in the spring of 1982 at Tell Qarqur and the surrounding area, about forty miles west of Ebla where Italian archaeologists discovered some 15,000 cuneiform tablets and fragments dating from about 3,000 B.C.

Brother Lundquist was a member of the team that first explored the Syrian side of the Yarmuk River, leading to the discovery and mapping of more than forty heretofore unknown ancient sites of human occupation.

“By its participation, BYU joins an elite group of American universities, including Yale and UCLA, on the frontier of research in this important field,” comments Brother Lundquist.

He points out that the Ebla discoveries are providing important background to the book of Genesis and will be particularly important in explaining Abraham’s world since it is not far from his homeland of Haran.

Tell Qarqur is one of the largest and most important unexcavated sites in the Near East, and Brother Lundquist’s preliminary research survey indicates that it was a major city at the same time Ebla flourished. “It is also the traditional location of the biblical city of Karkar, where in 853 B.C. a great battle was fought pitting King Ahab of Israel and several of his allies against the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III,” Brother Lundquist notes.

“Our preliminary reconnaissance indicates that Tell Qarqur was a major city in this period. Every major period of antiquity and of the middle ages is represented in the occupation debris in the surrounding Orontes Valley. Excavation at this key site would present great potential for discoveries that illuminate the Bible as well as other aspects of ancient history and culture.”