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The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford Archaeological Guides) Paperback – June 25, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This book is an excellent choice for visitors to the Holy Land who want to take an in-depth look at the area's historical sites. Among this Oxford guide's special features are 150 site plans, maps, diagrams, and photographs; routes through the Old City of Jerusalem; a brief historical outline; and a glossary of essential terms. Oxford Archeological Guides: The Holy Land is also a useful source of practical advice on museum hours, suggested dress, travel and lodging contacts, as well as information on visiting desert locations such as the Judaean Desert and the hills of Elat.

The first half of the book covers sites in the city of Jerusalem, grouping them into areas for easy exploration. Maps accompany each site described. The second half of the book features an alphabetical listing--from Abu Ghosh to Yehiam--of key sites scattered throughout the Holy Land. Each site includes a reference to its position on the "Israel Touring Map" (available at bookstores in Israel), and especially recommended sites are starred or double-starred.

As an added bonus to this edition, more than 70 shaded sidebars offer a mini-anthology of ancient texts. "Not only do such documents illustrate the sort of material on which our historical knowledge is based, but their vividness and immediacy give a new dimension to the sites," writes author Murphy-O'Connor. --Kathryn True


`The Oxford Archaeological Guides offer a wealth of detailed, accurate but always readable information, providing anyone who has a serious interest in archaeology with the means to derive the utmost benefit from a visit to an ancient site. They are user-friendly and highly recommended.' Paul Bahn

`Always respectful, yet never gullible or preachy, Father Murphy-O'Connor's The Holy Land is by far the best popular guide to its subject ever written. Every entry bears the indelible mark of having been written by someone who knows the place it describes, and has seen it with an expert intelligence and an open mind.' Johm Romer

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Archaeological Guides
  • Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 4 edition (June 25, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192880136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192880130
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.2 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,013,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We recently returned from two weeks in Israel where we traveled around on our own with this book and the Lonely Planet Guide. Our trip would have been much poorer without The Holy Land. The strength of the book is its description of almost every ancient site of interest in Israel with line maps of the present structures and historical descriptions of the sites. The author includes quotes from ancient historians and medieval pilgrims as well as citations to the Bible. He approaches all the sites with respect but does not hesitate to call the authenticity of some sites into question when the historical or archaeological evidence does not support it. He points out that greater faith can be placed in the Christian sites where there was evidence of pre-Constantinian veneration, before the questions of pilgrims "excited the imaginations of local guides." For me this makes the more credible sites such as the Holy Sepulchre and the house of Peter even more moving.
For practical information on hotels, buses, etc. you should pick up the Lonely Planet Guide, but for infomation on the historical and religious sites this is the best book I have seen.
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Format: Paperback
Unique guide for archaeology minded traveler
The little known Oxford Archaeological Guides series provides information that you cannot find elsewhere This guide was written by Jerome Murphy-O'Connor in 1980 and was revised for the new Oxford Archaeological guides series in 1997 as the initial offering of the series. O'Connor provides a wealth of information here that you wont find in regular guidebooks. The topic of biblical archaeology is too large to be addressed by any one book. The author squeezes all he can into less than 500 pages. The section dealing with Jerusalem is most detailed. Outlying sites receive less attention. There is useful information about hours of operation and practical matters such as directions to remote sites. In addition to describing the various areas of interest, there are sections giving the history of the different peoples of the holy land, both historical and present day including sections on the Druze, the Philistines, the Samaritans, the Essenes and the Nabateans. There is a good attention here to changes over time with an emphasis on how the appearance of each site evolved over the years. Interesting comparisons are made with the condition of sites in the present day and their description in ancient texts including Josephus' "The Jewish War" and the Bible itself. This book would be inadequate as the only guidebook for a visit to Israel. I would recommend the Knopf Guide to the Holy Land and Baedeker Israel for routine tourist information. Some minor drawbacks: the drawings and maps are not as detailed as they could be and the few photographs that are provided are black and white and of poor quality. These complaints are not critical flaws; the book would still be invaluable even if it didn't contain a single illustration.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you really want to separate the wheat from the chaff - this is the way to begin.

In this book, Jerome Murphy-O'Connor will take you behind the hidden doors, under the altars, down secret stairways and forgotten streets on an amazing adventure. It's not a lesson in theology - you have to bring your own. It's a guide to what can be seen, what can be touched with your hand.

With all the digging that's been going on since this book has been published, I'm eagerly looking forward to an updated edition.
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Format: Paperback
Recommended to me by an archaeolgist long active in Israel, I found this book quite helpful in appreciating a number of sites (and sights) I recently visited (and saw) in the Holy Land. For folks who are looking to learn more about various ancient sites than the typical tour guide can offer, this will be well worth its price. In addition to its being informative, I found the personality of its author evident and engaging.
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