SEARCY, Ark. (News release) — The Linda Byrd Smith Museum of Biblical Archaeology at Harding University will open this weekend with a ceremony Saturday at 1:30 p.m. With more than 100 artifacts displayed, the museum will be used as a resource for students to provide context and help them better understand their biblical studies.
Dr. Dale Manor, museum coordinator, is the field director for the Tel Beth-Shemesh dig site in Israel. For more than 20 years, he has collected artifacts and replica objects from Israel.
“I look for artifacts that enrich the understanding of the larger cultural setting,” Manor said. “Clearly the Bible is a narrative focusing on a particular point, but it unfolds within the lives and culture of people, and in my opinion, the more we know about that culture and those lives, the more we recognize that we are more alike than we are different.”
The museum has ten sections which showcase items such as storage jars, perfume bottles, coins, weapons, wine skins and other artifacts from daily life in the ancient world. Other displays include excavation tools, explanations of ceramic typology and carbon dating, and a timeline from 2000 B.C. to 700 A.D.
The museum was largely funded by Harding alumna and Little Rock resident Linda Byrd Smith. After seeing the number of artifacts and replicas Manor kept in his office, she offered a donation for a campus display.
“Dr. Manor was so willing to help organize the effort, and now I’m excited it’s happening,” Smith said. “As he talks about his work in Beth-Shemesh— his research in archaeology — the Bible comes alive.”
Junior Evan Pratt, a member of the University’s Society of Near Eastern Archaeology, is interested in ancient culture and said the archaeology museum will help students gain a better understanding of the context behind biblical accounts.
“The museum is definitely an educational opportunity in that they can go and see the artifacts that were used by people from that time period could have affected their lives and way of thinking,” Pratt said. “If we see what their world consisted of and the objects they interacted with, we get a better understanding of how the biblical story is true in normal life and normal people and how the objects we interact with, the artifacts we have around us, change our perspective on the world, ourselves and everything else.”
After opening Saturday, April 15, the museum hours will be Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. or by appointment. Admission is free and open to the public.
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