Biblical Archaeology Forum


The Biblical Archaeology Forum (BAF) begins its fifty-first year this autumn, and the twentieth at the JCC. Please join us for a series of eight in-person scholarly lectures and several Zoom events on the latest archaeological findings and related fields such as history, art, and texts of ancient times in the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean.

To subscribe to the entire 8-session lecture series plus Zoom events for $48, or for more information, please contact

Fees per lecture are (cash or check only at the door):

Free – High school students.
$5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students, and co-sponsors.
$8 – BASONOVA & Bender JCC members
$10 – General public.


After 1177 BCE: The Survival of Civilizations Sunday, May 19th - 7:30 PM
Piracy and the Late Bronze Age Collapse Wednesday, June 19th - 8:00 PM
Sunday, May 19, 2024 | 7:30 PM | Open to the Public | At B’nai Israel

Join Dr. Eric Cline at B’nai Israel for an evening of ancient history. In the years after 1177 BCE, many of the Late Bronze Age civilizations of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean lay in ruins, undone by invasion, revolt, natural disasters, famine, and the demise of international trade. An interconnected world that had boasted major empires and societies, relative peace, robust commerce, and monumental architecture was lost.

‘After 1177 BCE’ will trace the compelling story of what happened during the next four centuries across the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean world. It is a story of resilience, transformation, and success, as well as failures, in an age of chaos and reconfiguration. Those that failed to adjust disappeared from the world stage, while others transformed themselves, resulting in a new world order that included Israelites, Philistines, Phoenicians, Neo-Hittites, Neo-Assyrians, Neo-Babylonians, and world-changing innovations such as the use of iron and the alphabet.

It is now clear that this period, far from being the First Dark Age, was a new age with new inventions, new opportunities, and lessons for us today.

Piracy and the Late Bronze Age Collapse

Wednesday, June 19th
8:00 PM

Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | 8:00 PM | Open to the Public | Zoom

Join Professor Louise Hitchcock of University of Melbourne over Zoom for a discussion of ancient maritime history. The Sea Peoples were emblematic of the mixed ethnic identities that typified pirates of the Mediterranean world near the end of the Bronze Age. These mixed identities, generally drawn from non-elite classes, seem to have coalesced into cultural groupings whose members split their booty equally. Experienced sailors from many countries also “jumped ship” to join the pirates, looking for an easier life-style and greater, shared economic opportunity. Their egalitarianism is also reflected in evidence of communal feasting, and settling into common quarters during winter months when sailing conditions were most dangerous.

Pirates played a role in frustrating transnational trade in the Late Bronze Age, which challenged the economies of even the major nations. Surviving iconography displays pirate ships and booty, evidencing their successful “hit-and-run” surprise tactics. The end of the Bronze Age involved a collapse of international trade. This disintegration likely spelled the end of piracy during these years, too, as without seaborne cargoes to plunder, the rewards for enduring piracy disappeared.