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NOC instructor participates in Jerusalem archaeological dig

Just like every little boy, Northern Oklahoma College Social Science instructor Steve McClaren likes to dig in the dirt.

McClaren’s digs, however, are helping to better understand the history of the Biblical world.

McClaren has made nine trips to the Holy Land. Five of those trips he has worked with the only American sponsored archaeological dig in the City of Jerusalem.

During the most recent dig, sponsored by the University of North Carolina, the team finished excavating a dry moat around the City of Jerusalem.

“This excavation confirms two eyewitness accounts concerning the fall of Jerusalem to the Crusaders,” McClaren said. “For over a thousand years the accounts have been mythologized since there was no evidence of a dry moat.”

According to McClaren, the July 2019 find confirmed a 2014 discovery of what was believed to be a moat verifying accounts of the 1099 A.D. fall of Jerusalem.

McClaren personally uncovered a rare jade green enamel-ware pottery imported from China, by the Spice and Silk Traders of 900A.D.

Another recent discovery, just announced, was a layer of ash, destruction and artifacts dating to 586BC which have confirmed the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem. “We have, in one site and within the span of 5 years, confirmed and solidified the historical account of two of the destructions of Jerusalem. Until these finds, both have been scientifically unproven and in question. We have rewritten the history books and one of them (Babylon) completely confirms the Biblical account,” McClaren said.

Previous excavations from the team include the following: Uncovered the palace of a Priestly family of the Temple, many of the rooms from the first century palace still have intact roofs. Only two such excavations exist in Israel, discovered only the second "Roman bathtub" in Israel, discovered one of only five known gold coins of Nero minted in Caesarea, found a large cache of deep-sea Murex snail shells used for the sacred blue dye of the Temple garments, unearthed a stone cup decorated with writing that is the same type script used in the Dead Sea Scrolls. One of only six examples, and uncovered a Byzantine road (400 A.D.) and gate entering into the Old City of Jerusalem.

McClaren said that archeology is an extremely slow process.

“Digs are slow and very labor intensive,” he said. “Plus, digs are only approved for a few weeks at a time so it takes years and years to work these areas.”

He said that Israeli officials monitor the digs helping to ensure that all finds are catalogued properly.

Due to his background and experience, McClaren now supervises on these digs with younger PhD students doing most of the excavation.

“The beauty of archaeology is that you never know what you are going to find and it’s exciting to discover things that challenge or confirm what is believed to be the historical record,” he said.