The Holy Land Revealed Series

The Great Courses
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36 episodes in this series

Episode 1 The Land of Canaan
What do we mean by "holy land"? What is the difference between archaeology and history? How reliable is the Hebrew Bible as a window into life in ancient Israel? Discover…
Episode 2 The Arrival of the Israelites
Explore what archaeologists have uncovered about the arrival of the Israelites into Canaan. Among the many intriguing artifacts you examine are an ancient Egyptian stele featuring the earliest reference to…
Episode 3 Jerusalem: An Introduction to the City
Here, survey the topography and layout of Jerusalem: perhaps the most important city in religious history. Then, review biblical accounts of Jerusalem from the arrival of David around 1000 B.C.E.…
Episode 4 The Jerusalem of David and Solomon
In this first episode on the remains of the biblical City of David, comb through the fascinating remains of a scribe's house located behind a city wall; grasp the development…
Episode 5 Biblical Jerusalem's Ancient Water Systems
Continue your archaeological exploration of the City of David by focusing on its ancient water system, centered on the Gihon Spring. Learn about the three different water systems that were…
Episode 6 Samaria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel
Turn now to Israel as it was ruled under the Omride dynasty between Solomon's death and the Assyrian invasion in 722 B.C.E. Here, explore important ruins, including the High Place…
Episode 7 Fortifications and Cult Practices
Delve into aspects of everyday life in the kingdoms of ancient Israel. Focus on how elaborately recessed gates were designed to protect cities like Gezer from enemies, and how altars,…
Episode 8 Babylonian Exile and the Persian Restoration
In 539 B.C.E., after the Babylonians were subsumed by the Persian Empire, the exiled Judeans were allowed to return to Jerusalem. So what happened next? Find out with this penetrating…
Episode 9 Alexander the Great and His Successors
Alexander the Great's conquests of the Near East introduced Greek culture to the Holy Land. Professor Magness uses archaeological findings: including the personal belongings of murdered Samaritans and the remains…
Episode 10 The Hellenization of Palestine
Continue examining the Hellenistic influence on the Holy Land: this time on non-Jewish populations in the area. Focus on three distinct cities: Iraq el-Amir (with the remains of an impressive…
Episode 11 The Maccabean Revolt
Turn now to the impact of the Greeks on the Jewish population of Judea. Tour the tumultuous years between 167 and 103 B.C.E., which saw Antiochus IV's imposition of Greek…
Episode 12 The Hasmonean Kingdom
In this investigation of the Hasmoneans, meet individuals including the cruel king Alexander Jannaeus and his accomplished queen and widow, and examine the civil war between their successors. Then, meet…
Episode 13 Pharisees and Sadducees
By the mid-2nd century B.C.E., various Jewish sects had established themselves. Here, compare and contrast two of the most dominant of these sects: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. What parts…
Episode 14 Discovery and Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Travel to Qumran, the archaeological site located adjacent to the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered in the late 1940s. As you tour the caves and the site…
Episode 15 The Sectarian Settlement at Qumran
Continue touring the site at Qumran, with a focus on three distinctive features of the settlement. These are animal bones found in pots; an elaborate water system that channeled flash…
Episode 16 The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes
Scholars believe the Qumran community, commonly identified with the Essenes, was a sect that lived in anticipation of the End of Days. What was it like to be a member…
Episode 17 The Life of the Essenes
In this final episode on the Qumran sect, investigate the ancient latrines and hygienic practices of the community. Your three sources for insights into this little-explored aspect of everyday life:…
Episode 18 From Roman Annexation to Herod the Great
Witness the rise of Herod the Great: the ruthless king who governed Judea between 40 and 4 B.C.E. and who is most infamous for ordering the slaughter of the innocents…
Episode 19 Herod as Builder: Jerusalem's Temple Mount
In the first of several episodes on Herod's great buildings, many of which served as the backdrop to Jesus's life and ministry, walk through the reconstructed Second Temple and Temple…
Episode 20 Caesarea Maritima: Harbor and Showcase City
During his reign, Herod also built Greco-Roman style cities in his non-Jewish territories. Here, Professor Magness guides you through the most famous of these: the port city of Caesarea Maritima…
Episode 21 From Herod's Last Years to Pontius Pilate
Visit Herod's winter palace at Jericho, where he spent his final years, and his fortified palace at Herodium, where: in 2007: archaeologists discovered his tomb. Then, explore the divided kingdom…
Episode 22 Galilee: Setting of Jesus's Life and Ministry
Tour the remains of Galilean towns and villages that date back to the time of Jesus, including Sepphoris (with its theater) and Capernaum (with its neighborhood of private houses). Then,…
Episode 23 Synagogues in the Time of Jesus
What do we know about the synagogues that served as the setting for the teachings of Jesus and Paul? After surveying the history of this religious institution, explore some of…
Episode 24 Sites of the Trial and Final Hours of Jesus
Explore the Antonia Fortress, the Church of the Sisters of Zion, three successive lines of fortification walls, the ruins of a burnt Jewish villa, and other archaeological finds in Jerusalem…
Episode 25 Early Jewish Tombs in Jerusalem
Chart the development of ancient Jewish rock-cut tombs and burial customs. First, peer inside an Iron-Age cemetery at Ketef Hinnom and view the scant remains of the epic Mausoleum at…
Episode 26 Monumental Tombs in the Time of Jesus
Turn now to burial customs spanning the Second Temple period, with a particular emphasis on the use of stone ossuaries to store the bones of the deceased. You'll also examine…
Episode 27 The Burials of Jesus and James
Place the Gospel accounts of the death and burial of Jesus within an archaeological context. The highlight of this episode is the discussion of two recent: and highly controversial: discoveries:…
Episode 28 The First Jewish Revolt: Jerusalem Destroyed
Relive the first Jewish revolt against Rome between 66 and 70 C.E. You'll follow the infighting among Jewish rebel groups, explore the sites of fierce battles between rebels and Roman…
Episode 29 Masada: Herod's Desert Palace and the Siege
After the end of the first Jewish revolt, three Herodian fortresses remained occupied by Jewish rebels. The most famous of these: Masada. Here, discover what archaeological evidence reveals about how…
Episode 30 Flavius Josephus and the Mass Suicide
Pore over the remains of a ramp that was instrumental in the Roman victory at Masada. Then, take a closer look at controversies over the mass suicide of the Jewish…
Episode 31 The Second Jewish Revolt against the Romans
Investigate archaeological finds from the last 50 years that have shed unprecedented new light on the second major Jewish uprising: the Bar-Kokhba Revolt. Central to this episode are two mysterious…
Episode 32 Roman Jerusalem: Hadrian's Aelia Capitolina
The Roman emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as the pagan city Aelia Capitolina. Witness the results of his rule, including the iconic Damascus Gate, a towering statue of Hadrian, and two…
Episode 33 Christian Emperors and Pilgrimage Sites
The legalization of Christianity under Constantine radically transformed the landscape of ancient Israel. In the first of two episodes on the Holy Land under the Byzantine Empire, tour two major…
Episode 34 Judaism and Synagogues under Christian Rule
As Christianity spread across the Holy Land, synagogues became increasingly larger and more elaborate in an attempt to bolster Judaism. See how this was done by peering closely at the…
Episode 35 Islam's Transformation of Jerusalem
The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are the two most potent examples of the spread of Islam into the Holy Land beginning in the mid-7th century C.E.…
Episode 36 What and How Archaeology Reveals
What is it like to work alongside an archaeologist in the field? In Professor Magness's final episode, experience how archaeologists reconstruct their delicate pictures of the past: from deciding where…

Related videos

The Land of Canaan
What do we mean by "holy land"? What is the difference between archaeology and history? How reliable is the Hebrew Bible as a window into life in ancient Israel? Discover answers to these and other questions in this introductory episode, and take a peek at the region's earliest recorded inhabitants,…
Christian Emperors and Pilgrimage Sites
The legalization of Christianity under Constantine radically transformed the landscape of ancient Israel. In the first of two episodes on the Holy Land under the Byzantine Empire, tour two major churches built during this period: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the once-lost Nea Church devoted to Mary.
Babylonian Exile and the Persian Restoration
In 539 B.C.E., after the Babylonians were subsumed by the Persian Empire, the exiled Judeans were allowed to return to Jerusalem. So what happened next? Find out with this penetrating look at the Persian administration of the Holy Land, the influence of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the birth of early…
Alexander the Great and His Successors
Alexander the Great's conquests of the Near East introduced Greek culture to the Holy Land. Professor Magness uses archaeological findings: including the personal belongings of murdered Samaritans and the remains of towers at an ancient fortification: to illustrate the profound influences of Alexander and his successors.
The Hellenization of Palestine
Continue examining the Hellenistic influence on the Holy Land: this time on non-Jewish populations in the area. Focus on three distinct cities: Iraq el-Amir (with the remains of an impressive temple or pleasure palace); Marisa (with its fascinating series of caves); and Tel Dor (with its distinctly Hellenistic architectural style).
Judaism and Synagogues under Christian Rule
As Christianity spread across the Holy Land, synagogues became increasingly larger and more elaborate in an attempt to bolster Judaism. See how this was done by peering closely at the remains of the synagogues at Capernaum, Hammath Tiberias, and Beth Alpha: as well as their (sometimes surprising) decorations.
Islam's Transformation of Jerusalem
The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are the two most potent examples of the spread of Islam into the Holy Land beginning in the mid-7th century C.E. Discover what archaeologists have learned about these two spectacular buildings and their importance to the Muslim faith.
Caesarea Maritima: Harbor and Showcase City
During his reign, Herod also built Greco-Roman style cities in his non-Jewish territories. Here, Professor Magness guides you through the most famous of these: the port city of Caesarea Maritima (where Paul was imprisoned, according to Acts 23-24). Comb through the ruins of the city's harbor, hippodrome, aqueducts, and more.
The Jerusalem of David and Solomon
In this first episode on the remains of the biblical City of David, comb through the fascinating remains of a scribe's house located behind a city wall; grasp the development of biblical Hebrew script; and examine rare examples of this script in a clay sealing, a piece of pottery, and…
Catholicism: Rome, Leeds and the Desert
Part of the Series: The Long Search
Catholicism, especially since Vatican II, has undergone many changes. In this episode filmed in Rome, Spain and England, we discover the diversity and the unity of the religious experience labeled the Holy Catholic Church.
Apocalyptic Works and the “Son of Man”
From 1 and 2 Maccabees to the Books of Daniel and Enoch, get a close reading of apocalyptic literary works composed in the aftermath of the Maccabean Revolt. Afterwards, Professor Magness probes possible meanings of the term "son of man" in both the Hebrew Bible and the Gospels.
The Dead Sea Scrolls: Earliest Hebrew Bible
Unpack the hidden meaning and significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves--some of ancient history's most fascinating texts, which date back to the time of Jesus. Among the findings you'll explore here: early copies of the Hebrew Bible, fragments of a Greek translation of the Septuagint, and early biblical commentaries.