The establishment of the Lynn H. Wood Archaeological Museum at Southern Adventist University continues the long tradition of emphasis in Near Eastern archaeological research by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Over the last 30 years, Seventh-day Adventist educational institutions have been recognized for their excellence in archaeological research, excavation, and publication. One scholar asserts that Seventh-day-Adventist-sponsored excavations have been “a model of interdisciplinary research.” Yet another scholar believes that these excavations have “become one of the most sophisticated and truly interdisciplinary of all American archaeological excavations in the Middle East.” Many factors have contributed to this long-standing interest in Near Eastern Archaeology, but perhaps the most significant is the intellectual legacy of key individuals whose vision captured the potential contributions Near Eastern Archaeology would have to offer to our understanding of the biblical text. One such important individual was Dr. Lynn H. Wood.
The service of Lynn Harper Wood to the Adventist Church spanned three continents. He served as president of Southern Junior College (now Southern Adventist University) from 1919-1922 and later became president of what is today Avondale College in Australia; Stanborough Park College, England; and Andrews University, in Michigan. In 1934 he took a leave from his administrative responsibilities at Emmanuel Missionary College (now Andrews University) and began his graduate studies at the University of Chicago. After completing an M.A. degree, he spent seven months as the Jastrow Fellow at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. During this time he traveled extensively throughout the Near East and excavated with Nelson Glueck at Tell el-Kheleifeh and Khirbet et-Tannur. In 1937 Wood became the first scholar in the Seventh-day Adventist Church to have a Ph.D. in archaeology. Following the completion of his studies, he became a professor at the SDA Theological Seminary in Potomac, Maryland, and established the Department of Archaeology and History of Antiquity.
Over the years Wood's contribution to the historical background and chronology of biblical events was strongly felt throughout the church. He regularly wrote magazine articles for Signs of the Times and the Review and Herald. In April 1949, he inaugurated a column in the the Review and Herald dedicated to "Archaeology and the Bible." Entries for this column appeared almost every month. Wood also contributed a number of articles to professional journals outside of the denomination. The contribution of this pioneer was recognized in an important article published in the prestigious Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research by Professor William F. Albright, the brilliant and renowned John Hopkins scholar, who stated that the close of the Twelfth Dynasty in Egypt was "now apparently fixed by Wood." His collaboration with Professor Siegfried Horn, his student and successor, in the book titled The Chronology of Ezra 7 established the date of 457 B.C. as the seventh year of Artexerxes. Upon his death in 1976, Dr. Wood's personal library of archaeological volumes was donated to the McKee Library of Southern Adventist University, the institution that he so much loved and to which he devoted his energies during his early years.
William G. Dever is American's foremost Near Eastern archaeologist. During his 35-year career, he has published more than 400 articles in peer-reviewed journals and authored or edited more than 20 scientific books. He has served as editor of the major journal in the field and has been an editor of several of its standard reference works.
Dever completed his studies at Harvard University (Ph.D., 1966) and served as director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology (1968-71) and the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research (1971-75) in Jerusalem. He directed the Tell Gezer Excavations, which became the training ground for senior American archaeologists today. He went on to direct excavations at Shechem, Khirbet el-Kom, Jebel Qa'aqir, Tell el-Hayyat, and The Central Negev Highlands Project in Israel and Idalion, Cyprus, receiving major grants from the Smithsonian Institution, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of Arizona Foundation, and the National Geographic Society. His awards include the Percia Schimmel Prize of the Israel Museum.
Dever was invited in 1975 to head a new graduate program in Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Arizona. Over a span of more than two decades, he established the largest Ph.D. program in Near Eastern Archaeology and Anthropology in North America. The program closed in 1997. In 1999 Dever was guest lecturer for the R.H. Pierson Lectureship at Southern Adventist University. His impression of the institution and its faculty, students, and administration, together with his desire for new programs in Near Eastern archaeology be established, contributed to his decision to place the Wiliam G. Dever Near Eastern Collection here, in January 2000. Today it comprises the core of the Lynn H. Wood Archaeological Museum, containing objects from Egypt, Babylonia, Persia, Syria-Palestine, Greece, Cyprus, and Anatolia.
You can help continue the legacy by giving a donation to the museum, or perhaps you would like to come along sometime to an excavation or study tour!