Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington
  • People


Michael Press

Borns Jewish Studies Program Visiting Scholar, 2014-15

My research interests involve the intersection of the history of modern archaeological exploration of the land of Israel with religion and nationalism. This includes everything from nineteenth-century accounts of travelers and scholars to current practices in “biblical archaeology” in Israel and the U.S. I am investigating both how the theological and cultural backgrounds of its practitioners have influenced the results of archaeological work, and what role this work has played in the identity of religious and national groups.

Other interests include the archaeology of religion in the ancient Levant and the archaeology of the Philistines. These interests are reflected in my book Ashkelon 4: The Iron Age Figurines of Ashkelon and Philistia (Eisenbrauns, 2012). I have also excavated for more than a decade in Israel, at the sites of Tel Ashkelon and Tel Burna.

On Friday, September 19, Professor Press will will discuss "The Motif of Desolation in 19th-Century Exploration of Palestine,” as part of our faculty-graduate student workshop series and on Wednesday, January 28th, he will give a lecture on the topic of "Ancient Israel, Modern Identities."


  • Ph.D., Harvard University, 2007 (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations)
  • B.A., Brandeis University, 1997 (Anthropology)

Selected Publications

  • Ashkelon 4: The Iron Age Figurines of Ashkelon and Philistia (Eisenbrauns, 2012)
  • “The Arabic Names of Tēl ‘Ērānī and ‘Irāq el-Menšīye”. Forthcoming, Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins.
  • “A Note on ‘Yagur of the Talmud.’” Liber Annuus 62 (2013): 357-361.
  • “(Pytho)Gaia in Myth and Legend: The Goddess of the Ekron Inscription Revisited”. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 365 (2012): 1-25.
  • “‘The Lying Pen of the Scribes’: Responses to Moses Shapira’s Nineteenth- Century Dead Sea Scroll.” Forthcoming, The Appendix
  • “Hussein’s Head and the Importance of Cultural Heritage,” The Ancient Near East Today 2/3 (March 2014)


  • Introduction to Judaism
  • Archaeology of Israel and Modern Religious Identity