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Exhibit offers ‘Journey Through Biblical History’

March 11, 2016 12:00 AM
Pikeville, Ky.
A museum exhibit of biblical proportions will be coming soon to Eastern Kentucky. The University of Pikeville, in partnership with the City of Pikeville, will host “Khirbet el-Maqatir – A Journey through Biblical History” beginning in January 2017.

The exhibit will be on display in the City of Pikeville for six months and feature approximately 200 artifacts from ancient Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Syria. The artifacts on display represent several biblical periods in history from the time of Abraham, to Joshua’s conquest and ancient Babylon. Visitors will also have an opportunity to view artifacts dating from 3000 B.C. to the time of Jesus and the Roman era.

“It’s exciting to be working on a project that one would only expect to see in a large metro area,” said Tommy Chamberlin, exhibit director and president of the University of Pikeville’s Alumni Association. “We are so proud to bring artifacts from the ancient world of the Bible to Pikeville. This will be the first time people from Eastern Kentucky will be able to see a museum exhibit of this nature in their home community.”

A significant number of artifacts will come from the largest current archaeological excavation in Israel and the site of Khirbet el-Maqatir. Archaeologists believe evidence indicates the site is the biblical fortress of Ai mentioned in the book of Joshua. It is also likely that the site was named Ephraim in the Roman era and a location visited by Jesus and his disciples.

Once the artifacts from Khirbet el-Maqatir are returned to Israel it is unlikely to ever return to the United States, according to Chamberlin. Artifacts in the main exhibit are from various sites throughout the biblical ages, including pottery vessels from 3000 B.C. to the time of Christ, Old Testament-era idols, ancient slingstones, ancient weapons, rare coins from the time of the New Testament, cuneiform tablets from ancient Babylon and an Egyptian scarab that was voted the number one biblical archaeology discovery of 2013.

“This world-class exhibit is made possible in Pikeville because of two archaeology partners,” said Chamberlin, expressing appreciation for the Associates of Biblical Research who supervise the excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir in Israel. The artifacts are the property of the Israeli government and are on loan to Pikeville with the permission of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria. The artifacts from Khirbet el-Maqatir are already in the United States and featured in exhibits in major cities in Texas, Tennessee and Alabama. Once the exhibit opens in Pikeville, Chamberlin said it would be expanded thanks to involvement of a second partner – the Horn Archaeological Museum of Berrien Springs, Mich. The Horn museum will contribute pottery, weapons, coins and other ancient artifacts from all biblical periods.

The main exhibit will be hosted in downtown Pikeville at the newly renovated York House beginning in January 2017. Hosting the exhibit in this historic location was made possible by the City of Pikeville. Visitors will be able to enjoy an extensive walk-through display that will be enhanced by storytelling, video, signs, photography and interactive media.

“The City of Pikeville and the Pikeville City Commission are excited to partner with the University of Pikeville to bring this incredible historical exhibit from the biblical era to our historic York House,” said Pikeville Mayor Jimmy Carter. “This exhibit provides an opportunity for our community and those surrounding us to experience our local arts, culture and history with the York House, while also experiencing historical artifacts from other places in the world. It is a great educational opportunity and we’re delighted to be partner in the opportunity of bringing it to our community.”

Several related events will set the stage for the main exhibit, including a temporary traveling exhibit. On April 29-30 renowned biblical archaeologist, Bryant Wood, will visit Pikeville and do presentations on his archaeology work about Jericho and the site of Khirbet el-Maqatir (Ai). The university already has 30 rare biblical era artifacts on loan to take to church groups, businesses, schools and private events as a preview of the coming exhibit. To learn more about tickets for the archaeologist event or to host a presentation of the biblical artifacts, visit

Chamberlin said funding for the yearlong project is off to a good start, but exhibit partners are hoping that businesses, church groups and individuals across the region will provide additional funding to enhance the experience.

“From the beginning, we saw this exhibit as something beyond just a project for the university and the city,” said Chamberlin. “This is a special event for Eastern Kentucky and we’re working hard to make this community event happen in a world-class way.”

To contact the exhibit director about business sponsorships or booking a presentation of the preview collection of rare ancient artifacts, inquire at To learn more about the exhibit, related events and sponsorship opportunities visit


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