The Prewitt-Allen Archaeological Museum at Corban University showcases over 900 items related to archaeology from the Middle East and Greece. The museum owes its existence primarily to the labors of two men: Robert S. Allen and J. Franklin Prewitt who each contributed hundreds of volunteer hours to establish a depository for the benefit of Middle East studies.
The collection had its genesis in the work of Robert Allen, an adjunct instructor in archaeology from 1956 to 1969. It has been a part of Corban's Library throughout its existence. If you would like information about specific pieces, or have questions concerning other items in the line listing of holdings, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visiting the Museum
The Museum is open to the public whenever the College library is open, usually 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, and 10:30 am to 5 pm on Saturday (8:30 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday in vacation periods, or by appointment).
The most frequent group tours are field trips for 5-6th grade classes in ancient history, home school groups, senior citizen groups, church groups, retirement home trips, and periodically, a commercial tour group. Group tours may be arranged by calling Adrian Jeffers, 503-589-8128. It is best to limit the group size to 25.
While donations are accepted, viewing the Museum is free to both individuals and groups. One hour minimum should be allowed.
Handicap access by elevator is available upon request.
The Museum is presently under the direction of volunteer curator Dr. Adrian Jeffers.
Directions See Map
The Prewitt-Allen Archaeology Museum at Corban College & Graduate School was conceived by Mr. Robert S. Allen in 1953 for the purpose of having materials at hand that could augment classroom studies. The most famous article in the collection is the “Allen Papyrus”, named for Mr. Allen and cataloged as such in international publications on ancient manuscripts. It is a rare fragment of Virgil’s Georgics and an Old Testament apocrypha book.
The museum contains a collection of photographic facsimiles of every page of every important manuscript of the New Testament from 130 A.D. through the 5th century in the manuscript cases. This exhibit is intended primarily as research material for students and visitors. Other cases includes artifacts from Greece, Sumeria and Mesopotamia. Fragments of stamped bricks bearing the official inscription of Nebuchadnezzar are on display. Another interesting exhibit demonstrates the sequence dating system utilizing clay and bronze oil lamps dating from 3000 B.C. through Arabic 8th century A.D.
A very rare falcon casket and mummy wrapped in the form of the god Osisis can be seen in the Egyptian collection. A pottery collection is found in the Palestinian cases. Pottery dating from 3000 B.C. to the Qumran pottery, 1st century A.D., is also displayed.
Perhaps the most impressive displays, in terms of size, are the exact size castings of the famed Rosetta Stone, Obelisk of Shalmaneser, and the Code of Hammurabi.
The Rosetta Stone, the original of which is in the British Museum, was the key used to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Obelisk of Shalmaneser, British Museum, is of interest to Bible students because it shows an Israelite ruler, Jehu (842-815 B.C.) bowing in submission to the Assyrian emperor Shalmaneser. The Code of Hammurabi, now in the Louvre Museum, Paris, destroyed the 19th century criticism of the Mosaic Law that stated nations were not advanced enough to have writing and laws in the Mosaic Age.
Robert Allen's Travels
In early May, 1971, Mr. Allen returned to Western after an extended leave of seven years during which he visited no less than 39 different countries throughout the world. He was in Jerusalem during the 6-day war where he received an official commendation of gratitude for his assistance with Israeli casualties at the Haddasah Hospital during the battle for Jerusalem.
His objectives for travel were to visit prehistoric and historic archaeological sites and to secure artifacts for the museum. During his diversified travels, Mr. Allen was a member of a safari which visited prehistoric rock art sites in the Sahara desert. He also visited primitive cultures in South African countries and the mysterious monolithic monument of Stonehenge in England. His travels also included France where he and the late WB professor Stanley S. Flohr were granted special permission to visit the famed prehistoric art cave at Lascaux, France. The cave is closed to the public to protect the millennia-old art.
Ancient Law Code Supports Scripture
by Robert S. Allen
There has just been added to our museum a seven-foot high, 300 pound replica of the Babylonian Hammurabi Law Code of about 1770 B.C. It was made by the staff of the world famous Louvre Museum in Paris. It is, even to every minute detail, an exact full-size replica, made from casts of the original stone monument, weighing several tons, now in the Louvre. This Hammurabi Law Code stands as a witness and testimony to the students and visitors to the nature of false and unfounded attacks against the Holy Scriptures.
In the 19th century, around 1877, Wellhausen, and other scholars, attacked the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. Two of the major and most telling arguments at that time against Mosaic authorship were: 1. Hebrew writing was unknown at so early a period as 1500-1200 B.C. The earliest Hebrew writing then known was the Moabite Stone about 850 B.C. (as though Hebrew script was the only possible medium.) 2. The peoples of the Middle East were not sufficiently advanced culturally to be able to conceive and possess such laws during the Mosaic age. Aiding this argument was the fact that no laws were discovered until the 20th Century.
It was a field day for those 19th Century scholars, as no evidence was known to contradict them. It was terribly destructive, making atheists out of multiplied thousands who believed these pseudo-scientific theories and criticisms against the historical integrity of Scripture. There was not even a hint of the tremendous discoveries to come in the 20th Century.
However, in the matter of writing, just 10 years later in 1887, the Tel el Amarna letters were discovered in Egypt. Letters from all over Palestine, from Hazor, Gezer, Ashkelon, Gaza, Shechem, Lachish, Bebron, Megiddo, written in the 14th Century B.C. and clearly showing the high state of literacy throughout the biblical area. Some of these letters were even pleading for Egyptian help against the Habiru who were taking their cities and lands. In the 20th Century, writings in an archaic Hebrew script were discovered in the Sinai Peninsula and in Palestine dating to the 15th Century and at Lachish dating to 1700 B.C.
In the matter of laws, 20th Century discoveries have revealed a number of law codes contemporary with the Mosaic age and even dating back to 2000 B.C., such as the Urnammu and the Lipit-Ishtar law codes. The most famous, largest, and most comprehensive is, of course, the Law Code of Hammurabi, who ruled Babylonia in 1792-1750 B.C. Here in this magnificent monument we have evidence of both writing and laws several centuries before Moses. Many of these laws are as advanced morally and socially, as those of the Pentateuch. Laws covering marriage, adultery, divorce, child support, labor and wages, suits to recover damages, etc. They cover almost the entire 7-foot high, 2 1/2 -foot diameter of this stone monument in a small beautiful cuneiform script of which full translations in English have been published. It had been carried away by the conquering Elamites to Susa, the biblical Shushan of Queen Esther, and was discovered there in 1902 by French archaeologists. Originally it had stood in the public square of Babylon for the instruction of the populace. They were illiterate. It would seem senseless to engage in such hard labor to engrave this huge stone if the people couldn’t read it.
The German archaeologist Hugo Winckler began excavating at the Hittite capital of Hattusas (Boghaz Koy), Turkey, in 1910. He discovered there a 14th Century B.C. Hittite code of laws. Thus we find the nearby Hittites were writing laws in the same general age that Moses was writing laws.
It seems unreasonable to believe that while all the nations surrounding the Hebrew peoples practiced writing that Israel alone was illiterate and trusting in the oral transmission of its laws and history. All the evidence points to the truth that Moses wrote just as the Bible says he did -- Exodus 24:4; Numbers 33:1; Deuteronomy 31:9, 22. The persistence, to this day, that pentateuchal references to writing are anachronisms and additions to the text centuries later by editors and redactors according to a so-called Documentary hypothesis, and the continued insistence that the Pentateuch was handed down by oral tradition, is absolutely contrary to the hard facts.
Jesus said that if his disciples were to hold their peace “the stones would immediately cry out,” Luke 19:39-40.
Today, when it seems the testimony of Christ’s disciples has become weak if not silent, the very stones are indeed crying out in witness. Archaeology in the 20th Century has produced multitudes of stones with similar testimonies on behalf of our Bible. This Hammurabi Law Code is the latest of a number of stone (and other archaeological) witnesses now in our museum for the benefit of our students and visitors, most of them being original artifacts and not replicas.
Cal. Institute of Technology Borrows Rare Manuscript
by Richard Muntz
Salem, OR, July 1976
California Institute of Technology and Western Baptist Bible College might seem academically as far apart as Egypt is from Mars geographically. But all four are being brought together in a research project headed by Dr. John F. Benton, Professor of History at Caltech.
In 1953, Robert S. Allen, then instructor in archaeology at WBBC, purchased a papyrus fragment from a dealer in Egyptian antiquities. It proved to be a 5th century palimpsest -- a Coptic text of the Wisdom of Solomon superimposed on an earlier text of Vergil’s Georgics. This over-writing technique has obscured texts which scholars would like to study. Enter Dr. Benton, who proposed that the same vidicon camera and computer techniques used to “enhance” pictures sent back by television signal from spacecraft, be applied to ancient manuscripts. The process has already been used on a 14th century manuscript to recover “lost” (erased, illegible) writing. Benton believes that since the inks from different periods would have different compositions, overwriting could be visually eliminated in the same way the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s computer eliminates the “space static” from Mars photographs. The result would be a clearly readable under-text, without damage to the precious manuscript.
Benton found the Allen manuscript listed in E.A. Lowe’s Codices Latini Antiquores. He stated: "it is the only early palimpsest known to me on the West Coast and perhaps in the United States.” Permission was granted by Allen, then in Hong Kong, for WBBC to loan his manuscript to Caltech for this potentially vital research. The results of the project will be published in Scriptorium, an international review of manuscript studies. Benton, who has already sent Western some superb photographs of Mars, will bring personal report on the project and its significances. The research is supported by the Caltech President’s Fund for Parchment Photography and Image Processing.
The latest report from Benton states that in three full days of the Mariner Jupiter-Saturn vidicon system, “we took images of the palimpsest under various lights and with a variety of filters, thus permitting color differentiation of the inks. On Friday, September 3, I saw the first prints drawn from these tapes. Their quality is superb. We can clearly enhance the under-writing without difficulty. How well computer-processes can work to ‘erase’ the upper writing remains to be seen.”
The Robert S. Allen Archaeology Museum of WBBC, the official depository for the Georgics manuscript, is a valuable adjunct to classes in history, art and language, as well as archaeology. Every year classes from Salem’s high schools conduct field trips to the museum. At present, Dr. J. Franklin Prewitt, Professor of Bible, is preparing an additional room to house the manuscript collection, which includes a complete 17th century Hebrew synagogue Torah scroll and photographic facsimiles of every page of all of the most ancient and most famous manuscripts of the New Testament from 130 A.D. through the 5th century. Here the Allen manuscript will find a new resting place on its return from its adventure with space technology.
Robert S. Allen
A postman by occupation, Allen became an archaeologist of note in the San Francisco Bay area, having his materials displayed at the Oakland Public Library and the University of California's San Francisco Center. Allen's educational background included studies at Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, Western Baptist College, University of California, and three years at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (during which he engaged in medical work in the Six-Day War). He also participated in a "dig" at Ramad Rahel (Hill of Rachel) in Israel. Allen's extensive travels took him to Africa, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Russia and China. Allen officially donated his archaeological materials and library to the college in the mid-1980's. Mr. Allen died in 1997.
J. Franklin Prewitt
Dr. Prewitt was associated with Western Baptist/Corban University for 50 years, having served as founding board member, business manager, and professor of Bible and Middle Eastern history as well as Biblical Archaeology. He served as curator of the museum after Corban moved to its present location in 1969.
Prewitt was Resident Director of the Institute for Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem from 1960-62 and conducted about thirty study tours of Israel and the Middle East from 1964 on. He passed away in 1992.
Current curator, Dr. Jeffers, is a former professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at the College. He has also had field experience, having participated in the archaeological excavation of Beersheba. Jeffers has also donated artifacts from his personal collection, and is responsible for the updated evaluation and inventory of the museum and enhancement of the exhibits, including new labels, display cases, and translations of ancient Sumerian tablets. He may be contacted at email@example.com