By Scott Sager & Drew Bloodworth

Lipscomb University will celebrate the launch of its new Lanier Center for Archaeology at a special virtual reception on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. CDT. Attendance is free, but registration is required to obtain a link to join the reception. Register here.

This summer the university announced that internationally renowned archaeology scholars Steven Ortiz and Tom Davis founded the Lanier Center for Archaeology at Lipscomb University. The center will offer academic programs and field research projects as well as bring extensive resources and artifacts to Lipscomb University.

Housed in Lipscomb’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the Lanier Center for Archaeology is made possible through the generosity of Becky and Mark Lanier, J.D. Mark Lanier is a member of the Lipscomb Board of Trustees and a 1981 Lipscomb graduate. The Laniers are known for their passion for theology and archaeology, and are ardent supporters of this work. They also founded the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas.

The virtual reception, hosted by Scott Sager, vice president for church services, will include interviews with Ortiz, Davis and Lanier along with conversation about the center’s academic programs and its current active projects.

The Lanier Center for Archaeology plans to offer a Doctor of Philosophy in Archaeology of the Ancient Near East and a Master of Arts in Archaeology and Biblical Studies beginning in January 2021, pending accreditation approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SASCOC). In addition, the center will feature archaeological research libraries, an extensive artifact study collection and a ceramic restoration lab.

The mission of the Lanier Center for Archaeology is to conduct archaeological research. The focus of this research is primarily archaeology of the biblical world. Naturally, this expands to focus on the archaeology of the Ancient Near East and the eastern Mediterranean world of the first millennium AD. To carry out its mission, the center will engage in field research projects, including four active projects: Tel Gezer excavation and publication project in Israel, Kourion Urban Space project in Cyprus, Karnak epigraphic survey in Egypt and the Tel Burna excavation project in Israel.

Ortiz is a professor of archaeology and director of the Lanier Center. He was formerly director of the Tandy Institute for Archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he was professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds. He received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Arizona. He is the principal investigator and co-director of the Tel Gezer Excavation Project and is now a senior staff member at Tel Burna. He has been a senior staff member at Tel Zeitah, Ekron, Jerusalem-Ketef Hinnom, Tell el-Hamma and Lachish. Ortiz’s research and publications focus on the archaeology of David and Solomon, Iron Age I and II transition, and the border relations between Judah and Philistia.

Davis is associate director of the center. He has 40 years of experience as an archaeologist, working extensively in Cyprus, the Near East, Egypt, Central Asia and the United States. He has held positions across the spectrum of archaeology. He has been a professor of archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; an assistant vice president of a professional archaeology company in the U.S., and most significantly, the director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI) in Nicosia, Cyprus, one of the premier archaeological research centers in the Eastern Mediterranean. Davis currently directs the Kourion Urban Space Project (KUSP) at the early Christian site of Kourion, Cyprus. He also serves as project co-director and field director of the Ilyn Balik Expedition, Kazakhstan; and as project coordinator for the Recordation Project of the West Wall of the Cour de la Cachette in the Temple of Karnak, Luxor, Egypt.