Close this search box.

Frederick Jones Bliss

Holy Land Revealed

Frederick Jones Bliss (1859-1937) was an American archaeologist who worked in Biblical archaeology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is best known for his excavations at Tell el-Hesi, Jerusalem, and several sites in the Shephelah region of modern Israel.

Frederick Jones Bliss

Frederick Jones Bliss – Excavations in Palestine

Bliss was born on Mount Lebanon, Syria, to missionary parents. He studied at Amherst College and Union Theological Seminary and then taught at the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut. In 1890, he was hired by the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) to lead excavations at Tell el-Hesi, a large mound in southern Israel.

Frederick Jones Bliss’s work at Tell el-Hesi revealed a sequence of occupation levels dating from the Early Bronze Age to the Persian period. He also discovered several important artifacts, including an extensive pottery collection and several inscribed seals.

Furthermore, Frederick Jones Bliss conducted several important archaeological excavations in Palestine, often collaborating with other archaeologists. Notable among these were his excavations at Tell Beit Mirsim (identified with the biblical city of Kiryat Sefer) and Tell el-Hesi. These excavations yielded valuable insights into the history and material culture of ancient settlements in the region.

Biblical Tells in the Judean Hills

Discovery of Lachish Letters

From 1894 to 1897, Bliss worked in Jerusalem, excavating several sites, including the City of David and the City Wall. He also surveyed the entire city. Bliss’s work in Jerusalem helped to shed light on the early history of the city and its importance as a religious and political center.

In 1898, Frederick Jones Bliss returned to Palestine with R.A.S. Macalister to excavate several sites in the Shephelah region. The Shephelah is a lowland area located between the Judean Hills and the Mediterranean Sea. It was a strategically important region throughout history, and was controlled by a number of different empires at different times.

The Camp of Bliss on Mount Zion 1894-1897.

Bliss and Macalister’s Excavations in the Shephelah

Bliss and Macalister’s excavations in the Shephelah revealed several important settlements, including Tell Zakariya, Tell es-Safi, and Tell el-Judeidah. These settlements date from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age and provide important evidence for the region’s history during this period.

Bliss’s work in Palestine was highly influential and helped to lay the foundation for modern Biblical archaeology. He was a meticulous excavator and record keeper, and archaeologists have praised his work for its accuracy and detail. Bliss’s publications are still widely used by archaeologists today.

Fredrick J.Bliss
Drawings Made by Bliss for Pottery He Found at Tel Hessi

Fredrick Bliss – A prolific writer

In addition to his archaeological work, Frederick Jones Bliss was also a prolific writer. He published several books and articles on Biblical archaeology, including “A Mound of Many Cities; or Tell-el-Hesy Excavated” (1894) and “Excavations at Jerusalem, 1894-1897” (1898). He also wrote books on the religions of modern Syria and Palestine.

Bliss died in 1937 at the age of 78. He is remembered as one of the pioneers of Biblical archaeology, and his work has significantly contributed to our understanding of the history and culture of the ancient Near East.

Mount of Olives Tour
Frederick Jones Bliss - Excavations in Jerusalem
Frederick Jones Bliss – Excavations in Jerusalem, Mt of Olives

Contributions to Biblical Archaeology

Furthermore, Bliss’s archaeological work was closely associated with biblical archaeology, which seeks to uncover and understand the material remains of ancient biblical civilizations. His excavations often aimed to provide archaeological evidence that could shed light on biblical narratives and historical events.

Tell Beit Mirsim
Tell Beit Mirsim

Scholarship and Publications

In addition to his fieldwork, Frederick Jones Bliss was an influential scholar in biblical archaeology. Furthermore, he contributed articles and reports on his excavations to scholarly journals and publications, sharing his findings and interpretations with the academic community.

Frederick Jones BlissLegacy in Archaeology

Ultimately, Frederick Jones Bliss contributed significantly to exploring and understanding ancient sites in Palestine. Furthermore, his work, along with that of other early biblical archaeologists, helped build the foundation of modern biblical archaeology and our understanding of the history and material culture of the Holy Land.

Frederick J. Bliss’s archaeological work and discoveries continue to interest scholars and archaeologists studying the history and archaeology of the biblical world. In addition, his efforts contributed to the growing knowledge about ancient Palestine and its role in developing biblical narratives and traditions—more about him on the P.E.F website.


Hi! My name is Arik, an Israeli native who dedicated his life to sharing my passion for the Holy Land with those interested in knowing more about this incredible piece of land. I’m the Chief Guide at ‘APT Private Tours in Israel’.

Did you know the Hoopoe is Israel's national bird?! For more cool info about Israel, join our ever growing community and get exclusive travel tips, and giveaways!

Simon Peter


Tell el-Hesi

Tell el-Hesi stands as a testament to the ancient past and its intricate tapestry of history, culture, and human endeavors.

Tomb of Benei Hezir

The Tomb of Benei Hezir is a tomb hewn from stone in the historic Mount of Olives Jewish cemetery of Jerusalem. Previously (and mistakenly) known ...

Private Touring the City of David

In this post, we will go private touring the City of David following the footsteps of Professor Yigal Shiloh's excavations at the Tel.

Henry Baker Tristram

Henry Baker Tristram is one of the first Europeans to arrive in Israel whose writings are an important source about the wildlife of Israel.

The Epipaleolithic Period

In this post, we explore the fascinating Epipaleolithic period in the Levant and its profound impact on the development of human civilization.

King David

King David is described in the Hebrew Bible as king of the United Monarchy of Israel and Judah. This post will tell you all about ...

Kebara 2 Skeleton

In this post, we delve into the significance of the Kebara 2 skeleton, shedding light on its discovery, its importance to paleoanthropology.

Golda Meir Meets King Abdullah

Golda Meir describes two secert meetings in her autobiography, 'My Life'. She says she had two secret meetings with King Abdullah.

William Matthew Flinders Petrie

Petrie is the First Biblical Archaeologist. Petrie became the first in Palestine to excavate according to the methodology of stratigraphy.

Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of Judaea. He is best known for being the official who ordered his crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.

Need help?