Historical records matter.

Located on the campus of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Hesse Memorial Archaeological Laboratory exists to facilitate research, train students and serve as a platform for public outreach and education.

It is named in honor of Prof. Brian C. Hesse (1944-2011) of The Pennsylvania State University, a pioneer in the application of "zooarchaeology" (the archaeology of animal bones) to the field of biblical archaeology and a teacher, mentor, colleague and friend of the current lab director Dr. Jonathan S. Greer.


Current research includes the analysis of a large collection of animal bone remains from the site of Tel Dan in northern Israel on loan from the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology at the Hebrew Union College of Jerusalem. This analysis will be included in the final excavation volumes for the Tel Dan project currently being prepared and now benefits from collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Arnold of Grand Valley State University's Department of Anthropology.


Consistent with the commitment of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary to provide rigorous training not only in original language exegesis but also in the historical-cultural backgrounds of the Bible, the Hesse Memorial Lab is utilized for training students in methods of scientific archaeology, i.e., zooarchaeology. Elective courses BBL-600 Biblical Archaeology and BBL-783 Methods and Practice in Biblical Archaeology are offered regularly as small group, hybrid or independent study courses and utilize the lab extensively.

The lab is equipped with appropriate manuals, scientific instruments (including a digital microscope and photography station) and an ever-growing reference collection of comparative faunal remains. The space has also provided a setting for pre-dig training for students participating in the excavations at Tel Dan. Dr. Greer serves as the associate director for these excavations.


The lab co-hosts public lectures on topics related to biblical archaeology. In addition, the lab is open for tours; interested public and private school groups and religious institutions may contact Dr. Greer to arrange a tour.