Robert Cargill

Professor Robert R. Cargill
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
209 Jefferson Building
Curriculum Vitae: 
Research Interests: 
Hellenistic/Second Temple Judaism, Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha, archaeology

Professor Cargill joined the University of Iowa faculty in 2011.

Dr. Cargill's research program focuses on Second Temple Jewish literature and archaeology from the Persian period to the rise of early Christianity. He specializes in Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls and other Pseudepigrapha, Aramaic Targums, Melchizedek traditions, issues of faith and science, and teaches Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, and Hellenistic Greek.

Hired as part of the University's Public Humanities in a Digital World initiative, Dr. Cargill also has done much research in the Digital Humanities, having authored a 3D, virtual reality reconstruction of the archaeological remains of Qumran, near to where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. 

Dr Cargill’s first book, Qumran through (Real) Time: A Virtual Reconstruction of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Gorgias Press, 2009), was one of the early attempts to incorporate virtual reality and other digital technologies to examine the settlement of Khirbet Qumran, the site associated with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. His second book, The Cities that Built the Bible (HarperOne, 2016), was a popular book that “blends archaeology, biblical history, and personal journey as he explores these cities and their role in the creation of the Bible,” and was awarded the 2017 Illumination Book Awards Gold Medal in the Bible Study category. It has been published in hardcover, paperback, and translated into Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese. His third book, Melchizedek, King of Sodom: How Scribes Invented the Biblical Priest-King (Oxford University Press, 2019), explores the literary tradition of the biblical figure of Melchizedek.

Professor Cargill has excavated at Banias, Israel (1999–2000), Omrit, Israel (2004), Haẓor, Israel (2006), and since 2013 has brought Iowa students to the excavations at Tel Azekah, Israel.

As a public scholar, Robert Cargill has appeared on over three dozen television shows and documentaries airing on CNN, History, Discovery, NatGeo, and other networks. Among them, he hosted the 2010 National Geographic special, Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 2013, Dr. Cargill served as the Consulting Producer and appeared in the History series, Bible Secrets Revealed. In 2017, he appeared on season 2 of CNN’s Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery. In 2019 he served as consultant and contributor for History’s Jesus: His Life. In 2021, he served as the Consulting Producer and appeared in CNN’s History of Jerusalem. Professor Cargill also served as Editor of the popular magazine Biblical Archaeology Review from 2018 to 2021. For his public scholarship efforts, Professor Cargill was named one of Fresno City College’s 100 Distinguished Alumni as part of the school’s “100 Stars for 100 Years,” centennial anniversary celebration in 2010 and was honored the next year as the college’s Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient, delivering the 2011 commencement address. Dr. Cargill was also awarded the 2020 Outstanding Outreach and Public Engagement Award by the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


  • Melchizedek, King of Sodom: How Scribes Invented the Biblical Priest-King. Oxford University Press, 2019.
  • “Biblical Archaeology: Its Rise, Fall, and Rebirth as a Legitimate Science,” Chap. 6 in Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World’s Largest Religion, ed. by John W. Loftus. Prometheus Books, 2016.
  • The Cities that Built the Bible. HarperOne, 2016.
  • “The Rule of Creative Completion: Neofiti’s Use of שכלל,” Aramaic Studies 10/2 (2012): 173-191.
  • “The State of the Archaeological Debate at Qumran,” Currents in Biblical Research 10/1 (2011): 1-18.
  • “The Benefit of Blogging for Archaeology,” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 39/3 (2010): 12-16.
  • “The Qumran Digital Model: An Argument for Archaeological Reconstruction in Virtual Reality” and “A Response to Magness,” Near Eastern Archaeology 72/1 (2009): 28-47.
  • Qumran through (Real) Time: A Virtual Reconstruction of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Gorgias Press, 2009.
  • “The Fortress at Qumran: A History of Interpretation,” Bible and Interpretation, May 2009.

Dr. Cargill has taught the following courses:

  • RELS:1001 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • RELS:1015 Global Religious Conflict and Diversity
  • RELS:4960: Digital Archaeological Modeling
  • CLSA:1400 Biblical Archaeology
  • CLSA:2444 Cities of the Bible
  • CLSA:2489 Jerusalem: The Holy City
  • CLSA:3247 Banned from the Bible: Pseudepigrapha & Apocrypha
  • CLSA:3445 Mythology of Otherworldly Journeys
  • CLSA:3742 Word Power: Building English Vocabulary
  • CLSA:4090 Readings in Dead Sea Scrolls
  • CLSA:4452 Dead Sea Scrolls
  • CLSA:4501 Archaeological Methodology and Field Research
  • CLSA:4502 Archaeology and History of Judea
  • CLSA:4901 Biblical Hebrew I
  • CLSA:4902 Biblical Hebrew II
  • CLSA:5903 Biblical Aramaic
  • CLSA:5904 Targumic Aramaic
  • CLSA:5905 Syriac
  • CLSA:6585 Design, Visualization, and Mapping 3D Environments
  • CLSG:1002 Classical and New Testament Greek II
  • CLSG:5002 Classical and Hellenistic Literature: Septuagint
  • CLSG:5002 Classical and Hellenistic Literature: Josephus


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