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SILOAM SPRINGS, Arkansas (Feb. 28, 2017) – Dr. Dave Vila, John Brown University’s professor of religion and philosophy, will present the excavation findings from the ancient site Abila of the Decapolis in northern Jordan on Thursday, March 2 at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral of the Ozarks. His lecture titled "Excavating Abila of the Decapolis: The First 36 Years" will trace the site’s 4,000- year history and the last 36 years of excavation work as part of JBU’s biannual lecture series “Abila Lecture in Biblical Archaeology.”

JBU Dr. Dave VilaDr. Vila has been involved with the archaeological excavation of Abila since 1990, advancing to director of the Abila Archaeological Project in 2008. As a Fulbright scholar at Jordan University in 2006, Dr. Vila developed JBU’s Jordan Summer Studies Program, which allows students to work with the excavation while earning academic credit. To date, over 100 JBU students, faculty, staff and alumni have participated in the excavation work at Abila.

With expertise in early Christian-Muslim relations and early development of Arabic Christianity, Dr. Vila is currently working on a two books, one titled “The Churches of Abila” that documents the five Byzantine churches found at Abila and the other a book on the 11 - 12th century Muslim theologian al-Ghazali.

The lecture series, now in its third year, strives to promote the understanding of archaeology and history of the Biblical world. Funded by donors to JBU’s Abila Archaeological Project, all lectures are free and open to the public.

The Abila Lecture is also a part of the university’s Endowment for Academic Excellence, a priority of JBU’s $125 million Campaign for the Next Century. JBU has currently raised more than $103 million toward the $125 million goal and plans to complete the campaign on JBU’s centennial in 2019.

John Brown University is a leading private Christian university, training students to honor God and serve others since 1919. Arkansas’ top-ranked regional university (U.S. News Best Colleges, 2017), JBU enrolls more than 2,700 students from 40 states and 37 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, degree completion and concurrent education programs. JBU offers more than 39 majors, with top programs including business administration, graphic design, engineering, construction management, counseling, teacher education and nursing.

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