Robert Cargill, Ph.D.

Roger A. Hornsby Associate Professor in the Classics
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Associate Professor of Biblical Studies

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 is the author of Melchizedek, King of Sodom: How Scribes Invented the Biblical Priest-King (Oxford University Press, 2019). He published The Cities that Built the Bible (HarperOne, 2016), which was released in paperback in 2017, as well as in Chinese traditional, Chinese simplified, and Japanese translations. He has also done extensive work in television, appearing as an expert on ABC's "Good Morning America", "Inside Edition", CNN's "Newsday", and served as a consultant and contributor for History's "Jesus: His Life," as the Jerusalem host for CNN's "Finding Jesus," Consulting Producer on History's "Bible Secrets Revealed" and hosting the NatGeo documentary "Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls." He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, American Schools of Oriental Research, Biblical Archaeology Society, Archaeological Institute of America, American Humanist Association, American Mensa, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Dr. Cargill also served as Editor of Biblical Archaeology Review from 2018–2021, and presently serves as Editor of Bible & Archaeology, published by the University of Iowa.

Research Interests

Hellenistic/Second Temple Judaism, Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha, Archaeology

Representative publications include:
  • Melchizedek, King of Sodom: How Scribes Invented the Biblical Priest-King New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).
  • The Cities that Built the Bible (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2016). Published in hardcover and paperback, and in Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese translations.
  • “The Rule of Creative Completion: Neofiti’s Use of שכלל,” Aramaic Studies 10/2 (2012): 173-191.
  • Qumran through (Real) Time: A Virtual Reconstruction of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Gorgias Press, 2009.
  • “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.
As a public scholar, Robert Cargill has appeared in over three dozen television shows and documentaries, including the following:
  • "Colosseum"—Contributor on eight-episode documentary series exploring the Roman Colosseum and gladiatorial games on HistoryJuly 17, 2022. (October)
  • Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury—Consultant and on-camera contributor for six-episode documentary series on CNN, July 2021. (Blackfin)
  • Jesus: His Life—Consulting Scholar and on-camera contributor for eight-episode documentary series on History, Mar. 2019. (Nutopia)
  • Finding Jesus—Appeared as Israel host/contributor for season 2 of six-episode documentary series on CNN, Mar. 2017. (Nutopia)
  • Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls—Appeared as featured investigator exploring new research about the Dead Sea Scrolls that appeared on National Geographic Channel, July 2010. (CTVC)
Dr. Cargill teaches the following courses:
  • RELS:1001 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • CLSA:1415 Ancient Origins of Religious Conflict
  • 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
Robert Cargill
Contact Information

209 Jefferson Building (JB)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States