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Archaeological & Other Evidence For The Bible's Historical Validity


Parish Watch
Staff member
Oct 29, 2002
East of Suez
Scientists back Biblical tunnel

By Richard Black
BBC science correspondent

Israeli scientists have used radiometric dating to show when a tunnel in Jerusalem, described in the Bible, was excavated.
It is believed to be the first time a structure described in the Bible has been accurately dated, and scholars say it will be useful in refining the history of Jerusalem.

Modern-day tourists know the Siloam Tunnel as a half-kilometre-long passage running under Jerusalem's ancient city walls.

According to the Bible it was excavated by King Hezekiah to carry water from the Gihon spring into the city, securing the supply in times of warfare.

Most scholars believe this happened around 700 BC, though some have contended it is much younger.

Now research led by Amos Frumpkin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reported in the scientific journal Nature, has confirmed the date, which he says is a rare success.

"It's very rare to find things which are mentioned in the Bible that have been confirmed independently by dating," he said.

"First of all it's very difficult to find such structures; it's very difficult to identify them; and usually they are not very well preserved."

Ancient wonder

Dr Frumpkin's team found plant remains and stalactites in the Siloam Tunnel which they examined using carbon dating and another similar method involving uranium. They confirmed the age at around 700 BC.

Scholars say it is a useful find because it sets an absolute date for a Biblical event, rather than having to rely on interpretations and calculations.

But they say it does not constitute proof that any particular race or community settled in Jerusalem before any other, and shouldn't be used to claim any kind of primacy.

The Siloam Tunnel itself remains a wonder of ancient engineering, excavated by two teams of diggers starting at opposite ends and meeting somehow - no-one knows how - in the middle.

Two thousand seven hundred years after its construction, it is still carrying water into Jerusalem, though this is no longer used for drinking. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3098018.stm
The Yithian said:
It is believed to be the first time a structure described in the Bible has been accurately dated, and scholars say it will be useful in refining the history of Jerusalem...According to the Bible it was excavated by King Hezekiah to carry water from the Gihon spring into the city, securing the supply in times of warfare.

Most scholars believe this happened around 700 BC, though some have contended it is much younger.

Excerpted from the online Startribune.
Radioactive dating of material inside an ancient water tunnel beneath Jerusalem appears to confirm it was dug some 2,700 years ago to thwart an Assyrian siege as described in the Bible.

The 1,750-foot passage winds beneath old city walls to bring water within the defensive perimeter from the only year-round spring in the area, Gihon, to a pool called Siloam.

The books of Kings and Chronicles mention that King Hezekiah ordered the diversion of the spring both to supply the city and to deny the water to an invading force led by Assyrian King Sennacherib, moving to lay siege to Jerusalem in 701 B.C.

Biblical scholars have debated, though, whether the tunnel had actually been dug five centuries later.

OK, let's assume that the Scholars got it wrong for once (and that the dating is of the tunnel rather than of older material deposited by the water), there's still a puzzle: how the hell did they build it quickly enough to be of any use in the siege? Two teams of axe-weilding excavators digging blind towards each other while the hostile Assyrian army approached and they still got it finished in time?

The water would deposit younger material in the tunnel and not older surely?
Billyjoe said:
The water would deposit younger material in the tunnel and not older surely?
I'm basically just nit-picking, and am willing to concede so. :)

However, w... [EDIT on 11/02/04]Have done more reading on topic of what is and what isn't known in biblical archeology, and I was talking utter drivel. No change there then, I hear you cry. :hmph: The events of King Hezekiah's reign are well-documented and corroborated by extra-biblical sources. So I've hacked out my spurious rationalizing of my original untenable position. It was just too embarressing. I was wrong and it was drivel is all you need to know. [END EDIT]
Re: Re: Biblical Tunnel

Zygon said:
OK, let's assume that the Scholars got it wrong for once (and that the dating is of the tunnel rather than of older material deposited by the water), there's still a puzzle: how the hell did they build it quickly enough to be of any use in the siege? Two teams of axe-weilding excavators digging blind towards each other while the hostile Assyrian army approached and they still got it finished in time? :eek:

I think it was done in preparation. He knew the Assyrians were planning an attack, so he made plans.
It wasn't built specifically for that seige, it was 'just in case'. For a good account of the battle and the tunnel read:

From Armageddon to the Fall of Rome
Tiny tablet provides proof for Old Testament
By Nigel Reynolds, Arts Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:28am BST 11/07/2007

The sound of unbridled joy seldom breaks the quiet of the British Museum's great Arched Room, which holds its collection of 130,000 Assyrian cuneiform tablets, dating back 5,000 years.

But Michael Jursa, a visiting professor from Vienna, let out such a cry last Thursday. He had made what has been called the most important find in Biblical archaeology for 100 years, a discovery that supports the view that the historical books of the Old Testament are based on fact.

Searching for Babylonian financial accounts among the tablets, Prof Jursa suddenly came across a name he half remembered - Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, described there in a hand 2,500 years old, as "the chief eunuch" of Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon.

Prof Jursa, an Assyriologist, checked the Old Testament and there in chapter 39 of the Book of Jeremiah, he found, spelled differently, the same name - Nebo-Sarsekim.

Nebo-Sarsekim, according to Jeremiah, was Nebuchadnezzar II's "chief officer" and was with him at the siege of Jerusalem in 587 BC, when the Babylonians overran the city.

The small tablet, the size of "a packet of 10 cigarettes" according to Irving Finkel, a British Museum expert, is a bill of receipt acknowledging Nabu-sharrussu-ukin's payment of 0.75 kg of gold to a temple in Babylon.

The tablet is dated to the 10th year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, 595BC, 12 years before the siege of Jerusalem.

Evidence from non-Biblical sources of people named in the Bible is not unknown, but Nabu-sharrussu-ukin would have been a relatively insignificant figure.

"This is a fantastic discovery, a world-class find," Dr Finkel said yesterday. "If Nebo-Sarsekim existed, which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that it means that the whole of the narrative [of Jeremiah] takes on a new kind of power."

Cuneiform is the oldest known form of writing and was commonly used in the Middle East between 3,200 BC and the second century AD. It was created by pressing a wedge-shaped instrument, usually a cut reed, into moist clay.

The full translation of the tablet reads: (Regarding) 1.5 minas (0.75 kg) of gold, the property of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, the chief eunuch, which he sent via Arad-Banitu the eunuch to [the temple] Esangila: Arad-Banitu has delivered [it] to Esangila. In the presence of Bel-usat, son of Alpaya, the royal bodyguard, [and of] Nadin, son of Marduk-zer-ibni. Month XI, day 18, year 10 [of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.


Not much of a surprise really - the bible is basically Jewish history (and propaganda), leavened with other stuff. There are many archaeological links with the bible texts (and not all reflect the Jewish outlook!)
It doesn't surprise me that the name should appear on the tablet. It's my understanding that the Bible was written around the time in question, that is the time of the Persian conquest of the middle east. Folks around that time had a sense of history, names of other kings and Pharoes are indicative of that. What I find intriguing is that Cyrus The Great is mentioned as being the Messiah, the Savior of the nation of Judah. His son rebuilt the Temple, creating the New Jerusalem. At the same time the other Canaanite cities also allied themselves with the Persians. The Phoenicians profited greatly by the trade. This all came to an end with the coming of Alexander, which isn't mentioned in the Bible at all. So it seems to me that the few hundred years from Cyrus on may be historically accurate, but then not much until maybe Maccabees. But the storyies of the Messiah sure did fuel the creation of Christianity.
Jordan copper mines from biblical times could be King Solomon’s
Mark Henderson, Science Editor

An ancient copper works in Jordan may have been the location of the fabled King Solomon’s mines, new archaeological investigations suggest.

The dig at Khirbat al-Nahas, once a thriving copper production centre in the Faynan district, about 30 miles (50km) south of the Dead Sea, has found evidence that it dates back to the 10th century BC, making it at least two centuries older than was thought. The new date means that the mine was almost certainly active during the time of the biblical Jewish kings David and Solomon.

Scientists who conducted the excavations are now working to establish whether the kings controlled the copper mine at this time. “Given the unambiguous dating evidence presented here for industrial-scale metal production at Khirbat al-Nahas during the 10th and 9th century BC in ancient Edom, the question of whether King Solomon’s copper mines have been discovered in Faynan returns to scholarly discourse,” the researchers said.

King Solomon’s mines were made famous by the 19th century novel of the same name by H. Rider Haggard. Biblical scholars and archaeologists have long speculated about whether the legend was founded on real mines, and an American archaeologist named Nelson Glueck claimed in the 1930s to have discovered their site in Faynan, though this was dismissed in the 1980s. The new dig, led by Thomas Levy, of the University of California, San Diego, and Mohammed Najjar, of Jordan’s Friends of Archaeology, suggests that Glueck might have been on to something after all.

In 2006, the team began to dig through more than 20 feet of slag and industrial debris at Khirbat al-Nahas, meaning “ruins of copper” in Arabic. The lowest layers have yielded fresh radiocarbon dating evidence of its age.

Date seeds and sticks of tamarisk and other woods used for charcoal for smelting have produced dates in the 9th and 10th centuries BC, which are consistent with the likely dates of the reigns of David and Solomon, his son. Details of the research are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

What remains less certain for now is whether the Khirbat al-Nahas mine was actually controlled by the kingdom of Israel at this time. It lies in a region associated with the biblical kingdom of Edom, which was an enemy of ancient Israel.

Even if the mine was not controlled by the Jewish kings, the fresh date is important to biblical scholarship. It indicates firmly that the kingdom of Edom was sufficiently organised to have been a rival to Israel, a point that has been disputed by some historians.

Dr Levy said: “Now, with data from the first large-scale stratified and systematic excavation of a site in the southern Levant to focus specifically on the role of metallurgy in Edom, we have evidence that complex societies were indeed active in the 10th and 9th centuries BC and that brings us back to the debate about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible narratives related to this period.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 026509.ece
More on the mines. Full text at link.

ScienceDaily (Oct. 28, 2008) — Did the Bible's King David and his son Solomon control the copper industry in present-day southern Jordan? Though that remains an open question, the possibility is raised once again by research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Led by Thomas Levy of UC San Diego and Mohammad Najjar of Jordan's Friends of Archaeology, an international team of archaeologists has excavated an ancient copper-production center at Khirbat en-Nahas down to virgin soil, through more than 20 feet of industrial smelting debris, or slag. The 2006 dig has brought up new artifacts and with them a new suite of radiocarbon dates placing the bulk of industrial-scale production at Khirbat en-Nahas in the 10th century BCE – in line with biblical narrative on the legendary rule of David and Solomon. The new data pushes back the archaeological chronology some three centuries earlier than the current scholarly consensus.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 174545.htm
Full text at link

Earliest Known Hebrew Text In Proto-Canaanite Script Discovered In Area Where 'David Slew Goliath'

ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2008) — The earliest known Hebrew text written in a Proto-Canaanite script has been discovered by Hebrew University archaeologists in an ancient city in the area where legend has it that David slew Goliath – the earliest Judean city found to date. The 3,000 year old finding is thought to be the most significant archaeological discovery in Israel since the Dead Sea Scrolls – predating them by 1,000 years.

The ostracon (pottery shard inscribed with writing in ink) comprises five lines of text divided by black lines and measures 15 x 15 cm. and was found at excavations of a 10th century B.C.E. fortress - the oldest known Judaic city.

The ostracon was found lying on the floor inside a building near the city gate of the site, known as the Elah Fortress at Khirbet Qeiyafa.

Excavations are being led by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, the Yigal Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his partner Saar Ganur, in partnership with Foundation Stone, a non-profit educational organization which works to provide a contemporary voice to ancient stories. The excavations and analysis are also being supported by J.B. Silver and the Brennan Foundation.

Why is this inscription so special?

Carbon-14 dating of organic material found with the ostracon, administered by Oxford University, along with pottery analysis dates this inscription to the time of King David ca. 3,000 years ago – predating the Dead Sea Scrolls by approximately a millennium, and placing it earlier than the famed Gezer Calendar.

It is hoped the text inscribed on the 'Qeiyafa Ostracon' will serve as an anchor in our understanding of the development of all alphabetic scripts.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 091035.htm
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Last Supper … or penultimate supper? Scientist challenges Maundy Thursday
Cambridge professor Sir Colin Humphreys claims Last Supper took place on a Wednesday, not a Thursday
Martin Wainwright guardian.co.uk, Sunday 17 April 2011 22.47 BST

The vagaries of Easter, whose connection with the moon's phases leads to much confusion over its annual change of date, are about to be compounded by a scientific challenge to Maundy Thursday.
Astronomical data, textual research and the rediscovery of an ancient Jewish calendar have convinced a Cambridge academic that Christ and the disciples' Last Supper actually took place on a Wednesday.

Professor Sir Colin Humphreys, a metallurgist and materials scientist, claims to have solved what is described by previous researchers as the thorniest problem in the New Testament: the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke assert that the Last Supper coincided with Jewish Passover, while John claims it was the day before. The former account's credibility suffers from the sheer number of events – from arrest to trial and conviction – that would have had to take place before Jesus's crucifixion on Good Friday.

Anomalies also include the fact that the Jewish Sanhedrin, or religious court, was not allowed to meet at night and the Wednesday of Holy Week is curiously absent from the gospels' chronology.
"Whatever you think about the Bible, the fact is that Jewish people would never mistake the Passover meal for another meal, so for the gospels to contradict themselves in this regard is really hard to understand," said Humphreys.
"Many biblical scholars say that, for this reason, you can't trust the gospels at all. But if we use science and the gospels hand in hand, we can actually prove that there was no contradiction."

The missing piece of the jigsaw, argues Humphreys in a book, The Mystery of the Last Supper, lies in an overlooked Jewish calendar which Christ and his followers may have used as outsiders and intellectual rebels within their country's strict religious framework.

In 2007 the pope suggested Jesus may have followed the solar calendar of the Qumran community, used by the Essene sect and described in the Dead Sea Scrolls. "The problem with this is that under that system Passover would have fallen a week later, after both the Last Supper and Christ's death," said Humphreys. Instead, he suggests that a third calendar in use at the time, adapted from Egyptian usage at the time of Moses, dates Passover in AD33 to the Wednesday of Holy Week.

"The gospels are full of examples of Jesus presenting himself as the new Moses, and use of this calendar would accord with that," said Humphreys, whose previous theological studies include scientific analysis of the star of Bethlehem and the numbers involved in the Exodus.
"By choosing the Wednesday of the Passover, he was again identifying himself explicitly with Moses, setting himself up as a deliberate parallel. He then died on Nisan 14th, just as the Passover lambs were being slain according to the official Jewish calendar as well.
"These are deep, powerful symbolisms and through the use of this calendar they can be based on objective, historical evidence."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/ ... y-thursday
Scientists Uncover Modern Descendants Of Biblical Canaanites Thought To Have Been Wiped Out

So central are the Canaanites to Hebrew and Christian scripture, that even non-believers today surely know their name. Yet, for centuries, not even scientists knew what became of this ancient race — until now.

Because the Canaanites inhabited the Levant (modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine) in the second millennium BC, experts had always figured that the group’s bloodline eventually grew diluted and all but disappeared due to the vast and varied turnover of ethnic groups in the region at that time.

However, new research published in the American Journal of Human Genetics shows that the Canaanite bloodline has actually survived remarkably intact among just one county in the modern-day Levant: Lebanon.

Source: http://www.cell.com/ajhg/fulltext/S0002-9297(17)30276-8

But just what makes Canaanites were genetically different from surrounding populations? It could just have been a cultural difference surely?
I may be misremembering, but I think that Abraham and his people were born in Ur, Chaldea and migrated west. It doesn't look like much on the map today, but it was a considerable distance at a time when most people were born, lived and died within a radius of a few miles. This coupled with the insularity of religious and ethnic groups makes a distinct DNA set plausible--at least for a good while after arrival.
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Here's an interesting one.

Correcting a possible mistranslation in the Old Testament has perhaps revealed the earliest ever recorded solar eclipse – and solved an ancient Egyptian mystery to boot.

In a paper in the journal News and Reviews in Astronomy and Geophysics, Colin Humphreys, from the department of materials science and metallurgy at the University of Cambridge, UK, and colleague Graeme Waddington, refine earlier attempts by scholars to tie a perplexing reference in the Book of Joshua to an actual astronomical event.

The text reads: "Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon. And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies."

Humphreys and Waddington are not the first to suggest that the verse is not a report of a miracle, but could be a reference to a solar eclipse. Previous studies went so far as to narrow the time-period during which it was possible for the event to have occurred.

A stone inscription known as the Merneptah Stele – named after a pharaoh thought to have ruled Egypt between 1213 and 1203 BCE – contains lines that indicate the Israelites were in the region of Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BCE. Gibeon was a Canaanite city. ...

The concept of "The Bible" is not the same for Jews and Christians.

There is historical evidence for some of it.
Anyone who has been to Jerusalem can see that there are huge stone remains of the temple which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E.
Not just the famous Western/Wailing Wall, but also Warren's Arch, remains of Robinson's Arch, and the columns at the South end of the plateau near the Al Aqsa mosque.


(Original link to photo is long dead. Cited photo salvaged from the Wayback Machine.)


The there are the matching columns in Egypt and Saudi Arabia supposedly built by King Solomon to mark where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea.

It is by no means agreed by scholars that this was the site of the crossing, but nevertheless who built the columns and when?

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An article from Fortean Times about Wyatt.

Using the Bible for reference, Ron would identify the correct location and organise a dig, whereupon a cache of artifacts would appear, verifying his find. Ron’s unscientific approach annoys and frustrates the scientists, while those Christians who take the Bible literally are in turn dismayed at the scientists’ refusal to accept anything outside of their frame of reference.
The problem with biblical archaeologists is that those seeking to dispute the bible will dispute the significance of what the biblical archaeologists find.

Those seeking to promote the bible will look more favourably upon what these archaeologists find.

Of those I know of, Vendl Jones was very interesting.
They found bronze figurines of Baal and Resheph "smiting their enemies".

A 3,000-year-old temple, built by the Canaanites around the time of the ancient Israelite invasion, has been unearthed in southern Israel.

The discoveries include an idol of the Canaanite god Baal that was the object of prayer and sacrifice in the temple's inner sanctuary.

This is the first ancient Canaanite temple that archaeologists have found in more than half a century, and the discoveries shed new light on the ancient religion of the region, said Yosef Garfinkel, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Garfinkel has led the excavations of the temple, along with Michael Hasel, an archaeologist at the Southern Adventist University in Tennessee.

Related: Photos of ancient cult temple for worship of Canaanite storm god Baal

The archaeologists were looking for evidence of an Iron Age occupation of the site when they came upon the remains of the temple in the ancient city of Lachish, which is now part of Tel Lachish National Park, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Jerusalem.The excavations were expected to reach a fifth level of the buried city that was built in the 10th century B.C., Garfinkel told Live Science — over time, the cities were built on top of the remains of older ones, leaving layers of ruins.


A New Technology Using the Earth’s Magnetic Fields Is Helping Archaeologists Verify the Destruction Caused by Biblical Battles

For centuries, academics have relied on ancient records and artifacts to study the Levant’s past. Now, contemporary technology can confirm their hypotheses about how historical events played out with hard geological data. Yoav Vaknin, a doctoral student at Tel Aviv University, has spent five years pioneering a new technology known as archaeomagnetic dating to reconstruct military campaigns described in the Bible.

His latest research, published in the open-sourced journal PNAS, harnesses information from 20 international academics to formulate a geomagnetic dataset of 21 layers of historical destruction across 17 sites. The study essentially creates a geological ledger of conquests by Aramean, Assyrian, and Babylonian armies against the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Archaeomagnetic dating is based on the magnetic field generated by a free-flowing layer of liquid iron in the planet’s outer core, 1,800 miles below the surface. Israel lends itself to archaeomagnetic research, “due to an abundance of well-dated archaeological findings” which anchor the historical record.

Archaeological materials, such as clay objects, contain ferromagnetic minerals,” Vaknin told Artnet News. “On the atomic level, one can imagine the magnetic signal of these minerals as a tiny needle of a compass.”

When those archaeological materials are burned, say, in the destruction of a city, it preserves their magnetic signal at the moment of incineration. If geophysicists know the magnetic states of a certain area over certain eras, they can determine the historical origin of those materials with unprecedented certainty.

Vaknin’s study mainly sampled sun-dried mud bricks that were burned during conflict. In Tel Zayit, his team sampled a loom weight, and in Tel Rehov, a beehive made of mud.

Results verify that armies under Hazael, King of Aram-Damascus, destroyed Tel Rehov, Tel Zayit, Horvat Tevet, and Gath of the Philistines around 830 B.C.E. However, they debunk assertions that Hazael was also responsible for razing Beth-Shean.

Magnetic dating says that sacking took place 70 to 100 years earlier than expected, linking it instead to a campaign by Pharaoh Shoshenq. That would verify accounts in the Hebrew Bible.

Magnetic results also shattered beliefs that Babylonians were solely responsible for Judah’s final destruction.


maximus otter

Biblical site where Jesus healed blind man excavated for public view: 'Affirms Scripture'

The Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel National Parks Authority and the City of David Foundation announced days before the new year that the Pool of Siloam, a biblical site cherished by Christians and Jews, will be open to the public for the first time in 2,000 years in the near future.


Rendering of the Pool of Siloam, Second Temple period (Shalom Kveller, City of David Archives)

"The Pool of Siloam’s excavation is highly significant to Christians around the world," American Pastor John Hagee [said]. "It was at this site that Jesus healed the blind man (John: 9), and it is at this site that, 2,000 years ago, Jewish pilgrims cleansed themselves prior to entering the Second Temple.

"The Pool of Siloam and the Pilgrimage Road, both located within the City of David, are among the most inspiring archeological affirmations of the Bible."

The pool was first built roughly 2,700 years ago as part of Jerusalem's water system in the eighth century B.C. The construction unfolded during the reign of King Hezekia as cited in the Bible in the Book of Kings II, 20:20.

A stroke of luck revealed the pool in 2004 when infrastructure work carried out by the water company uncovered some of the pool’s steps. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), under supervision of professors Roni Reich and Eli Shukron, launched a survey. As a result, the northern perimeter, as well as a small section of the eastern perimeter of the Pool of Siloam, were uncovered.

"The perimeter of the pool was built as a series of steps, allowing the bathers to sit and immerse themselves in the waters of the pool."


maximus otter
I have been to the Pool of Siloam.

It is important to Jews because it was involved in the Water Libation ceremony of Sukkot, the most joyous of ceremonies.

As far I know, the pool these days has different owners of different parts of it, and thus is highly politically sensitive.

Written records of biblical King David discovered by researchers

The Mesha Stele, also called the Moabite Stone, is a basalt stone slab that has provided historians and linguists with the largest source of the Moabite language to date. Researchers have only now been able to verify with a considerable degree of certainty that the stele contains explicit references to King David.


Mesha stele. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The stele was discovered in fragments in 1868 roughly 15 miles east of the Dead Sea and currently resides in the Louvre museum in Paris. While it was damaged in 1869, a paper-mache impression of the inscription was captured before the damage occurred.

The slab is etched with a lengthy account of King Mesha of Moab going to war with Israel. The events described correspond, albeit imprecisely, with a similar account in 2 Kings chapter 3.

The text contains allusions to the Israelite god as well as the "House of David" and the "Altar of David." However, until today, scholars could not be entirely sure that these references to King David were being correctly deciphered.

In 2015, a team from the West Semitic Research Project of the University of Southern California took new digital photographs of both the restored stela and the paper squeeze. The team used a method called Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), in which numerous digital images are taken of an artifact from different angles and then combined to create a precise, three-dimensional digital rendering of the piece.

More recently in 2018, the Louvre took these new, high-resolution pictures and projected light onto them coming directly through the 150-year-old squeeze paper. Thus, researchers were able to glean a much clearer picture of the ancient records. This, explain Lemaire and Delorme, is how they were able to see evidence of the other three letters, taw (like modern Hebrew tav), dalet, and dalet.


maximus otter
Gezer figures not just in the Bible but also in Egyptian and Assyrian texts.

New dates provide detailed insights into the timing of events in the ancient city of Gezer, according to a study published November 15, 2023 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Lyndelle Webster of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and colleagues.

Gezer is an ancient southern Levantine city, well known from Egyptian, Assyrian, and Biblical texts and associated with stories of power struggles and significant historical figures. It is also a rich archaeological site with abundant Bronze Age and Iron Age remains and with great potential for research into the daily lives of its denizens.

Recent excavations at the site have uncovered a continuous stratigraphic sequence that allows for detailed dating and the establishment of an absolute chronology for events at the site.

In this study, Webster and colleagues obtained 35 radiocarbon dates on organic materials (mostly seeds) from seven distinct stratigraphic layers at Gezer. These dates range from the 13th to the 9th centuries, a time period that covers numerous significant changes in the city, including multiple destructive events, rebuilding episodes, and the fortification of the city. Some of these events have been proposed to be linked to certain stories from ancient texts.

This study provides a detailed dataset that can be used to test proposed correlations between the archaeological record and ancient texts. These dates suggest, for example, that the correlation of a certain destructive episode with the actions of the pharaoh Merneptah is plausible, while the proposed link between another such episode and the campaign of Hazael is not. ...


Geomagnetic fields reveal the truth behind Biblical narratives

A joint study by TAU and the Hebrew University has accurately dated 21 destruction layers at 17 archaeological sites in Israel by reconstructing the direction and/or intensity of the earth's magnetic field recorded in burnt remnants. The new data verify the Biblical accounts of the Egyptian, Aramean, Assyrian, and Babylonian military campaigns against the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.


Map of the studied destruction layers and the different military campaigns. Credit: Itamar Ben-Ezra

Findings indicate, for example, that the army of Hazael, King of Aram-Damascus, was responsible for the destruction of several cities—Tel Rehov, Tel Zayit, and Horvat Tevet, in addition to Gath of the Philistines, whose destruction is noted in the Hebrew Bible.

They use archaeological findings containing magnetic minerals which, when heated or burned, record the magnetic field at the time of the fire.

Thus, in a 2020 study, researchers reconstructed the magnetic field as it was on the 9th of the month of Av, 586 BC, the Hebrew date of the destruction of the First Temple and the City of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army.

Now, using archaeological findings unearthed over several decades at 17 sites throughout Israel, alongside historical information from ancient inscriptions and Biblical accounts, the researchers were able to reconstruct the magnetic fields recorded in 21 destruction layers. They used the data to develop a reliable new scientific tool for archaeological dating.


maximus otter