This page will be dedicated to significant archaelogical discoveries relevant to the Bible. This page will also be further expanded in the future.
New discovery! The Nov/Dec 2002 edition of the Biblical Archaeology Review recently reported on a discovery confirming the existence of James, the brother of Jesus:
"After nearly 2,000 years, historical evidence for the existence of Jesus has come to light literally written in stone. An inscription has been found on an ancient bone box, called an ossuary, that reads "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." This container provides the only New Testament-era mention of the central figure of Christianity and is the first-ever archaeological discovery to corroborate Biblical references to Jesus..."
The article continues:
"Laboratory tests performed by the Geological Survey of Israel confirm that the box's limestone comes from the Jerusalem area. The patina--a thin sheen or covering that forms on stone and other materials over time--has the cauliflower-type shape known to develop in a cave environment; more importantly, it shows no trace of modern elements." (Full article: Evidence Of Jesus Written In Stone: Ossuary Of Jesus' Brother Backs Up Biblical Accounts).
In the summer of 1993 an inscription referring to King David was discovered. The Biblical Archaeology Review reported the following:
"It's not often that an archaeological find makes the front page of the New York Times...But that is what happened last summer to a discovery at Tel Dan, a beautiful mound in northern Galilee... There Avraham Biran and his team of archaeologists found a remarkable inscription from the ninth century B.C.E. that refers both to the 'House of David' and to the 'King of Israel'. This is the first time that the name David has been found in any ancient inscription outside the Bible. That the inscription refers not simply to a 'David' but to the House of David, the dynasty of the great Israelite king, is even more remarkable. 'Kink of Israel' is a term frequently found in the Bible, especially in the Book of Kings. This, however, may be the oldest extra-Biblical reference to Israel in the Semetic script." (Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April, 1994, page 26).
Archaeology has unearthed hundreds of square feet of royal 'wallpaper' from the palace of Sennacherib who was emperor of Assyria from 705-681 BC. His palace was at Niniveh, first excavated in 1846 and the 'wallpaper' consists of enormous stone slabs with the most intricate illustrations of Sennacerib's victories chiseled out on them. The great importance of these, together with long narrative inscriptions and clay cylinders bearing detailed accounts of all the emperor's campaigns, is that they give us Sennacerib's own official version of his invasion of Israel in 701 BC. This is also described in great detail in three books of the Bible. As can be imagined, to bring together the biblical account and the official record is of great significance. The result - a total vindication of the Bible as historical fact. The Bible says that while Hezekiah was king in Jerusalem, Sennacherib proceeded to attack his minor walled cities, and then besiege Hezekiah in Jerusalem. Sennacerib's account says the same. The Bible says that Hezekiah tried to appease Sennacherib with homage. The latter says the same (except that it exaggerates the amount of treasure which changed hands, as the Assyrians tended to do). The Bible says that Sennacerib's troops had to withdraw for a time. Sennacerib's records say the same. The Bible says that in the meantime Hezakiah constructed a remarkable water tunnel to supply the city from outside sources during the siege, which would inevitably be resumed when the Assyrians returned. That tunnel has been found and can be examined by anyone today. The Bible says Sennacherib returned, and his forces were destroyed by a divine act. Sennacerib's records go strangely silent about this final result. He claims no victory, and it is a historical fact that the Assyrian's fought no more major battles for years.
The Bible refers to a civilization of people called the Hittites, but no other literature has made reference to such a civilization. Critics used to say this was just fiction in the Bible. However, archaeological excavations in the 1950's found the remains of the Hittite empire in the area where the Bible said it was (Turkey/Syria), and Carbon-14 dating tests prove that it existed at the time stated in the Bible (1375-1200 B.C.).
The Bible says that when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to take possession of the `promised land,' they marched around the city of Jericho in a certain way God prescribed to Joshua, and the walls of the city collapsed. Secular historians had come to the conclusion that the city was destroyed about 100 years before the Israelites crossed the Jordan, and therefore the Bible account could not be true. Furthermore, they said, it's preposterous to think the walls could fall supernaturally. However, in 1990 (and to a lesser degree in earlier years) archaeologists found artifacts (including 80 scarabs that mention various pharaohs by name) which date the fall of the city exactly in accord with Bible chronology (about 1400 B.C.), and they found that the 32-foot-high walls had fallen outward (unlike the walls of any other city, as walls usually fall inward from force of outside attackers.)
The Bible says Jesus was brought before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who sentenced him to death. However, the name Pontius Pilate was known only from Jewish and Christian sources; there was never any mention of him from Roman sources. This did not invalidate the Bible, but there was a certain lack of credibility when the Bible spoke of a Roman ruler whose name did not appear anywhere in Roman history. Between 1959 and 1963, the Department of Antiquity of Israel undertook an excavation of the city of Caesarea, the Roman capitol of Judea at the time of Christ. During this excavation, archaeologists found a stone plaque, apparently recording the dedication of a building, with a Latin inscription naming `Pontius Pilate, Praefect of Judaea.'
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