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List of Artifacts Significant to the Bible

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List of Artifacts Significant to the Bible

The following is a list of artifacts, objects created or modified by human culture, that are significant to the historicity of the Bible.

Selected artifacts significant to Biblical Chronology

The table lists artifacts which are of particular significance to the study of biblical chronology. The table lists the following information about each artifact:

Name
Current Location: Museum or site
Discovered: Date and location of discovery
Date: Proposed date of creation of artifact
Writing: Script used in inscription (if any)
Significance: Reason for significance to biblical archeology
Refs: ANET[1] and COS[2] references, and link to editio princeps (EP), if known
Name Image Current Location Discovered Date Writing Significance Refs
Autobiography of Weni Cairo Museum 1880, Abydos c.2280 BC Egyptian hieroglyphs Records the earliest known Egyptian military campaigns in Sinai and the Levant. ANET 227-228
Sebek-khu Stele Manchester Museum 1901, Abydos c.1860 BC Egyptian hieroglyphs Records the earliest known Egyptian military campaign in Retjenu, including Sekmem (s-k-m-m, thought to be Shechem). ANET 230
Merneptah Stele Cairo Museum 1896, Thebes c. 1209 BC Egyptian hieroglyphs While alternative translations have been put forward, the majority of biblical archeologists translate a set of hieroglyphs on Line 27 as "Israel", such that it represents the first documented instance of the name Israel in the historical record, and the only record in Ancient Egypt. COS 2.6 / ANET 376-378 / EP[3]
Bubastite Portal Original location 1828, Karnak c. 925 BC Egyptian hieroglyphs Records the conquests and military campaigns in c.925 BCE of Shoshenq I, of the Twenty-second Dynasty, identified with the biblical Shishaq. Towns identified include Rafah (rph), Megiddo (mkdi) and Ajalon (iywrn) ANET 242-243
Mesha stele Louvre 1868, Dhiban, Jordan c.850 BC Moabite language Describing the victories of Moabite king Mesha over the House of Omri. Possible reference to the House of David; also mentions Yahweh, Bezer and others. One of the only two known artifacts containing the "Moabite" dialect of Canaanite languages (the second is the El-Kerak Inscription) COS 2.23 / ANET 320-321
Kurkh Monoliths British Museum 1861, Üçtepe, Bismil c.850 BC Assyrian cuneiform The description contains the name "A-ha-ab-bu Sir-ila-a-a" which was proposed to be a reference to Ahab of Israel. Although scholars have disputed the translation, it is significant as the only possible known reference to the term "Israel" in Assyrian and Babylonian records. COS 2.113A / ANET 277-278 / EP[4]
Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III British Museum 1846, Nimrud c.825 BC Assyrian cuneiform Contains what is thought to be the earliest known picture of a biblical figure: possibly Jehu son Omri (mIa-ú-a mar mHu-um-ri-i), or Jehu's ambassador, kneeling at the feet of Shalmaneser III. COS 2.113F / ANET 278-281
Saba'a Stele Istanbul Archaeology Museums 1905, Saba'a c.800 BC Assyrian cuneiform Records Adad-Nirari III's Assyrian campaign to Pa-la-áš-tu COS 2.114E / ANET 282 / EP[5]
Tel Dan Stele Israel Museum 1993, Tel Dan c.800 BC Old Aramaic Claimed by a number of scholars that the inscription contains the phrase House of David although others dispute this EP[6]
Nimrud Slab Unknown 1854, Nimrud c.800 BC Akkadian cuneiform Describes Adad-nirari III's early Assyrian conquests in Palastu. COS 2.114G
Nimrud Tablet K.3751 British Museum c.1850, Library of Ashurbanipal c.733 BC Akkadian cuneiform Describes Tiglath-Pileser III's (745 to 727 BC) campaigns to the region, including the first known archeological reference to Judah (Yaudaya or KUR.ia-ú-da-a-a). COS 2.117 / ANET 282-284
Sargon II's Prism A N.A. British Museum c.1850, Library of Ashurbanipal c.710 BC Akkadian cuneiform Describes Sargon II's (722 to 705 BC) campaigns to Palastu COS 2.118i / ANET 287
Siloam inscription Istanbul Archaeology Museum 1880, Hezekiah's Tunnel c.701 BC Phoenician alphabet Records the construction of Hezekiah's tunnel COS 2.28 / ANET 321
Lachish relief British Museum 1845, Nineveh c.700 BC Assyrian cuneiform Portion of the Sennacherib relief, which depicts captives from Judah being led into captivity after the Siege of Lachish in 701 BC COS 2.119C / EP[7]
LMLK seals Various 1870 onwards c.700 BC Phoenician alphabet c.2,000 stamp impressions, thought to be an acronym for "belonging to the King" COS 2.77 / EP[8]
Azekah Inscription British Museum c.1850, Library of Ashurbanipal c.700 BC Akkadian cuneiform Describes an Assyrian campaign by Sennacherib against Hezekiah, King of Judah, including the conquest of Azekah. COS 2.119D
Sennacherib's Annals British Museum, Oriental Institute of Chicago, and the Israel Museum 1830, likely Nineveh, unprovenanced c.690 BC Assyrian cuneiform Describes the Assyrian king Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC during the reign of king Hezekiah. COS 2.119B / ANET 287-288
Esarhaddon's Treaty with Ba'al of Tyre British Museum c.1850, Library of Ashurbanipal c.675 BC Akkadian cuneiform Describes a treaty between Esarhaddon (reigned 681 to 669 BC) and Ba'al of Tyre with respect to pi-lis-te COS 2.120 / ANET 533
Cylinders of Nabonidus British Museum and Pergamon Museum 1854, Ur c.550 BC Akkadian cuneiform Describes Belshazzar (Balthazar) as Nabonidus' eldest son COS 2.123A
Cylinder of Cyrus British Museum 1879, Babylon c.530 BC Akkadian cuneiform King Cyrus's treatment of religion, which is significant to the books of Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah. COS 2.124 / ANET 315-316
Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle N.A. British Museum 1896 (acquired), unprovenanced c.250 BC Akkadian cuneiform Describes Nebuchadnezzar's first siege of a city of Jerusalem in 597 BCE, thought to be the Siege of Jerusalem (597 BC) COS 1.137 / ANET 301-307
Nabonidus Chronicle British Museum 1879 (acquired), Sippar, unprovenanced c.250 BC Akkadian cuneiform Describes the conquest of Babylon by the Persian king Cyrus the Great COS 1.137 / ANET 301-307 / EP[9]

Other Significant Artifacts

2000 BC

1500 BC

10th century BC

  • Early Paleo-Hebrew writing - contenders for the earliest Hebrew inscriptions include the Gezer calendar, Biblical period ostraca at Elah and Isbeth Sartah,[17] and the Zayit Stone
  • Pim weight – evidence of the use of an ancient source for the Book of Samuel due to the use of an archaic term.
  • Khirbet Qeiyafa pottery sherd – (10th century BC) inscription - both the language it was written in and the translation are disputed. Was discovered in excavations near Israel's Elah valley.[18]
  • Tell es-Safi Potsherd (10th to mid 9th centuries BC) – Potsherd inscribed with the two names "alwt" and "wlt", etymologically related to the name Goliath and demonstrate that the name fits with the context of late-tenth/early-ninth-century BC Philistine culture. Found at Tell es-Safi, the traditional identification of Gath.
  • Khirbet Qeiyafa shrines- cultic objects seen as evidence of a "cult in Judah at time of King David" and with features (triglyphs and recessed doors) which may resemble features in descriptions of the Temple of Solomon.[19]
  • Ophel inscription is a 3,000-year-old inscribed fragment of a ceramic jar found near Jerusalem's Temple Mount by archeologist Eilat Mazar. It is the earliest alphabetical inscription found in Jerusalem writen in Hebrew or Proto-Canaanite language.[20]

9th century BC

8th century BC

  • Sefire stele – (8th century BC) described as "the best extrabiblical source for West Semitic traditions of covenantal blessings and curses."[23]
  • Stele of Zakkur – (8th century BC) Mentions Hazael king of Aram.
  • Shebna's lintel inscription – (8th - 7th century BC ?) found over the doorway of a tomb, has been ascribed to Hezekiah's comptroller Shebna.
  • King Ahaz's Seal (732 to 716 BC) – Ahaz was a king of Judah but "did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had done" (2 Kings 16:2; 2 Chronicles 28:1). He worshiped idols and followed pagan practices. "He even made his son pass through fire, according to the abominable practices of the nations" (2 Kings 16:3). Ahaz was the son and successor of Jotham.
  • Bullae (c.715–687 BC or 716–687 BC)[24] (clay roundels impressed with a personal seal identifying the owner of an object, the author of a document, etc.) are, like ostraka, relatively common, both in digs and on the antiquities market. The identification of individuals named in bullae with equivalent names from the Bible is difficult, but identifications have been made with king Hezekiah[25] and his servants (????? avadim in Hebrew).
  • Annals of Tiglath Pileser III – 730 BC, records tributes from many Judean and Israeli kings; Ahaz of Judah, Menahem, Pekah and Hosheah of Israel. The annals also refer to Ahaziah who is considered by many scholars to be identical with the biblical Uzziah, king of Judah[26][27][28]

7th century BC

  • Bulla of Shaphan (r. 609–598 BC) – possible link to a figure during the reign of Jehoiakim.
  • Khirbet Beit Lei contains oldest known Hebrew writing of the word "Jerusalem" dated to 7th century BC "I am YHWH thy Lord. I will accept the cities of Judah and I will redeem Jerusalem" "Absolve us oh merciful God. Absolve us oh YHWH"[29]
  • Mesad Hashavyahu Ostracon is an inscribed pottery fragment dated to 7th century BC and written in ancient Hebrew language. It contains earliest extra-biblical reference to the observance of Shabbat.[30][31]
  • Victory stele of Esarhaddon

6th century BC

5th century BC

2nd century BC

1st century BC

  • Western Wall – (c. 19 BC) is an important Jewish religious site located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Just over half the wall, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, being constructed around 19 BC by Herod the Great. The remaining layers were added from the 7th century onwards.
  • Temple Warning inscription – inscription from Herod's Temple, late 1st century BC. It warns foreigners ("allogenh") to refrain from entering the Temple enclosure, on pain of death.

1st century AD

Controversial

Artifacts described but not found

Forgery

Significant museums

External lists

  • ANET: Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Third Edition with Supplement. Ed. James B. Pritchard. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1969
  • COS: The Context of Scripture. 3 volumes. Eds. William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger. Leiden: Brill, 1997-2002
  • RANE:
  • Indices to ANET and COS: [2]
  • Dr. Ralph W. Klein's tables of artifacts - 10 pages of tables sorted by era
  • Extra-biblical sources for Hebrew and Jewish history (1913)
  • http://www.egyptologyforum.org/EEFtexts.html

See also

References

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