EACH year several
dozen institutional archaeological excavations and multiple more
salvage excavations take place in the lands of the Bible.
excavations draw attention because of the exciting dimensions of
their discoveries. Many more compile important information from less
dynamic discoveries that help us better understand the biblical
world in its social context.
Following are some
of the most exciting discoveries announced in the past year, taken
from the news digests of ARTIFAX magazine, and reported on The Book
& The Spade radio program.
Huqoq Synagogue Mosaic The ancient village of
Huqoq is located three miles west of the Sea of Galilee shore near
the sites of Magdala and Capernaum. Excavated by archaeologist Jodi
Magness, a Distinguished Professor of early Judaism at North
Carolina University at Chapel Hill, the mosaic floor of this
synagoue is of the highest quality. The mosaic depicts Samson tying
the tails of foxes together and also shows two faces around an
inscription. This synagogue dates several centuries after the time
of Christ and is expected to provide new information about the
development of synagogues in the Galilee.
Cult Shrines from Khirbet Qeiyafa
These shrines were actually discovered in 2011
excavations, but announced in the late spring of 2012 by
archaeologist Yosel Garfinkel of Hebrew University. The shrines are
evidence of worship that predates Solomon's Temple by 30-40 years;
shrines without cultic images that are different from Canaanite
shrines and conform to the anaconic traditions of Judaism. Khirbet
Qeiyafa overlooks the Elah Valley, about 20 miles southwest of
First Temple Period Reservoir This cistern is
located near the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount, under
Robinson's Arch. With its 66,000 gallon capacity, this discovery
provides new information about water consumption in the First Temple
era of Jerusalem.
Bethlehem Bullah A
seal impression with three lines of script, this is the earliest
mention of Bethlehem outside of the Bible. It was found during the
sifting of material from City of David excavations. It is a fiscal
bulla, related to taxing of shipments during the reign of a king
around the time of Hezekiah, Manasseh, or Josiah.
Jerusalem Seal An
actual seal which says "Belonging to Matanyahu Ben Ho," this seal
was found near Robinson's arch in the ruins of a building from the
First Temple Period.
An Egyptian scarab
This scarab was found in Jerusalem just before the 2012
Passover. It depicts the image of a duck, which is the name of the
sun god Amon-Ra. It is dated to the 13th century BC, just after the
The Kiryat Gat Hoard
This hoard was found near Ashkelon and contains 140 gold &
silver Roman coins dating to the late first and early 2nd century
AD. The hoard included a gold earring and a ring with a seal
depicting a winged goddess.
The Neo Hittite sculpture at Tel
Tayinat The sculputure inscription records
events of the reign of Suppiluliuma, who probably faced Shalmaneser
III in 858 BC. This is an important excavation in Turkey, 22 miles
east of Antakya (ancient Antioch) on the road to Aleppo. University
of Toronto archaeologist Tim Harrison believes this is the
neo-Hittite kingdom of Patina, which may also
be the Calno referred to in Isaiah 10:9-10.
3400-year old wheat from Hazor
The wheat was discovered in 14 clay jugs, burned but not
destroyed 3400 years ago. This is one of the most important ongoing
excavations in Israel, at the site of one of most important ancient
cities in Israel.
Akko's Hellenistic Harbor Archaeologists are
exposing the remains of the harbor, from the third and second
centuries BC. This was the most important port in Israel in the
centuries just before the birth of Christ.