21 Greatest Old Testament Biblical Archaeology Discoveries Ever (2019)

September 21, 2019 8 Comments

21 Greatest Old Testament Biblical Archaeology Discoveries Ever (2019)

How can you prove to your family, friends and co-workers that the Bible is true?

There's no better way than showing them either a biblical archaeology discovery that is still in the dirt today, or one that has been taken out of the dirt, and cannot be denied.

Well instead of just one, I am going to show you right now the 21 greatest Old Testament biblical archaeology discoveries ever.

Here are the biblical archaeology discoveries we are going to be covering (click on link to scroll directly to that archaeological find):

So let's go!

 

Jericho

Archaeological finds in the Bible are vast, but sometimes it is hard to know which biblical archaeology books to buy, or who you can trust.  So for our list, I thought we would start with a well-known location, Jericho.

We've all heard the incredible story of Jericho (God told all the Israelite men of war to walk around the city of Jericho (with its large walls) one time per day for 6 days, then on the 7th day, to walk around the city 7 times, and then to blow a trumpet and shout, and the walls would fall (Joshua Ch. 6)), but is there any archaeological evidence that this happened or that ancient Jericho even existed?

Uhh...yes.

In the early stages of archaeology, in the early 20th century, people searched hopeful and eager to find Jericho.  But then Kathleen Kenyon (pictured below) (1952-1958) came in and said the location where the Bible says is Jericho couldn’t be Jericho, because of the absence of the Cypriote ware pottery (special pottery from Cypress).

Kathleen Kenyon - Jericho

She did acknowledge that the walls were blackened and reddened with fire, and that “in most rooms, the fallen debris was heavily burnt…” (Digging up Jericho, 1957, pg. 370)

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Jericho

Bryant Wood - Jericho

Bryant Wood (pictured above), former professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto, however, began to work there in the late 90s and into the turn of the century, and found exactly what she said didn’t exist. 

He found the Cypriote (from Cypress) diagnostic pottery (that Kenyon said didn't exist) on the east side of the tell, a more prosperous part of the city.

Not only that, he also found a continuous series of Egyptian scarabs with dated inscriptions on the bottom.  

To add to it, he found the remains of a fortified tower, and storage containers that were indicated to be full of grain at the time that it was burned.  Normally, the grain would be taken by the conquering people (but we know from the biblical account that they were commanded not to take things from Jericho).  Here is one of the pottery pieces pictured below.

Jericho Cypriot Ware Pottery

Joshua Ch. 3 tells us that they “carried the ark and came into the Jordan…(for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest),” and so the storage containers would be full, and that is exactly what we find.

Perhaps most importantly, there was one portion of the wall that was still remaining.  Dr. Wood found a small portion of the north wall still standing (houses built against and into this wall).  We look (pictured below) at the one portion of the wall still standing, and we see the house.  Whose house was this? Let's look at the scriptures.

Jericho standing wall - Rahab

Joshua Ch. 2:15 says, “Then she (Rahab) let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall…” and she was promised (Rahab) that her house would be preserved, and sure enough, it is the only spot that is still left. 

A documentary came out a few years ago, called Patterns of Evidence, by Timothy Mahoney, that gives some excellent further information into Jericho, the Exodus and many other archaeological finds. 

Patterns of Evidence documentary by Timothy Mahoney

If you love archaeology, I highly recommend you check out his DVD/Blu-ray.  And if you would like some more information on Jericho, here is more information on Jericho, from their website:

https://patternsofevidence.com/2018/09/28/footprint-evidence-of-the-israelites/

The Prophet Balaam

Many people, including myself, are blown away when they start to read about biblical archaeology news and related finds that support their faith. 

Another Old Testament archeological find is of the prophet Balaam, who was working with the Moabites, the enemies of the children of Israel.  As at the time of the Exodus, the Israelites were marching toward the promised land, and were mowing down the people along the way.  I have highlighted the area (pictured below) where Balaam, son of Beor's, name is mentioned.

Prophet Balaam Inscription

The Moabites were worried they would be mowed down as well, so they hired a prophet to curse the children of Israel (Balaam).  At Tel Deir ‘Alla, Jordan, on the other side of the Jordan, where the Jabat River meets the Jordan, they found a sort-of administration building  (pictured below) for the Moabites. 

Balaam Inscription administration building

It was covered with plaster that had fallen off, but on that plaster, they had written various stories.  Written on this stone, they found the story of Balaam the prophet, written by the enemies of the children of Israel.

One line from the wall says, “Warnings given by Balaam, the son of Beor.  A seer of the gods.”  This inscription is dated from the 8th century BC.  Numbers 22:5, of course, says, “So he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, at Pethor, which is near the river…” 

This material is on display in Aman, Jordan.

For more information on this specific dig, you can check out this website:

http://www.bible.ca/archeology/bible-archeology-balaam-son-of-beor-inscription-tell-deir-alla-succoth-1400-750bc.htm

The Ketef Hinnom Amulets

The next find is called the Ketef Hinnom Amulets.  An amulet is an ornament or small piece of jewelry often thought to give protection against evil, danger or disease.  These particular amulets,which date from around the 7th century BC, were rolled up but had inscriptions on them from Numbers 6:24-26. 

Numbers 6:24-26 - Amulets

This priestly blessing was what the priests would wear around their neck and inscribe on various objects.  

These amulets (pictured below) are from Jeremiah’s time.  This was the oldest instance to date of Hebrew text of the Old Testament.  It was found in 1979, in Jerusalem.

Ketef Hinnom Amulets

Check out this web page from the Biblical Archaeology Society for more information on this archaeological discovery:

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/inscriptions/miniature-writing-ancient-amulets-ketef-hinnom/

The Tell-Dan Inscription

Many of these archaeological finds have been written, not by the children of Israel, but by the enemies of the children of Israel, showing you strong evidence from a non-believing community, attesting to the God of the Bible.

Here is another of this type.  The “Tell-Dan Inscription” (pictured below) was found in 1993, and makes reference, by the enemies of the children of Israel, to the battle between Hazael, King of Aram and the kings of Judah and Israel, which is highlighted in 2 Chronicles 22. 

Tell Dan Inscription

For many years, people in archaeology discredited the Bible stories, claiming the stories of David, Solomon and the like were just fairy tales, and there never even was a real HOUSE OF DAVID.  

Well this inscription, again written by the enemies also makes reference to the “House of David”, archaeological proof that such a house existed. 

For further study, here is an article that goes into more detail on this find:

https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/people/related-articles/tel-dan-inscription

The Amarna Letters

The next discovery references Jerusalem (the City of David).  Again, keep in mind that some people like to try to equate the Bible with some fairy tale written so long ago, and without any real basis in reality. 

They also say that Jerusalem is not really that old, or that the children of Israel didn't have anything to do with it long ago.  These finds completely destroy that criticism.  

The earliest reference to the City of David (Jerusalem in this case) (2 Samuel Ch. 5)  is from the “Amarna Letters”, dating back to the 14th century BC.  This is a cuneiform tablet sent from Abdi-Heba, ruler of Jerusalem, to the Egyptian pharaoh.  This inscription references “Jerusalem”.

Amarna Letters

Although many also consider Bethlehem the City of David, here is the particular scripture that also references "Jerusalem" as the City of David.

2 Samuel 5:6-7 - The City of David (Jerusalem)

These finds build a strong case that parallels ancient Jerusalem with the children of Israel.  

Azariah Seal

We have found seals and bullae (inscribed clay tokens) from kings specifically mentioned in the bible.  These were found in the early to mid-1970s, in Jerusalem.  We have a seal that says from, “Azariah the son of Hilkiah” (pictured below).

Azariah Seal

Azariah is specifically mentioned in 1 Chronicles 9.  He was a member of the high priests who officiated at the end of the First Temple Period (First Temple Period refers to the period from about 1100 to 586 BC).

1 Chronicles 9 - Azariah seal

We will cover some more seals in this section of our biblical archaeology finds.  

Gemariah Seal

We have also found the seal of Gemariah the son of Shaphan, who was a high official at the court of Jehoiakim of Judah.  His seal is pictured below.

Gemariah Seal

Gemariah is mentioned in Jeremiah 36:10.   

Jeremiah 36:10

Gedaliah Seal

We have found the seal of Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, which corroborates 2 Kings 25:22.  

2 Kings 25:22 - Gedaliah

Gedaliah was the 1st Judean governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC, assassinated by Ishmael and Baalis.  His seal his pictured below.

Gedaliah Seal - 21 Greatest Old Testament Archaeology Discoveries Ever (2019)

 

Jerahmeel Seal

We also have a seal from Jerahmeel the king’s son, who was mentioned in Jeremiah 36:26.

Jeremiah 36:26

This is the person who tried to get Jeremiah, to throw him into the pit. 

Many of these seals and bullae were found in the City of David.  Of the 51 bullae and seals found in the archive building in the City of David, they attest to 26 individuals mentioned in the Bible.

King Hezekiah Seal

How about one more seal - this one from King Hezekiah.  Hezekiah, son and successor of Ahaz and the 13th king of Judah (king from about 715-686 BC) is mentioned numerous times in the Bible.  His seal is pictured below.

King Hezekiah Seal

Former Cold Case detective, and author of the classic apologetics book, Cold Case Christianity, J Warner Wallace gives some more information on this particular find, as well as some other incredible discoveries in this article:

https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/a-brief-sample-of-old-testament-archaeological-corroboration/

King David's Palace

King David’s palace was found, announced by the New York Times on August 5, 2005.  King David's palace is mentioned in 2Samuel 5:11.

2 Samuel 5:11

This was a Phoenician-style palace in the middle of Jerusalem, and was found by Eilat Mazar (pictured below) of Hebrew University.  The pottery there was dated to around the 10th century BC (time of David).

Eliat Mazar

Israeli translater, Hillel Halkin (pictured below), on July 2, 2006, described it like this, “We have a biblical text describing in detail (2 Samuel 5:17) the creation of a Phoenician-style palace by David high up on a particular mountain, around the end of the 11th or the beginning of the 10th century b.c.e.”

Hillel Halkin

He continued, “And we have a grand structure of the Phoenician style dating from the same time, on the summit of that very mountain, located with assistance from the text and previous archaeological discoveries.” 

“This was not stumbled upon, moreover, but carefully hypothesized, and the current dig was proposed as the test.  The likelihood of this happening by chance is extremely small.”

The Dead Sea Scrolls

Here we have one of the most important finds in biblical archaeology news.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are actually hundreds of scrolls and scraps that date between 300 BC and AD 70.  The significance of this find cannot be overstated.  Pictured below is the book of Isaiah, which was found very much in tact. 

Dead Sea Scrolls

The first of these scrolls was found in 1947 in caves in the Qumran area near the Dead Sea about 7 miles south of Jericho.  About 1/3 of the scrolls contain copies of portions of Old Testament books (every Old Testament book except Esther). 

These copies are over 1,000 years older than most of the manuscripts scholars previously had available for study and translation. 

This find shows that the Old Testament was copied very accurately over the centuries.  Our current Old Testament translation (that is for sale in stores today) is extremely close to this early copy, thousands of years old. 

The Merneptah, or Merenptah Stele

Another important find is the Merneptah (Merenptah) Stele (a stele is a wooden slab or stone) (also called the Israel Stele).  This contains the earliest extrabiblical mention of the name “Israel” thus far known.  

Again, this is very important because there are many today who would try to proclaim that Israel was just a name made up in modern times, and that the stories of ancient Israel never actually happened.  The problem for them is archaeological finds that continue to prove otherwise.  This stone is pictured below.

Merneptah Stele

This stone dates to about the 13th century BC.

The Taylor, or Sennacherib Prism

Our next Old Testament archaeological find is the Taylor, or Sennacherib Prism.  This discovery corroborates events spoken about in Isaiah 36 and 37 (also 2 Chron. 32) confirming Sennacherib, the king of Assyria’s rising up against Hezekiah.  

Taylor or Sennacherib Prism

This is a 15-foot tall, six-sided baked clay prism from ancient Assyria containing the story of the invasion of the kingdom of Judah by Sennacherib in 701 BC.  The prism was found at Ninevah.  

For a deeper study on this archaeology discovery, check out this webpage:

https://www.bible-history.com/empires/prism.html

Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser

Our next find is called the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser (pictured below).  It was found in 1846, in Nimrud, Iraq and is a 6 ½ foot tall 4-sided pillar.  It reports in pictures and words the conquests of Assyrian King Shalmanesar III, enemy of the Israelites. 

Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser - 21 Greatest Old Testament Biblical Archaeology Discoveries Ever (2019)

This is very interesting as it depicts King Jehu (the oldest picture known of an ancient Israelite - 9th century BC), kneeling down and bringing tribute to the Assyrian king, Shalmanesar.  King Jehu’s reign is mentioned in 2 Kings 9-10, even though the tribute is not.

Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser - 21 Greatest Old Testament Biblical Archaeology Discoveries Ever (2019)

Check out more information on this discovery at the link below:

https://www.bible-history.com/black-obelisk/what-is-the-black-obelisk.html

Moabite Stone, or Mesha Stele

The Moabite Stone, also known as The Mesha Steele, was set up around 840 BC, and was found in 1868, in Palestine.  It is a 3-foot-tall slab. 

The Moabite Stone or Mesha Stele

This stone corroborates 2 Kings 3.  This scripture tells that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel after the death of King Ahab of Israel.  It highlights the accomplishments of Mesha, king of Moab around 840 BC. 

2 Kings 3:4-5

According to Genesis 19:37, the Moabites were relatives to the Israelites. 

Genesis 19:37 - Moab

The Moabite Stone is the most extensive inscription ever received that refers to “the kingdom of Israel”, the “House of Omri”, it bears the earliest certain extra biblical reference to the Israelite God “Yahweh”, and also seems to refer to the “House of David”.

 More information on this discovery can be found at:

https://christiananswers.net/q-abr/abr-a019.html

Weld-Blundell Prism

The Weld-Blundell Prism, found in 1922, in Babylon, Iraq, contains a list of Sumerian Kings that ruled before and after some sort of "great flood" (sound familiar?). 

The kings that pre-dated the flood are attributed enormous life spans reminiscent of, though greater than, the lifespans of pre-flood inhabitants of the Bible.  It is dated to around 2170 BC, and is a baked clay prism.  It is pictured below.

The Weld-Blundell Prism

Seal of Megiddo

The Seal of Megiddo was found in 1904, in an excavation led by Gottlieb Schumacher (pictured below). 

Gottlieb Schumacher

This was a seal belonging to a royal member in the 8th century BC.  It is engraved with a roaring lion (symbol for the kingdom of Judah).  The inscription (pictured below) reads, “Shema” on top, and “Servant of Jeroboam” on the bottom (referring to King Jeroboam II who ruled from about 787 BC to about 747 BC). 

The Seal of Megiddo

You will read about Jeroboam in 2 Kings 14:23-25.

 

2 Kings 14:23-25

If you would like some more details on this find, click the link below:

https://www.allaboutarchaeology.org/megiddo.htm

 

Shishak's Invasion Record

Shishak’s Invasion Record (pictured below) is a record of Pharaoh Shishak’s raid of 140 places.  This includes the kingdom of Judah. 

This, again, is important because there are some who would claim that these ancient cities, like Judah, never actually existed and were just made up in the Bible.

Shishak's Invasion Record and many others listed here in this document prove they are wrong.  This find was discovered in Egypt, carved on a wall in the Karnak Temple of Amun, god of Thebes (Luxor today). 

Shishak's Invasion Record

Shishak is referenced in 1 Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12. 

1 Kings 14:25-26 - Shishak

For more information on this archaeological discovery, check out:

https://biblereadingarcheology.com/2015/12/21/pharoah-shishaks-invasion/

Pool of Gibeon

The Pool of Gibeon is spoken about in 2 Samuel 2:13 AND Jeremiah 41:12. 

2 Samuel 2:13 - Pool of Gibeon

Jeremiah 41:12 - Pool of Gibeon

This remarkable pool (pictured below), dating to before 1000 BC, was found largely intact in Gibeon, six miles north of Jerusalem in excavations around 1956.

Pool of Gibeon

House of Yahweh Ostracon

And the final archaeological discovery on our list of the "21 Greatest Old Testament Biblical Archaeology Discoveries Ever" is the House of Yahweh Ostracon.

The House of Yahweh Ostracon appears to be a receipt for a donation of three shekels of silver to the “House of Yahweh”, which is referring to Solomon’s temple.  An ostracon just simply refers to a writing on a piece of pottery.

House of Yahweh Ostracon

This ostracon (pictured above) is 4 inches wide and 3 ½ inches tall.  Some scholars date it between 835 and 796 BC, some 130 years after the temple was built.  This is the oldest mention of Solomon’s temple that has been found outside the Bible.

Now It’s Your Turn: I hoped you enjoyed our list of the 21 greatest Old Testament archaeology discoveries ever.  Now I want to hear from you: Which was your favorite archaeology find?  Was it the wall of Jericho or The Dead Sea Scrolls?  Let me know by leaving a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 




8 Responses

Jonathan
Jonathan

December 03, 2019

Hi James, thanks for the comment I am GLAD you enjoyed the blog post. The Merneptah Steele was actually found IN HIEROGLYPHICS, which is pretty cool. The stela represents the earliest textual reference to Israel from ancient Egypt. God bless!

James
James

December 03, 2019

Thank you for the insight. I am exited as well as fascinated about this findings. However, I want to know in which language were the writings especially the one that dates as far back as 13th century BC ie THE MERNEPTAH, OR MERENPTAH STELE?

Jonathan
Jonathan

November 17, 2019

Hey Okaibe I C, yes there are some great reads and archaeology that supports the Bible as you can see. Steve Caldwell, thanks for your message and encouragement. These findings are SOOOO amazing for people to see. Yes, the light that it sheds on Israel as a nation and the truth of the Bible is just astounding! God bless you both in all you do!

Steve Caldwell
Steve Caldwell

November 17, 2019

For me it has always been the Dead Sea Scrolls, I was amazed by the accuracy, and intrigued with wonder why God allowed them remain in such good condition. It excited me to see how well, word for word the sages passed on to us the words of God. Another thing is the timing of many discoveries, as the world continues to dispute Israels claim to the Land. Eventually eschatology became my passion, along with that the discoveries of so many insights the G-d of Abraham has revealed to me, individually, and also collectively working through others like you and these people. I no longer am looking for signs and wonder. Now I am listening for Trumpets. What a wonderful work for the Lord you have all collectively done…G-d Bless Israel

Okaibe I C
Okaibe I C

November 17, 2019

I have red too about some discoveries of the scriptures by Arab shephard boys.

Okaibe I C
Okaibe I C

November 17, 2019

I have red too about some discoveries of the scriptures by Arab shephard boys.

Jonathan
Jonathan

November 09, 2019

Hey David. Thank you for your comment and interest in this topic. You know, it may seem like these sort of things don’t make much difference, but it is at least what I see as overwhelming evidence that discredits the whole “legend” theory.

Also, as a believer, it certainly strengthens my faith.

When you start to study Luke’s archaeological references, it is astounding at how accurate he is. So the question is, if Luke was spot on with all the archaeological references in the books of Luke and Acts, then why would one doubt the miracle accounts that he, as an historian, also reports on, or of course, the Resurrection?

david grainger
david grainger

October 11, 2019

We live in a godless world today and the mention of archaeological finds which support biblical events and times. Sadly, these make no difference to objectors views. I’m pleased to see these finds all in one place.

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