Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

1802 Clyde Billington – BC Metallurgy: Lead and Copper

Mt. Ebal Curse Tablet

Mt. Ebal Curse Tablet

Possibly the most dramatic discovery in biblical archaeology so far in the 21st century, this very small lead tablet, folded in half, inscribed in what appears to be paleo Hebrew, found near the Mt. Ebal altar that was discovered in 1980s by Israeli archaeologist Adam Zertal.  On this week’s program, my co-editor Clyde Billington and I discuss the cover story of the spring issue of our biblical archaeology newsmagazine ARTIFAX, and the connection that this discovery has to the mountain of curses, that’s mentioned in Deuteronomy 27 & Joshua 8. 

There’s also a connection between the curse tablet and another story in our spring issue news digest: lead ingots found in the harbor at Caesarea. These ingots have been dated to 1500 BC: lead isotopes give their source as Sardinia, markings were Minoan (from 1500 BC Cyprus). They had traveled a long distance in those early days.

We also discuss new information about copper mining in Timna, in far southern Israel. We recently reported on new research from Timna indicating that people lived in tents instead of buildings more widely than believed, which is shaking up archaeology a bit. Now there’s further information on their mining and smelting techniques. Tel Aviv University researcher David Luria says the technology was developed by locals using trial and error, not imported from Egypt. Production was heavy during the time of the biblical kingdoms of Israel and Judah, 1200 BC to 850 BC.

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