Over the 40-year history of TB&TS, which will be officially marked next February, we have discussed hundreds of biblical archaeology discoveries. Some discoveries were later determined to be fraudulent. And it’s an open question about some others. So the most important discovery in biblical archaeology…over the past 40 years?
That’s a subjective question. Different archaeologists would probably give us lots of different opinions.
But a few years back, when we talked with journalist Jeff Sheler, about his book, Is the Bible True? he identified one mayor recent discovery as a “Eureka Moment” in biblical archaeology.
This discovery was, in his words, “A perfect example of what archaeology can do to debates over the veracity and historicity of the Bible. Overnight it turned the arguments of skeptics on their ear. Up to that point, there was no reference to David outside the Bible. Lo and behold, they discovered there was this inscription that mentioned David, and it wasn’t in the writing of Jewish scribes, but written by an enemy of Israel.”
It’s called the House of David Inscription. We mentioned it in our last program when we featured our meeting with archaeologist Avraham Biran at the gate of Tel Dan. That meeting was in 1992. Then, just a year later, this amazing discovery, at that very site, was in news headlines around the world.
I called professor Biran at his office in Jerusalem, and he told me the story of the discovery of the Tel Dan inscription.
BTW, if you are a regular listener to this radio program, or a regular reader of this blog, this 40-year anniversary would be a good time to let me know you’re out there. I’d like to hear from all listeners and readers. How long have you been listening? Where are you located? What do you like about the program? Let me hear from you!
Only six pharaohs are named in the Old Testament and the name of one of the six has turned up on a stele (inscribed stone slab) that was found in an Egyptian farmers field. This is the cover story on the autumn issue of ARTIFAX, our biblical archaeology newsmagazine.
And it’s also the place where we start our quarterly discussion with my co-editor, professor Clyde Billington, on the most recent discoveries and developments in biblical archaeology. The stele hasn’t been translated yet but professor Billington thinks the hieroglyphics may well describe events related to Hophra’s alliance with King Zedekiah of Judah, as he attempted to resist the hegemony of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
We’ve devoted several programs in the last year or so to excavations taking place at the Arnon Hanatziv promenade between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. New accommodations for tourists and pilgrims appear to be planned for this area and the archaeology, meanwhile, is discovering the remains of palatial residences from the time of King Hezekiah. The latest discovery in this area is, shall we say, the royal toilet.
Final item on this program is a discussion of a new book that chronicles the 49 known cisterns and 42 water channels on the Temple Mount. They are totally off limits to archaeologists of course, but that doesn’t mean there’s no information available to them. One of the cisterns is apparently below the Well of Souls, the little room that’s been carved beneath the stone that sits under the Dome of the Rock.