BiblePlaces.com has put together a nice little review of the top Bible-related archaeological discoveries of 2013. We went through their list and ranked them here in order of coolness.
With any new archaeological claim, it’s best to leave it to the experts to figure out what we’re actually looking at. Some archaeologists are notorious making sensational claims to draw attention (and funding) to their work. So let’s allow time for them to do their work and treat these as possible discoveries for the moment.
#1. The Tabernacle Area at Shiloh
Why cool? The Tabernacle was where God met with the Israelites in the OT. It would be further confirmation of the Bible’s authenticity and accuracy.
Archaeologists have been excavating for a few years at the biblical site of Shiloh. They now claim they have discovered the location of the tabernacle in Shiloh. Israel HaYom writes,
Archaeologists discover[ed] holes carved into the ground in Shiloh which could have held the beams of The Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting, which, according to the Bible, housed the Ark of the Covenant.
#2. David’s Palace
Why cool? Some scholars debate whether King David existed at all because of the lack of evidence. D’oh! I’d say a palace is pretty solid evidence!
While it is still being confirmed, Yosef Garfinkel (with a history of sensational claims) has announced the discovery of David’s royal palace along with an enormous storehouse. He said,
Two royal public buildings, the likes of which have not previously been found in the Kingdom of Judah of the tenth century BCE, were uncovered this past year by researchers of the Hebrew University and the Israel Antiquities Authority at Khirbet Qeiyafa – a fortified city in Judah dating to the time of King David and identified with the biblical city of Shaarayim.
#3. Elisha’s House
Why cool? While some say it’s a bit of a stretch, if this really is Elisha’s house it’s one of the raddest discoveries of 2013. Because he’s like one of the sickest prophets in the OT.
There is compelling evidence to believe that archaeologist Amihai Mazar (a scholar of impeccable reputation) has identified the prophet Elisha’s house (2 Kings 4:2,32; 6:32).
Mazar has suggested that a room found in his excavations at Tel Rehov was inhabited by Elisha on the basis of (1) two incense altars found nearby, (2) a table and a bench discovered in the room, and (3) a fragmentary inscription reconstructed to read Elisha.
#4. Discovery of Dalmanutha Mentioned in Mark
Why cool? It’s kinda mentioned in the Gospel of Mark, so it needs to be a real place.
In the Gospel of Mark we read:
“About four thousand men were present. And having sent them away, he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha. The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven.” (Mark 8:9–11)
Some scholars have proposed that Dalmanutha may not be a proper name but simply the Aramaic word for harbor and now suggest this area in the Plain of Gennesaret as its location.
#5. Zechariah Inscription
Why cool? It’s always cool to identify a person mentioned in the Bible by name. It shows the Bible is not make-believe.
Archaeologists may have discovered a 7th century inscription of “Zechariah the son of Benaiah” mentioned in 2 Chronicles 20:14.
The inscription was found in a layer of thousands of pottery sherds, oil lamps, and figurines near the Gihon Spring.
#6. New Evidence for AD 70 Roman Siege
Why cool? Jesus himself prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Jesus prophesied of the destruction of the temple (Matt. 24:2, Mark 13:2, Luke 21:6) and of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44). There’s new evidence of the Roman siege of Jerusalem in AD 70. A cistern was found near Robinson’s Arch in the City of David which
contained three intact cooking pots and a small ceramic oil lamp…“The complete cooking pots and ceramic oil lamp indicate that the people went down into the cistern where they secretly ate the food that was contained in the pots, without anyone seeing them,” he (Eli Shukron of the Antiquities Authority) said. “This is consistent with the account provided by Josephus.”
#7. Royal Architecture Found Near Jerusalem
Why cool? They say it can really help us understand the periods of Kings David and Solomon.
Three dozen royal capitals from the time of the kings of Israel and Judah have already been found throughout Israel. A new ancient column was discovered which could indicate the location of a new capital.
The capital was found in a cave between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Yaron Rosenthal believes that an entire building from the time of Judah’s monarchy may be waiting to be unearthed.
Here’s a replica of the column that was found:
#8: Enormous Jerusalem Quarry
Why cool? How is a 2,000 year old key anything but cool!?
An enormous quarry from the time of the Second Temple (first century CE) was discovered with “2,000 year old key, pick axes, severance wedges etc are also among the artifacts uncovered during the course of the excavation.”
Here’s some of the cool stuff that was found in the quarry (see the key?):
#9. Earliest Alphabetic Inscription in Jerusalem
Why cool? It may have been written by the Jebusites who were part of the city population in the time of Kings David and Solomon.
This 7th Century BC inscription was found in the City of David:
The Hebrew University writes,
The inscription, in the Canaanite language, is the only one of its kind discovered in Jerusalem and an important addition to the city’s history. Dated to the tenth century BCE, the artifact predates by two hundred and fifty years the earliest known Hebrew inscription from Jerusalem, which is from the period of King Hezekiah at the end of the eighth century BCE.
#10. Largest Stele of Nebuchadnezzar
Why cool? There’s tons of evidence that Nebuchadnezzar was a real person whose reign lines up with biblical narrative. But the more, the merrier!
World Bulletin writes,
What could be the largest discovered inscribed tablet (stele), dating to the reign of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II between 605-562 BC, has been discovered in the Turkish city of Karkamis on the military zone along the Turkey-Syria border.