The Buried Biblical Secrets of the Holy Land

Ilsa Z.

Biblical archaeology, which originated as a discipline about 160 years ago, is the study of ancient artifacts to prove the existence of the Bible.

William Dever, an American archaeologist and historian, says, “Archeology is almost the only way that we have for reconstructing a real-life context for the world out of which the Bible came, and that does bring understanding.” Today, Biblical archaeology is a thriving field, with new discoveries constantly coming to light that clarify our understanding of the Old and New Testaments.

The existence of Israel

About two centuries ago, archaeologist Flingers Petrie made a groundbreaking discovery related to Biblical events. The Merneptah Stele, also known as the Israel Stele, is a two-meter-tall stone block with engravings that describe the victory of the Pharaoh Merneptah around 1200 BC.

The discovery of the Merneptah Stele is significant because it is the earliest piece of evidence we have about the existence of Israel. Before this discovery, we had three other artifacts that referenced Israel (the Mesha Stele, the Tel Dan Stele, and the Kurkh Monoliths), but none of these dated back as early as the Merneptah Stele.

In addition, this slab proves that back in 1200 BC, Israel was already an established power, not just a population of nomads that had recently arrived in Canaan.

Tel Zayit abecedary

The earliest known specimen of the Hebrew alphabets was unearthed by archaeologists in 2005. At a site called Tel Zayit in Judah, just south of Jerusalem, an engraved stone was found with two lines of letters: the 22 symbols of the Hebrew alphabet. Experts believe the stone was found fitted inside a wall because the Phoenicians believed the alphabet could ward off evil.

Most importantly, this artifact is also the earliest example of an abecedary, which is a document bearing the letters of the alphabet in order. Since Hebrew gave rise to almost all the other ancient languages, including Greek, this discovery is a powerful example of what the original ancient language looked like in its earliest form.

Remains of the House of David

The most convincing evidence about the existence of King David's kingdom has been the discovery of a 3000-year-old house at Tel Eton. This building, which is two story high and 2500 square feet in size, provides strong indication about at the existence of an organized government – most likely the United Monarchy.

The United Monarchy was the ancient Biblical kingdom presided over by David and later Solomon, collapsing after his death around 930 BC. This house, along with the site of Tel Eton, was destroyed by the Assyrians in the 8th century BC. After the United Monarchy, two other Jewish kingdoms came into existence: Judah, which was focused around Jerusalem, and to the north, the kingdom of Israel.

God and his Wife Asherah

Francesca Stavrakopoulou, a scholar at Oxford, has discovered evidence that hints at the existence of God's wife in the Book of Kings. This goddess is named Asherah, and she was worshipped alongside Yahweh (or God) by the Israelis.

This discovery has been fascinating in expanding our conceptions of modern religion, and how far their origins differ from what these religions look like today – all three major Abrahamic religions today have a fundamental belief in the existence of one God.

Based on artifacts unearthed in the ancient city of Ugarit, now modern-day Syria, Asherah has been found to be a powerful fertility goddess. An inscription from the 8th century BC indicates how the ancient Israelis would ask both Yahweh and Asherah for their blessings, proving their existence as a divine pair.

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