Christianity Today made a list of 2016 archaeological finds that helps affirm biblical details and prove, again, that the Bible is a source of historical accuracy. According to Christianity Today, which understandably labelled the “top 10” designation subjective, the list was based on news reports rather than peer-reviewed journal articles.
So, bearing that in mind, here’s the list:
10. Ancient papyrus mentions Jerusalem
An inscription on a small piece of papyrus read, “From the king’s maidservant, from Na’arat, jars of wine, to Jerusalem.” Dated to the seventh century B.C.
Significance: The papyrus is written in the oldest non-biblical Hebrew-language.
9. Ancient glass factory
Archaeologists excavated the remains of a glass production facility at the foot of Mt. Carmel, near Haifa.
Significance: Judea was known as one of the centers of glass manufacturing in the Roman world.
8. Sunken junk from Caesarea Maritima
Protected by the sand on the sea bottom for 1,600 years, the old metal objects were discovered by scuba divers last summer. The mostly bronze objects included idols, lamps, and several clumps of coins.
Significance: Old metal was typically melted and recycled, so the fact that this ship sank and preserved its contents was monumental.
7. Solomon’s Palace at Gezer
A monumental residence built in the 10th century B.C. and excavated this fall has been dubbed “Solomon’s Palace,” even though there’s no direct connection to the Israelite king outside of the dating, which was done through pottery remains and stratigraphic chronology.
Significance: According to 1 Kings 9:16–17, the Egyptian pharaoh conquered and burned Gezer and presented it as a dowry for his daughter’s marriage to Solomon, who then rebuilt the city.
6. Hundreds of Roman writing tablets
More than 400 ancient wooden tablets were excavated in London, the oldest dating to A.D. 57. The tablets were originally covered with wax and written on with a stylus. The wax is gone, but the impressions of many notes in Latin remain. They are being translated and studied.
Significance: Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, used a similar writing tablet in Luke 1:63.
5. Temple Mount floor designs identified
The geometric patterns of the stone tile floors of the porticoes of the Jewish Temple built by King Herod have been identified from tile fragments recovered by the Temple Mount Sifting Project. Volunteers have been steadily processing tons of dirt illegally excavated from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in 1999. Seven different tile designs have been recreated so far by Frankie Snyder, a project team member with an academic background in mathematics and Judaic studies.
Significance: King Herod connection.
4. Philistine cemetery excavation
Archaeologists studied remains excavated from a cemetery at Ashkelon. Although most of the main cities of the Philistines have been excavated, there is still a lot of important information that has eluded scholars. But that may change with the new information gleaned from these burials.
“It was just a goldmine of a cemetery,” said Daniel Master, a Wheaton College professor who co-directs the excavation.
Significance: Some of the secrets of the Philistines, the nemesis of the ancient Israelites, are expected to be revealed.
3. Stone jar factory found near Cana
Halfway between Cana and Nazareth, a cave was discovered where limestone had been mined and carved into cups, bowls and jars, which were highly valued for their ritual purity during the first century.
Significance: The cave’s proximity to Cana suggests it may have been the source of the water jars that were used for the wedding in Cana attended by Jesus and his disciples in John 2:1–11.
2. Lachish gate shrine illustrates Hezekiah’s reforms
In the ruins of a shrine excavated next to the gate of Lachish, the largest city of the kingdom of Judah after Jerusalem, archaeologists found an altar with the horns cut off from each corner. They also found a stone toilet that was never used, which had been placed in the holy of holies, apparently to desecrate it.
Significance: Both discoveries were attributed to the religious reforms under King Hezekiah, described in 2 Kings 18:4.
1. Unsealing the tomb of Christ
The most notable aspect of repairs that took place at the traditional tomb of Christ in October — the first look inside the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre since at least the year 1555 — is that the workmen found just what they expected. The badly-in-need-of-repair marble edicule that surrounded the tomb was stripped down to the limestone platform where the body of Jesus was believed to have been laid after his crucifixion.
“It appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades,” said Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic’s archaeologist-in-residence.
The original limestone cave walls of the tomb were also preserved to a higher level than expected inside the edicule.
Significance: The state of repair suggests that the tomb has not been moved over time.
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