August 9, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Biblical Archaeology News

One point where theology and science intersect is in the field of archaeology.  Here are a few recent stories that bear on historical claims in the Bible.

  • Pool of Siloam update:  Last fall, the discovery of the probable Biblical Pool of Siloam was announced (see 12/24/2004 story).  In its September-October 2005 issue, Biblical Archaeology Review has published a detailed article with photographs about the find and the continuing excavation.  See also the LA Times article copied by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where reporter Thomas L. Maugh II seems pretty confident it is the real thing.
  • Nebuchadnezzar’s Nephew Nabonidus News:  Science magazine reported on presentations at an international convention of Assyriologists last month.  Researchers discussed recent archaeological finds in Tayma that confirm that Nabonidus, nephew of the Biblical Nebuchadnezzar II and father of Belshazzar (see Daniel 5) was indeed present in Tayma (Teima) in Arabia while his son Belshazzar remained in charge of Babylon (in modern Iraq).  This corroborates an explanation for apparent discrepancies between the Biblical account and earlier archaeological inscriptions that had suggested Nabonidus (not mentioned in the Bible), not Belshazzar, was the true king of Babylon.  For background on the resolution of this controversy, see ChristianAnswers.net and BibleHistory.net.
        Speaking of Iraq, EurekAlert provided progress reports on efforts to restore the Mesopotamian wetlands (see 05/01/2003, 08/18/2003 and 02/25/2005 entries).  In short, a little hope, but a long way to go.
  • King David Ruled Here:  The Biblical Archaeological Society also reported today the discovery of a “massive public structure” that could be the palace of King David, used not only by David but also his dynasty in Jerusalem.  The structure, now being unearthed south of the Temple Mount by archaeologist Eilat Mazar, contained an inscription with the name of Yehochal, mentioned in Jeremiah as being a senior official in the court of later king Zedekiah.  Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay told the New York Times, “this is one of the first greetings we have from the Jerusalem of David and Solomon.”
        Artifacts from the Davidic period are hard to come by not only because Jerusalem is a holy site for three major world religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), with all the cultural and political tensions that creates, but also because the entire city was ransacked and destroyed multiple times, particularly by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC and the Romans in 70 AD.  King David reigned much earlier, from 1025 – 985 BC (see CARM timeline).
    Update 09/08/2005: Haaretz.com has a longer article about the find.  It gives two sides: the view of discoverer Eilat Mazar that it supports the traditional dating of the Davidic kingdom, as well as the minimalist response of critics like Israel Finkelstein.  One strong point about this discovery is its in situ status, which allows it to be excavated by respectable archaeologists under the watchful eye of critics.  This will rule out accusations of forgery that have dogged some other artifacts that have surfaced in recent years.

Each new artifact or structure uncovered in the lands of the Bible brings excitement, but why any more than the greatest, most detailed inscription of all, the Bible itself?

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