biblical archaeology

Also found in: Wikipedia.

biblical archaeology

biblical archaeology, term applied to the archaeology of the biblical lands, especially those of the ancient Middle East. While the thousands of written texts found in the languages of the ancient Middle East illuminate the Bible itself, the artifacts uncovered by archaeologists help re-create the cultural setting of its time.

Biblical archaeology developed in earnest in the early part of the 19th cent. when the British biblical scholar Edward Robinson traveled across Palestine and opened the way for study of the area. The founding (1865) of the Palestine Exploration Fund in Great Britain further encouraged research; by 1900 biblical archaeological societies had been formed in Germany, France, and the United States. The system developed by Flinders Petrie at Tel-el-Hesy (see Eglon (2)) to date pottery is of the greatest importance for the archaeology of Palestine, where spectacular monuments and written material are rarely found. Other important excavations in Palestine were undertaken at Jericho by John Garstang and others, as well as at Megiddo, Samaria, Gibeah (1,) Beth-shan, Lachish, Ezion-geber, and Hazor (1.) Outside Palestine the important archaeological discoveries in the old lands of Egypt, Sumer (see also Ur), Babylonia (see also Gilgamesh and Hammurabi), Assyria, Byblos, Nuzi, Ugarit, and Jordan (see also Moabite stone) did much to increase knowledge of the Bible.

The Palestine Dept. of Antiquities, founded 1918, encouraged research until the turbulent years preceding the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948; since that time some of the most important archaeological work in Palestine has been conducted by Israeli archaeologists, e.g., the excavation of the ancient tel (an artificial mound formed by the debris of settlements of ancient cities) of Joppa in 1948 and 1955 and the work at Arad from 1962 to 1967. Herod the Great's impressive building projects at Caesarea are being extensively investigated. Outside the borders of Israel, a large cache of clay tablets came to light in 1975 at Ebla (Tell Mardikh in Syria)—the center of a large Caananite empire that flourished c.26th–23th cent. B.C.

After two centuries of biblical archaeology, it is possible to read the Bible in a new light. It has become clear that ancient Palestine was an integral part of the whole cultural area of the ancient Middle East. Archaeology confirms the existence of fertility cults in Canaan and supports the theory that there was not a sudden era of conquest by Hebrew tribes in the premonarchical period. Excavations have also failed to find evidence that would support many of the biblical descriptions of the monarchial period.

Archaeology cannot confirm theological truths or articles of faith. However, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 and in the subsequent decade and the finds at sites in the vicinity of Qumran have revolutionized the understanding of Judaism in the New Testament era. The discovery of several manuscripts of the Greek New Testament of the 2d and 3d cent. A.D., the finding of the Nag Hammadi corpus of Gnostic scriptures in 1946, and the steady publication of Egyptian papyri in the 20th and 21st cent. have enlarged perceptions respectively of the accuracy of the New Testament text, the diversity and vibrancy of early Christianity, and the kind of Greek in which the New Testament was written.


See A. Negev, ed., Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (1972); H. D. Lance, The Old Testament and the Archaeologist (1981); P. Matthiae, Ebla: An Empire Rediscovered (1981); W. G. Dever, Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Biblical Research (1990); A. Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible 10,000–586 B.C.E. (1990); F. M. Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran (1995).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"The Pharisee Enigma Ancient Judean Sects and Christian Origins" by John Merrill (who has been long engaged in the field of biblical history and archaeology and has served as a past Chairman of the Biblical Archaeology Society, as well as having sponsored and participated in many archaeology expeditions and research projects) leads readers on a fascinating journey through the often unexplored period of history from which modern Judaism and Christianity emerged.
Mazar documented the possible discovery of a seal with Prophet Isaiah's signature in a paper published in the( Biblical Archaeology Review.
Brooke, 'Another Miriam's Song: An Ancient Celebration of the Exodus with a Mixed Chorus', in Biblical Archaeology Review (Biblical Archaeology Society, May/June, 1994); Hanna Tervanotko, 'The Hope of the Enemy has Perished: The Figure of Miriam in the Qumran Library', in Armin Lange, Matthias Weigold and Jozsef Zsengeller, eds., From Qumran to Aleppo: A Discussion with Emanuel Tov about the Textual History of Jewish Scripture (Gottingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009); Sidnie White Crawford, 'Traditions about Miriam in the Qumran Scrolls' (Lincoln, Nebraska: Faculty Publications, Classics and Religious Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2003).
Heritage Auctions said the two-foot square marble slab sold Wednesday night at a public auction of ancient Biblical archaeology artifacts.
It should be said that both The Bible (by John Riches) and Biblical Archaeology (by Eric H.
Hershel Shanks, the editor and publisher of Biblical Archaeology Review, purchased Moment, and for nearly 18 years Shanks expanded its reach with the help of deputies such as Suzanne Singer (above, top right: with Shanks on a trip to visit Jews in Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan), Yossi Abramowitz (above, bottom right: with President George H.
In 1887, Anne was nominated to become a member of the Biblical Archaeology Society while, in 1889, her kindness was acknowledged for donating an Egyptian object to the Kendal Museum.
In answering these questions, Partings: How Judaism and Christianity Became Two, the latest offering in the Biblical Archaeology Society's popular series, traces the compelling and often muddled history of Judaism and Christianity through their formative years, from the shared background of first-century Judaism to the diverse interactions and experiences of Jews, Christians and Jewish-Christians under centuries of Roman rule.
He was also a political and historical scholar of Islam, the Middle East, Biblical archaeology, and Thomas Wolfe.
Long a major player in the field of biblical archaeology, the author of this study continues in the same vein with this new book concentrating on a narrowly focused period in the history of Israel and Judah from the late ninth century BC to the Assyrian invasion of Palestine in 701 BC, roughly, the early Iron Age.