It’s that time once again when we reflect on some of the most remarkable discoveries in the fields of biblical archaeology and scholarship that happened over the past year. As COVID-19 restrictions continued to be relaxed, the surge of finds carried on as scholars and archaeologists got to work at both excavations and in the library to uncover information that further revealed the world of the Bible and its peoples.
Here are our top 5 Bible discoveries of 2022:
During building work at Palmachim National Park, south of Tel Aviv in Israel, a trove from the era of Rameses II (circa 1279–1213 BCE) was revealed. Rameses II is believed by some to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. The group of archaeologists found a vast array of items, including intact pottery and bronze spearheads, dating to the Late Bronze Age (circa 1550–1200 BCE). The finding is significant in that it will help scholars understand burial customs in Israel during this early period, which might correspond to a time around the Exodus, if the Rameses II dating is accepted.
Linear Elamite was one of the scripts used in Elam (located in the far west and southwest of modern-day Iran) during the Bronze Age and provides us with an account of the Elamite language. Even though the Elamites were considered Semites by the writers of the Bible (Genesis 10:22), the language is in fact not Semitic and is most probably a language isolate. Now, an international team claims to have deciphered the language, with implications for reading future lost texts that might reveal more about the Elamites, their culture, and relations with surrounding peoples.
Ruins are ubiquitous in Israel. But who destroyed what when is less clear. A new geomagnetic technique determined by the Earth’s own magnetic field is letting scientists identify remains of conflicts described in the Bible. It turns out many battles mentioned in the biblical text were historical events, providing a better understanding of the wars surrounding the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
A cache of ivory pieces has academics rethinking Jerusalem’s position among ancient capitals. These First Temple (circa 1000–586 BCE) ivories are the earliest found in Jerusalem and are seldom uncovered at other sites. Around 1,500 ivories were dug up from the City of David’s Givati Parking Lot. This finding might be proof of the biblical account of the fame of Jerusalem during the Iron Age (circa 1200–539 BCE).
A small curse inscription on a doubled-over lead tablet might be the oldest Hebrew text ever discovered and may reference the name of God. The engraving in Hebrew is composed of 40 characters and is older than any recognised Hebrew from ancient Israel. A peer-reviewed article will be published early in 2023 by the team.
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