Top 10 Biblical Archaeological Discoveries of 2015

Exciting Discoveries That Strengthen Our Faith in the Bible

In the world of Biblical archaeologist – 2015 brought light to many new discoveries and interpretations. From locating Queen Nefertiti’s tomb to the childhood home of Jesus, 2015 allowed researches to confirm and reassess previous theories brought to us from the Bible. As experts begin to unravel even more archaeological discoveries in 2016, let’s take a look back at the top 10 discoveries of 2015 featured in a recent article by Biblical Archaeology Review. You can visit sites like these on Living Passage’s upcoming Christian tours.

You can read the full article on Bible History Daily.

1.The Childhood Home of Jesus:

Submerged in a rock formation underneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent in Nazareth, Israel, Ken Dark and the Nazareth Archaeological Project made a monumentally historical discovery. The evidence they revealed suggested they had located the childhood home where Jesus was raised. A first-century “courtyard house”, with many of the original features still intact, may be where Jesus spent his formative years. Additionally, evidence from the Church of the Annunciation, the International Marion Center and Mary’s Well further support the idea that this location is where Jesus grew to become a man.

2. Queen Nefertiti’s Tomb:

Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves delivered a new hypothesis regarding one of Egypt’s greatest mysteries that quickly became the talk of archaeologists and historians. In an article titled “The Burial of Nefertiti?”, Reeves claims Queen Nefertiti’s tomb is located in a chamber within “tomb KV 62” in the Valley of the Kings. What’s so interesting about “tomb KV 62” is that it’s also the location of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. However, Reeve’s hypothesis should be approached with skepticism. Although he offers several supporting arguments, none of them are conclusive. You can read more about Queen Nefertiti’s tomb here.

3. Royal Sea of King Hezekiah:

In the Ophel excavations led by Dr. Eilat Mazar, a stamped clay seal (also known as a bulla) was discovered at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The seal impressed within the bulla depicts a two-winged sun disk flanked by ankh symbols. Additionally, the seal contains a Hebrew inscription that reads “Belonging to Hezekiah, (son of) Ahaz, king of Judah.” In ancient time, a bulla served as both a signature and as a means of ensuring authenticity of secured documents.

4. Biblical Name Eshbaal Found Outside of the Bible:

Located at the site of Khirbet Qeiyafa in Israel, the name Eshbaal was inscribed on a 3,000-year-old pithos, or large ceramic storage jar. This is the first known discovery of the Biblical name being found outside of the Bible. The Eshbaal inscription reads “Išbaʿal son of Beda” with “Išbaʿal” translating into “Eshbaal”. Eshbaal was the second king of Israel, King Saul’s son and a rival of King David.

5. Book of Leviticus Verses Recovered

The oldest Hebrew Bible scroll discovered, since the Dead Sea Scrolls, has finally been deciphered. Back in 1970, a burnt ancient scroll was excavated from the Torah ark of the Byzantine-period synagogue at Ein Gedi in Israel. 45 years later, with the help of advanced digital technology, the scroll was deciphered to show a passage from the Book of Leviticus. The discovery of the scroll that was victim to a fire that destroyed the village, marks the first time a Torah scroll has been excavated from an ancient synagogue.

6. Discovery of Ancient Egyptian Beer Vessels:

Ancient Egyptian beer vessels were discovered in downtown Tel Aviv, Israel during a salvage excavation led by Diego Barkan of the Israel Antiquities Authority. During the excavation, archaeologists discovered 17 Early Bronze Age I (c. 3500-3100 B.C.E) pits that contained shards from locally produced pots and fragments of large ceramic basins used to prepare beer. The vessels were constructed with straw temper and organic material, consistent with Egyptian custom. Beer was a major factor of Near Eastern diets for the use of multiplying calories, consuming needed vitamins and killing bacteria found in tainted water supplies.

7. Neolithic Figurine Leads to Reassessment of Prehistoric Israel:

Discovered near Beit Hilkia in south-central Israel was a small Neolithic figurine in the shape of a full-figured woman that is identified with the Neolithic Yarmukian culture of prehistoric Israel. The figurine, possibly used for cultic purposes, has archaeologist reconsidering the nature of the cultures that lived in prehistoric Israel 8,000 years ago. This discovery was found during a salvage excavation led by archaeologists Edwin van den Brink and Yitzhak Mermelstein before the installation of a new pipeline.

8. Rare Pan Mask Unearthed in Excavation:

During an excavation at Hippos-Sussita on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel, archaeologists discovered a large bronze mask of Pan. Pan is known as the God of mountain wilds, shepherds and flocks. Since most of the known masks from the Hellenistic and Roman periods are miniature, the size of this bronze mask makes it incredibly rare. Dr. Michael Eisenberg believes the reason the mask was found so far outside of the city-limits is due to a Pan altar on the main road to the city. Pan was not only worshipped inside the city temples but in caves and nature as well.

9. Possible Judahite Administrative Center Revealed:

Archaeologists working at the Tel ‘Eton site, located between the Shephelah and Hebron hill country in Israel, have possibly discovered an important Judahite administrative center used during the Iron Age. Director of the Tel ‘Eton Excavations, Avraham Faust, claims the center was excavated almost in its entirety and is made up of a large courtyard with rooms on three sides. Archaeologists believe the structure was home to the Judahite governor in charge of administrative affairs within the region.

10. Iron Age Gate and Fortification Uncovered:

Excavations at Tell es-Safi in central Israel unearthed the remains of the monumental city gate and fortifications of Iron Age Gath. In the Bible, Gath is known as one of the five Philistine cities established in Canaan, as well as, the home of the giant Goliath. Director of the excavations, Professor Aren Maeir, began an investigation into the lower city of Tell es-Safi to see if Gath had been fortified in the Iron Age. Maeir’s discoveries show that although Philistines are often viewed as enemies of the Israelites, they were also close neighbors.

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