Key Archaeological Highlights in Israel – 2016

At a time when Israel's history, connection to the land and to Jerusalem is being so severely questioned, it is the mercy of God to reveal strong evidence that the Bible is a book of real, tangible history. History that you can dig up and find. Here are just a few of the exciting discoveries of 2016:

There was a province called Judea 1900 years ago

In January this year, Haifa University archaeologists came across this 1900 year old stone (pictured above) while on a dive to explore an ancient Roman harbour in the Mediterranean. It is the base of a column, and the inscription tells us about a Roman governor we did not know existed, who was a ruler in Judea in the time of the early church, and shortly before the Bar Kochba revolt. It is the second known mention of the province of Judea in Roman inscription, the other being the “Pontius Pilate stone” dating to around 100 years earlier.[1]

Floor tiles of the Temple found

In the summer, archaeologists announced that they were for the first time able to reconstruct the design of the patterned floor of the second temple, using coloured tiles they had found in the Temple Mount Sifting Project. The City of David Foundation and the Israel Archeology Foundation support the project which goes through the considerable quantities of earth discarded around the Temple Mount, searching for any small treasures and clues that they might find to unlock some of the mysteries of Jerusalem's past. 600 floor tile pieces have now been found, many have been confirmed as Herodian, and using sources such as descriptions of the temple court given in the Talmud and Josephus, experts are now literally piecing together what the floor might have looked like. [2]

Hezekiah's base uncovered

Between the Dead Sea and Gaza, southwest of Jerusalem, lies Tel Lachish. This archaeological site contains many treasures that support the Biblical stories of Hezekiah and his Assyrian adversary Sennacherib, and just this year, archaeologists have found even more exciting discoveries – among them being a Bronze Age latrine! It was reported in September that they had uncovered the city gate where the elders would have sat, along with many artefacts and weaponry, some with Hebrew script on, and also a seal with “to Nachum, my servant”, who was an official at the time of Hezekiah.[3]

The Philistines are coming into focus

2016 has also been a good year for understanding more about who the Philistines were, where they came from, and how they lived. The discovery of a Philistine graveyard in Ashkelon was announced in the summer, and provided many clues about their society and origins. It seems they had many things in common with civilisations in Cyprus and Crete, and it is likely that they were an Aegean seafaring people who came from the Greek islands, as is written in the Bible (‘Caphtor’ in Jeremiah 47:4; Amos 9:7). [4]

Hanukkah's baddie was real and minted on a coin

Just in time for Hanukkah, a coin has recently been found in Jerusalem, with one side bearing image of Hanukkah's bad guy – Antiochus IV Epiphanes of Syria. This events are predicted with remarkable accuracy in Daniel 11, and Yeshua himself went to the annual Feast of Dedication to celebrate the reclamation and rededication of the temple according to John 10:22. Officials from the Tower of David explained, “These coins were minted in Acre, which in that time was called Ptolemais, apparently between 172 and 168 BCE.”[5] Many interesting coins have been found in Israel, and are important for verifying times of rulers and events, giving evidence to historians to help them piece together what happened when. This coin was just recently found in the Hasmonean walls of the Tower of David as a real Hanukkah surprise!

There are too many discoveries to mention here, but important archaeological work is being carried out in Israel continuously, giving even more certainty that what we read in the Bible really is no fairy story, but HIS story.

[1] Haaretz, Divers find unexpected Roman inscription from the eve of Bar-Kochba Revolt, Philippe Bohstrom, Dec 2, 2016
[2], Archaeologists restore ancient tiles from Second Temple in Jerusalem, Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jun 9, 2016
[3] Ynetnews, First Temple era gate shrine unearthed in Israel, Jonathan Benedek, 29.09.16
[4] Haaretz, Excavation of Philistine Gath Finds Startling Similarities to Cypriot Cities, Philippe Bohstrom, Aug 23, 2016
[5] Mosaic Magazine, 
A Coin Bearing the Image of Antiochus IV Found in Jerusalem, Dec 20, 2016

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