biblical archaeology

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

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 Eglon2) 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, Gibeah1,Beth-shan, Lachish, Ezion-geber, and Hazor1. 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. BC

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. AD, the finding of the Nag Hammadi corpus of Gnostic scriptures in 1946, and the steady publication of Egyptian papyri in the 20th 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 descr='[BCE]' (1990); F. M. Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran (1995).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

biblical archaeology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.