List of artifacts in biblical archaeology

The following is a list of artifacts, objects created or modified by human culture, that are significant to the historicity of the Bible.

Selected artifacts significant to biblical chronology

The table lists artifacts which are of particular significance to the study of biblical chronology. The table lists the following information about each artifact:

Current Location: Museum or site
Discovered: Date and location of discovery
Date: Proposed date of creation of artifact
Writing: Script used in inscription (if any)
Significance: Reason for significance to biblical archeology
Refs: ANET[1] and COS[2] references, and link to editio princeps (EP), if known
Name Image Current Location Discovered Date Writing Significance Refs
Autobiography of Weni Cairo Museum 1880, Abydos c.2280 BCE Egyptian hieroglyphs Records the earliest known Egyptian military campaigns in Sinai and the Levant. ANET 227–228
Sebek-khu Stele Manchester Museum 1901, Abydos c.1860 BCE Egyptian hieroglyphs Records the earliest known Egyptian military campaign in Retjenu, including Sekmem (s-k-m-m, thought to be Shechem). ANET 230
Statue of Idrimi British Museum 1939, Alalakh c.1500 BCE Akkadian cuneiform Records the earliest certain cuneiform reference to Canaan ANET 557
Merneptah Stele Cairo Museum 1896, Thebes c. 1209 BCE Egyptian hieroglyphs While alternative translations have been put forward, the majority of biblical archeologists translate a set of hieroglyphs on Line 27 as "Israel", such that it represents the first documented instance of the name Israel in the historical record, and the only record in Ancient Egypt. COS 2.6 / ANET 376–378 / EP[3]
Bubastite Portal Original location 1828, Karnak c. 925 BCE Egyptian hieroglyphs Records the conquests and military campaigns in c.925 BCE of Shoshenq I, of the Twenty-second Dynasty, identified with the biblical Shishaq. Towns identified include Rafah (rph), Megiddo (mkdi) and Ajalon (iywrn) ANET 242–243
Mesha stele Louvre 1868, Dhiban, Jordan c.850 BCE Moabite language Describes the victories of Moabite king Mesha over the House of Omri (kingdom of Israel), it bears the earliest certain extra-biblical reference to the Israelite god Yahweh, and—if French scholar André Lemaire's reconstruction of a portion of line 31 is correct—the earliest mention of the "House of David" (i.e., the kingdom of Judah). One of the only two known artifacts containing the "Moabite" dialect of Canaanite languages (the second is the El-Kerak Inscription) COS 2.23 / ANET 320–321
Kurkh Monoliths British Museum 1861, Üçtepe, Bismil c.850 BCE Assyrian cuneiform The Shalmaneser III monolith contains a description of the Battle of Qarqar at the end. This description contains the name "A-ha-ab-bu Sir-ila-a-a" which is generally accepted to be a reference to Ahab king of Israel,[4][5] although it is the only known reference to the term "Israel" in Assyrian and Babylonian records, a fact brought up by some scholars who dispute the proposed translation.
Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III British Museum 1846, Nimrud c.825 BCE Assyrian cuneiform Contains what is thought to be the earliest known picture of a biblical figure: possibly Jehu son Omri (mIa-ú-a mar mHu-um-ri-i), or Jehu's ambassador, kneeling at the feet of Shalmaneser III. COS 2.113F / ANET 278–281
Saba'a Stele Istanbul Archaeology Museums 1905, Saba'a c.800 BCE Assyrian cuneiform Records Adad-Nirari III's Assyrian campaign to Pa-la-áš-tu (Philistia) COS 2.114E / ANET 282 / EP[6]
Tel Dan Stele Israel Museum 1993, Tel Dan c.800 BCE Old Aramaic Its significance for the biblical version of Israel's past lies particularly in lines 8 and 9, which mention a "king of Israel" and a "house of David". The latter is generally understood by scholars to refer to the ruling dynasty of Judah. However, although the "king of Israel" is generally accepted, the rendering of the phrase bytdwd as "house of David" has been disputed by some. This dispute is occasioned in part because it appears without a word-divider between the two parts.[7] The significance of this fact, if any, is unclear, because others, such as the late Anson F. Rainey, have observed that the presence or absence of word-dividers (for example, sometimes a short vertical line between words, other times a dot between words, as in this inscription) is normally inconsequential for interpretation.[8] EP[9]
Nimrud Slab Unknown 1854, Nimrud c.800 BCE Akkadian cuneiform Describes Adad-nirari III's early Assyrian conquests in Palastu (Phillistia), Tyre, Sidon, Edom and Humri (the latter understood as the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria)). COS 2.114G[10]
Nimrud Tablet K.3751 British Museum c.1850, Nimrud c.733 BCE Akkadian cuneiform Describes Tiglath-Pileser III's (745 to 727 BCE) campaigns to the region, including the first known archeological reference to Judah (Yaudaya or KUR.ia-ú-da-a-a). COS 2.117 / ANET 282–284
Sargon II's Prism A N.A. British Museum c.1850, Library of Ashurbanipal c.710 BCE Akkadian cuneiform Describes Sargon II's (722 to 705 BCE) campaigns to Palastu, Judah, Edom and Moab. COS 2.118i / ANET 287
Siloam inscription Istanbul Archaeology Museums 1880, Siloam tunnel c.701 BCE Paleo-Hebrew) Records the construction of Siloam tunnel COS 2.28 / ANET 321
Lachish relief British Museum 1845, Nineveh c.700 BCE Assyrian cuneiform Portion of the Sennacherib relief, which depicts captives from Judah being led into captivity after the Siege of Lachish in 701 BC COS 2.119C / EP[11]
LMLK seals Various 1870 onwards c.700 BCE Phoenician alphabet (also known as Paleo-Hebrew) c.2,000 stamp impressions, translated as "belonging to the King" COS 2.77 / EP[12]
Azekah Inscription British Museum c.1850, Library of Ashurbanipal c.700 BCE Akkadian cuneiform Describes an Assyrian campaign by Sennacherib against Hezekiah, King of Judah, including the conquest of Azekah. COS 2.119D
Sennacherib's Annals British Museum, Oriental Institute of Chicago, and the Israel Museum 1830, likely Nineveh, unprovenanced c.690 BCE Assyrian cuneiform Describes the Assyrian king Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem in 701 BCE during the reign of king Hezekiah. COS 2.119B / ANET 287–288
Esarhaddon's Treaty with Ba'al of Tyre British Museum c.1850, Library of Ashurbanipal c.675 BCE Akkadian cuneiform Describes a treaty between Esarhaddon (reigned 681 to 669 BCE) and Ba'al of Tyre with respect to pi-lis-te COS 2.120 / ANET 533
Ekron inscription Israel Museum 1996, Ekron c.650 BCE Phoenician alphabet The first known inscription from the area ascribed to Philistines COS 2.42
Cylinders of Nabonidus British Museum and Pergamon Museum 1854, Ur c.550 BCE Akkadian cuneiform Describes Belshazzar (Balthazar) as Nabonidus' eldest son COS 2.123A
Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle (Photo Gallery)[13] British Museum 1896 (acquired), unprovenanced c.550 – 400 BCE [14] Akkadian cuneiform Describes Nebuchadnezzar's first siege of Jerusalem in 597 BCE, the Siege of Jerusalem (597 BCE) COS 1.137 / ANET 301–307
Cylinder of Cyrus British Museum 1879, Babylon c.530 BCE Akkadian cuneiform King Cyrus's treatment of religion, which is significant to the books of Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah. COS 2.124 / ANET 315–316
Nabonidus Chronicle British Museum 1879 (acquired), Sippar, unprovenanced 4th –1st century BCE[15] Akkadian cuneiform Describes the conquest of Babylon by the Persian king Cyrus the Great COS 1.137 / ANET 301–307 / EP[16]
Temple Warning inscription Istanbul Archaeology Museums 1871, Jerusalem c.23 BCE – 70 CE Greek Believed to be an inscription from Herod's Temple, warning foreigners ("allogenh") to refrain from entering the Temple enclosure
Trumpeting Place inscription Israel Museum 1968, Jerusalem c.1st century CE Hebrew[17] Believed to be a directional sign for the priests who blew a trumpet, consistent with an account in Josephus
Arch of Titus Original location n.a., Roma c.82 CE Latin Relief showing spoils from the Sack of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 CE. Depicted are the menorah and trumpets, as well as what might be the Table of Showbread.

Other significant artifacts

2000 BCE

1500 BCE

10th century BCE

9th century BCE

8th century BCE

7th century BCE

6th century BCE

5th century BCE

2nd century BCE

1st century BCE

1st century CE



Significant museums

External lists

See also


  1. ANET: Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Third Edition with Supplement. Ed. James B. Pritchard. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1969
  2. COS: The Context of Scripture. 3 volumes. Eds. William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger. Leiden: Brill, 1997–2002
  3. Petrie, WM Flinders; Spiegelberg, Wilhelm (1897), Six temples at Thebes, 1896, London: Quaritch
  4. The Hebrew Bible: New Insights and Scholarship edited by Frederick E. Greenspahn, NYU Press, 2008 P.11
  5. Ancient Canaan and Israel: New Perspectives By Jonathan Michael Golden, ABC-CLIO, 2004, P.275
  6. Reliefstele Adadniraris 3 aus Saba'a und Semiramis (1916)
  7. Stavrakopoulou 2004, pp. 86–87.
  8. Rainey 1994, p. 47.
  9. Biran, Avraham; Naveh, Joseph (1993). "An Aramaic Stele Fragment from Tel Dan". Israel Exploration Journal. Israel Exploration Society. 43 (2–3): 81–98. JSTOR 27926300.
  10. The Philistines in Transition: A History from Ca. 1000–730 B.C.E. By Carl S. Ehrlich P:171
  11. Discoveries Among the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, p128
  12. Warren, Charles (1870). "Phoenician inscription on jar handles". Palestine Exploration Quarterly. 2 (30 September): 372. External link in |journal= (help)
  13. "Photos of the Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle. Clay tablet; New Babylonian. Chronicle for years 605-594 BC. © Trustees of the British Museum". Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  14. "Babylonian Chronicle Tablet (The British Museum, #21946)". Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  15. Clyde E. Fant, Mitchell G. Reddish, Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible Through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums, p. 228. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2008. ISBN 0-8028-2881-7
  16. Sidney Smith, 1924
  17. The Writing on the Wall, Tablet and Floor
  18. Charles F. Horne (1915). "The Code of Hammurabi: Introduction". Yale University. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
  19. "Code of Nesilim". Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  20. Meyers 2005, p. 5-6.
  21. Moore & Kelle 2011, p. 81.
  22. Enmarch 2011, p. 173-175.
  24. "Archaeology: What an Ancient Hebrew Note Might Mean". Christianity Today. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  26. Nir Hasson, 'Israeli archaeologists dig up artifact from time of Kings David and Solomon,' at Haaretz, 15 July 2013.
  28. Hoftijzer, J. & van der Kooij, G. (1976) "Aramaic Texts from Deir 'Alla", in: Documenta et Monumenta Orientis Antiqui 19. Leiden: Brill
  29. Stern, Philip. Balaam in scripture and in inscription. Midstream (2002), (accessed 27 February 2009).
  30. Kaufman, S. A. Anchor Bible Dictionary. pp. 173–78.
  31. 1 2 3 Text and History: Historiography and the Study of the Biblical Text, page 168
  32. See William F. Albright for the former and for the latter Edwin R. Thiele's, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (3rd ed.; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983) 217. But Gershon Galil dates his reign to 697–642 BCE.
  33. Grena (2004), p. 26, Figs. 9 and 10
  34. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Kelle, Brad (2002), "What's in a Name? Neo-Assyrian Designations for the Northern Kingdom and Their Implications for Israelite History and Biblical Interpretation", Journal of Biblical Literature, 121 (4): 639–646, JSTOR 3268575
  35. 1 2 Kalimi, Isaac (2005). The Reshaping Of Ancient Israelite History In Chronicles. Eisenbrauns. p. 106. ISBN 9781575060583. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  36. Eerdmans
  37. On the Reliability of the Old Testament, Kenneth Anderson Kitchen
  38., Quote: "For a defense of the idea that Azariah of Judah headed up an anti-Assyrian coalition, see Tadmor, “Azarijau of Yaudi” Scripta Hierosolymitana 8 (1961): 232-271. However, Israelite and Judaean History, Old Testament Library. Edited by John H. Hayes and J. Maxwell Miller. London: SCM Press, 1977 says, “Recently, Na’aman [Nadav Na’aman. “Sennacherib’s ‘Letter to God’ on His Campaign to Judah,” BASOR CCXIV (1974) 25-39] has shown conclusively that the fragment presumably mentioning Azriau king of Yaudi actually belongs to the time of Sennacherib and refers not to Azariah but to Hezekiah. In Tiglath-Pileser’s annals there are two references to an Azariah (in line 123 as Az-ri-a-[u] and in line 131 as Az-r-ja-a-í) but neither of these make any reference to his country. Thus the Azriau of Tiglath-pileser’s annals and Azariah of the Bible should be regarded as two different individuals. Azriau’s country cannot, at the present, be determined.” Na’aman separates the country (Yaudi) from the name Azriau (p. 36). Also p. 28 on line 5 where the original transcription was “[I]zri-ja-u mat Ja-u-di” he reads “ina birit misrija u mat Jaudi” However, Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament (OROT), p. 18, is less dogmatic. He says “Hence we cannot certainly assert that this Azriau (without a named territory!) is Azariah of Judah; the matter remains open and undecided for the present and probably unlikely.” See Also CAH, 3:35-36."
  39. In Search of "Ancient Israel": A Study in Biblical Origins Philip R. Davies, p.63: "The reference to az-ri-a-u (? ANET ia-u-ha-zi) (mat)ia-u-da-a is seen by a minority of scholars (see e.g. ANET) as a reference to Azariah of Judah; the majority, however, identify the state in question as Y’di, mentioned in the Zinjirli inscription and located in northern Syria."
  40. Seals of Jeremiah's captors discovered
  44. "Solving a Riddle Written in Silver". The New York Times. 28 September 2004. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
  45. "The Challenges of Ketef Hinnom: Using Advanced Technologies to Recover the Earliest Biblical Texts and their Context", Gabriel Barkay et al., Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 66, No. 4 (Dec., 2003), pp. 162–171 (at JSTOR).
  46. "Biblical Artifact Proven to Be Real". Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  47. Thomas, D. Winton (1958) Documents from Old Testament Times; 1961 ed. Edinburgh and London: Thomas Nelson and Sons; p. 84.
  48. "Lachish letters". 10 January 1938. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  49. T.C. Mitchell (1992). "Judah Until the Fall of Jerusalem". In John Boardman; I. E. S. Edwards; E. Sollberger; N. G. L. Hammond. The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 3, Part 2: The Assyrian and Babylonian Empires and Other States of the Near East, from the Eighth to the Sixth Centuries BCE. Cambridge University Press. p. 397. ISBN 978-0521227179.
  50. 1 Chronicles 21:25, and 2 Samuel 24:18–25.
  51. Luke 13
  52. "Biblical artifacts". Retrieved 29 December 2011.
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