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Faith Facts - Archeology

 
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The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947, are about 1000 years older than the oldest Old Testament manuscripts known up to that time. They were instrumental in demonstrating that only minor textual variants occured between the various texts over that time period, proving the reliability of the Old Testament texts we have today.  
Evidence for Israel's Red Sea crossing, at the leadership of Moses, has been found. Stone columns, one with ancient Hebrew accounts of the crossing, have been found on each side of the crossing. Divers have also located and photographed chariot wheels and axles along the sea route. Goto www.wyattmuseum.com for more details.  
The probable remains of Sodom and Gomorrah, with burned and unburned brimstone in the ashes, have been known about for years. Read about the ash remains of the four coastal cities of the Dead Sea @ www.wyattmuseum.come for photos and more details.  
For years, skeptics pointed to a lack of evidence of a wall Nehemiah claimed to have supervised the construction of. In 2005, a team of archeologists discovered the wall in Jerusalem's ancient City of David during a rescue attempt on a tower that was in danger of collapse. Artifacts including pottery shards and arrowheads found under the tower suggested that both the tower and the nearby wall are from the 5th century B.C., the time of Nehemiah.  
Pontus Pilate's inscription was found at Caesarea Maritima in 1962. For years many Biblical scholars believed Pilate to be a mythical character. The Pilate Stone provided inscriptional confirmation of the existence of Pilate and the role he played in Judea for over a decade (he is called a prefect in the inscription). Pilate was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from 26–36 CE, the exact time Of Christ's crucifixion.  
In December of 1990, a discovery rocked the world of archaeology! In the Peace Forset section of Jerusalem, a first century Ossuary, or "bone box," was discovered. Inscribed on the ossuary were the words "Yehosef bar Kayafa," translated as "Joseph, son of Caiaphas." Excavator Zvi Greenhut of the Israeli Antiquities Authority recovered the artifact, which is now on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Matthew, Luke and John each identify Caiaphas as the high priest that presided over the arrest and trial of Jesus. The historian Josephus also identifies “Joseph Caiaphas” as the Jewish high priest from 18 to 36 AD (Jewish Antiquities 18:35). Josephus also refers to him as “Joseph who was called Caiaphas of the high priesthood” (Jewish Antiquities 18:95).  
Some archeologists question the importance the Bible places on King David and King Solomon due to the fact not much is found to substantiate their importance. The reasoning goes that if they were such important historical figures, why is there not more artifacts referring to either of them? However, Jerusalem is a city that has been built and destroyed many times, and although not many artifacts have been found, there are some. In upper Galilee there was discovered an inscription by an Aramean king. One hundred and fifty years after King David, what does he call Israel? The House of David. Sounds like an important king to me.  
The Bible records (Acts 13:6-12) that Paul, Barnabas and John Mark visited Paphos, on Cyprus, at the start of Paul's first missionary journey. They had a dramatic encounter with the Roman governor (or proconsul) Sergius Paulus, which led to him becoming a follower of Christ. In 1877, an inscription was found near Paphos, bearing Sergius Paulus's name and title of proconsul. Ten years later, his name was also found on a memorial stone in Rome. The stone records that in AD 47 he was appointed as one of the keepers of the banks and channel of the river Tiber. He held this office when he returned to Rome after his three years as governor of Cyprus.   
Joshua 6 gives an account of Israel defeating Jericho by burning the city with fire after God tore the walls of the city down. In the 1950's a British archaeologist named Kathleen Kenyon excavated the site. Evidence that the city was burned with fire was found along with burned bricks from the collapsed city walls. Archeologists believe the walls were destroyed by a massive earthquake that interestingly enough did not destroy the northern wall. The Biblical account records that a Canaanite prostitute named Rahab hid Jewish spies and was promised that if she and her family stayed in their home, built against the city wall, they would be spared. The preserved city wall on the north side of the city had houses built against it. An in-depth analysis of the evidence reveals that the destruction took place around 1400 B.C. (end of the Late Bronze I period), exactly when the Bible says the conquest occurred.  
In Genesis 11 the Bible records that the people of the earth founded a city and built a tower to reach into the heavens called the Tower of Babel. The passage goes on to state that God stopped the building project by confusing their languages and from there the people abandoned the building and spread over the earth. Upon excavating the sight,Professor Oppert translated an inscription discovered in the ruins of Babylon. In the inscription, King Nebuchadnezzar, in the Chaldean language, refers to a tower built long before called Barzippa, which means Tongue-tower. The king goes on the write that he rebuilt the base of the original tower in honor of the Chaldean gods. He also states that the original builders could not complete the tower because they lost the ability to control their language and communication! The original tower, that Nebuchadnezzar built over, was reduced to a kind of rough glass by an incredible amount of heat.  
During the nineteenth century, an inscription confirming the Bible's account of the "seven years of great plenty" followed by the "seven years of famine" (Genesis 41:29,30) was found in southern Saudi Arabia. The inscription was found on a marble tablet in a ruined fortress on the seashore of Hadramaut in present-day Democratic Yemen. It was written approximately eighteen hundred years B.C., corresponding with the biblical story of Jacob and his twelve sons. Part of the inscription reads, "We dwelt in this castle seven years of good life - how difficult for the memory its description! Then came years barren and burnt up: when one evil year had passed away, Then came another to succeed it. And we became as though we had never seen a glimpse of good. They died and neither foot nor hoof remained. Thus fares it with him who renders not thanks to God: His footsteps fail not to be blotted out from his dwelling."  
Jewish historian Flavius Josephus reported that two ancient Egyptian priest-scholars, Manetho and Cheremon, named both Joseph and Moses in their history of Egypt as leaders of the Hebrews. Josephus recorded that the Egyptians remembered a tradition of an Exodus from their country by the Hebrews whom they hated, thinking they were unclean. They stated that the Israelites hated their customs, among which were the worship of Egyptian gods. They indicated that the Israelites immigrated into the area of "southern Syria" (present day Palestine). Manetho states that the sudden Exodus occured in the reign of "Amenophis, son of Rameses, and father of Sethos, who reigned toward the close of the 18th dynasty" which places the event exactly at the time the Bible states. Exodus 12:37-38  
Seals have been found confirming the existence of the Prophet Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch. Official seals also confirming records about King Jeroboam, King Uzziah, King Hezekiah and King Hosea.  
Explorers in Iraq in the last century found an ancient inscribed clay cylinder bearing the decree of King Cyrus of Persia allowing the captured natives of various nations to return freely to their ancient homelands. It begins, "I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king." After describing his conquests and various deeds, it reads, "I gathered all their former inhabitants and returned to them their habitations." The biblical account is found in Ezra 1:1-3.  
The House of Peter in Capernaum was discovered in 1906 and was properly excavated between 1968 and 1998. Archaeological excavations have uncovered a home and subsequent home church that contains ancient writings in the wall plaster mentioning Jesus as “Lord” and “Christ” in Aramaic, Greek, Syriac and Latin. The structure is very close to the ancient synagogue at Capernaum and contains 1st century fish hooks and graffiti references to “Peter.” In biblical accounts, it was Peter's house where Jesus stayed while teaching in Capernaum and where he performed a number of miracles (Mark 1:29-34 and Mark 2:1-12). Although scholars can’t be certain whether this was the actual House of Peter, scholars agree that this is one of the earliest Christian houses of worship yet discovered.   
Nov 13, 2005 an Israeli researcher found the first archaeological evidence suggesting the biblical story of David slaying the Goliath actually took place. A shard of pottery unearthed in a dig in southern Israel carried an inscription in early Semitic style spelling "Alwat" and "Wlt", likely Philistine renderings of the name Goliath, said Aren Maeir, who directed the excavation. The specimen, from about 900 BC, isn't old enough to have belonged to Goliath, himself, who is believed to have lived around 1,000 BC, Maeir said. But "It is the first time in the land of Israel that we have (found) the name Goliath, or a name like Goliath".  
December 23, 2004 archaeologists in Jerusalem identified the remains of the biblical Siloam Pool, where the Bible says Jesus miraculously cured a man's blindness, researchers said, "The moment that we revealed and discovered this four months ago, we were 100 percent sure it was the Siloam Pool," said archaeologist Eli Shukron.  
Several sites in Mesopotamia are filled with a water laid clay. Places include Ur, Kish, and Nineveh. These locations are hundreds of miles apart, ruling out any "local flood" theory. Not only is the story of a world-wide flood found in the fifth chapter of the Book of Genesis, a comparable account is told in the Epic of Gilgamesh and flood stories survive in many tribal myths including the American Indians and on the Islands of Hawaii. The Sumerians had a legend about a "great flood" which contained a hero named Ziusudra (Noah), who made a great ship, survived the great flood, and offered sacrifice afterwards.   
In the Book of Ezra 1:1-2 we read, "In the first year of Cyrus King of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: this is what Cyrus king of Persia says: 'The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build, a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel; the God who is in Jerusalem.'" In the nineteenth century a clay tablet was found written in cuneiform by order of Cyrus. The text parallels Ezra and 2 Kings with Cyrus declaring the return of the Jews and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem in 538 b.c.  
2 Kings 3:4, 5 Tells of how Mesha, the king of Moab, was a sheep breeder who paid the king of Israel a tribute of 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams, as well as wool. The account goes on to speak of how this ended in a rebellion when King Ahab died. in 1868, this story was reinforced as history when the Moabite Stone was found. Commissioned by king Mesha himself, it reveals in detail his rebellion against the new king of Israel.