List of artifacts in biblical archaeology

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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 Autobiography of Weni, from Abydos, now at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.png 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 Sebek-khu Stele.png 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 Idrimi of Alalakh.jpg British Museum 1939, Alalakh c.1500 BCE Akkadian cuneiform Records the earliest certain cuneiform reference to Canaan ANET 557
Merneptah Stele Merneptah Israel Stele Cairo.JPG 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 Bubastis portal at Karnak.jpg 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 Mesha stele.jpg Louvre 1868, Dhiban, Jordan c.850 BCE Moabite language Describing the victories of Moabite king Mesha over the House of Omri (interpreted to mean the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria)). Possible reference to the House of David; also mentions Yahweh, Bezer and others. 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 Karkar.jpg British Museum 1861, Üçtepe, Bismil c.850 BCE Assyrian cuneiform The description contains the name "A-ha-ab-bu Sir-ila-a-a" which was proposed to be a reference to Ahab of Israel. Although scholars have disputed the translation, it is significant as the only possible known reference to the term "Israel" in Assyrian and Babylonian records. COS 2.113A / ANET 277–278 / EP[4]
Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III Black-obelisk.jpg 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 Sabaa Stele.jpg Istanbul Archaeology Museums 1905, Saba'a c.800 BCE Assyrian cuneiform Records Adad-Nirari III's Assyrian campaign to Pa-la-áš-tu COS 2.114E / ANET 282 / EP[5]
Tel Dan Stele Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archaeology WingDSCN5105.JPG Israel Museum 1993, Tel Dan c.800 BCE Old Aramaic Inscription claimed by a number of scholars to contain the phrase House of David. EP[6]
Nimrud Slab Nimrud Slab (Calah Slab) Inscription.png Unknown 1854, Nimrud c.800 BCE Akkadian cuneiform Describes Adad-nirari III's early Assyrian conquests in Palastu, Tyre, Sidon, Edom and Humri (the latter understood as the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria)). COS 2.114G[7]
Nimrud Tablet K.3751 Nimrud Tablet K 3751.png 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 Hashiloach.jpg Istanbul Archaeology Museums 1880, Siloam tunnel c.701 BCE Paleo-Hebrew) Records the construction of Siloam tunnel COS 2.28 / ANET 321
Lachish relief Lachish inscription.jpeg 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[8]
LMLK seals Lmlk-seal impression-h2d-gg22 2003-02-21.jpg 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[9]
Azekah Inscription K6205 Rawlinson and Smith Azekah Inscription.jpg 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 Taylor Prism-1.jpg 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 Treaty of Esarhaddon with Baal of Tyre (K 3500 + K 4444 + K 10235).png 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 Ekron inscription.jpg 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 Nabonidus cylinder sippar bm1.jpg 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)[10] British Museum 1896 (acquired), unprovenanced c.550 – 400 BCE [11] Akkadian cuneiform Describes Nebuchadnezzar's first siege of a city of Jerusalem in 597 BCE, thought to be the Siege of Jerusalem (597 BCE) COS 1.137 / ANET 301–307
Cylinder of Cyrus Cyrus Cylinder.jpg 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 Nabonidus chronicle.jpg British Museum 1879 (acquired), Sippar, unprovenanced 4th –1st century BCE[12] Akkadian cuneiform Describes the conquest of Babylon by the Persian king Cyrus the Great COS 1.137 / ANET 301–307 / EP[13]
Temple Warning inscription Jerusalem Temple Warning Inscription.jpg 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 To the trumpeting place.jpg Israel Museum 1968, Jerusalem c.1st century CE Hebrew[14] Believed to be a directional sign for the priests who blew a trumpet, consistent with an account in Josephus
Arch of Titus Arch of Titus Menorah.png Original location n.a., Roma c.82 CE Latin Relief thought to show 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

  • Tombs of Ahmose, son of Ebana and Ahmose Pen-Nekhebet, record the earliest records of Egyptian control of Canaan. The Bible's depiction of Israel does not allow for Egyptian control over the area.[citation needed]
  • Amarna letters (c. 13th century BCE) – correspondence on clay tablets between the Egyptian administration and various Middle East kings petty sub-rulers in Canaan during the New Kingdom. The Bible's depiction of Canaan at this time (the period of the Judges) contradicts these records.[citation needed]
  • Great Hymn to the Aten is seen to possess strong similarities to Psalm 104, which may be based on it.
  • Ipuwer Papyrus (probably 18th century BCE) – poem describing Egypt as afflicted by natural disasters and in a state of chaos. The archeological evidence does not support the story of the Exodus, and most histories of ancient Israel no longer consider it relevant to the story of Israel's emergence.[17][18] Nevertheless, Ipuwer is often put forward in popular literature as confirmation of the Biblical account, most notably because of its statement that "the river is blood" and its frequent references to servants running away. This ignores the many points on which Ipuwer contradicts Exodus, such as the fact that its Asiatics are arriving in Egypt rather than leaving, and the likelihood that that the "river is blood" phrase may refer to the red sediment colouring the Nile during disastrous floods, or may simply be a poetic image of turmoil.[19]
  • North Wall of the Medinet Habu temple and the Papyrus Harris (c. 1150 BCE) – depicts the Ramesses III's conquests in Canaan including the Battle of Djahy. This is not reflected in the Biblical history.

10th century BCE

  • Early Paleo-Hebrew writing - contenders for the earliest Hebrew inscriptions include the Gezer calendar, Biblical period ostraca at Elah and Izbet Sartah,[20] and the Zayit Stone
  • Pim weight – evidence of the use of an ancient source for the Book of Samuel due to the use of an archaic term.
  • Khirbet Qeiyafa pottery sherd – (10th century BCE) inscription - both the language it was written in and the translation are disputed. Was discovered in excavations near Israel's Elah valley.[21]
  • Tell es-Safi Potsherd (10th to mid 9th centuries BCE) – Potsherd inscribed with the two names "alwt" and "wlt", etymologically related to the name Goliath and demonstrate that the name fits with the context of late-tenth/early-ninth-century BCE Philistine culture. Found at Tell es-Safi, the traditional identification of Gath.
  • Khirbet Qeiyafa shrines- cultic objects seen as evidence of a "cult in Judah at time of King David" and with features (triglyphs and recessed doors) which may resemble features in descriptions of the Temple of Solomon.[22]
  • Ophel inscription is a 3,000-year-old inscribed fragment of a ceramic jar found near Jerusalem's Temple Mount by archeologist Eilat Mazar. It is the earliest alphabetical inscription found in Jerusalem written in Hebrew or Proto-Canaanite language.[23] Some scholars believe it to be an inscription of the type of wine that was held in a jar.[24]

9th century BCE

8th century BCE

  • Kuntillet Ajrud inscriptions – (9th - 8th century BCE) inscriptions in Phoenician script including references to Yahweh
  • Sefire stele – (8th century BCE) described as "the best extrabiblical source for West Semitic traditions of covenantal blessings and curses."[27]
  • Stele of Zakkur – (8th century BCE) Mentions Hazael king of Aram.
  • Tell al-Rimah stela (c.780 BCE) - tells of the exploits of Adad-nirari III, mentioning "Joash King of Samaria"[28]
  • Shebna's lintel inscription – (8th - 7th century BCE ?) found over the lintel or doorway of a tomb, has been ascribed to Hezekiah's comptroller Shebna.
  • King Ahaz's Seal (732 to 716 BCE) – Ahaz was a king of Judah but "did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had done" (2 Kings 16:2; 2 Chronicles 28:1). He worshiped idols and followed pagan practices. "He even made his son pass through fire, according to the abominable practices of the nations" (2 Kings 16:3). Ahaz was the son and successor of Jotham.
  • Bullae (c.715–687 BCE or 716–687 BCE)[29] (clay roundels impressed with a personal seal identifying the owner of an object, the author of a document, etc.) are, like ostraka, relatively common, both in digs and on the antiquities market. The identification of individuals named in bullae with equivalent names from the Bible is difficult, but identifications have been made with king Hezekiah[30] and his servants (????? avadim in Hebrew).
  • Annals of Tiglath-Pileser III (740-730 BCE):
    • Layard 45b+ III R 9,1 possibly refers to [KUR sa-me-ri-i-na-a-a] as ["land of Samaria"][31]
    • The Iran Stela refers to KUR sa-m[e]-ri-i-na-a-[a] "land of Samaria"[31]
    • Layard 50a + 50b + 67a refers to URU sa-me-ri-na-a-a "city of Sarnaria"[31]
    • Layard 66 refers to URU Sa-me-ri-na "city of Samaria"[31]
    • III R 9.3 50, refers to "Menahem the Samarian"[28][32]
    • Nimrud Tablet III R 10.2 28-29, refers to the overthrown of Pekah by Hoshea.[28][32]
    • one fragment refers to "Azriau" and another it has been joined to refers to "Yaudi". Some scholars have interpreted this as Ahaziah / Uzziah, although this is disputed and has not gained scholarly consensus.[33][34][35][36]
    • III R 10,2 refers to KUR E Hu-um-ri-a "land of Bit-Humri"[31]
    • ND 4301 + 4305 refers to KUR E Hu-um-ri-a "land of Bit-Humri"[31]
  • Babylonian Chronicle ABC1 - (725 BCE), Shalmaneser V refers to URU Sa-ma/ba-ra-'-in "city of Sarnaria"[31]
  • Annals of Sargon II (720 BCE):
    • Nimrud Prism, Great Summary Inscription refers to URU Sa-me-ri-na "city of Samerina"[31]
    • Palace Door, Small Summary Inscription, Cylinder Inscription, Bull Inscription refers to KUR Bit-Hu-um-ri-a "land of Bit-Humri"[31]

7th century BCE

  • Bulla of Shaphan (r. 609–598 BCE) – possible link to a figure during the reign of Jehoiakim.
  • Seal of Jehucal – (7th century BCE) Jehucal or Jucal is mentioned in chapters 37 and 38 of the Book of Jeremiah where King Zedekiah sends Jehucal son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to the prophet Jeremiah saying `Please pray for us to the Lord our God` (Jeremiah 38:3). His seal and also one of Gedaliah, son of Pashur (also mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1 together with Jehucal) were found during excavation in the city of David in 2005 and 2008, respectively, by Dr. Eliat Mazar.[37]
  • Khirbet Beit Lei contains oldest known Hebrew writing of the word "Jerusalem" dated to 7th century BCE "I am YHWH thy Lord. I will accept the cities of Judah and I will redeem Jerusalem" "Absolve us oh merciful God. Absolve us oh YHWH"[38]
  • Mesad Hashavyahu Ostracon is an inscribed pottery fragment dated to 7th century BCE and written in ancient Hebrew language. It contains earliest extra-biblical reference to the observance of Shabbat.[39][40]
  • Victory stele of Esarhaddon

6th century BCE

5th century BCE

2nd century BCE

1st century BCE

  • Western Wall – (c. 19 BCE) is an important Jewish religious site located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Just over half the wall, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, being constructed around 19 BCE by Herod the Great. The remaining layers were added from the 7th century onwards.

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<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Taylor, J. G., Travels in Kurdistan, with Notices of the Sources of the Eastern and Western Tigris, and Ancient Ruins in Their Neighbourhood, 1865, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London
  5. Reliefstele Adadniraris 3 aus Saba'a und Semiramis (1916)
  6. Biran, Avraham; Naveh, Joseph (1993). "An Aramaic Stele Fragment from Tel Dan". Israel Exploration Journal. Israel Exploration Society. 43 (2–3): 81–98.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. The Philistines in Transition: A History from Ca. 1000–730 B.C.E. By Carl S. Ehrlich P:171
  8. Discoveries Among the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, p128
  9. Warren, Charles (1870). "Phoenician inscription on jar handles". Palestine Exploration Quarterly. 2 (30 September): 372. External link in |journal= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Photos of the Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle. Clay tablet; New Babylonian. Chronicle for years 605-594 BC. © Trustees of the British Museum". Retrieved 17 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Babylonian Chronicle Tablet (The British Museum, #21946)". Retrieved 17 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 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
  13. Sidney Smith, 1924
  14. The Writing on the Wall, Tablet and Floor
  15. Charles F. Horne, PhD (1915). "The Code of Hammurabi: Introduction". Yale University. Retrieved 14 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Code of Nesilim". Retrieved 29 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Meyers 2005, p. 5-6.
  18. Moore & Kelle 2011, p. 81.
  19. Enmarch 2011, p. 173-175.
  21. "Archaeology: What an Ancient Hebrew Note Might Mean". Christianity Today. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Nir Hasson, 'Israeli archaeologists dig up artifact from time of Kings David and Solomon,' at Haaretz, 15 July 2013.
  25. Hoftijzer, J. & van der Kooij, G. (1976) "Aramaic Texts from Deir 'Alla", in: Documenta et Monumenta Orientis Antiqui 19. Leiden: Brill
  26. Stern, Philip. Balaam in scripture and in inscription. Midstream (2002), (accessed 27 February 2009).
  27. Kaufman, S. A. Anchor Bible Dictionary. pp. 173–78.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Text and History: Historiography and the Study of the Biblical Text, page 168
  29. 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.
  30. Grena (2004), p. 26, Figs. 9 and 10
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 31.5 31.6 31.7 31.8 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<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. 32.0 32.1 Kalimi, Isaac (2005). The Reshaping Of Ancient Israelite History In Chronicles. Eisenbrauns. p. 106. ISBN 9781575060583. Retrieved 14 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Eerdmans
  34. On the Reliability of the Old Testament, Kenneth Anderson Kitchen
  35., 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."
  36. 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."
  37. Seals of Jeremiah's captors discovered
  41. "Solving a Riddle Written in Silver". The New York Times. 28 September 2004. Retrieved 8 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. "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).
  43. "Biblical Artifact Proven to Be Real". Retrieved 29 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. Thomas, D. Winton (1958) Documents from Old Testament Times; 1961 ed. Edinburgh and London: Thomas Nelson and Sons; p. 84.
  45. "Lachish letters". 10 January 1938. Retrieved 29 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. 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. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  47. 1 Chronicles 21:25, and 2 Samuel 24:18–25.
  48. Luke 13
  49. "Biblical artifacts". Retrieved 29 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>