Top Three News Reports in Biblical Archaeology – February 2019

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In February 2019, announcements of discoveries related to biblical archaeology were made in Egypt, Israel, Italy, Cyprus, Jordan and Iran.  Here were the top three:

3. Coin of Herod Agrippa Discovered Near Shiloh

While on a class trip to the Shiloh Valley, an Israeli boy found a coin minted by King Herod Agrippa I , the grandson of Herod the Great.  The 2000-year old coin features three stalks of grain on one side and the royal canopy along with Agrippa’s name on the reverse side.

Dr. Scott Stripling, Director of Excavations at Shiloh for the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) , released the following statement about the find:
Shiloh boasts a rich numismatic corpus, as evidenced by this find. The ABR excavation at Shiloh has yielded almost 200 coins, including this exact coin of Agrippa I. Dated to the sixth year of the reign of Agrippa I (AD 41/42), this coin provides a direct connection to the end of the Second Temple period. Agrippa I was close friends with Emperor Claudius, and this coin was minted in the first year of Claudius’ reign. Agrippa’s title on the obverse (front) of the coin is BASILEUS, the Greek word for “king.” Three ears of barley adorn the coin’s reverse. In AD 44 Agrippa I suffered a gruesome death as recorded in Acts 12:23 and Josephus (Ant. 19.8.2).


Agrippa coin
A 2000-year old coin discovered by a boy on a school trip near Shiloh. Photo Credit: COGAT

2. Over 40 Mummies Discovered in Egyptian Tombs

Egypt announced the discovery of more than 40 mummies in a maze of four burial chambers in the Tuna El-Gebel necropolis near Minya, Egypt. The remains of men, women and 12 children were found, some wrapped in linen and others in stone or wooden sarcophagi. A few of the mummies still had the remnants of colored cartonnage near them. Writing on papyri and ostraca discovered in the tombs suggests the earliest of these date to the Ptolemaic era.

Egyptian Mummies
Some of the over 40 mummies discovered in a Ptolemaic-era tomb, in Minya, Egypt, south of Cairo. Photo Credit: Roger Anis, AP

1. New Trilingual Inscription from the Persian Period Found

A previously unknown inscription that had been covered by dirt and lichen for well over 2000 years was discovered at Naqsh-e Rustam in Iran. Naqsh-e Rustam is a necropolis near the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis that houses the tombs of Darius I (the Great), Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. The newly uncovered inscription is trilingual, written in the Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian languages. It was discovered on the hill around the tomb of King Darius, and seems to reference a high-ranking Achaemenid official who was unknown to history.

A new inscription discovered at the tomb of tomb of Darius in Naqshe-Rustam. Photo Credit: IRNA

Each discovery adds to our knowledge of the people, places and events described in the Bible.  Often, these finds helps us to better understand the background to the text.  Sometimes a discovery will even confirm a specific detail in the Bible.  After having closely followed the world of biblical archaeology for years, I’m convinced the overwhelming and growing body of evidence points to the historical reliability of the Bible.  I look forward to each new announcement with anticipation.


NOTE:  Every year I sift through over 200 news reports from the world of biblical archaeology in order to write my weekly Current Events updates for the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR).  You can follow them here:

I’ll be highlighting the top three news monthly news reports in biblical archaeology here at my blog as well.  Basically, these will be brief summaries of the current events posts I write for ABR, with links to the original Current Events posts.  I should note that occasionally, due to the timing of an announcement or the timing of my Current Events post for ABR, the news is from a previous month.

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