In April 2019, news reports from the world of biblical archaeology featured Hebrew kings, Roman emperors, and Egyptian Pharaohs. Here were the top three:
3. Rehoboam’s Wall Discovered at Lachish
Prof. Yoseph Garfinkel, head of the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem has announced the discovery of a fortification wall at Lachish dating to the 10th century BC. The excavators claim to have found evidence that layer 5 of Lachish was indeed a fortified city, after having lain waste for over two centuries. The wall was carbon-dated using olive pits found beneath a floor that stretched to the wall which indicated it had been built ca. 920 BC. This is precisely the time that Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, ruled and affirms the biblical record which states: “Rehoboam lived in Jerusalem, and he built cities for defense in Judah. He built Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron, fortified cities that are in Judah and in Benjamin.” (2 Chron. 11:5-10) This discovery is further archaeological evidence of the establishment of the Kingdom of Judah as the Bible describes.
Archaeologists excavating in Laodicea have discovered a 3-meter-tall statue of the Roman Emperor Trajan dating to 113 AD. It was unearthed in 356 pieces in the remains of a fountain which had been destroyed by an earthquake. A second, smaller statue standing on the same patio was also found, which likely depicts an enemy soldier, with his hands bound behind his back. The state of Trajan is incredibly detailed and depicts the emperor dressed in armor, wearing a short chiton. The images on the armor feature symbols from Roman mythology, including Jupiter’s thunderbolt, the head of Medusa, and two griffins. A water can is visible between the two griffins, which scholars believe represents Trajan’s influence on the city by bringing water to Laodicea. According to the early Christian writer, Ignatius, the apostle John lived to an old age in nearby Ephesus, surviving into the reign of Trajan (Against Heresies 2.33; 3.3)
Archaeologists digging in Jerusalem unearthed a 2600-year old bulla (clay seal impression) and an ancient seal which bear biblical names. The paleo-Hebrew inscription on the bulla reads, “[belonging] to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King.” Both the title “Servant of the King” and the name are found in the Bible, with Nathan-Melech being an official in the court of King Josiah in 2 Kings 23:11. While scholars cannot be certain that this bulla belongs to the Nathan-Melech of the Bible, three things point towards this identification: the rarity of the name, the reign of King Josiah in the mid-seventh century BC is relatively close to the time of the destruction, and the title testifies to the importance of the individual. It was discovered in situ in the remains of a building that was destroyed in the sixth century BC, likely during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. Given the size of the building, the finely cut ashlar stones used in its construction and the remnants of a polished plaster floor, archaeologists have identified it as an administrative center. This attests to a highly organized administrative system in the Kingdom of Judah during the First Temple era.
Stay up-to-date on latest news reports relating to the archaeology of the Bible by reading my weekly current events posts for the Associates for Biblical Research here: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/currentevents.aspx.