Top Three Reports in Biblical Archaeology – October 2019

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A city, a cemetery, and a road built by a famous biblical figure. This pretty much sums up the top three reports in biblical archaeology in October 2019:

2. Thirty Coffins Unearthed in Egyptian Necropolis

30 mummies coffin egypttoday dot com
One of the coffins discovered near Luxor, Egypt. Notice the hands on the coffin are open. This signifies that a female mummy is within. On the coffins containing male mummies, the hands are clenched in fists. Photo credit: Egypttoday.com

30 coffins, dating to the 22nd Dynasty (945-715 BC), were unearthed at the Assasif necropolis, located on the western bank of the Nile river near Luxor.  The exceptionally well-preserved, wooden coffins were laid out in two layers, with 18 on top and 12 below.  The mummies of 23 adult males, five females and 2 children were sealed  inside.  Archaeologists opened two of the coffins belonging to a man and a woman, which both had their outer wrappings intact, covering their faces and bodies.  The gender of the mummies could be determined by the position of their hands: ancient Egyptian women were buried with their hands open, while men where buried with their hands closed.  According to biblical chronology, these people lived during the time of the divided monarchy, and some may have been alive during the reign of the Pharaoh Shishak (likely Shoshenq I), who is mentioned in Scripture (1 Kings 11:40, 14:25 and 2 Chronicles 12:2-9).

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1. Road Built by Pontius Pilate Discovered in Jerusalem

Pontius Pilate Road
This photo shows a section of the sealed earth between the mortar foundation of the street (above the photo scale stick) and the roofing slabs of the drainage channel (below the photo scale stick) Photo credit: A. Peretz, Israel Antiquities Authority.
Pontius Pilate Road coins
Three Coins found in excavations of the road Pontius Pilate may have built. (a) First Jewish Revolt coin found above the pavement (b) Pontius Pilate coin from 30/31 AD, found sealed under the pavement; (c) coin of the Roman governor of Judea under Emperor Augustus from 5/6 to 10/11 CE (cf. ibid: No. 311), found under the pavement. Photo Credit: Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University

In a new paper published in Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, researchers have identified the date of construction of a significant street in Jerusalem.  The 2000-foot-long (600 meter) road connected the Siloam Pool to the Temple Mount.  While the existence of the street has been known since the 19th century, it was only recently that scholars determined its date of construction.  Archaeologists excavated beneath the street in areas that had been sealed by the street’s mortar.  They unearthed dozens of coins, with the latest one being a prutah minted by Pontius Pilate in 30/31 AD.  Since none of the coins date to a time period later than this, the scholars have concluded that the street was built during the reign of Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judea.  The street itself is monumental, being at least 26 feet (8 meters) wide, and would have required 10,000 tons of quarried limestone to build.   Pontius Pilate is named in all four gospels as the man who condemned Jesus to death on a cross.  His coins have been found in abundance throughout Judea.

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