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In this week’s post, we wanted to give you a look at the biblical archaeology proofs behind the history you’ve been reading in the Book of Genesis. Here’s a list of just 7 of the many archaeological proofs from early biblical history:
1. The Sumerian King List
This find revealed one of history’s first mentions of a great flood. Found in the ruins of Mesopotamia, this list dates to 2100BC. What is striking about this list is that it’s divided in two groups–those who ruled before a great flood and those who ruled after it.
Another noteworthy fact: the lengths of reigns and life spans of these kings drastically decreased after the flood, as did the life spans of people in the Bible. Genesis 7-8 in the Bible is not the only proof of a great flood!
2. The Gilgamesh Epic
The Epic of Gilgamesh is another account of the great flood. An ancient Babylonian epic about a king, the Gilgamesh Epic tells of a great flood brought on earth by the wrath of gods and includes a hero who is told to build a ship, to take every kind of animal along, and to use birds to check if the water has receded. Coincidence?
Other copies of the Epic and other flood stories have been found in the Near East, suggesting that this wasn’t just some localized legend or myth.
3. Discovery of Ur
Ur, mentioned four times in the Bible, is the hometown of Abraham and was occupied from the 4th millennium BC. You probably won’t find it on a map today; instead you’ll see Iraq. Digs show that Ur had been a powerful city-state before it fell. If Ur’s decline and fall came during Abraham’s time, perhaps archaeology has provided another clue as to why Abraham’s father relocated his family Haran (Gen. 11:31).
4. Discovery of Boghazkoy
About 90 miles east of Ankara, Turkey, a dig revealed the ancient Hittite capitol city. The Hittite empire stretched as far as Syria and Lebanon.
Although Hittites are mentioned often in the Old Testament, almost nothing was known about them until modern times. Critics and skeptics assumed that they were a mythical or imaginary people dreamt up by biblical authors. Finding the Hittite’s empire flipped these critiques on their heads. Claims were withdrawn, with findings confirming the biblical record. Boom.
5. Nuzi Tablets
Excavations east of the Tigris River turned up over 20,000 baked clay cuneiform tablets where the city of Nuzi once stood. The tablets explain some of the common practices and background which are found in earlier biblical events of the patriarchal period (2000BC-1500BC) like marriage, adopting an heir, surrogate mothers, and inheritance. These customs and stories are strikingly similar to those found in Genesis 15-31.
6. Discovery of Haran
A village of Harran (Haran) exists in Turkey today, and has been found to stand atop the ancient one from the Old Testament period. Also found near Haran are villages that still bear the names of Abraham’s great-grandfather and grandfather, Serug and Nahor, as mentioned in Genesis 11:22-26. Haran was the father of Lot (Gen. 11:27).
The cities of Ur and Haran both had the moon god as their main deity. According to Joshua 24:2, Terah, father of Abraham, worshiped “other gods” and moved his family from Ur, in southern Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq), to Haran in the north (Gen. 11:27-31).
7. Discovery of Shechem
Located in modern-day Nablus (West bank of Jerusalem, Israel), Shechem was a city that Abraham and Jacob built altars to God in. The most important find is a fortress-temple of Baal, where people took refuge from their enemies in the time of Abimelech (Judges 9:46). Strategically placed in hill country, Shechem controlled all the surrounding roads, but its location made the city vulnerable to attack. Excavations reveal a city with walls made of large megalithic stones and the city gate system.
Shechem is important in many biblical stories. Joshua 20 mentions Shechem as a city of refuge for anyone who unintentionally caused death. Later King Jeroboam I fortified the city and made it the capitol of the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 12:25).
Pretty sweet digs, right? Next time you have friends or coworkers questioning the validity or historicity of the Bible, point them towards some of these archaeological discoveries. Their argument might just find itself in between a rock and a hard place!
Want ALL 50 proofs? Check out our 50 Proofs of the Bible, the Old Testament pamphlet.
Also, here are the 50 New Testament Proofs!
FREE “10 Important Bible Archaeological Finds” eChart
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This “10 Important Bible Archaeological Finds” eChart highlights 10 of the most significant archaeological finds that give evidence for events and customs described in the Bible. This eChart describes the find, includes a picture, and explains the find’s importance for our understanding of biblical people and places.
This FREE eChart contains 10 out of 50 archaeological finds included in the pamphlet 50 Proofs for the Bible: Old Testament. The full pamphlet includes finds, such as The Tel Dan Inscription, which proves King David’s existence; the Nuzi Tablets, which describe customs and stories similar to those found in Genesis 15-31; Merneptah Stele, which provides the earliest evidence of the nation of Israel (apart from the Bible); and Shishak’s military invasion record, which refers to the events in I Kings 14.