Bible Archaeology: Cities of Abraham's Time
Bible Archaeology often begins with the early cities of Abraham and the Patriarchs. Abraham's ancestral home of Ur, a powerful city-state of southern Mesopotamia, is mentioned four times in the Old Testament. Located in modern Iraq, Ur has been excavated on and off since the 1800s and has revealed a wealth of information about the pagan culture of Abraham's time. In Genesis 11:31, Abraham's father, Terah, moved his family north to Haran, an ancient city that exists in modern-day Turkey. Also found in that same area of Turkey are villages that still have the names of Abraham's grandfather and great grandfather, Nahor and Serug (Genesis 11:22).
Bible Archaeology: Cities of Ancient Empires
Bible Archaeology includes the capital cities of the major ancient empires. For instance, the Hittite civilization is mentioned throughout the Old Testament as ruling the area of present-day Turkey, Syria and Lebanon, yet nothing was known of these people outside of the Bible. About 100 years ago, ancient Boghazkoy was discovered east of Ankara, Turkey, which revealed itself as the expansive capital city of the Hittite Empire. Since then, archaeologists have uncovered a wealth of information about the history, language and culture of a people considered "imaginary" to many scholars prior to that time. Babylon, the ancient capital of the Babylonian Empire, covers nearly 3,000 acres about 55 miles south of current-day Baghdad in Iraq. The ruins include the famous ziggurat structures (ex., the Tower of Babel), the Palace of King Nebuchadnezzar, and the enormous walls that measured 80 feet thick (wide enough to allow a four-horse chariot to turn). The Bible tells us that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC and exiled the Jews to Babylon for 70 years. The Philistines were known as one of the "Sea Peoples" that constantly warred against the Israelites for control of early Canaan. Mentioned over 200 times in the Old Testament, the Philistines had a major fortified seaport at Ashkelon on the Mediterranean Sea, which was discovered just north of present-day Gaza. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Ashkelon in 604 BC, as predicted by Jeremiah and other prophets.
Bible Archaeology: Cities of Ancient Israel
Bible archaeology finds its ultimate significance in the cities of ancient Israel. Mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible, Jericho was the initial entry point into the Promised Land for the Israelite people (Joshua 6). Archaeology has now confirmed the location of this fortified city of walls and towers that guarded entry to the land of Canaan from the east. Shechem was an important city throughout the Old Testament. In fact, Jeroboam made it the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel in the 10th century BC (1 Kings 12:25). Excavations have uncovered huge walls and a fortified gate system containing such important finds as the temple of Baal from the story of Abimelech (Judges 9:46). Excavations in the north have also revealed the city of Dan, which was a Canaanite stronghold conquered by Israel (specifically, the tribe of Dan) around 1150 BC (Judges 18). The rebuilt city, which became the northern boundary of Israel, has delivered a wealth of artifacts with biblical importance. The southern boundary of Israel was Beersheba, which became a fortified city during the period of King Solomon (1 Kings 4:25). Excavations between 1969 and 1976 have revealed massive walls, gates, wells and storehouses consistent with biblical accounts. The ancient city of Jerusalem, dating to the time of King David's initial conquest, was discovered and excavated between 1978 and 1985. Prior to this time, nothing apart from the Bible was known about King David's Jerusalem, which has now revealed a palace, towers and the famous Siloam spring (2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles). The ancient ruins of Gibeah were discovered about three miles north of Jerusalem. Gibeah was the home to Saul and the tribe of Benjamin, and later became King Saul's capital city (Judges 19 and 1 Samuel 10-15). Excavations have revealed Saul's fortress palace dated to about 1100 BC. Megiddo was a Canaanite city conquered by Israel in the north. It was a walled fortress that sat on a hill near an expansive plain that witnessed many battles of historical significance. In the 900s BC, King Solomon fortified the city (1 Kings 4:12), and later in the 600s BC, King Josiah lost a battle to the Egyptians there. According to Revelation 16:16, Megiddo (also known as Armageddon) is the location for the final world battle, where Jesus Christ will defeat the forces of Satan and establish His glorious kingdom for all time.