Daily Archives: November 3, 2008

Khirbet Qeifaya (Elah Fortress) summary

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has posted a nice summary of the information about what they are calling the Elah Fortress at Khirbet Qeifaya here.

The article title is “Earliest Known Hebrew Text in Proto-Canaanite Script Discovered.” Every indication from this release is that the site is considered as a Judeah fortress. Here are three paragraphs from the release.

How do we know this is a Judean fortress?
The early Hebrew ostracon, Judean pottery similar to that found at other Israelite settlements, and the absence of pig bones among the animal bones found at the site all point to this fortress being a city of the Kingdom of Judea.

Elah Fortress proof of United Monarchy
The Elah Fortress archaeological site could prove the existence of the United Monarchy, which scholars often question ever existed. The artifacts found at the site thus far all indicate that there was most likely a strong king and central government in Jerusalem – earlier than any discovered until now – rather than a number of small villages scattered throughout Judea. This would verify descriptions and narratives found in Samuel and Chronicles.

Over 100 jar handles bear distinct impressions which may indicate a link to royal vessels. Such a large quantity of this feature found in one small locale is unprecedented.

Archaeo-politics run deep in Israel! I suggest you read the entire article.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Assyria in Boston

The British Museum probably has the best collection of Assyrian artifacts in the world. The Louvre has a good collection, too. Currently 250 artifacts from the British Museum are on exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The exhibition runs through January 4. This exhibition was likely timed to coincide with the meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Schools of Oriental Research in mid-November.

Even if you can’t make it to Boston you might find the web page of interest. Check mfa.org.

The Assyrian Empire ruled the ancient near east from the battle of Qarqar (853 B.C.) till the battle of Carchemish (605 B.C.) when they were defeated by the Babylonians. Nineveh had fallen seven years earlier. This was the time of the Divided Kingdom period in Israelite history, and Assyria had contact with a numerous biblical kings. Ahab, for example, fought against the Assyrians at Qarqar.

One of the famous Assyrian kings was Sargon II. He is mentioned only once in the Bible.

In the year that the commander came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him and he fought against Ashdod and captured it. (Isaiah 20:1)

For many years there was no known reference to Sargon II in the Assyrian records. Yet, the prophet Isaiah, writing at the time of the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel, mentions Sargon at Ashdod.

The palace of Sargon was discovered by Emile Botta at Khorsabad in 1843. This was the period of “momumental” discoveries in archaeology. The photo below shows the top half of Sargon (on the left) receiving his minister. I think you will have to go to London to see this one.

Sargon II receives his minister. From the palace in Khorsabad. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sargon II receives his minister. From the palace in Khorsabad. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.