Two of the world’s biggest religions – Christianity and Islam – can find their roots in the person of Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish faith. According to the Bible, Abraham was a nomad in the Middle East who, during the Bronze Age, struck a covenant with God that would lead to the birth of Israel. This account is shared with Christianity through the Old Testament and in Islam, Abraham is known as Ibrahim and his first son Ishmael or Imai’il is said to be the father of the Arabic people.
As such, Abraham is considered a vital link between the three religions, which are often dubbed the Abrahamic faiths.
But outside of scripture, what evidence exists to support the Biblical narrative of Abraham’s existence?
Abraham is said to have lived during the age of patriarchs, which some belief corresponds to the Bronze Age, around the second millennium BC.
Canadian scholar John Van Seters argued in his 1975 book Abraham in History and Tradition the Biblical patriarchs were Iron Age creations, based on the content, names and messages of their stories.
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But there are, of course, those who argue the Old Testament’s accounts of Abraham’s life are grounded in reality.
And there may even be archaeological evidence to support this claim, according to Tom Meyer, a professor of Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US.
He told Express.co.uk: “Archaeological evidence has been unearthed that could relate to one of the most famous persons in the Bible: Abraham.
“The lack of archaeological evidence related directly to Abraham shouldn’t be a surprise since, according to the Bible, Abraham was a semi-nomadic, tent-dwelling shepherd; he never lived in a house with foundations, but travelled to different parts of Canaan during different times of the year 4,000 years ago according to Biblical chronology.
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“Consider that there is scant archaeological evidence that Napoleon and his army ever travelled from Egypt through the Holy Land in 1799 AD, because they, like Abraham, lived in tents.
“The only reason we can know with certitude that Napoleon and his army did go through the Holy Land is that the written record of Napoleon’s historians testifies to the fact.
“So, it should come as no surprise that archaeological evidence and the Biblical account of Abraham who came to the rescue of his nephew Lot at the city of Dan are in harmony.”
Professor Meyer highlighted an intriguing discovery at an archaeological excavation led by the Israel Department of Antiquities at Tel Dan in the 1960s.
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The ancient city, also known as Tell el-Qadi, sits in the northernmost part of Israel, where the Bible says the lands were occupied by the Tribe of Dan.
According to Professor Meyer, archaeologists at the site discovered a giant rampart around the ancient city that would have required some 80,000 tons of earth and rock.
The Bible expert believes this discovery has a crucial link to Abraham as the patriarch may have walked through a mud gate in the fortifications to rescue his nephew Lot.
The gate, which has been restored in the 2000s, has become a popular tourist attraction and is widely known as Abraham’s Gate.
Professor Meyer said: “The gate is built of mud brick with stone steps approaching it. The gate stands 23 feet high and consists of two towers.
“About About 50 courses of mudbrick are preserved and the remains of almost 4,000-year-old lime and plaster still cling to the joints between the layers.
“Examination of the broken pieces of pottery found in the composition of the mud bricks, pot shards found on the steps, and on the floor of the gate itself conclusively date the gate to the time of Abraham.
“For some unknown reason the gate wasn’t used very long, and the passageway and chambers were filled with compacted earth, and the entire structure was buried and another gate was built on top of it.
“That decision has preserved the gate for the world to visit today; one can walk on the same stone steps and through the same gate that Abraham did 4,000 years ago.”