The Bible is not only a religious document worshipped by billions of people, but also a chronicle of the people inhabiting the Holy Land. Because of this, archaeologists are often inspired by the Bible’s numerous accounts when exploring the ancient lands of the Near East. A scripture expert has now told Express.co.uk how some of these discoveries can back the Bible’s historical track record.
The discoveries pertain the famous Israelite King Solomon and his legendary building projects.
Solomon is most famous for raising the First Temple in Jerusalem before its destruction at the hand of the Babylonians in 587 BC.
The period in which the temple towered over Jerusalem is commonly known as the First Temple period.
Unfortunately, according to Tom Meyer, a professor in Bible studies at Bible Shasta College and Graduate School in California, US, there is little concrete evidence of his building activities in ancient Israel.
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But perhaps not all has been lost as possible archaeological clues have been found, dating back to the 10th century BC.
Professor Meyer said: “Although royal inscriptions attesting to the building activity of Ancient Near Eastern kings have been found by archaeologists, inscriptions attesting to the building activity of the famous Israelite King Solomon have yet to be discovered.
“However, archaeological evidence discovered from three major cities in ancient Israel: Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer validate the biblical account of Solomon rebuilding these cities as administrative centres spaced throughout Israel at key junctures.
“By far the largest Old Testament period of Israeli construction took place during the reign of King Solomon, thereby indicating his control and protection over the coveted International Highway that traced the Fertile Crescent through Israel.”
Archaeological data confirms in detail the historicity of the Biblical account
According to the Bible, King Solomon raised the First Temple and his palace in Jerusalem, as well as raised three major cities.
These cities were built along the International Highway in northern Israel: Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer.
The cities served as critical administrative centres along major road junctions on what was a busy trade route.
In modern terms, Professor Meyer compared them to the likes of New York, Chicago, and San Francisco along the US Highway 80.
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He said: “These building projects helped transition the new nation of Israel from a country of primarily shepherds and farmers to a regional super-power with international trade connections.
“Archaeologists discovered similar building features at these three cities that conclusively date their construction to the 10th century BC; this is of tremendous importance for demonstrating the historical accuracy of the Biblical account of Solomon’s building projects.
“Archeologists discovered that each of these three cities built during the Solomonic period shared the same building features.”
Each city boasted casemate walls, which are a simple yet effective defensive measure involving two walls running in parallel.
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Each city also featured a large gate with three chambers on either side, as well as two towers standing watch over the entryway.
Professor Meyer said: “Also, the pottery discovered in the strata of the gates attests to these fortifications being built at the time of King Solomon.
“The resemblance of the plan of the gate – which was only used once in Israelite history: during the time of Solomon in the 10th century – the casemate wall, and the pottery confirm that each of these cities were constructed by Solomon at the same time as the Bible records.
“Once again, the archaeological data confirms in detail the historicity of the Biblical account.”
There are, however, some historians who reject the Bible’s accounts of Solomon’s reign as a mighty ruler.
According to authors Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, at the presumed time of Solomon’s reign, Israel was not the mighty nation it is portrayed in the Bible.
In their 2001 book The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s visions of Ancient Israel and the Origins of Its Sacred Texts, they wrote: “For all their reported wealth and power, neither David nor Solomon is mentioned in a single known Egyptian or Mesopotamian text.
“And the archaeological evidence in Jerusalem for the famous building projects of Solomon is nonexistent.”