How Archaeology Proves the Bible

The Old and New Testament writings of the Bible have long been considered fables and myths—thereby, deemed untrustworthy. For some critics, if you cannot prove something with empirical evidence, it is not to be taken seriously.

As we’ll see in this article, the authenticity of the Bible is supported by empirical, archaeological evidence.

Men of the Bible such as Jesus Christ, King David, King Solomon, and King Beltezzar of the Book of Daniel are often considered mythical characters by scholars, atheists, critics, and even some Christians! Thankfully, the discipline of archaeology (developed only 125 years ago) provides an excellent source for information on people and communities of antiquity. All of these great men become real when their lives and existence can be proven with factual evidence.

Mount Ararat

Noah’s Ark

Let’s begin with the intriguing account of Noah’s ark. In 1959, a Turkish airline pilot took stereo photos of a boat-shaped object on the top of Mount Ararat for the Geodetic Institute of Turkey. After careful study, the length of the remains of the boat shaped object was determined to be exactly 300 cubits: the stated length of Noah’s ark in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 6:15). The width was greater than the size recorded in the Bible; however, due to the age of the boat, expansion over time is naturally expected. Careful scientific examination found an organic fossilized antler, extinct rodent hair, organic fossilized animal droppings, and human hair inside the boat. It lies approximately 6300 ft. above sea level and is located over 200 miles from the nearest sea. The age of the boat is over 4400 years. The Turkish Government has officially dedicated the site as a national park declaring it to be the remains of Noah’s ark!1

Ebla Tablets

The Ebla tablets found by archaeologists in 1975 provide solid evidence about life in the ancient world. Ebla was a kingdom that included Syria/Damascus and South-East Turkey. The people of Ebla experienced cultural and commercial prominence in their time. They established state archives, built libraries, and recorded commercial contracts in written form. The kingdom of Ebla existed around 2500 BCE. Many scholars have doubted the accounts in the Torah because it was believed that writing did not exist in Moses’ time; and therefore, he could not have written those books. On that notion, they date the Torah to a much later time and do not credit Moses as the author. The discovery of the Ebla tablets has proven all those unbelieving scholars wrong. Also, the Creation account in Genesis 1 is considered by many to be a later writing, because the word ‘tehon’ (the deep) was used in the text. However, the discovery of tablets in the Eblaite Kingdom in the 1970’s shows the word was in use 800 years before the time of Moses.2

Additionally, the discovery of 20,000 cuneiform tablets and fragments mentioned the names of David (Da-u-dum), Abraham (Ab-ra-mu) and Ishmael (Ish-ma-il). The unearthing of the Ebla tablets in northern Syria in the 1970s, uncovered names of biblical patriarchs, and the discovery of ancient regions such as ‘Canaan,’ all legitimize the patriarchal accounts, proving them to be viable and genuine.3

The Hittites

The Hittite people, considered a biblical legend, have also moved from fiction to historical fact after records from the Ebla Kingdom and Cuneiform tablets discovered in Bogazkoy, Turkey mentioned their name.

Sargon, the Assyrian King, was discounted because his name did not appear outside the biblical account in Isaiah 20:1. It reads, “In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and fought against Ashdod and took it.” However, this all changed when archaeologists found Sargon’s palace in Khorsabad, Iraq. Recorded on the Palace walls was the event mentioned in Isaiah 20—Sargon’s capture of Ashdod. Also, steel fragmented tablets memorializing the victory were found at Ashdod itself.
According to recorded history, Nabonidus was the last Babylonian king. As a result Belshazzar of Daniel 5 was in doubt because there was no extra-biblical source to validate his existence. This position changed when Cuneiform tablets were recently found showing that Belshazzar was Nabonidus’s son, who served as coregent in Babylon.

Archaeologists also uncovered ossuaries from the first century that confirm the existence of additional biblical figures, further supporting the reliability of the Bible.4

Described below is a list of biblical figures that have been made known to us by secular ancient historical records:

  • Roman Emperors: Caesar Agustus, Tiberius, Claudius
  • Roman Governors: Pontius Pilate, Serguis Paulus, Gallio, Felix, Festus
  • Regional Rulers: Herod the Great, Archelaus, Herod Antipas, Philip,
    Herod Agrippa I, Herod Agrippa II, Lysanias, Aretas IV
  • High Priests: Annas, Joseph Caiphas, Ananias
  • Prominent Biblical Figures: John the Baptist, and James the Just
Simon of Cyrene

In 1941, Archaeologists Eliezer L. Sukenic and Nahman Avidag of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University found the ossuary of Simon of Cyrene. There is no question about its authenticity. It was found with 10 others as an intact assemblage in a tomb chamber that survived for centuries untouched by tomb robbers. The blocking stone was still in place. This find was published in 1962. Many scholars who have nothing to gain conclude: the ossuary is that of Simone of Cyrene and one of the 10 others was his son, Alexander.

Jesus Christ

Presently, many biblical scholars reduce Jesus Christ to a mythical figure because they require evidence from external secular sources that He existed. Archaeology is providing this evidence as scientists continue to uncovered evidence of the communities and people mentioned during the biblical times of Christ. Amazingly, much of the evidence uncovered supporting the Bible is from secular sources; some of which are hostile to Christianity.

Flavius Josephus provides us information about ‘James the Just,’ the half brother of Jesus. In addition, he gives us details about James’ life as the first bishop of the Christian church and his death by stoning, executed by the Sanhedrin in 62 AD.

Josephus refers to Jesus twice in his writings. His second reference refers to James as “the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ.” He has a longer passage on Jesus in his reports on Pontius Pilate’s administration. For centuries, it was dismissed until the original wording was restored, as noted here:

At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified, and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning who the prophets had reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day” (Antiquities 20:200).

Critics had doubted the existence of Nazareth in Jesus’ day, until its name showed up in a first-century synagogue inscription at Caesarea. Augustus’ census edicts (this is linked with the Nativity account) are borne out by an inscription at Ankara, Turkey. In his famous accomplishment, the Roman emperor proudly claims to have taken a census three times and mandated that husbands had to register their families for the Roman census.

Herod, the Great

Herod, the Great ruled at the time Jesus was born. This is demonstrated by the numerous excavations of his massive public works in the Holy Land, including the Great Temple in Jerusalem. His son, Herod Antipas, ruled Galilee, which has been shown in similar digs at Sepphoris and Tiberias. Many of the sites during Jesus’ ministry such as Bethsaida, Chorazin, Capernau, Caesarea Philippi, Shechem, Bethany, and Jerusalem are currently in the process of excavation.

It is noteworthy that the correlation between biblical and non-biblical evidence regarding the historicity of Jesus is supported through recent archaeological discoveries. The remains of the synagogue at Capernaum, where Jesus taught, exist today below ruins of a 4th century synagogue. Peter’s house in Capernaum has been uncovered from underneath a 4th century Christian sanctuary.

The Apostle Paul

The apostle Paul was one of the greatest followers of Jesus and the present archaeological support of him is most impressive. Ruins in Cyprus, Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Rome and surrounding areas, have many references about Paul of the New Testament.

Other Findings

Other discoveries in recent years include a goblet belonging to Kind David’s dynasty, a fishing boat dating back to the time of Jesus’ disciples, and the tomb of Joseph of Aramathea.
Archaeology continues to confirm the Old and the New Testaments and will persist to do so until Jesus Christ returns. Undoubtedly, it is through archaeology that the Old Testament prophets, the New Testament disciples/apostles, and Jesus Christ Himself, have been taken from the realm of fiction and legend (in the eyes of sceptics) to their rightful place as validated historical figures.

Has archaeology proven the Bible? The evidence is there for all to see, and the answer is a resounding yes! From Noah’s ark, the Ebla tablets, the ossuaries, and the discoveries of hidden cities and towns by present day archaeologists, the evidence that supports and validates the reliability of the Bible and its narratives is overwhelming. Such empirical evidence leaves little room for doubt.

Sources
  1. Noah’s Ark—Wyatt Archaeological Research Article
  2. In What Ways Have the Discoveries of Archaeology Verified the Reliability of the Bible? by Dr. Bryant Wood (1995)
  3. Prophet Names Appear in Ebla Tablets 1500 Years Older Than The Torah by Harun Yahya
  4. In What Ways Have the Discoveries of Archaeology Verified the Reliability of the Bible? by Dr. Bryant Wood (1995).
Additional Sources
  • Material for the Old Testament section of this article is taken from the work of Bryant Wood of Associates for Biblical Research.
  • The archaeological information on the New Testament section of this article is derived from the work of Dr. Paul L. Maier. A professor of Ancient History and chaplain at Western Michigan University-Kalamazoo, MI.
  • http://www.allaboutarchaeology.org
  • University of Southern California: Archaeology Department

Comments

  • http://postworthy.com/WorthyGroups/Christian_Faith/51.aspx Christian Faith

    This is a great article I found it very informative. I think it could be even better if you spoke of some common responses to the facts that you present. Here is another link that I find very informative http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

    Again I want to say this is a great article!

  • http://scienceprovescreation.com samuel hunt

    I have added this webpage article to my blog. I included the copyright as well as the link to the article and credit to teh author. I hope that is alright with you. The blog is not accessible until the book comes out in august. But I have several posts in their about the archaeological proof of the bible. I hope that it is ok to reproduce this beside the others. Actually I have now, over 300 videos, articles, and testimonies to support the scientific proof of the Genesis record.

    Perhaps when the book comes out you might want to run an article about my work as well. It is the scientific proof that all matter in the universe was spoken into existence just as Genesis records it.

  • http://de-conversion.com AgnosticAtheist

    Do you really believe that Noah’s Ark is on that mountain?

  • Blake

    http://www.noahsarksearch.com/durupinar.htm

    There’s the actual truth behind the site you refer to on Mount Ararat. Good job on the worthwhile research and reporting.

  • Spoonman

    First, Noah’s Ark. No, there has been no such discovery on Mount Ararat. There have been numerous CLAIMS of such discoveries, such as the one in 1993 where the perpatrator admitted it was a hoax, or the one in 2000 using satellite images that never panned out, or the one in 2006, or the dozens that have come before even these. Each one has been proven to be a hoax or a phantasm of the mind. Were such an important discovery to be made, it would make worldwide news and be verifiable. Archaeologists would flock to stand in line and shout that it were true. Yes, the sceptical scientists would trumpet your cause if you could prove you had found the Ark. To date, no one has stepped forward with a verifiable, accurate and true finding of Noah’s Ark. Of course, that could be because looking on Mount Ararat is looking in the wrong place. The bible very clearly states MOUNTAINS of Ararat, which means it could be anywhere in that range if it existed. This is why the common use of a singular Ararat did not enter the common usage until around the 11th century AD.

    Ebla Tablets…not really a good thing for you to be introducing people to. I’m quite familiar with the contents of the tablets, and frankly, they do nothing to support your claims, in fact they disprove most of them. The best you could hope for based on what’s in the Ebla Tablets is that your religion is just derived from one of the many in Sumeria and not even close to what you preach today. If you think the tablets “prove” any religion, then you’re in the wrong one.

    The Hittites. Okay, one that supports some historical accuracy of the bible. But, it also supports the historical accuracy of a number of other religions from that time period, too. Why, then, is yours the “real” one? There’s more than sufficient accounts of unicorns, too. Does that make them true? I often contemplate archaeologists 5000 years from now coming across the ruins of that fabled city of “New York”. How many then will proclaim this is PROOF positive of the existence of Spiderman? “We have many books from that time period that show his nature and stories. They were set in the New York City, so this PROVES he existed!!” Not many thinking people discount the bible’s historical relevancy. There’s plenty of truth available within its pages concerning places and people, but not one bit proves its divinity. And, really, isn’t that the part you care about? It merely proves the authors had written down stories and news they heard.

    While we’re on the subject of historical proof of the existence of civilizations, how do you explain that despite the wealth of knowledge uncovered about ancient Egypt we’ve yet to find more than just the ONE mention of the Israelites anywhere? There’s a passing mention of them in an inscription that reads “Rameses II fought the Israelites”. You’d think a people who’d kept another as slaves for as long as the bible claims would perhaps mention them more than once! We know how much laundry service cost in ancient Egypt, but not one shred of evidence exists that the Hebrews were the ones doing it.

    Simon of Cyrene. See Hittites.

    Herod, the Great. And yet, not a single shred of evidence of his massacre of all of the children around the time of the birth of Jesus. Odd that the Romans, who were meticulous record keepers, failed to mention this supremely heinous act anywhere.

    “have many references about Paul of the New Testament” Many buildings, churches, books, stories, scrolls, pyramids, etc in Egypt had many references to Ra, the sun god. I suppose, then, that the conclusion is Ra existed, too? There is sufficient history of the christian religion to know that any references found to personages during that time period merely help to flesh out the mythology, but do nothing to prove the divinity of the book. People were christians, they had churches where they put references to people in the book down. I fail to see how this is relevant? Are you suggesting the veracity of your religion because your own church mentions Jesus in few places around the building? Proof requires corroboration from third parties, and there’s none of that.

    Jesus Christ. Saved the biggie for last. Not a mention of him outside of your book and some of the writings of Josephus. The Roman record doesn’t mention him once. You’d think someone who’d begun the march that eventually lead the demise of the Roman Empire would have his name mentioned SOMEWHERE in the official record. The real problem is the writings of Josephus as those mentions of Jesus did not exist in editions of Josephus’ work until AFTER the 4th century when the catholic church was essentially founded. Those editions that do contain reference are so obviously forgeries. They took the four versions of the Jesus story that were close enough for government work and declared them the official canon. The hundreds of other variations (most of which show Jesus to have been a mythical figure, more a “way to be” than an actual person. Sort of a first through third century version of “what would Jesus do?”) were burned as blasphemy in hopes of never being seen again. But, many survived, didn’t they? And, they cast your religion in some serious doubt. But, in those instances, the rigorous investigation of the archaeologists isn’t good enough for you is it? In those cases, you dismiss them as forgeries or fakes despite all the evidence pointing to their veracity.

    I’m sorry, but using circular logic, half-truths and failed attempts and interpreting the archaeological record does nothing to help your case. It does, however, further mine. Thanks!

  • http://www.prevailmagazine.org/ Waine-Ann McLaughlin

    I thank you for you input, it was very informative. However, in my article I claimed that Archaeology Proves The Bible — I wrote my article supporting that. At not point in the paper did I claim it disproved other scriptures outside the Bible. Nowhere in my paper was divinity discussed. Although I understand your point, this is a different topic altogether. So the comment on divinity is not necessary. Do I believe the Bible was written by inspired men? Answer is yes.

    Why are the Ebla tablets not good source to inform people about? The Ebla tablets are a significant find for archaeologists and it is very significant for biblical scholars who debate the authenticity of many biblical characters — one such character is David who is a main character of the Old Testament that many scholars relegate to a mythical character. The finds of the Ebla moved David from myth to historical. I say yes! These tablets are important and can be used as evidence because they exist. Using the Ebla tables to substantiate the Bible does not disprove other scriptures outside the Christian Bible. There are other religions that use portions of the same scriptures the Bible does and they too, I am sure, also use the Ebla tablets to prove whatever they want to prove. The main point I was trying to get across was that there were sophisticated writings in ancient times long before Moses and the findings of the Ebla proves that. Therefore it is not far fetched that Moses wrote the Torah.

    The Hittites – Same as above.

    What the Egyptians and Romans recorded is not what my paper is about. That also could be another article as to why the Egyptians and Romans did not record major events as recorded in the Bible. Therefore I will not comment any further on that.

    Noah’s Ark

    There is enough information on the site in Turkey. The site exists and though it being Noah’s Ark may be questionable, the article did not say it is for sure Noah’s Ark it said it was declared to be Noah’s Ark. The information is out there and it is for the reader to go do the research and decide for themselves.

    Herod, the Great and Jesus the Christ — I will support the claim of their existence simply by saying that it is a known fact that the “Pauline letters” are attributed to a real person and many scholars do believe that the Apostle Paul was real. He claimed to have known Peter and John — two of the closest disciples of Jesus according to the scriptures, so I believe Herod and Jesus are real people. In one of Peter’s letters he validates Paul, therefore Paul received primary information from Peter and John. I am convinced that John, Peter and Paul are not lying about what they knew and experienced and I conclude that the Gospels’ narratives are true; Herod and Jesus are historical characters.

    There is a late first century or early second century document out there called “The Infancy Gospel of James” that mentions Herod of the time when Jesus was an infant. This document is not part of the New Testament, although it is considered Christian writing. Of course any scripture found mentioning anything to validate Jesus’ existence would be considered Christian and therefore would be counted as evidence of his existence. But I thought I would mentioned it anyway.

    My paper is to give information and it is for people to go and research for themselves and come to their own conclusion. It is up to each individual to decide for themselves as you did. Thanks for your feedback.

    Sincerely,
    Waine-Ann McLaughlin

  • Bryan

    I’m sorry, but the previous poster is correct. The Ebla tablets don’t help you. How can a name in a tablet “prove” the existence of a person who lived 1500 years after that tablet? It (might, depending on your reading of the tablet) indicate that someone 1500 years earlier than David was named David, or that someone in a different part of the world at about the time of Abraham was also named Abraham. It tells us nothing about the biblical characters themselves.

    Also, the idea that writing didn’t exist prior to Moses is not the point. Of course writing existed. I just taught a class on Gilgamesh, a text that is up to 2000 years older than the Bible. The Ebla tablets do not prove that writing existed *in Israel* prior to 1000 (the time of the earliest written text in Hebrew in Israel).

    My suggestion would be to read John Bright’s A History of Israel, which takes a fairly conservative view of biblical history and discusses this evidence in a much more balanced and rational fashion.

  • http://www.prevailmagazine.org/ Waine-Ann McLaughlin

    Thank you for your feedback.

    I do know of the epic of Gilgamesh and understand that writing did exist. You should know that it has been argued that Moses did not write the first five book of the Hebrew Bible. Well one of the argument for that is, in Moses’ time they did not have the level of writing. My point about the Ebla is that advance writing existed even before Moses’ time and therefore it was not impossible for Moses to be the one who wrote the Torah. Also from my studies there is much more to the tablets that identifies David and Abraham to being the David and Abraham of the Hebrews, not just their names being on the tablets. When writing an article you have limited space and therefore you have to condense your article. There is so much more to expand on but unfortunately I was not able to for this issue.

    Thank you for your suggestion of John Bright’s A History of Israel, I will definitely check it out.

    Waine-Ann McLaughlin

  • deb

    Praise be to the Father of our lord jesus christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing under Heaven
    Isaiah 53,
    ya’shua we await your return.

    This is the true living word of god that is in the holy bible,god always proves to us that which he cannot lie about. I have given my word on my name. I swear on my name and i wil not take back my word.

    He is risen! Jesus christ. All that is in me crys for you alone alone be glorified immanuel ,god with us.

    excellent site.

  • Victoria Forigo

    Thank you for your sight, every enlighting.

    Victoria Forigo
    Sudbury, ON.
    Canada

  • http://www.prevailmagazine.org Prevail Magazine

    You're welcome Victoria,

    Thanks for stopping by :)

  • Spoonman

    Apologies for replying so late, your site just sent me an alert telling me there had been a reply.

    In any case, I'm sure you can understand my confusion about your intentions: this is a religious site setup to discuss the Bible from a Christian perspective. For example, as I write this, there is a link to an article entitled “Jesus Christ is the Fulfillment of Prophecy” in which you use a common trick of circular logic: you use the Bible to try and prove the Bible is true. (BTW, the fundamental flaw in that argument comes from here “Additionally, He would be connected to the lineage of King David, who was from the tribe of Judah.” JOSEPH was from the line of David, but JOSEPH wasn't Jesus' father, was he?) Why would I think this article is any different?

    But, I see where my confusion crept in. Your article starts from a false premise: “the Old and New Testament writings of the Bible have long been considered fables and myths—thereby, deemed untrustworthy. For some critics, if you cannot prove something with empirical evidence, it is not to be taken seriously.”

    That's absolutely not true (the “considered myths” bit, not the “empirical evidence” bit). Even the devoutest atheist understands that the Bible is a collection of stories passed down through generations. We get that there is a lot in the Bible that his historically accurate, but also find the fantastical bits are hard to swallow. We believe that there was a man named Joshua who conquered the Canaanites, and started that campaign by destroying the city of Jericho. We do NOT believe, however, that there was a supernatural component to it. The STORY was made into a myth by the addition of the supernatural, but the act and historical event were not myths.

    If you want to see how people can believe the veracity of the Bible in a historical context and not a supernatural one, I HIGHLY recommend Battles BC on the History Channel. The season's over, but you might be able to catch a rerun, or you can buy the DVDs. The stories of Joshua, Moses and David are all covered in detail from a historical and archeological perspective.

  • E

    doubt = fear, faith in Jesus= Power

  • Hadi

    Dear Sir,

    Please visit following Website for Hz. Noah’s Ark:

    http://arktoday.com/

    Best Regards
    Hadi MOSTAFAZADEH

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  • Tlemcin

    This is amazing discovery for me. Thank you! I found out more and more the truth of the Bible.

    Klem

  • None of your business

    I wouldn’t trust ANYTHING on the History Channel. It has a clear agenda, like you do.

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  • Follower of Jesus Christ

    Spoonman you dont have a clue as to what you are talking about. I will debate you anytime. All you do is talk in generallites.

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  • Stacy

    Dear spoonman,

    I stopped reading at paragraph 3 because you said, “There’s more than sufficient accounts of unicorns, too. Does that make them true?”/ Are you saying you don’t believe in the existence of the rhinoceros? Huh… because that is exactly what a “unicorn” is… a RHINOCEROS.

  • Stacy

    spoonman said, “JOSEPH was from the line of David, but JOSEPH wasn’t Jesus’ father, was he?”/ Well, spoonman, Jesus’s mother, Mary was also from the lineage of King David. Sooooo….

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