Weird History
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Real Biblical Era Artifacts That Made Us Say ‘Whoa’

July 28, 2021 2.2k votes 262 voters 6.9k views12 items

List RulesVote up the most awe-inspiring biblical artifacts.

It's one thing to read about history, but when you can actually lay eyes on artifacts from the ancient world, it's a completely different experience. Seeing the stuff that ancient people worked with, played with, prayed to, or even just liked to look at, draws you back in time. These objects give us a glimpse at civilizations that have long since gone to dust.

Because of its spiritual subject matter, the Bible seems an unlikely guide to tangible, physical artifacts. Yet archaeologists have discovered a number of fascinating historical relics that help place the Bible's events into historic context. Though there are plenty of wild Bible stories that are beyond researchers' purview, inscriptions on monuments, royal decrees, and even ancient reservoirs offer valuable insight into many Biblical stories. 

  • Photo: BRBurton / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    This stone, found in the ruins of an ancient Roman sports stadium in 1961, was the first artifact ever discovered to bear the name of Pontius Pilate. It also includes his official title, "Praefectus Judaeae."

    Pilate served under Emperor Tiberius and was the fifth governor of Judaea. He oversaw Jesus's trial and crucifixion.

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  • Photo: The Israel Antiquities Authority 1993 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    When first discovered in the mid-20th century, the Dead Sea Scrolls predated the oldest known Hebrew manuscripts by more than a millennium. And, while the scrolls are not the earliest fragments of the Hebrew Bible on this list, they are significant for the breadth of material they contain. As The Conversation reports,

    Included among the scrolls are the oldest copies of books in the Hebrew Bible and many other ancient Jewish writings: prayers, commentaries, religious laws, magical and mystical texts. They have shed much new light on the origins of the Bible, Judaism and even Christianity.

    The Dead Sea Scrolls encompass tens of thousands of fragments of 900 scrolls, and contain material from every book of the Old Testament except Esther and Nehemiah. 

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    The Delphi Inscription Offers An Important Clue About The Life Of The Apostle Paul

    In Acts 18, the Apostle Paul is brought before Gallio, a Roman proconsul of Achaia, for allegedly violating Jewish law. Four fragments of an inscription from Delphi, Greece, mention Gallio of Achaia (the name is in the the blue rectangle in the image above), likely dating to the year 52 CE. 

    An examination of this evidence from Wake Forest University notes,

    Although the inscription does not make the historicity of Acts 18 unquestionable, it does provide an excellent dating for the event described and has encouraged many scholars to use the time of Gallio's proconsulship as a benchmark date for reconstructing Paul's chronology.

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  • This limestone block was taken from a burial cave in the Judean lowlands of Israel. The site, Khirbet Beit Lei, dates to the Iron Age, and has become known as the "Jerusalem Cave" for the inscription that was discovered there mentioning the city.

    Believed to have been carved in the 7th century BCE, this inscription is one of the earliest known appearances of the city's name.

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