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Oxford Bible Atlas Contextualizes the stories and lands of the Bible through user-friendly maps and illustrations.

Archaeology and the Bible

Adrian Curtis

Definitions: ‘Archaeology’ and ‘Biblical Archaeology’

A literal meaning of the word ‘archaeology’ might be ‘the study of antiquities’. But in practice the word has come to refer to the recovery of and the study of the material remains of an ancient culture, including its written records. Since the biblical writings are set in the context of ancient cultures and are the product of ancient cultures, the importance of archaeology in shedding light on those cultures and thereby aiding the study of the Bible cannot be over‐emphasized. The term ‘biblical archaeology’ has been thought by some to be inappropriate, implying that there is a special sort of archaeology which is ‘biblical’ and which differs from other archaeology. There is the caricature of the ‘biblical archaeologist’, with spade in one hand and Bible in the other, looking for evidence of what he or she is reading about! Some prefer an alternative term, for example ‘Syro‐Palestinian Archaeology’ (so William Dever). But the term ‘biblical archaeology’ is often simply used as a convenient short‐hand term to refer to those results of archaeology which are relevant to the study of the Bible, and as such it can be defended. The term also has the advantage of embracing archaeology from a much wider area than Palestine. Nevertheless, archaeology in Palestine will often provide a more direct witness to the peoples of Israel and Judah, in that they shed light on some of the places in which they lived, and the objects they made and used. Although the known amount of written material from Palestine has increased considerably in recent years, it is still the case that relatively little such material has been preserved when compared with some of the archives of tablets or monumental inscriptions of certain other peoples. An obvious exception is what is often referred to as the ‘library’ from Qumran comprising the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Sonia Halliday Photographs

Zev Radovan, www.BibleLandPictures.com

The Trustees of the British Museum

Zev Radovan, www.BibleLandPictures.com

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