Top 10 Archaeological Finds in 2013

Take a look at the year's most important Biblical archaeology discoveries

Tel Kabri's Katie David and Marielle Velandar.

As we ring in the New Year, archaeologists are already eyeing the calendar to prepare for next summer’s field season. Here at the Biblical Archaeology Society, we are looking forward to sharing a new year of archaeological finds with our online community in 2014. The New Year is a time to reflect, and we’ve put together a list of the top ten Biblical archaeology finds from 2013. We would love to hear which archaeology finds were most interesting for our readers, so please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

**The stories below are listed in no particular order and all are available for free in Bible History Daily**

Rare Egyptian Sphinx Fragment Discovered at Hazor
For more on the Hazor excavations, read the Bible History Daily feature Hazor Excavations’ Amnon Ben-Tor Reveals Who Conquered Biblical Canaanites.

Jerusalem’s Earliest Alphabetic Text
A recent reading of the inscribed pottery fragment suggests that it refers to a cheap type of wine.

Legio: Excavations at the Camp of the Roman Sixth Ferrata Legion in Israel
A web-exclusive report on the discovery of the Roman military camp by the excavation directors.

Eshtaol Excavations Reveal the Oldest House in the Shephelah

Hierapolis and the Gateway to Hell

One of Civilization’s Oldest Wine Cellars? Tel Kabri Cellar Held Equivalent of Nearly 3,000 Bottles of Reds and Whites
I’ll admit a personal interest in this story–I took part in the Tel Kabri excavations this year. Learn more about the Minoan-style frescoes at Kabri, or visit the BAS Tel Kabri page for posts and photos on the 2013 field season published directly from the field.

A Monumental Underwater Structure in the Sea of Galilee

The Ophel Treasure: A “once-in-a-lifetime discovery” at the foot of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

King David’s Palace at Khirbet Qeiyafa?
For more on the monumental building uncovered in final season at Khirbet Qeiyafa, read the Bible History Daily feature Khirbet Qeiyafa and Tel Lachish Excavations Explore Early Kingdom of Judah.

Bronze Age Collapse: Pollen Study Highlights Late Bronze Age Drought

Our free eBook Ten Top Biblical Archaeology Discoveries brings together the exciting worlds of archaeology and the Bible! Learn the fascinating insights gained from artifacts and ruins, like the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, where the Gospel of John says Jesus miraculously restored the sight of the blind man, and the Tel Dan inscription—the first historical evidence of King David outside the Bible.

2013 was a thrilling year for Biblical archaeologists, and the discoveries listed above were certainly not the only important archaeological finds of the year. Take a look at these additional archaeological finds uncovered in 2013:

New Huqoq Mosaics: Huqoq synagogue in Israel reveals additional depictions of Samson in the Bible

Hasmonean Jerusalem Exposed in Time for Hanukkah: Hasmonean era no longer absent from Jerusalem’s archaeological record

Mikveh Discovery Highlights Ritual Bathing in Second Temple Period Jerusalem

Private Lives of Jerusalem Elites Revealed in Mt. Zion Excavations

Hidden from View: New Jerusalem discovery may evidence starvation during Roman siege

Roman Curse Tablet Uncovered in Jerusalem’s City of David

Think these archaeological finds should have been included in the top ten? Please share your thoughts in the discussion section below.

Check out the top archaeological discoveries in 2012, 2014 and 2015.


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  • Paul says

    Correction: Early 11th century B.C.E. for the beginning of the monarchy.

  • Paul says

    All of these recent finds at Khirbet Qeifaya are fascinating, paticuarly the ostracon with writing thought to be the earliest Hebrew text discovered. It relates the establishment of a king to protect the people, thus confirming the transition in the early 10th century B.C.E. from the period of the Judges to the monarchy as was described in the Bible. It could be considered a foundation document of the first temple period.
    The psalms we have in the Bible are thought to be written after the return from exile in Babylonia during the second temple period. One psalm in particular that is found only in the Greek version of the Bible is Psalm 151. A Hebrew version was dicovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls (11Q5 Col. 28) and it concerns the anointment of David as king, who is speaking in the first person decribing his musical talent in a way that is similar to the Greek god Orpheus, the son of Calliope, Muse of epic poetry:
    “My hands have made an instrument of music
    And my fingers a lyre;
    And I rendered glory to the Lord,
    I, having said, within myself;
    ‘The mountains, do they not render witness to Him?
    And the hills, do they not proclaim Him?
    The trees appreciated my words,
    And the herd, my poems'” (see also Psalm 148:7-8).
    These verses correspond to the poet Ovid’s account in his “Metamorphoses”:
    “While Orpheus sang his minstrel’s songs and charmed the rocks and woods and creatures of the wild…”
    In the March/April 2009 issue of BAR (Orpheus as David. Orpheus as Christ?), Jas Elsner mentions the depiction of Orpheus on a mosaic floor in a Gaza synagogue with a Hebrew inscription confirming that it’s David, as well as another depiction of Orpheus on a wall mural in a Dura-Europos synagogue:
    “The use of an Orpheus-like figure to represent King David in the Gaza synagogue mosaic and (probably) in the Dura-Europos synagogue painting is typical of a long tradition of the adaption of pagan imagery to the needs of artists creating Christian and Jewish themes” (p.44).
    In an essay, “An Essenian Tradition in the Koran” by Marc Philonenko, this Orpheus tradition appears to have influenced the compilers of the Koran.
    “Bear with what they say, and remember our servant David so full of power and ever penitant.
    We made the mountains subject to him, glorifying with him the Lord evening and morning,
    And the birds gathered together around him, all were obediant to him” (Sura 38:18-20).
    “We made Solomon understand the case, and to each of them we gave judgement and knowledge. We caused the birds and the mountains to exalt us, along with David, and We were doers” (Sura 21:79).
    “Assuredly, We gave David grace from us. ‘O Mountains and birds, echo his psalms of praise!'” (Sura 34:10).
    “The idea is that all of creation, subjected to David, with him give glory to the Lord. This interpretation so unusual – and which seems unknown in the rabbinical tradition – is the one that, without any doubt, appears for the first time in the Qumran psalm. The mountains that sing with David, these are the mountains attracted by Orpheus, and these birds gathered around David, these are the ones which charmed the son of Calliope.
    Thus, as in the Qumran psalter, it is David-Orpheus who sings in the Koran” (“What the Koran Really Says” by Ibn Warraq, p.272).

  • Keri says

    These were all fascinating but my top 3 were: 1)King David’s palace 2)Earliest Alphabetic text 3)Massive structure in the Sea of Galilee. As a person of faith who loves to read and reflect on the Psalms I have always tried to imagine where he was writing from. It would be amazing to know more and be able to construct a clearer picture of the place these words were penned from (although I realize he wouldn’t have written all of them in his palace).

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