In light of the global pandemic, museums throughout the world have closed their physical doors. Yet rather than pausing their educational mission, many have opened up their collections to be explored and enjoyed digitally. Even if you are confined within your home, you can virtually tour some of the world’s top museums.
Visit artsandculture.google.com/partner to explore more than 2,000 museums and cultural institutions, including the Israel Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), British Museum, Uffizi Gallery, and Art Institute of Chicago. To see more of these institutions’ collections, visit their individual websites.
Biblical Archaeology Review suggests the following itinerary to see some of the top biblical archaeology artifacts in museums around the world—from the comfort of your own home. Walk through biblical history with us:
- Tel Dan Stele, ninth century B.C.E., Israel Museum, Jerusalem. This inscription may reference the “House of David.”
Tel Dan Stele at the Israel Museum.
Photo: Geagea/CC by-SA 4.0.
- Mesha Stele, ninth century B.C.E., Louvre Museum, Paris. This inscription details the success of the Moabite king Mesha over the Israelites. The Israelite version of these events appears in the Bible (2 Kings 3)
Mesha Stele at the Louvre.
Photo: Mbzt/CC by 3.0.
- “Holy of Holies” from the Arad Sanctuary, eighth century B.C.E., Israel Museum. The reconstructed innermost portion of the Judahite temple at Arad, which was buried at the time of King Hezekiah, gives us an idea of how the Jerusalem Temple may have looked.
- Lachish Reliefs, seventh century B.C.E., British Museum, London. These panels from the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh depict the Assyrian siege of the city of Lachish in Judah.
- Sennacherib Prism, seventh century B.C.E., Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. The Oriental Institute, British Museum, and Israel Museum all hold prisms wherein the Assyrian king Sennacherib boasts of his military victories over Judah. The Bible (2 Kings 18:13–19:36; 2 Chronicles 32:1–23) tells the Judahite side of things.
Sennacherib Prism at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.
Photo: Daderot/public domain.
- Ketef Hinnom Inscriptions, sixth century B.C.E., Israel Museum. Two silver amulets from Jerusalem contain part of the priestly blessing from Numbers 6:24–26, making them the earliest extant biblical texts.
- Ishtar Gate, sixth century B.C.E., Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Bearing a dedicatory inscription by King Nebuchadnezzar II, the Ishtar Gate served as a grand entrance to ancient Babylon. Jewish captives, including the prophet Daniel, may have passed through this gate.
Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon Museum.
Photo: Rictor Norton/CC by 2.0.
- Lachish Letters, sixth century B.C.E., Israel Museum. Written by the defenders of Lachish, the Lachish Letters detail life in a Judahite fort in the last days of the Kingdom of Judah. The Bible (2 Kings 24–25; 2 Chronicles 36) also describes the Babylonian siege and conquest of Judah.
- Cyrus Cylinder, sixth century B.C.E., British Museum. This text recounts the victory of the Persian king Cyrus over Babylon and his general restoration of religious sanctuaries throughout Mesopotamia. Although the temple in Jerusalem is not specifically named, Cyrus’s policy aligns with the biblical account (2 Chronicles 36:22–23; Ezra 1:1–4).
- Dead Sea Scrolls, third century B.C.E.–first century C.E., Israel Museum. The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of biblical and sectarian texts. The biblical manuscripts are the earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible (except for the Book of Esther) discovered to date.
- “Jesus Boat”, first century B.C.E.–first century C.E., Yigal Allon Center, Ginosar. The remains of a first-century boat from the Sea of Galilee help us envision the kind of vessel in which Jesus and the apostles may have traveled and fished, or that could have been used during the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome.
“Jesus Boat” at the Yigal Allon Center.
Photo: Travellers & Tinkers/CC by-SA 4.0.
- Pilate Stone, first century C.E., Israel Museum. This Latin inscription lists Pontius Pilate, the infamous Roman procurator of Judea (e.g., Matthew 27) and dates to 26–36 C.E.