Ancient IsraelAncient Israel
Since I was looking at the ancient cities and cultures mentioned in the Bible, I guess the ones with ultimate significance would be those related to "ancient Israel". So that's where I focused next. Mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible, Jericho was the initial entry point into the "Promised Land" for the Israelite people. 1 Archaeology has now confirmed the location of this fortified city of walls and towers that guarded entry to the land of Canaan from the east.2 "Shechem" was also an important city throughout the Old Testament. In fact, King Jeroboam made it the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel in the 10th century BC. 3 Excavations have uncovered huge walls and a fortified gate system containing such important finds as the temple of Baal from the biblical story of Abimelech.4
Excavations in the north have also revealed the city of Dan, which was a Canaanite stronghold conquered by Israel (specifically, the tribe of Dan) around 1150 BC. 5 The rebuilt city, which became the northern boundary of Israel, has delivered a wealth of artifacts with biblical importance. 6 The southern boundary of Israel was Beersheba, which became a fortified city during the period of King Solomon. 7 Excavations between 1969 and 1976 have revealed massive walls, gates, wells and storehouses consistent with biblical accounts. 8 The ancient city of Jerusalem, dating to the time of King David's initial conquest, was discovered and excavated between 1978 and 1985. Prior to this time, nothing apart from the Bible was known about King David's Jerusalem, which has now revealed a palace, towers and the famous Siloam spring. 9 The ancient ruins of Gibeah were discovered about three miles north of Jerusalem. Gibeah was the home to Saul and the tribe of Benjamin, and later became King Saul's capital city. 10 Excavations have revealed Saul's fortress palace dated to about 1100 BC.11
Megiddo was a Canaanite city conquered by Israel in the north. It was a walled fortress that sat on a hill near an expansive plain that witnessed many battles of historical significance. In the 900s BC, King Solomon fortified the city, 12 and later in the 600s BC, King Josiah lost a battle to the Egyptians there. 13 Megiddo (also known as Armageddon) has now been extensively excavated, revealing such treasures as the Canaanite religious "high places" mentioned throughout the Old Testament.14
I was never disappointed! I found that the "archaeological evidence" for the ancient cities mentioned in the Bible was absolutely compelling. OK, but what about the evidence for the ancient Israelites themselves? Some scholars propose that the ancient Canaanites existed in these cities, but the Israelites didn't come on the scene until centuries after the Bible declares.
I continued my exploration of ancient Israel...
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