Top Biblical Archaeology Stories of 2018

Who exactly did ancient Jews really worship, and what did Jesus really look like? Find out in the top Haaretz biblical and Christian archaeology stories of 2018

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Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster

The year 2018 was an extraordinarily rich one for biblical archaeology, in both the Jewish and Christian worlds, and for pagans too. More evidence was found in support of the veracity of at least some biblical narratives, such as Joshua's conquest; and at the other end of the rainbow, some pretensions were pricked, for instance that the ancient Israelites scorned the idolatrous likes of golden calves.

One of two seal impressions found with the name of Immadiyaw, meaning "YHWH is with me." There is a possibility that Immadiyawn served as High Priest, or ;riest in the temple at Dan: one of his seals was found in close context with the sanctuary.
One of two seal impressions found with the name of Immadiyaw, meaning "YHWH is with me."Credit: Nelson Glueck / School of Biblical Archaeology

>> Read more: Editor's Picks: Archaeological Wonders of 2018

Detail of 1,700-year-old mosaic found in Lod, 2018
One of the mosaics found while building a mosaics museum in LodCredit: Niki Davidoff, IAA
A cylindrical seal found in the ruins of the Middle Bronze Age city at Tel Shimron
A cylindrical seal found in the ruins of the Middle Bronze Age city at Tel ShimronCredit: Melissa Aja

Even mice get their moment in the sun, with the new theory that these tiny rodents were the ones who defeated the terrifying Assyrian emperor Sennacherib, who rolled over the Levant, only to stop at Jerusalem, spare the wily King Hezekiah and vanish. The face is Jesus was very, very belatedly noticed on the ruins of an ancient church in the Negev and moving onto Iceland, as people do, the origins of Christianity are found in lava. Read on for some of the best archaeological discoveries of the year!

Israelites in Biblical Dan Worshipped Idols – and Yahweh Too

Israel is famously the place where the three great monotheist religions arose – but the truth about our forefathers is that they didn't seem to have scorned idol gods quite as assiduously as we might like to think.

Relief of winged bull for Sennacherib at Nineveh (704-681 B.C.E.)
Relief of winged bull for Sennacherib at Nineveh (704-681 B.C.E.)Credit: Universal History Archive / REX

Archaeologists Seek Signs of Joshua's Conquest in Last Unexplored Biblical City

chaeologists digging in the main temple at Timna: the Egyptians worshipped Hathor there, but when the Edomites took over the mines they may have transformed it into a sanctuary dedicated to Yahweh.
Was Hathor's temple converted to a temple for Yahweh the metal god? At the Timna copper mineCredit: Ariel David

Ground zero in the Galilee? Scrambling to save the last unexcavated biblical town from dirt bikers, archaeologists have found layers going back more than 4,000 years, since before Joshua's time – and hope to find destruction layers supporting the historicity of the biblical account.

How Mice May Have Saved Jerusalem 2,700 Years Ago

A large rounded compound at Khirbet el-Mastarah
A large rounded compound at Khirbet el-Mastarah, apparently around 3,200 years old: It could have been a corral.Credit: The Jordan Valley Excavation Project

The terrible forces of Assyria had surrounded Jerusalem and threatened to slaughter its people and kill the rebel king Hezekiah. Suddenly, they vanished. Could rodents have been responsible for Sennacherib sparing Jerusalem?

Jewish God Yahweh Originated in Canaanite Vulcan, Says New Theory

Fire and brimstone. Say no more.

Is This Where the Israelites Camped on Their Way to Canaan 3,200 Years Ago?

6th-century face of Jesus uncovered at Shivta
6th-century face of Jesus uncovered at Shivta.Credit: Dror Maayan
6th-century face of Jesus uncovered at Shivta
6th-century face of Jesus uncovered at Shivta.Credit: Dror Maayan

There is no evidence whatsoever of the Exodus from Egypt, but possibly, archaeologists have identified where the ancient Israelites crossed from the barren desert into the fertile land of Canaan.

Huge if True: The Archaeological Case for Goliath

No, skeletons of giant people have not been found. That is a hoax. But the circumstantial evidence that Goliath may have been a man, not a myth, is compelling.

Christian archaeology in 2018

Romans 13 inscription in Caesarea – the first misuse of Romans 13 in history, Jeff Sessions' misuse being the latest.
Romans 13 inscription in Caesarea – the first misuse of Romans 13 in history, Jeff Sessions' misuse being the latest.Credit: Gilla Treibich

'Suddenly I Saw Eyes': Jesus’ Face Discovered in Ancient Israeli Desert Church

One of the earliest drawings of Jesus has been identified in the ruins of an ancient church in the Negev desert, and he doesn't look particularly Western.

Holy Land Byzantines Predated Jeff Sessions' Abuse of Apostle Paul's Epistle by 1,500 Years

All Paul meant is that early Christians living under pagan regimes should render unto Caesar rather than kick up a fuss and get killed, not that families should be rent asunder at the American border

 This is Codex Regius, an Icelandic codex which contains the Voluspá.
This is Codex Regius, an Icelandic codex which contains the VoluspáCredit: Clive Oppenheimer

Tomb of Unknown Saint Found in Israel

Mysterious grave found at Hippos isn't marked and no "Saint of Sussita" is known of, but the stone tomb has all the hallmarks of adoration for a beatified person

Pigeon skull from Shivta: Morphologically wild-type
Pigeon skull from Shivta: Size and shape are wild-typeCredit: University of Haifa

Vikings see lava, and the light

Fire and brimstone, plus lava. Evidently the pagan gods were out to lunch and for the terrified Vikings, more help was in order.

Byzantine Secret of Surviving in the Negev: Midget Pigeons

Dekel Ben Shitrit displaying the 700-year-old ring of St. Nicholas, found in the northern Israeli farming community of Moshav Hayogev, February 26, 2018.
Dekel Ben Shitrit displaying the 700-year-old ring of St. Nicholas, found in the northern Israeli farming community of Moshav Hayogev, February 26, 2018.Credit: Nir Distelfeld / Israel Antiquities Authority

Not big pigeons, mark you – those were eaten.

Israeli Gardener Born on Christmas Day Finds 700-year-old Ring With Image of St. Nicholas

Naturally, he did what anybody would do after making a rare archaeological discovery: he uploaded a picture of it to Facebook.

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