There was no shortage of biblical archaeology news in 2020, despite COVID-19 restrictions that canceled almost all of Israel’s scheduled excavations. Some limited digs still took place in Israel and surrounding countries, and research on previous excavations continued, resulting in some major announcements.
Here are 2020’s biggest stories about archaeology connecting us with the biblical world:
10. Assyrian god carvings
Italian and Kurdish archaeologists uncovered 15-foot rock carvings depicting an Assyrian king and seven Assyrian gods standing on the backs of sacred animals. The artwork was carved in relief in a cliff along a canal in the northern Kurdistan region of Iraq. The king is believed to be Sargon II, who ruled from 722 to 705 B.C. and conquered the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 17:6). It is possible that the canal where the relief was found was dug by Israelites enslaved by Sargon II.
9. Church built on a solid rock
A dig in Banias in northern Israel has revealed the remains of a fourth-century church built, as was a common practice, atop a shrine to another god. Banias was a cultic center of worship of the god Pan, and the shrine was likely for worship of the Greek deity associated with sex and spring.
Christians in the fourth century, however, would have recognized the location as the biblical Caesarea Philippi, near the location where Peter told Jesus, “You are the Christ” and Jesus replied, “On this rock, I will build my church” (Matt. 16:13–19). One stone in the ruin is marked with cross etchings left by pilgrims who visited the church shortly after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.
8. Fort allied with King David
Archaeologists uncovered …
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