How Archaeology Confirms the Biblical Record

by Mario Seiglie

Scholars have queued up to ridicule the biblical accounts as mere myth. A tug of war continues between scoffers and believers in the inspiration and accuracy of the Bible.

I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out," said Jesus (Luke 19:40). He was referring to what would happen if His disciples did not bear testimony of Him.

The original disciples aren't around to provide their eyewitness accounts of Jesus Christ, but we do have the inspired Word of God, which they, along with many others, wrote.

Significantly enough, we also have the testimony of stones that really can bear witness to the veracity and inspiration of God's Word. The physical evidence unearthed by present-day scientists can and does speak to us through biblical archaeology.

Archae, which comes from the Greek, means "ancient," and ology, which comes from the Greek logia, means "science." Archaeology, then, is the scientific study of ancient things.

Unearthing the origins of archaeology

Englishman Flinders Petrie is generally considered the individual who put archaeological methodology on a scientific footing. He is credited with transforming archaeology from a treasure hunt into a disciplined search for information about the past. It was not until the 19th century that scientific methods were rigorously applied to excavations of historical sites.

A curious fact of history is that the person who indirectly contributed to this process was not a scientist but the French emperor and conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte. During his conquests of Europe and the Middle East, Napoleon arrived in Egypt in the late 1700s hoping to build the Suez Canal and drastically reduce the navigation time for the trade route from France to India. In Egypt, before a battle in the vicinity of the famous pyramids of Gizeh, he told his soldiers, "Forty centuries are looking down upon you from these pyramids."

His inquisitive mind led him to study the Egyptian culture and try to decipher strange drawings he saw in the ancient monuments. For that purpose, he brought along 175 French scholars and researchers, and together they set up an institute in Egypt to study the writings and ancient relics of the area.

The deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphics (a word meaning priestly or sacred writings) can be attributed mostly to a young scientist of that time, Jean Fran├žois Champol-lion. Accurate translations were made possible largely by the discovery in 1799 of a large black basalt rock by French soldiers at the town of Rosetta. Later to be known as the Rosetta Stone, it bore a trilingual inscription in Old Egyptian hieroglyphic, demotic (a later, simplified form of Egyptian hieroglyphics) and Greek. With this stone as a key, Champollion in 1822 could finally decipher the ancient hieroglyphics.

The deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphics brought the culture of the Pharaohs to light, and the educated classes of Europe gained insight into this fascinating subject. Soon, many amateur archaeologists were on their way to fame and fortune, finding fabulous monuments and other treasures. Museums throughout Europe and America vied with each other to house these marvelous finds. The treasure-laden tomb of Tutankhamen, discovered in 1922, was one of the most

spectacular. Many early archaeologists would be honored for their efforts and would become a part of history in their own right.

Deciphering ancient writing

Elsewhere in the region, strange writings on monuments and other objects were waiting to be deciphered.

Great, king of Persia, had on the face of this 1,700-foot cliff overlooking a valley engraved an account of his exploits. The inscription appeared in three scripts: Persian, Elamite and Babylonian in the cuneiform style of writing.

Over a period of two years, Rawlin-son traveled to the site and made the perilous climb, dangling from a rope while painstakingly transcribing the inscription. By 1847, he had deciphered cuneiform writing, opening understanding of Babylonian culture and history to the

had brought men like Champollion and Rawlinson. Layard began digging in Iraq, home of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires thousands of years before. He unearthed great cities mentioned in the Bible, including the ancient Assyrian capital, Nineveh, and Calah. Many of his finds, including enormous winged bulls and other important Babylonian and Assyrian artifacts, made their way to the British Museum. He, too, was knighted by Queen Victoria.

Not to be outdone by the French and British, German archaeologists also began their quest for riches and fame. One such explorer, Heinrich Schlie-rnann, began searching for the legendary city of Troy, described by the ancient Greek poet Homer. ^ffi^jB Believing Homer's sagas

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