Christianity Today has released a list of the top 10 archaeological finds of 2017 in Israel, and CBN News has been on the front lines of these discoveries, reporting on many of them from our Jerusalem Bureau.
We can travel back in time by digging in the land of the Bible. It is through historical evidence found by archaeologists that the world can better understand the details about the people who lived and how they lived during Biblical times, especially in the First Century when the early church was branching out into the known world.
1. Small Roman Theater Found Next to the Temple Mount's Western Wall -- It is the first example of a Roman public building ever discovered in Jerusalem. It was found at the bottom of eight excavated courses of Western Wall stones, 26 feet below Warrens Arch and the current level of the Western Wall plaza, the theater could seat roughly 200 people. It's use or date has not been determined, but archaeologists think it may date about a century after the time of Christ.
2. A Relic from The Temple Jesus Knew -- How Solomon's portico, the double colonnade that surrounded the temple built by Herod, actually appeared came into sharper focus with the discovery of an ornamental capital from one of the tops of the columns. Jesus visited Solomon's portico during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) in John 10:23. The early church also used it as a meeting place as recorded in Acts 3:11, 5:12)
3. Where was Bethsaida Located? -- Bethsaida was the hometown of three of the apostles, Peter, Andrew and Philip. The city is believed to be located somewhere near the outlet of the Jordan River into the northern Sea of Galilee. However, it's precise location has never been pinpointed. This year, archaeologist Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret College and his team discovered the remains of a Roman bathhouse at one site, which is much closer to the shore of the sea than the other site. But neither site has been id'd as Bethsaida and there's a difference of opinion between archaeologists as to where the actual city may lie.
4. Timna Copper Camp from the Time of David and Solomon -- Some scholars have suggested due to the lack of archaeological evidence that the reigns of David and Solomon found in the Old Testament were not significant. However, evidence to support a very powerful 10th century B.C. centralized kingdom based in Jerusalem has come to light. This year, 3,000-year-old donkey dung found at Timna, the site of ancient copper mines, and tested by archaeologists from Tel Aviv University, revealed the donkey's diet came from near Jerusalem. It is another example of centralized power at the time of David and Solomon.
5. Seal Impressions Redating the City of David -- Archaeology in the oldest area of Jerusalem, the City of David, continues to reveal the Holy City's historic past. In September, the IAA exhibited a collection of clay seal impressions (bullae) which came from different excavations. The clay sealings date from roughly the time of King Hezekiah (700 B.C.) to the end of the Judean monarchy (586 B.C.). One of the sealings bears the name of Achiav ben Menachem, which suggests a connection to two kings of the northern kingdom: Ahab and Menachem. Archaeologists believe this is evidence that refugees from the northern kingdom of Israel found their way into senior positions in the southern kingdom of Judea.