Diggings Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 11:3 (Summer 1998)
Article: Diggings Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands
Author: Anonymous

Diggings Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands

Back to Eden? An Ancient Paradise Rediscovered

Ancient texts describe the site as a pure, bright and clean land flowing with abundant water. It is also described as a place of eternal youth, where animals lived in harmony with man as well as each other. So archaeologists think they have found the Garden of Eden? No, the location of the Biblical Garden of Eden is still unknown; archaeologists are uncovering the Mesopotamian Paradise of Dilmun. Known from ancient historical and economic texts as early as the fourth millennium BC, this Paradise was not only a Utopia of the natural world. It was a good place to work, too. Ships from Dilmun were famous for their cargoes of copper, timber, dates and even pearls.

Excavating in the modern city of Saar on the Persian Gulf island of Bahrain, archaeologists have uncovered a bustling, prosperous, trading port city from 1900 BC. Fifteen miles off the east coast of Saudi Arabia, the climate is arid and rainfall insufficient to support dry farming. Yet, the island sits atop one of the world’s richest aquifer systems and the innumerable freshwater springs everywhere emerging on land and in the shallow waters offshore provided ample water for the cultivation of dates, cereals and fruits.

In Saar, archaeologists have found a city of regular planning with a small temple on the site’s highest point. Eighty stone houses, almost all with two rooms and an open courtyard, have been revealed. This past spring a kitchen complete with a bread oven and a fireplace with cooking supports was excavated. Based on remains found at the site, archaeologists suggest the people of Dilmun ate lots of fish, gazelle and dates.

Next to the town is a graveyard of about 1,000 tombs. The whole island of Bahrain is famous for its burial mounds, as many as 150,000 in total. Archaeologists have documented over 100,000 burials dating from the Bronze and Iron Ages (2000–1000 BC).

The island’s location placed it strategically in the path of raw materials and exotic goods from the west and south to the northern Mesopotamian city-states. Perhaps its location as a port where ships took on food and water led to Dilmun’s glorified image as Paradise among the Sumerians and later Babylonians. The bubbling springs of

fresh water and copious palm trees growing heavy with dates must have appeared Utopian to weary seafarers.

Some scholars suggest the myths about Dilmun became the basis for the Biblical description of Eden. Rejecting the Biblical text as historical, it is easy to relegate the Biblical Paradise to mythology. While most scholars admit Eden fits into the general Tigris and Eu...

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