Great Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 17:4 (Fall 2004)
Article: Great Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology
Author: Anonymous


Great Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology

The Rosetta Stone

Traveling with the French army when Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798 were 175 scientists. They studied known sites as well as previously unknown places. Their research resulted in a 24-volume publication that became the foundation for the modern field of Egyptology. Their most important discovery was made in 1799, near the village of Rosetta. Here French Army Captain Boussard found a stone monument written in three different languages. Later captured from the French by the British, this monument, now known as the Rosetta Stone, ended up in London’s British Museum.

The monument’s top 14 lines are written in hieroglyphs, Egypt’s oldest script; then 32 lines of Egyptian demotic (a cursive form of hieroglyphs); and finally 54 lines in Greek. The Greek was easy for scholars to read—it was a decree by Memphis priests in 196 BC honoring Egyptian King Ptolemy V. At the time, no one could read the other two scripts.

In 1822, Frenchman Jean-François Champollion recognized that the monument contained the same decree in three languages. Going from Greek to demotic, and from demotic to hieroglyphics, Champollion could finally read the entire monument. It became the key to unlocking our understanding of hieroglyphics, ancient Egypt’s first written language. This, in turn, led to the translation of many Egyptian texts that corroborate and illuminate Biblical history. GAB

(For further information, see “Reading the Rosetta Stone,” pp. 20-35 in The Story of Writing, by Andrew Robinson, London: Thames & Hudson, 2001.)

The Law Code Of Hummurabi

The Law Code of Hammurabi was discovered in 1901 by archaeologists in Susa, Iran, where it had been taken as booty by the Elamites, most likely when they raided Sippar in northern Iraq in the 12th century BC. It is made of diorite in the form of a boundary stone. The 2.3 m (7.5 ft) high stela is bou now on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The Babylonian king Hammurabi (standing, left), who ruled ca. 1792–1750 BC, receives a scepter and ring from the sun god Shamash (seated, right), the god of justice, in a ceremony commissioning Hammurabi to write a code of laws. Below the scene, inscribed in cuneiform, are a prologue, a listing of 282 laws, and an epilogue. Of the numerous law collections recovered from antiquity, Hammurabi’s is the longest, most polished and most comprehensive. Some 50 documents are known that 5 record all or part of the laws, prologue and epilogue of the composition. They range from those contemp...

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