Update On Discoveries In 2013 -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 27:1 (Winter 2014)
Article: Update On Discoveries In 2013
Author: Bryant G. Wood

Update On Discoveries In 2013

Bryant G. Wood

Announcements of archaeological discoveries and research of biblical significance, mainly from Israel, were made throughout 2013. In this article I would like to update readers on several of these recent findings.

Gerzeh, Egypt, 3200 BC*

Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron (Ge 4:22).

Modern Bible students have been puzzled by Ge 4:22 and other early references to iron in the Bible since archaeological findings indicate that iron was not in common use until ca. 1200 BC. While it is true that 1200 BC marks the beginning of the Iron Age when the use of iron for tools and weapons became widespread throughout Bible lands, there are many examples of iron objects that are much earlier than 1200 BC. Prior to 1200 BC iron was rare and considered a precious metal. The earliest known iron objects are nine tubular iron beads excavated in 1911 in a cemetery in Gerzeh, Egypt, 45 miles south of Cairo, dated to 3200 BC. Seven were found in one tomb, three from the waist of the deceased and four from a necklace along with lapis lazuli, carnelian, agate and gold beads. The other two came from a very rich tomb containing, among other things, the largest number of beads found in a burial in the cemetery, consisting of lapis lazuli, obsidian, gold, carnelian, calcite, chalcedony, steatite, faience, garnet and serpentine. The nature and origin of the iron beads has been a matter of uncertainty and dispute, until modern scientific tests were conducted on them, published in August in the online Journal of Archaeological Science. The 15 authors concluded the beads were made from meteoritic iron and “that already in the fourth millennium BC metalworkers had mastered the smithing of meteoritic iron.” They went on to say that when the production of iron metal from ore started in the mid-second millennium BC, the Gerzan cemetery beads “demonstrates that metalworkers had already nearly two millennia of experience to hot-work meteoritic iron when iron smelting was introduced.”

[*Editor’s note: Dating from this time period is usually dependent on carbon-14 dating, and should be considered tentative. The date of the Flood is critical to our understanding of this era. ABR is conducting research in this area in order to more precisely ascertain the date of the Flood and then correlate archaeological dates accordingly. More will be announced in the future.]

© Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, photo by Gianluca Miniaci

Three of the nine i...

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