Archaeology in the Holy Land finds evidence supporting Bible's historical records

The wall of Jerusalem as uncovered in the excavatio s of the Israel Antiquities Authority, with Dr. Joe Uziel, Dr. Filip Vukosavovich and Ortal Chalaf who exposed the wall.(Photo: Kobi Harati/City of David Foundation)

New research in the Holy Land into the growth and construction of Jerusalem is lending further credence to recordings contained within the ancient texts of the Bible.

Published last month in the prestigious journal, PNAS, a report by the Israel Antiquities Authority, Tel Aviv University, and the Weizmann Institute of Science brings together the findings of over almost a decade of excavations of the City of David National Park.

The research includes over a hundred radiocarbon dates taken from four different excavation areas on the eastern and western slopes of the ancient city, sampling organic sources such as grape seeds, date pits, and bat skeletons.

The findings challenge current wisdom surrounding the age of structures uncovered by archaeologists, and have allowed researchers to correlate events described in the Bible with the archaeological record.

"The new research allows us to study the development of the city: until now, most researchers have linked Jerusalem's growth to the west, to the period of King Hezekiah - just over 2,700 years ago. The conventional assumption to date has been that the city expanded due to the arrival of refugees from the Kingdom of Israel in the north, following the Assyrian exile," Professor Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University said.

"However, the new findings strengthen the view that Jerusalem grew in size and spread towards Mount Zion already in the 9th century BCE, during the reign of King Jehoash, a hundred years before the Assyrian exile."

These findings are thanks to a breakthrough in carbon dating techniques that uses ancient tree rings to create a precise timeline of dates, filling in what has been considered a "black hole" in the use of carbon-14 dating. This has allowed researchers to show the extent of the magnificent buildings and residences first built in the 9th–8th centuries BCE, and used continuously until 586 BCE, when the city suffered violent destruction that resulted in the end of the Kingdom of Judah.

"For decades, it was assumed that this wall was built by Hezekiah, King of Judah, but it is now becoming clear that it dates back to the days of King Uzziah, as hinted at in the Bible: 'And Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem...and strengthened them' (2 Chronicles 26:9)," Doctor Joe Uziel of the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

"Until now, many researchers have assumed that the wall was built by Hezekiah during his rebellion against Sennacherib, King of Assyria, in order to defend Jerusalem during the Assyrian siege. It is now apparent that the wall in its eastern part, in the area of the City of David, was built earlier, shortly after the great earthquake of Jerusalem, and as part of the construction of the city during the reign of King Uzziah."

This research, and more like it being conducted every day in the Holy Land, is helping to fill in the gaps in the historical record of Jerusalem's first four millennia of existence. Thanks to these scientific studies, a clearer understanding of the kingdom of Judah and the periods preceding it is beginning to emerge, and, with it, proof of their place in the Biblical record.