Biblical archaeology has always fascinated me -- especially the way that archaeologists in this area discount the Bible. After all, in virtually any area of archaeology, if archaeologists have a written text that describes people, places or activities then that written text is used to inform the research. Naturally, there is always skepticism due to bias or story-telling that may be involved in ancient writings, but the written source is almost always seen as providing an additional source of information. In the case of the Bible, however, the Biblical account is treated as less than helpful. It appears to be assumed to be wrong or treated as though it has no worth whatsoever.
And yet, over and over history keeps coming up with other sources of information that either directly confirms the Biblical accounts or leads the accounts to be more possible. Such is the case with a recent discovery that was reported in December 2014 from the area of the Gaza strip. Essentially, archaeologists discovered "six fragments of clay, once used to seal documents or expensive goods," according to an article entitled "Ancient Seals May Shed Light on Biblical Kings, Government." The article continues:
"They're little bitty mud balls but they're really important because of what they suggest about what's going on," [Mississippi State University archeologist James W.] Hardin, the lead author, said in a telephone interview from the university in Starkville. After tying the scroll or other item, ancient officials would wrap part of the string with clay and stamp it with an official seal to show that it had not been opened.
What exactly do they suggest? Well, these six little fragments of clay are from approximately the 10th Century BC. This is the time period that roughly corresponds to the dates that the Kingdoms of David and Solomon should have been assistance if the Old Testament is accurate. For many years, archaeologists have discounted the Biblical accounts of these kingdoms, however, basically assigning them the same level of truth as is assigned to the Legend of King Arthur. The belief was either that these two Kingdoms never existed or that they are accounts about much smaller rulers (usually referenced as minor warlords) that were elevated in importance through Legend. Of course, a few years ago, a large structure in East Jerusalem was located by archaeologists dating back to the 10th Century BC, and an Israeli archaeologist, Dr. Mazar, reported that it was likely the Palace of King David. (Of course, there is rarely an end to such debates, but I have yet to see any articles that successfully disprove that claim. In fact, a later article published at the now-defunct Leaderu.com gave several good reasons to conclude that it was the palace of the great Old Testament king.)
Now, this seemingly insignificant finding may help establish that the Kingdoms of David and Solomon were much larger than the kingdoms of minor warlords. The article points out:
Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century BC, says Mississippi State University archeologist James W. Hardin. This could indicate that Biblical accounts of David and his son Solomon described real kings rather than the backwater chieftains considered more likely by some archeologists, said Hardin, an associate professor in the department of anthropology and Middle Eastern cultures.
If the Israeli influence stretched from Jerusalem to an area in Gaza approximately 20 miles from Jerusalem that was previously thought to be totally rural and under control of Gath, that is important evidence that a significant kingdom controlled from Jerusalem existed at the time that David and Solomon were said to be kings over tribes of Israel and Judah. Interesting to see what else is exposed from the continuing excavations of this site.