Artifact List

The exhibit will include approximately 200 ancient artifacts from the biblical period of ancient Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Syria. The artifacts will range in time from circa 3000 B.C. through the Roman/New Testament era to the early christian period and Byzantine era. Many artifacts are from the excavations of Khirbet el-Maqatir. Daily life, warfare and religious practice in the biblical era will be highlighted by these original artifacts. Below are just a few of the artifacts that will be on display. Check back often as artifacts will be added throughout the coming year.  

Coin of Herod the Great
A coin of Herod the Great, ancient Israel's most famous builder, best known as the tyrant who ordered the death of all baby boys below age two in Bethleham when he believed the birth of Jesus was a threat to his throne.

Egyptian Scarab
This scarab was discovered at the Khirbet el-Maqatir excavation and soon became one of the symbols of the project. The artifact is an ancient Egyptian scarab dating from the early 18th dynasty, ca. 1485-1418 B.C. This is a significant discovery since it provides an independant date for the fortress of Ai apart from pottery. According to the Bible, the Israelites left Egypt in 1446 BC and entered Canaan in 1406 B.C. The scarab substantiates the historical accuracy of the narratives found in the Book of Joshua.

Infant Burial Jar
Infant jar burials beneath the floors of domestic dwellings are a relatively common find at archaeological sites in Israel. Most are from the Middle Bronze period (ca. 1750-1500 B.C.), less common in Late Bronze I (ca. 1500-1400 B.C.) and unknown in Late Bronze II (ca. 1400-1200 B.C.). The infant jar burial excavated by the Associates for Biblical Research team during the 2009 season at Khirbet el-Maqatir, although similar to other known examples, is unique in that Khirbet el-Maqatir is a fortress and not an urban center.

Pontius Pilate Coin
Coin from the Judean governship of Roman prefect Pontius Pilate from the years 26-36 A.D. Famous for the biblical account of conducting the trial of Jesus of Nazareth.

Ancient Oil Lamps
In ancient times oil lamps provided light at night. The exhibit will display oil lamps from different periods and explain usage as part of daily life for the ancient person.

Herod Agrippa Coin
Agrippa was the grandson of Herod the Great. He spent much of his boyhood at the Imperial Court in Rome. His friend, the Emperor Caligula, granted him the former territories of his Uncles Herod Phillip II and Herod Antipas. The Emperor Claudius later also added Judea. Agrippa is known from his actions in the New Testament for having the apostle James executed and Peter imprisoned.

First Century Stoneware
Zealous religious practice in the period of the New Testament led Jewish believers to seek to become ritually pure. Thus, the use of stoneware over clay pottery became the choice of the day.

Abydos ware Juglet
This juglet dates to the Early Bronze II period or the first centuries of the third millennium BCE (3,000-2,700 B.C.). These red slipped and burnished jugs and juglets from the Early Bronze II period are known to archaeologists as Abydos Ware, named after the famous site in Egypt where they were first identified in mortuary contexts. The name is a misnomer, however: Abydos Ware juglets like this one were not made in Egypt but rather in ancient Israel/Palestine.

Shekel of Tyre
Shekels were struck by Tyre, a city of ancient Phoenicia, between c.126/5 B.C. and c.A.D. 65/66 with this example being struck in 96/95 B.C. This coin features on the obverse a portrait of Melkart, the Punic equivalent of the Greek hero Heracles (Hercules). Its reverse shows an eagle with a palm branch over its shoulder, standing on the prow of a ship. The main design of these coins stayed the same over the years.

These coins are famous as during the New Testament period they were the only coin accepted to pay the temple tax in Jerusalem. They also are of special interest as it was most certainly this style of coin given to Judas to betray Jesus for “30 pieces of silver.” While this particular coin was struck approximately 100 years before the life of Christ it was likely still in circulation during the New Testament period.

Cuneiform Tablet
Cuneiform script is one of the earliest systems of writing. Distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, its made by means of a blunt reed for a stylus. The name cuneiform itself simply means “wedge shaped.”

There will be a large collection of cuneiform tablets on display at the exhibt. This example dates from the Ur III period which places it between 2,100 B.C. to 2,000 B.C. “Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (Haran’s son), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan.” - Genesis 11:31 HCSB

Fertility Idol
Figurines which have human form or characteristics (anthropomorphic) come in many varieties and are found throughout the Ancient Near East and in all periods, from before the time of Abraham (ca. 3300 B.C.) through the Roman period (330 AD) and later. The full extent as to what these figurines were used for is still a topic of debate though there is a consensus that the majority of them had a religious or cultic significance, like Laban’s household idols mentioned in Genesis 31. Others suggest that some figurines could have cultural or political meaning and that some of them may have simply been children’s toys.

This particular figurine comes from northern Syria in the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2000-1500 B.C.) and probably represents a fertility goddess or important political or religious figure of society. It has been partially destroyed and has been reconstructed.

This broken jar handle dates to approximately 700 B.C. and has a worn seal impression near the top that is attributed to the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah. Around 2,000 or so of these seal impressions have been discovered in the area covered by ancient Judah with a majority in and around Jerusalem.

This jar handle was originally part of a large storage jar which was likely used by government officials to store goods – possibly military rations. The seal impression itself is of special interest. This copy is worn but in comparison to the others we know it would have originally had letters around the two winged sun disc. The Hebrew letters were lamedh mem lamedh kaph (vocalized, lamelekh), which is generally translated as “belonging to the king.”

Tell el-Yahudiyeh ware
Tell el-Yahudiyeh is an important archaeological site in the eastern Delta region of Egypt. Vessels, like the one displayed here, were first identified by the excavator Sir Flinders Petrie at the site of Tell el-Yahudiyeh in Egypt, hence the name still used for the ware. It is now clear, however, that they were manufactured by Canaanites as containers for luxury items such as perfumed oils.

Tell el-Yahudiyeh ware is widely found in Egypt and Canaan. Such interconnections between the two areas reflect the fact that Egypt was strong politically and trade routes were open between the areas. There was a demand for luxury products such as the perfumed oils transported in these jars.

This example has been identified as white Yahudiyeh ware and it likely dates to 1600 to 1550 B.C.

10th Roman Legion Tiles
The first Jewish-Roman war began in 66 A.D. when decades of antiRoman sentiment exploded into a full revolt by the Jewish people. In 70 A.D. the might of the Roman army was set against Jerusalem itself. Lead by the Tenth Roman Legion, the Romans subjected the inhabitants of Jerusalem to siege warfare, which eventually resulted in the destruction of the city of the famous Jewish Temple of antiquity.

These tiles are attributed to the Tenth Roman Legion and date to circa 70 A.D. and the destruction of Jerusalem. Roman law required all pottery to bear the maker’s stamp, and a huge production of pottery bearing the marks of the Tenth Legion has been discovered in Jerusalem.

“2 Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down!” - Mark 13:2 HCSB

*All photography is courtesy of Michael Tims and Houston Baptist University.
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