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Search museums for archaeological artifacts

Julian Spriggs M.A.

This page lists some of the important artifacts in Biblical archaeology. It gives the name and location of the museum, the exhibit reference, and links to the page on the museum's collection website. It also gives the period in Biblical history, and the ruling empire that the exhibit is associated with.

Artifacts are listed in alphabetical order, and can be filtered by Bible period, ruling empire, or museum location. Artifacts can also be searched by the name of the artifact.

Click on the link in the first column to view the exhibit on the museum's collection website.

Click on the 'Photo' link in the right-hand column to view the exhibit on this website (if available).

This page is in the process of being developed, so more exhibits will be added in the future.

Select bible period
Select empire
Select museum location
Search by exhibit name or description
Alexander the Great capture of Babylon
 

This tablet describes the defeat of Darius III by Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC, and Alexander's triumphant entry into Babylon.

British Museum
London, UK
36761
Persia
331 BC - 330 BC
Inter-testamental
Photo
Artemis Temple
 

The temple to Artemis in Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. When Ephesus was first being excavated in the 19th century, no remains of the Artemis temple could be found. An inscription described the route of a procession between the theatre and the Artemis temple. When this route was followed, the site of the temple was then successfully located.

What remains of the temple of Artemis is located next to the road leading to the nearby town of Selcuk. This is also the location of the basilica of John, and the archaealogical museum.

This single remaining pillar was re-constructed by the archaeologists from stones recovered from the site. After rains the area of the temple can become covered with water.

Ephesus Museum
Ephesus, Turkey
Greece
Acts
Acts 19
Photo
Wikipedia
Astartu relief - exile of Israel
 

King Pekah of Israel formed a coalition with Damascus, resulting in the return of the Assyrian army in 733 BC. Tiglath-pileser annexed Damascus as far as Gilead. "In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured, Ijon ... Hazor, Gilead and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali and he carried the people captive to Assyria. "(2 Kg 15:29)

This carved stone relief from Tiglath-pileser's palace in Nimrud dates from this time. Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 BC) stands in his chariot beneath a parasol. Above him stands a fortified city on a mound (tell), with double walls and a citadel at one end. Assyrian soldiers drive out prisoners and herds of fat-tailed rams. A band of cuneiform across the middle forms part of Tiglath-pileser's annals (not any relation to the relief) describing his campaigns in the north of Assyria. Above the city is inscribed "Astartu", which probably refers to Ashtaroth in the northern Trans-Jordan, or Gilead, where King Og of Bashan ruled from.

British Museum
London, UK
118908
Assyria
Divided monarchy
2 Kg 15:29
Photo
Babylonian Chronicle
 

This tablet describes the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 598 BC. The seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar, following Jehoiakim failing to pay tribute as a vassal, (598/7 - lines 11-13 on the back) reads as follows, "In the seventh year, in the month of Kislimu (Kislev), the king of Akkad (Nebuchadnezzar) mustered his troops and marched to Hatti-land (Syria / Palestine) and encamped against the city of Judah. On the second day of the month of Addaru (Adar) (15-16 March) he seized the city and captured the king (Jehoiachin). He appointed there a king (Zedekiah) of his own choice, received its heavy tribute and sent it to Babylon."

British Museum
London, UK
WA 21946
Neo-Babylonia
Divided monarchy
2 Kg 24:10-12
Photo
Wikipedia
Babylonian ration tablet Jehoiachin
 

This Babylonian tablet fragment lists the rations allocated to exiles from Judah, including King Jehoiachin

] ... to Ia-'-u-kin (Jehoiachin), king ... to the qîpûtu-house of ... for Shalamiamu, the ... for 126 men from Tyre ... for Zabiruam the Ly[dian] ... 10 sila of oil to ... [Ia]-'-kin, king of Ia-[a-hu-du] (Judah) 2½ sila of oil to the [five so]ns of the king of Ia-a-hu-du (Judah) 4 sila to eight men from Ia-a-hu-da-a-a ... 1½ sila for three carpenters from Arvad, ½ sila each 11½ sila for eight ditto from Byblos, 1 sila each ... 3½ sila sila for seven ditto, ½ sila each ½ sila for Nabû-êtir the carpenter 10 sila to Ia-ku-ú-ki-nu, the son of the king of Ia-ku-du (Judah) 2½ sila for the five sons of the king of Ia-ku-du (Judah) through Qana'a

Vorderasiatisches Museum
Berlin, Germany
VA 16378
Neo-Babylonia
6th century BC
Exilic
2 Kg 25:27-30

Wikipedia
Bema - Gallio Corinth
 

Standing in the main Agora (market place) of ancient Corinth was the governor's judgement seat. This is the location of Paul's trial before the proconsul Gallio. The governor's judgement seat stood in front of this wall. The seat has an inscription saying 'rostra', the Latin term for the Greek 'bema'. (Acts 18:12-17).

Corinth Museum
Corinth, Greece
Greece
Acts
Acts 18:12-17
Photo
Black Obelisk - Jehu
 

The Black Obelisk has five rows of reliefs, showing conquered people bringing tribute to Shalmaneser III around 841 BC. Each tributary is portrayed on four panels round the obelisk, with a line of script above. On the stepped top and lower part, on all four sides there is 190 lines of text in Assyrian cuneiform, describing the principle events of 31 of Shalmaneser's military campaigns to the Mediterranean to the West, to Cilicia in the North-west, to Media in the East and to Babylonia in the South. It also has a chronological list of king's reigns, including two kings found in the Bible: Hazael and Benhadad, both kings of Aram.

The second set of panels from the top shows King Jehu of Israel paying tribute to Shalmaneser. Above the panel it is inscribed Jehu (Yaw-hu) or Jehoram (Yaw-ram) son of Omri

British Museum
London, UK
118885
Assyria
841 - 814 BC
Divided monarchy
Photo
Wikipedia
Bowman relief - Susa
 

This is part of a much larger wall covering of coloured tiles from Darius's palace in Susa. The rest is in the Louvre in Paris. This one is life-size figure of a parade of the king's bodyguard of Bowmen, called the Immortals. It shows a bowman wearing long Elamite dress, holding a spear.

Darius was succeeded by Xerxes (Ahasuerus), who was the king who married Esther. So Esther probably walked past this figure in the palace in Susa many times, perhaps even when she went to see the king to appeal for help for the Jews.

British Museum
London, UK
132525
Persia
6th century BC
Exilic
Esther
Photo
Bull-god Apis and worshipper
 

This is a carving of an Egyptian pharaoh worshipping the calf god, Apis, who was represented by a bull calf, and was thought to carry the sun across the sky. The golden calf built by Aaron and later by Jeroboam would have been like this. Aaron: “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (Ex 32:4). Later, Jeroboam made two golden calves for his shrines in Bethel and Dan, and said,“ Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (1 Kg 13:28)

Not currently on display

British Museum
London, UK
EA 22920
Egypt
Patriarchs
Photo
Caiaphas ossuary
 

This ossuary, or bone box, belonged to Joseph son of Caiaphas, who was the high priest from AD 18 to AD 36. He was responsible for the arrest and trial of Jesus. "Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him" (Mt 26:3). "Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered." (Mt 26:57).

The Caiaphas family burial cave was discovered in Jerusalem in 1990. Of the twelve ossuaries in the cave, this was the most elegant and decorated. The ossuary contained the bones of sixty year old man, a woman, two children and two infants.

Israel Museum
Jerusalem, Israel
IAA: 1991-468
Israel
Gospels
Photo
Wikipedia
Codex Siniaticus British Library
London, UK
Add MS 43725

Early church

Wikipedia
Cyrus cylinder
 

The famous Cyrus Cylinder was found in Babylon in 1879 and an additional fragment was found in 1970 and added to it. It is a barrel shaped clay cylinder written in Babylonian cuneiform, as a document to commemorate the restoration of the fortifications of Babylon by Cyrus. It is an account by Cyrus of Persia (549-530) of the conquest of Babylon in 539 BC and the capture of Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, with the aid of Marduk, the god of Babylon, who had turned away from Nabonidus because of his impieties and injustices, and had appointed Cyrus to replace him.

British Museum
London, UK
90920
Persia
After 539 BC
Exilic
Is 44:28 - 45:1, Ezra 1:1-4
Photo
Wikipedia
Darius seal
 

Darius became ruler of the empire of the Medes and Persians in 522 BC. He had two capital cities, Ecbatana and Susa (as in the Book of Esther).

This official cylinder seal made with agate was discovered in Egypt, was used for rolling an impression on clay tablets. The seal shows the king hunting a lion from his chariot, inscribed, "Darius the great king", in Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian cuneiform, the three official languages of the Persian empire. Ezra chapters 5-6 describe that the governor of Jerusalem wrote to Darius in 520 BC, about building the wall of Jerusalem, and received a reply.

British Museum
London, UK
89132
Persia
Exilic
Ezra 5 - 6
Photo
Ephesus carved column - Temple of Artemis
 

The huge temple of Artemis in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, measuring 150 x 80 metres.

There were three rows of eight marble columns on the main front, facing west, two rows of 21 columns down each side. and two rows of nine columns at back, making a total of 127 columns. Each column was 20 metres high. 36 of them were overlaid with gold and jewels. The base of 36 columns were decorated with sculpture, like the one here.

British Museum
London, UK
1872,0803.9
Greece
340 BC - 320 BC
Acts
Acts 19
Photo
Erastus Inscription
 

On the ground near the city theatre in the runis of ancient Corinth is a block of marble with this inscription "Erastus, for the office of Aedile, laid at his own expense". It is very likely that this is the same Erastus as the city treasurer mentioned by Paul in the Book of Romans (Rom 16:23) who is sending greetings to the church in Rome. The Aedile had many duties, including being the city treasurer. Perhaps in gratitude to his promotion, he donated a pavement to the city, with this inscription.

Corinth Museum
Corinth, Greece
Greece
Acts
Rom 16:23
Photo
Wikipedia
Esarhaddon stele
 
Esarhaddon succeeded Sennacherib as king of Assyria (2 Kg 19:37, Is 37:38). This stela shows Esarhaddon holding ropes which lead to the lips of Pharaoh Tirhakah of Egypt and Nubia, and Ba'alu of Tyre.
Vorderasiatisches Museum
Berlin, Germany
VA 02708
Assyria
7th century BC
Divided monarchy
2 Kg 19:37, Is 37:38

Esarhaddon Victory Stela - King Manasseh
 

This stele commemorated the return of Esarhaddon after his army's second battle and victory over Pharaoh Taharqa in northern ancient Egypt in 671 BC

The stele shows Esarhaddon standing on the left holding a mace club in his left hand, together with a rope ending in a ring that passes through the lips of the two conquered kings kneeling before him. His right hand is addressing the gods.

Pergamon Museum
Berlin, Germany
VA 02708
Assyria
Divided monarchy
2 Kg 21:1-18, 2 Chr 33:1-25

Wikipedia
Fall of Nineveh Tablet
 

This tablet contains part of the Babylonian chronicle of the years 615 - 609 BC, including the destruction of Nineveh in 612 BC. This was the fulfilment of the prophecies of Nahum.

The fourteenth year (612/611). The king of Akkad (Babylon) mustered his army and marched to Assyria. The king of the Medes marched towards the king of Akkad and they met one another at ??. ... In the month Simanu, the ??th day, they encamped against Nineveh.

From the month Simanu until the month Abu (Aug - Sept), for three months, they subjected the city to a heavy siege. On the ??th day of the month Abu they inflicted a major defeat upon a great people. At that time Sin-shar-ishkun, king of Assyria, died. They carried off the vast booty of the city and the temple and turned the city into a ruin heap.

British Museum
London, UK
21901
Assyria
Divided monarchy
Nahum
Photo
Gilgamesh flood story tablet
 

This is one of a series of eleven tablets which describe the search by Gilgamesh for immortality. The eleventh tablet is a story told by Utnapishtim, a hero in a distant land, who gained immortality. The gods became angry at the nuisance caused on earth by men, so decided to destroy them with a flood. Utnapishtim was favoured by the god Ea, who warned him to build a ship and bring into it all his family, his treasures and living creatures of every kind. He does this and so escapes the great storm leading to a flood which destroys the rest of mankind. The storm ended on the seventh day and on the twelfth day the land emerges. The boat came to rest on Mt Nisir in Kurdistan. Utnapishtim first sent out a dove, then a swallow and finally a raven, which does not return, showing that the water had receded and land was revealed. Utnapishtim emerges from the boat and offers sacrifices to the gods, who though angry at his escape, were persuaded to grant him divine honours and a dwelling place a the mouth of the River Euphrates.

The story has close similarities with the Biblical account of the flood, but the main difference is the polytheism in this account. It is probably a pagan distortion of the memories of Noah's flood.

British Museum
London, UK
K.3375
Ancient Babylonia
Patriarchs
Gen 6
Photo
Wikipedia
Hazor - royal fortress gate - Ahab
 

This is the right half of a double gate that stood at the entrance to the royal fortress of Hazor in the time of King Ahab in the ninth century BC. It is built of finely hewn blocks and adorned with two carved capitals, which support a massive lintel.

Israel Museum
Jerusalem, Israel
IAA: 1967-1561, 1967-1562
Israel
Divided monarchy
1 Kg 17-21
Photo
Wikipedia
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