AY Honors/Biblical Archaeology/Answer Key

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Biblical Archaeology

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General Conference

Biblical Archaeology AY Honor.png
Biblical Archaeology
Spiritual Growth, Outreach and Heritage
Skill Level
Approval authority
General Conference
Year of Introduction
See also


Define archeology and differentiate it from paleontology.

Archaeology is the digging up of the past. It is finding and discovering lost items and artifacts from humankind throughout history. This is in contrast to palaeontology which is discovering old prehistoric animals that are now extinct.


Define the following terms:



Papyrology is the study of ancient literature, correspondence, legal archives, etc., as preserved in manuscripts written on papyrus, the most common form of writing material in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Papyrology includes both the translation and interpretation of ancient documents in a variety of languages and the care and preservation of rare papyrus originals.



Egyptology is the study of ancient Egyptian history, language, literature, religion, architecture and art from the 5th millennium BC until the end of its native religious practices in the 4th century AD.



Assyriology is the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of ancient Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq) and of related cultures that used cuneiform writing. The field covers the Akkadian sister-cultures of Assyria and Babylonia, together with their cultural predecessor; Sumer. The names of the country of Syria and the Assyrian Christian minority in Iraq both come from the same root word.



A person engaged in Oriental Studies, covering Near Eastern and Far Eastern societies and cultures, languages, peoples, history and archaeology. Newer terms are Asian studies and Middle Eastern studies. Traditional Oriental Studies in Europe is today generally focused on the discipline of Islamic Studies, while the study of China, especially traditional China, is often called Sinology and the study of East Asia, especially in the United States, is often called East Asian Studies.



Cuneiform script is one of the earliest known systems of writing. It uses wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, made with a blunt reed stylus. The name cuneiform itself simply means "wedge shaped", from the Latin cuneus "wedge" and forma "shape," and came into English usage probably from Old French cunéiforme. trilingual inscription of Xerxes



Writing with pictures or icons that developed from pictures, popular in ancient Egypt.



also spelled Palaeography (from Greek παλαιός palaiós, "old" and γράφειν graphein, "to write"), is the study of ancient and historical handwriting (that is to say, of the forms and processes of writing, not the textual content of documents). Included in the discipline is the practice of deciphering, reading, and dating historical manuscripts, and the cultural context of writing, including the methods with which writing and books were produced, and the history of scriptoria.



An Antiquarian is a student of antiquities. More specifically, the term is used for those who study history with particular attention to ancient artifacts, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts. The essence of antiquarianism is a focus on the empirical evidence of the past, and is perhaps best encapsulated in the motto adopted by the 18th-century antiquary, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, "We speak from facts not theory". Today the term is often used in a pejorative sense, to refer to an excessively narrow focus on factual historical trivia, to the exclusion of a sense of historical context or process.


Archeological site

An Archaeological site is a physical place in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric or historic or contemporary), and which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology. Sites may range from those with few or no remains visible above ground, to buildings and other structures still in use.



In a broad sense, stratigraphy is the study of rock layers, but Archaeological Stratigraphy is based on the same idea. The location of an artifact below ground is key to understanding the item in context with other items. Archaeologists look that the strata (or layers) of a site to understand it. If you were to did in Rome for example, near the surface you might find modern trash, asphalt, and Euro coins. As you go deeper into other strata you might find items from the Middle Ages and then the Roman Empire and finally perhaps pre-Empire items. Pottery and coins are good indicators of what historical layer you are digging through.
Tell Barri (northeastern Syria)
View of the Citadel of Aleppo (northern Syria), built on top of a tell occupied since at least the third millennium BC


Tel, tell, and Khirbet

A tell or tel (Hebrew and Arabic words for a city) and a Khirbet meaning "ruin of or "ruin on a hill" are equivalent terms often used in place names of archaeological sites. They are mounds created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries. To avoid flooding many places are still built on higher ground, but as cities are built up and destroyed, they grow higher, mostly from decaying bricks. Even young cities exhibit this phenomenon - some Seattle, Washington streets are a full story higher than when the adjoining buildings were built because streets were filled in with garbage, and in Mexico City you can find old buildings that must be entered from stairs that appear to go to the basement (partly from sinking, partly from building up of the surrounding area). The largest city in Israel is Tel Aviv.



a copy of something. Some replicas are intentional fakes meant to fool buyers, while others are created just so people can enjoy them (like replicas of pottery or miniature statues you might find in a museum gift shop). A museum may create an intact replica of a very valuable, damaged, fragile or even completely destroyed item (known from paintings for example) for public display.


Define maximalism and minimalism

Biblical minimalism, also known as the Copenhagen School because two of its most prominent figures taught at Copenhagen University, was a movement or trend in biblical scholarship that began in the 1990s with two main claims:

1. that the Bible cannot be considered reliable evidence for what had happened in ancient Israel; and 2. that "Israel" itself is a problematic subject for historical study.

The position is summarized by this quote: "The Israelite nation as explained by the biblical writers has little in the way of a historical background. It is a highly ideological construct created by ancient scholars of Jewish tradition in order to legitimize their own religious community and its religio-political claims on land and religious exclusivity." — Lemche 1998, pp. 165–66

There is not much controversy over events after the exile to Babylon

Biblical maximalism is the conservative/fundamentalist position that the Bible represents an accurate, though incomplete of course, record of historical events for the region and peoples it covers. There was a King David, there was as conquest of Canaan etc. Seventh-day Adventists generally are Biblical Maximalists and all Biblical Archaeology is essentially based on maximalism.


Describe or illustrate ten tools that are used in an archaeological excavation. If possible demonstrate how several of the tools are used.

Surveying Transit

The surveying transit resembles a small telescope and is mounted on a tripod. Road surveyors use this tool. It measures distance and elevation, allowing archaeologists to map the area where the dig will take place.

String and Stakes

The site is divided into squares, and then stakes and string are set up to mark the squares. Each square is identified by its own coordinate. This grid map allows researchers to record the exact location where each artifact was found.


Round-edged shovels are used to remove surface material to reveal the strata where the artifacts are expected to be found. When the desired layer is unearthed, flat-edged shovels are used to carefully remove very thin layers of material.

Mason’s Trowel and Small Pickaxe

As they get closer to the artifacts, smaller tools are employed. The flat bladed, pointed trowel used in the bricklaying trade allows archaeologists to scrape the soil away in very fine layers. A small pickaxe is sometimes used to loosen compacted soil for easier removal.


A variety of brushes are employed. The goal is to remove the dirt from around the artifact and slowly reveal it. Great care must be taken to not damage the artifacts during the excavation process. Stiff brushes, such as paint brushes or whisk brooms, remove larger material. Finer material can be removed from around the artifact with soft bristled artist's brushes.

Shaker Screens

These are constructed of 3/8 inch or 1/4 inch wire mesh. Dirt is loaded onto the screen. It is then shaken so the soil falls through the mesh allowing the artifacts—even tiny ones—to remain. Again, any artifacts found during this process are placed in bags and labeled according to the location that they came from.


Pictures are taken of artifacts as they are being removed. It is important to understand the site around where the artifact was found when scientists study it back in the lab. The relative position of various artifacts provides important information for later study, helping archaeologists piece together a picture of how people of that time period lived.

Paper and Plastic Bags

Artifacts are placed in bags and labeled with the location where they were found.

Buckets, Dustpans, Wheelbarrows

Soil removed from the site is transported away, as the excavation proceeds down to the next layer.

Garden Clippers and Small Saws

Sometimes obstructions such as tree roots are encountered in the process of digging. Clippers and saws help remove these.


Describe the principal techniques of dating an archaeological artifact.

There are two main categories of dating methods in archaeology: indirect or relative dating and absolute dating. Relative dating includes methods that rely on the analysis of comparative data or the context (eg, geological, regional, cultural) in which the object one wishes to date is found. This approach helps to order events chronologically but it does not provide the absolute age of an object expressed in years. Relative dating includes different techniques, but the most commonly used are soil stratigraphy analysis and typology. On the other hand, absolute dating includes all methods that provide figures about the real estimated age of archaeological objects or occupations. These methods usually analyze physicochemical transformation phenomena whose rate are known or can be estimated relatively well. This is the only type of techniques that can help clarifying the actual age of an object. Absolute dating methods mainly include radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology and thermoluminescence.


Name three benefits that biblical archaeology can provide a student of the Bible.

Archaeology can ultimately prove the Bible's truth and testimony. Throughout history many vital discoveries have been made such as those of the Hittites and of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

  1. Proves the Bible's historicity
  2. Can provide more information on Biblical events that the Bible writers left out (perhaps information that was then common knowledge)
  3. Proves the accuracy of Biblical prophecy


Report on the history of archaeology (minimum of 20 events of significance) by:


Writing a two-page research report


Illustrating a detailed timeline


Creating an electronic presentation


Other presentation method approved by your instructor


Share with a group or instructor the significance of each of the following famous archaeologists (or other archaeologists relevant to your region, country, or division). Be detailed and specific.


Jean-Francois Champollion

Jean-François Champollion was a French scholar, philologist and orientalist, known primarily as the decipherer of Egyptian hieroglyphs and a founding figure in the field of Egyptology.


Edward Robinson

Edward Robinson (April 10, 1794 – January 27, 1863) was an American biblical scholar. He studied in the United States and Germany, a center of biblical scholarship and exploration of the Bible as history. He translated scriptural works from classical languages, as well as German translations. His Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament (1836; last revision, 1850) became a standard authority in the United States, and was reprinted several times in Great Britain. His magnum opus, Biblical Researches in Palestine, the first major work in Biblical Geography and Biblical Archaeology and conducted in the Ottoman-ruled Palestine region in the late 1830s and 1850s, earned him the epithets "Father of Biblical Geography" and "Founder of Modern Palestinology."


William Foxwell Albright

William Foxwell Albright (May 24, 1891 – September 19, 1971) was an American archaeologist, biblical scholar, philologist, and expert on ceramics. Albright became known to the public for his role in the authentication of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948, but made his scholarly reputation as the leading theorist and practitioner of biblical archaeology, "that branch of archaeology that sheds light upon "the social and political structure, the religious concepts and practices and other human activities and relationships that are found in the Bible or pertain to people mentioned in the Bible."


Assemble a folder with ten archaeological discoveries that have connected with the biblical history of the Old and New Testament. The folder should have the following characteristics:
a. In order by chronological dates or geography
b. Organized according to the Old and New Testament
c. Photos
d. Texts
e. Bibliography sources
f. Personal commentary about every artifact or discovery


Discover information from available resources (video, books, magazines, journals, etc.) about five excavations that are happening at this point in time, around the world, that are relevant for the comprehension of events in the Bible. Explain why every excavation is relevant for the comprehension of the Biblical text.


Do one of the following:


Assemble a simple model of Jerusalem observing the following:




Different perimeters of the city in the time of the First Temple (David and Solomon), of the Second Temple (Herod and Jesus Christ) and the current Jerusalem


The major archaeological sites


The main points of religious visitation

There are a few ways to do this - one is to break out the modeling clay or drywall compound. To define the current city of Jerusalem will require some space, like a table top. Building a model of this scale is a good small group project.


Simulate an archaeological dig (often referred to online as a “schoolyard dig”). Either set up the dig OR participate in a meaningful way at all stages of the dig process including:


Collecting tools


Laying out the grid/area for excavation




Identifying artifacts


Identifying artifact context


Recording data


Assessing the importance of the dig process