Abraham and Archaeology
by Rick Dack, Founder and Director of Defending the Bible Int’l.
(All images and text are owned/purchased by Defending the Bible Int'l. and cannot be used without permission)
Serug (Abraham's Great Grandfather): May have worshipped the moon god, Sin, since both Ur and Haran were cultic centers for this god. The name Sarugi (Serug) can be found on Assyrian inscriptions dated from the seventh century. Modern "Surue" is located near Haran. *(Source: Bible/Spade).
Nahor (Abraham's Grandfather): This name is mentioned on Cappodocian and and Mari texts (19th -18th century B.C.) and Assyrian inscriptions (17th - 14th century B.C.). Nahor may have been located near Haran in the Balikh River Valley. (Source: Bible/Spade).
Terah (Father): May have worshipped the moon god, Sin, since both Ur and Haran were cultic centers for this god. This man's trade route extended from Haran to Damascus to Canaan but never entered Egypt as did Abraham. Tel Terahi (Mound of Terah) is mentioned on ninth century Assyrian texts which states that the town is north of Haran on the Balikh River. (Source: Bible/Spade).
Abraham Caravan Trade Routes: From Haran (Caravan City), one can trace the general routes that the international businessman Abraham probably took. From the South there was Ur, Egypt, Palestine, Syria. From the East - Iran via Assyria. From the North (Hittites). From the West - the Mediterranean Sea) - (Source: Bible/Spade).
Hebron: The business center of West Palestine. Located 19 miles south of Jerusalem. First excavated by Philip Hammond in 1963 of Princeton Theological Seminary. An ancient city wall (Early Bronze 1), plastered floors and house walls were discovered as well as pottery shards (Islamic, Byzantine, Roman). At Gibeon, the name Hebron was found on a jar handle seal impression. (Blaiklock)
Keturah: The marraiage between Abraham and Keturah may have been part of a business deal due the association with her Arab father where weapons, art objects, tools, garments and perfume's were sold.(Genesis 25:1-6).
Abimilech and Gerar: Abimelech was the ruler of the caravan city of Gerar, had his own private army and Phicol was the commander. Gerar (Tell Abu Geriera) was discovered in 1856 by D. Alon. Gerar is 11 miles southeast of Gaza. Smelting pots were found at this site showing the evidence of Philistine iron works. Abraham was an alien resident of Gerar. When Abraham purchased Machpelah, it should be understood that the "weight" and not the coin was used in the purchase since the earliest records of coinage point to evidence from Lydia (700 B.C.).
Ur: Excavated between 1922 and 1934 by C. Leonard Woolley. The discoveries at Ur include: The "type" of house Abraham probably lived in, cuneiform tablets showing mathematics (simple geometry), reading and writing tablets as well as a cargo ship bill providing information on copper, gold, ivory hardwoods and letters of credit, court cases and tax records.
Tel Dan and Gate: Dan (Tell el-Qadi) was discovered by Avraham Biran in 1966. The city (ancent name: Laish) is mentioned on Egyptian execration texts (nineteenth - eighteenth centuries B.C.) and the Mari tablets. The Dan gate may
have been seen by Abraham when he went rescue Lot after his capture (Genesis 14:14). (Blaiklock)
Surpa Document: God's covenant with Abram (Genesis 15) may have a parallel with an ancient Mesopotamian Document (Surpa). In both stories, the inferior (Abr) provided animals and the authority (God) provided the oath and a torch or stove was used in both accounts.
Isaac's Sacrifice: Evidence for ancient sacrifice has been discovered that may compliment the biblical account of Abraham's attempted sacrifice of Isaac. The Anemospilia Temple (Crete) and the Ekron Temple (Philistine) are similar in design and both had sacrifice rooms complete with knives, altar and proof of sacrifice. The teenage victim was bound and drained of his blood soon after his sacrifice. The lack of burned blood residue on the discovered remains was proof of this after an earthquake and fire destroyed the Temple. It is believed that at some point the Philistines had contact with the Minoans (Caphtor = Crete) who taught them human sacrifice.
Isaac's Bride at Nahor: The name Nahor (Nakhur) was found on the Mari tablets between 1933 and 1960. The Mari tablets chronicle Mesopotamian history.
Beersheba: The discoveries at Beersheba include a deep well shaft (1974), evidence of a well defended city with a moat and the earliest wall discovered is from the time of Solomon. This site was first excavated in 1969 by Yohanan Aharoni from Tel Aviv University.
Abraham in Egypt (Khety III and Merekare): Evidence of Abraham's deception to Egypt's Pharaoh (Khety III 2120-2070 B.C.) may have been found on an inscription that was given to his son and successor Merekare. The inscription reads that Menkare should make peace with Thebes, defend borders as well as dominate the asiatics and "do not reduce nobles in their possessions." This last part of advice may refer to Khety's trouble with the disease that swept Egypt when Sarah was in his possession. There is also mention in ancient literary works of the famine that brought Abraham to Egypt in search of food due to a substantial climate change.
Bethel: There are two proposed sites for biblical Bethel. Beitin, which was discovered by Edward Robinson in the nineteenth century and the second candidate is El-Bireh.
Locations: Situated in the plain of Jordan and was well watered and irrigated (Genesis 13). Southeast of the Dead Sea is one of the proposed locations (Bab edh-Dhra, Numeira, Admah, Zeboim, Zoar in the foothills) the other location is in the shallow water near Zoar. The theory that Michael Sanders proposed about Sodom and Gomorrah is that there are 6-8 areas in the north part of the Dead Sea that fit the biblical story. These locations are too far for Lot and his family to flee to when they escaped the city and fled to Zoar.
The Tar Pits: While searching for an oil well an Israeli digging team may have found the tar pits that the kings of Genesis 14 fell into. A 300 foot layer of oil sand was discovered which may have been part of the pits that they fell into after their fight on the flat land.
Bab edh-Dhra: Evidence recovered at the possible location of Sodom includes a west and north gate (the possible gate where Lot sat), a large cemetary, burned debris layer and a charnel house which is possible evidence of fire raining upon Sodom because the charnel house (22A) was destroyed by fire falling upon its roof. Was discovered by W.F. Albright
in 1924.
Numeira: Numeira may be the biblical Gomorrah which lasted only 100 years. It is believed that Sodom was much older than Gomorrah due to the Ebla tablet that reveals that Siddim (Sodom) was part of a trade route and there is no mention of her sister city. Numeira was a prosperous agricultural center complete with grinding stones and and grain storage pits that archaeologists have unearthed. A city wall and tower was also excavated, underneath the tower, were bodies that may have been crushed when the two biblical cities were destroyed if this is Gomorrah.
Earthquake faults: The location of Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira are located on the Rift Valley fault lines, an area where earthquakes are common. If Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira are Sodom and Gomorrah it is believed that the earth sunk down during a quake, this action put pressure upon petroleum deposits (discovered by Geologist Fred Clapp in the 1930's) pushing them up into the air where they were ignited, and then the flaming liquid rained down upon the cities.