The Everyday Object Biblical Archaeology Depends Upon

Digging Through Layers

When you think of an archaeological site, you need to think in terms of layers, kind of like layers on a cake. And each layer is a different time period, so as you’re digging down—especially in cities—through the layers, you want to be able to date each stratum (layer). There are various ways of doing this.

Archaeologists get very excited about pottery as very few people elsewhere in the world do because it's one of our main ways of dating. The primary reason archaeologists use pottery is that it changes over time, but slowly enough in antiquity for each layer to be associated with particular kinds and shapes of pottery.

Archaeologists get very excited about pottery as very few people elsewhere in the world do.

What Remains

We can also use large architectural remains. Sometimes we have inscriptions to help us understand what layer we're in as we go layer by layer. In the New Testament period, especially, these things can be very accurate, but they also give you a range of dates, so you have to be careful.

ESV Archaeology Study Bible

The ESV Archaeology Study Bible roots the biblical text in its historical and cultural context, giving Bible readers a framework for better understanding the people, places, and events recorded in Scripture.

There's always subjectivity involved in dating things. People often want archaeology to be a purely objective discipline. We're always interpreting, but we're doing so in a collaborative environment with other archaeological digs that are coming down on the same materials and relating our dates to other dates and similar strata.

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