(January 22, 2023 / JNS) Using modern imaging technology, researchers have found the stone of the “Mesha Stele,” which dates back to the 800s BCE to the biblical King David.
The discovery is the latest in a decades-long debate among archaeologists over whether the basalt stone, also known as the “Stone of Moab,” refers to a biblical king.
The stone, which was found in 1868 in the town of Dhiban in Jordan (called Dibon in biblical times) east of the Dead Sea, and the stone was written on the story of how King Mesa defeated his enemies, including the Israelites, as described in the Bible The New Testament says. The Book of Kings. However, as soon as it was found, the stone, which is about 2,800 years old, was broken into several pieces, and its damage made it difficult to understand the ancient text, even if it was drawn or pressed. the documents.
The stone, which was later restored, is displayed in the Louvre in Paris. It is about 3 meters long and 2 meters wide, and has 34 lines of text, with the words “House of David” possibly on line 31. The argument is based on five letters corresponding to “bt,” or ” house of,” and “dwd” meaning David. Although two letters were visible before, the other three were not.
In order to solve the mystery, the researchers, Andre Lemaire and Jean-Philippe Delorme, used a method called Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), in which many digital images are taken of objects made from different angles and combined. The results, the researchers say, confirm that the text is indeed referring to the “House of David.”
“This realization … not only confirms that the Mesha Stele refers to the ‘House of David’ but also allows us to gain new perspectives on the various historical and biblical events described in the text, Lemaire and Delorme wrote in the book. Archaeological Review.
The findings, not surprisingly, have divided archaeologists and archaeologists, with some supporting the reading, others opposing and others still unsure.
Dr. Joe Uziel, who is the head of the Dead Sea Scrolls Group at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: “Because of the broken part of the stone, we have to be careful when reading it. “It’s possible but I’m not sure,” he added.
An earlier study, published by Tel Aviv University and the College de France, found that the words Lamaire and Delorme translated as “House of David” instead refer to King Balak, the Moabite ruler known in the Book of Numbers.
Professor Israel Finkelstein, who co-authored the 2019 study, stands by his earlier claims.
“I cannot understand what the authors of the BAR article see in Line 31 of the Mesha Inscription,” he said.
While the scholarly debate continues, Uziel says that new technologies, which he himself is using on the Dead Sea Scrolls, are helping scholars interpret ancient texts in ways that were previously impossible.
“Suddenly we can see more,” he said.
As photography and technology continue to improve, Uziel hopes that these and other ancient texts will survive.