Roots: Part IV: The Proof
Mike Martin - December 9, 2008
An amazing discovery by a 12-year-old boy who accidentally broke through the floor of an Israelite tomb with a large hammer led an archaeologist to reveal to the world hundreds of pieces of pottery, jewelry and other artifacts that had been undisturbed for about 2,600 years. It also laid waste to years of claims by other archeological teams that elements and even the entire premise of the Hebrew Bible were based solely on folklore or those desiring to create a fanciful history of the Jews or their Hebrew ancestors.
Dr. Gabriel Barkay (Photo: Matt Miller)
The discovery was made at Ketef Hinnon which is an archaeological site near Jerusalem. The site consists of a series of rock-hewn burial chambers based on natural caverns. In 1979 two tiny silver scrolls, inscribed with portions of the well-known Priestly Blessing of the Book of Numbers and apparently once used as amulets, were found in one of a number of burial chambers. The delicate process of unrolling the scrolls while developing a method that would prevent them from disintegrating took three years. Brief as they are, they rank as the oldest surviving texts from the Hebrew Bible.
The archaeologist who was supervising the expedition at Ketef Hinnon was Gabriel Barkay who had been born in Hungary and emigrated to Israel in 1950 when he was just a child. He received his B.A. summa cum laude from Hebrew University for his studies in archaeology, religion, and biblical history. In 1985 he received his Ph.D. summa cum laude from the Tel Aviv University in the field of archaeology. He had been digging all over the Middle East when he made his discovery at Ketef Hinnon. In 1996 he was honoured with a Laureate of the Jerusalem Prize for Archaeology.
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