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Free Self-Guided Museum Bible Tours

The British Museum

All Artefacts
Room
Order
British Museum Introduction

Museum Description: The Progress of Civilisation


Room: Great Russell St. Entrance/Case: None/Number: None
Scripture: John 8:32

This frieze represents the Greek goddesses of the arts and sciences know as the
‘Muses’. Their temple was known as a ‘Museum’ hence the name given to all museums
worldwide. The British Museum originated as the collection of Hans Sloane in 1753
when his collection of 80,000 artefacts was reluctantly bought by the British
government for £20,000. Today it has two and a half miles of galleries over 14 acres
and owns over 8 million historical pieces! The Great Court in the centre is now
covered by a magnificent ceiling designed by the famous British architect Norman
Foster. It is a steel frame with 3,312 triangles of glass, each a slightly different size and
shape. The focal point of the Great Court, is the domed Reading Room, which now
houses temporary exhibitions. The Reading Room has been used by researchers from
across the world. Mohandas Gandhi, Charles Darwin, and Karl Marx are just some of
the well-known people who have worked in this famous library.

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065 Cnidus Lion

Museum Description: The Lion of Knidos


Room: Great Court/Case: None/Number: None
Scripture: Acts 27:7

Picture the scene of Paul, travelling to Rome to appeal to Caesar. He was facing an
arduous journey as he was sailing at the wrong time of year, and would eventually be
shipwrecked on Malta. The Bible records Paul sailed past the city of Cnidus with
difficulty. Cnidus was famous for having a large mausoleum on the top of a cliff
overlooking the city and the sea. Guess what was on top of the mausoleum? A stone
lion, this very one you are looking at now! What an amazing thought, something that
Paul must have looked at while on that famous journey nearly two thousand years ago,
we can look at today with our very own eyes! Before it was just a small detail, a place
name that may not have meant much, but from now on whenever we read this verse
we will likely think of this artefact in The British Museum and vividly picture Paul on
his perilous journey.

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150 Straw Brick

Museum Description: Inscribed Brick from Babylon


Room: 1/Case: 15/Number: None
Scripture: Exodus 5:7

When you see a brick made from mud and straw, what Bible account instantly springs
to mind? Here we have just such a brick, though this example is from Babylon and has
an Aramaic inscription. The mud bricks from Egypt, however, were often stamped
with the name of the pharaoh while they were still wet. The mixture of mud or clay
and straw was moistened with water, trampled underfoot, and then moulded by hand
or pressed into a four-sided wooden brick mould. The sides of the moulds were dusted
with dry earth so it could easily be slipped off. The bricks were then left to dry in the
sun, or were dried in a kiln. The addition of straw made the brick three times stronger.

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151 Brick of Nebuchadnezzar II

Museum Description: Brick of Nebuchadnezzar II


Room: 1/Case: None/Number: 90071
Scripture: Daniel 4:30

One evidence of Nebuchadnezzar's boastful and proud attitude is he stamped his name
on the very bricks they used for building. Here is an example, and as we would expect,
there are many more in existence. Several of them are in The British Museum.

Nebuchadnezzar was famous for his building projects. His Hanging Gardens of
Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and were supposedly built for
his homesick Median queen. He greatly strengthen the walls around Babylon, until
they were so wide a chariot could be driven and turned on the top. All this boasting
caused Jehovah to humble him. He lost his sanity and lived as a beast for seven years.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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152 Samaritan Bible Inscription

Museum Description: Samaritan Bible Inscription


Room: 1/Case: 72/Number: None
Scripture: Acts 8:25

A Samaritan originally meant one from Samaria, the northern ten-tribe kingdom,
though later it came to have a more religious meaning. Those left behind after the
invasion by Assyria mixed with the Assyrians and formed a religion distinct from
Judaism. They asked to help with the rebuilding of the temple after the Jews returned
from exile in Babylon, but when they were refused, they turned against the efforts and
tried to prevent it. This further cemented the divide between the two nations until the
Samaritans finally built their own temple on Mount Gerizim. They accepted the first
five books of the Bible, so it is interesting this inscription contains parts of
Deuteronomy. It was this common ground Jesus could build on with the woman at
the well. She was the first person Jesus told directly that he was the Messiah, and
many other Samaritans subsequently became Christians.

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153 Bricks of Nebuchadnezzar II

Museum Description: Bricks of Nebuchadnezzar


Room: 1/Case: 68/Number: 90069
Scripture: Daniel 4:30

One evidence of Nebuchadnezzar's boastful and proud attitude is he stamped his name
on the very bricks they used for building. Here is a case full of them, and as we would
expect, there are many more in existence.

Nebuchadnezzar was famous for his building projects. His Hanging Gardens of
Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and were supposedly built for
his homesick Median queen. He greatly strengthen the walls around Babylon, until
they were so wide a chariot could be driven and turned on the top. All this boasting
caused Jehovah to humble him. He lost his sanity and lived as a beast for seven years.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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154 Breastplate

Museum Description: Breastplate


Room: 1/Case: 34/Number: None
Scripture: Ephesians 6:14

The breastplate of righteousness protects our heart, who we are on the inside. If we
love righteousness and hate wickedness, we will be obedient to Jehovah. This
breastplate shows just how strong this piece of armour was.

Armour is often mentioned in the Bible. When he went to fight Goliath, David
removed the armour given to him by Saul. It was too heavy for him, plus it was
Jehovah he trusted in rather than the protection the armour would give. A soldier's
equipment had two elements, the offensive part (arms) such as a sword, club, bow and
arrows, or a javelin. There was also the defensive part (armour) to protect the body,
essentially a second skin made of a tough material such as leather or metal. In the
spiritual battle that Christians face we "take up the complete suit of armour from God" -
Ephesians 6:13. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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048 Egyptian Halo

Museum Description: Four Black Granite Figures of the Goddess Sekhmet


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 76
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:16

The Egyptian goddess Sekhmet was said to represent the destructive power of the sun.
Obviously she was not that powerful during the ninth plague of darkness. Notice the
sun disk shown on top of each of their heads.

Often in Christendom's religious art Jesus, Mary, angels and the 'saints' are depicted
with the familiar halo around their head. Even in popular culture, a 'good' person is
often shown with a halo, whereas a 'bad' person is shown as the devil. Where did this
practice originate? Here it is plain to see, and it can actually be traced all the way back
to Babylon, where a circle of light was the symbol of their sun god. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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049 Papyrus Column

Museum Description: Grey granite papyrus-column


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 64
Scripture: Job 8:11

Judging by how tall this column is, it must have come from a very marshy place! It
was common for Egyptian buildings to have structural elements in the shape of a
stylised plant or flower. Papyrus grew abundantly next to the Nile, and was used to
make the ark that Moses was put into as a baby. It was also famously used to make
writing paper, and the Greek word for the pith of the papyrus plant is the origin of our
word for 'Bible'. A Phoenician city was even named Byblos as it was a major centre of
papyrus production. The name of the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah appears on this
column. The Merneptah Stela in the Cairo museum contains the oldest reference to
the people 'Israel' outside the Bible.

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050 Statue with a Double Crown

Museum Description: Red Granite Head from a Colossal Figure of a King


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 15
Scripture: Revelation 19:12

The land of Egypt was split into two parts, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. These are
the opposite way around to what we might expect, as they are named with reference to
the Nile River. Upper Egypt is actually the lower part on a map, being the upper part
of the Nile, and Lower Egypt is the part bordering the sea. Pharaohs either ruled one
part of Egypt, or sometimes both. The crown for the Lower Egypt is the outside crown
we can see here, and the tall middle part is for Upper Egypt. This pharaoh evidently
ruled both parts, and so had the right to wear this Double Crown. Interestingly, Jesus
is depicted with 'many diadems', or crowns, in Revelation. In the same manner, this
represented Jesus being the King of kings and ruling over the whole earth.

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051 Pharaoh Worshipping Amun

Museum Description: Lintel of King Amenhotep II


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 1103
Scripture: Exodus 12:29

Amun is represented with two long plumes on his headdress, as you can see in this
carving. The pharaoh is bring him an offering, which is a very common image in
Egyptian art.

The god Amun/Amon/Amon-Ra was the local god to Thebes in Egypt. He rose to
become the king of all the Egyptian gods, with his priests over their priests. The rulers
of Egypt were viewed as being the son of Amon-Ra, with the queen as their mother.
This is an interesting parallel of the wicked angels fathering children by human women
before the flood. The tenth plague, when the firstborn died, was particularly
devastating as the pharaoh's own son died. This was effectively the death of a god that
not even the king of the gods could prevent. Other similar or related artefacts are on
display in The British Museum.

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052 Rosetta Stone

Museum Description: The Rosetta Stone


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: None
Scripture: Daniel 11:14

This is perhaps the most famous of all the artefacts in The British Museum. The
Rosetta Stone was discovered by Napoleon's men in 1799 in Rosetta, Egypt. It was
later captured by the British. There is a story about Napoleon's troops being in a
temple in Egypt and asking an old man living there what the shapes on the stones
meant. He told them it was the ancient Egyptian language, and he was the last man
alive who could read it. This may have been true, as it was not deciphered again until
1822. French scholar Champollion noticed where a name appeared in the Demotic text
in the middle and the Greek text at the bottom, there was an oval line around a group
of characters in the hieroglyphic text at the top. He guessed correctly that each of the
symbols inside the line represented one syllable of the name. That was the key to
deciphering the whole language, though it took him another 23 years! The text is a
decree honouring Ptolemy V Epiphanes, dating from 196 B.C.E. He was one of the
kings of the south in Daniel's prophecy.

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053 Cow Goddess Hathor

Museum Description: The Goddess Hathor


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 948
Scripture: Exodus 9:6

The second female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, is depicted as the goddess Hathor at her
famous temple next to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. She first married her half-
brother Tuthmose II, but when he died she then married her stepson Tuthmose III in
order to retain the throne. She would have been his wife, step-mother and aunt all at
the same time! Hathor was the cow goddess, so the fifth plague of a pestilence on all
the cattle of Egypt would have exposed her lack of power, due to the fact she does not
exist! Hathor's birthday was said to be New Year's Day. This was celebrated with a
great festival as she was also the goddess of music and dancing. It is easy to see how
this festival evolved into the modern day New Year's celebrations. Hathor was also the
Queen of the Dead, helping them to get to heaven.

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059 Egyptian Trinity

Museum Description: Kneeling Statue of Panehesy


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 1377
Scripture: 1 Chronicles 16:26

This particular trinity is made up of Osiris, the father; Isis, the mother; and Horus, the
child, but there were several others in Egypt alone.

The concept of the Trinity is not found in the Bible, yet nearly all the churches of
Christendom teach that God is a Trinity. So where did this teaching come from? Many
ancient false religions worshipped trinities of gods. In the book ‘Egyptian Religion’,
Siegfried Morenz notes: “The trinity was a major preoccupation of Egyptian
theologians. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link
with Christian theology.” Thousands of years ago Jehovah warned the Israelites not to
get involved with false worship, but even today it is a major problem for many
religions who claim to be Christian.

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055 Ramses II

Museum Description: King Ramesses II


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 79
Scripture: Exodus 5:2

Unfortunately it is not possible to determine with any certainty who was the pharaoh
at the time of the Exodus. The pharaohs would surround themselves with intimidating
statues, such as the one we can see here. Can you imagine how brave Moses needed to
be, to tell such a person the message from Jehovah "let my people go"? This is a statue
of perhaps the most famous pharaoh of all, Ramses II. He is famous for his many
building projects, but this could just be because he is thought to have ruled the longest
of any pharaoh, dying at around 90 years of age. Ramses would also remove the
names of other pharaohs and carve his own name in their place, taking credit for their
achievements. Notice how skilfully this has been carved: the head is red granite and
the body is black granite where the join naturally occurs in the rock. We can also see
the hole that was bored to move it onto a ship, to be transported here to The British
Museum.

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054 Magic Practicing Priest

Museum Description: Statue of Prince Khaemwaset


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 947
Scripture: Exodus 7:11

The magic practicing priests had a turbulent time according to the Bible record.
Joseph was freed from prison to interpret pharaoh's dream because they were not able
to. By the time of Moses they had become slightly more sophisticated as, like Moses,
they were able to turn their rods into snakes, although their snakes were later eaten
up. They could use their trickery to appear to replicate the first two plagues, but by
plague three they were unable and were forced recognised the work of the finger of
God. The sixth plague of boils left them so humiliated they did not even turn up for
the rest of the plagues. It is interesting that, although they seemed to be able to
replicate some of the plagues, they were not able to stop them.

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056 Fertility God Min

Museum Description: King Horemheb with Amun-Ra


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA21
Scripture: Exodus 10:12

This is labelled as the king of the gods, Amun-Ra, but it is very similar in appearance to
the statues of the Egyptian fertility god Min found throughout Egypt. As a fertility
god, he should have protected the crops eaten by locusts in the eighth plague.
Evidently he was powerless to stop it. The Egyptian legend is that on one occasion all
the men of Egypt were away fighting in a war. Only one crippled man, Min, remained.
When the other men returned from war, however, all the women of Egypt were
pregnant! They drove Min into the wilderness as a punishment, but later when their
crops started to fail they invited him back. The crops recovered, and so they started to
worship Min as a fertility god.

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126 Eagle God Horus

Museum Description: Horus


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 1420
Scripture: Exodus 10:21

There is a fantastically vivid description of the ninth plague of darkness in this verse.
It mentions "a darkness so thick that is can be felt"! The falcon headed god Horus was
a solar god and god of light, so was humiliated by this plague. Pharaoh was said to be
the living incarnation of Horus, and the falcon symbol was used when writing his title.
Anyone who killed a falcon in Egypt, even by mistake, was to be put to death. Horus
was also part of a trinity with Osiris the father and Isis the mother. He was often
depicted as a child on the knee of Isis, in a strikingly similar pose to that of the
'Madonna and Child' used in Christendom.

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057 Nile God Hapi

Museum Description: Sandstone Statue of Nile God Hapy


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 8
Scripture: Exodus 7:20

The Nile was the lifeblood of Egypt. Its inundations, or yearly floods, brought the
fertile silt which caused the land either side of the river to be able to grow crops. It was
so fertile that when Lot saw the 'well-watered region' around Sodom, he compared it to
both the Garden of Eden and the land of Egypt. It is no surprise then, that the Nile
had its own god, Hapi, who we can see here. The very first plague on Egypt turned this
vital water source to blood, and Hapi did nothing to prevent it or reverse the effects.
Imagine the priest of Hapi bowing down and praying to this image, but it made no
difference. That day, they certainly wouldn't have been very ... joyful!

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058 Ram of Amun

Museum Description: Ram Sphinx of King Taharqo


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 1779
Scripture: Exodus 12:12

The king of Egypt's gods was often represented by a ram. The Israelites were
effectively being told to kill Egypt's most important god and spread its blood on their
doorposts. What bravery that would have taken! Here Amun is protecting the
pharaoh Taharqa, possibly the King Tirhakah mentioned in the Bible at Isaiah 37:9.

The god Amun/Amon/Amon-Ra was the local god to Thebes in Egypt. He rose to
become the king of all the Egyptian gods, with his priests over their priests. The rulers
of Egypt were viewed as being the son of Amon-Ra, with the queen as their mother.
This is an interesting parallel of the wicked angels fathering children by human women
before the flood. The tenth plague, when the firstborn died, was particularly
devastating as the pharaoh's own son died. This was effectively the death of a god that
not even the king of the gods could prevent. Other similar or related artefacts are on
display in The British Museum.

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060 High Priest of Ptah

Museum Description: Sarcophagus Lid of Pahemnetjer


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 18
Scripture: Exodus 8:24

This is the sarcophagus of Pahemnetjer, who was the high priest of the god Ptah during
the reign of Ramses II. Notice the Egyptian cross of life in the left hand. The sky
goddess Nut appears on the bottom half of the sarcophagus.

Ptah was supposed to be one of the creators of the universe, but still was unable to
prevent the fourth plague of gadflies from only coming upon the Egyptians and not the
Israelites dwelling in the land of Goshen. Ptah was also supposed to be one of the
healer deities, but that did not stop the sixth plague of boils. Ptah had an important
shrine in the sacred city of Memphis. It had some of the largest statues ever
discovered in Egypt, which you can still see there today.

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062 Millstone

Museum Description: Shabaqo Stone


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 498
Scripture: Job 41:24

This was originally an inscription of an account of the creation of the earth, in which
the god Ptah played a major role. It was severely damaged by being reused as a
millstone. This would have been the lower millstone. A round upper stone would be
rotated on top to crush the grain, as often mentioned in the Bible.

Ptah was supposed to be one of the creators of the universe, but still was unable to
prevent the fourth plague of gadflies from coming on only the Egyptians and not the
Israelites dwelling in the land of Goshen. Ptah was also supposed to be one of the
healer gods, but that did not stop the sixth plague of boils. Ptah had an important
shrine in the sacred city of Memphis. It had some of the largest statues ever
discovered in Egypt, which you can still see there today. Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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061 Worship of Apis Bull

Museum Description: Sandstone Stela of Domitian


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 709
Scripture: Exodus 32:4

Plague five, when all the livestock of Egypt died, humiliated the worship of the Apis
bull. He was supposed to be a living incarnation of the god Osiris. Here the Apis bull
is shown being worshipped by the Roman Emperor Domitian, illustrating just how
long this form of worship lasted.

When the Israelites were waiting for Moses as he received the Ten Commandments,
they evidently were not very patient. They persuaded Aaron to make an idol for them
to worship, directly against one of the very commandments Moses was receiving. Why
did they choose the form of a calf or young bull? Perhaps this was because they were
familiar with the image and practice from their time in Egypt. The Apis bull was
venerated to such a degree they were even embalmed and mummified when they died.
Over 60 examples have been found at just one site. Other similar or related artefacts
are on display in The British Museum.

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063 Mother and Child - Isis and Horus

Museum Description: Limestone Stela for Isis and Horus


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 1633
Scripture: Luke 1:38

This mother and child image is of the Egyptian goddess Isis and the child Horus. Isis
supposedly had the power of healing, but couldn't prevent the sixth plague of boils.
Horus was a solar god, but couldn't stop the lights going out during the ninth plague,
darkness.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a humble Jewish woman, calling herself Jehovah's
slave girl. How, then, did she become worshipped, prayed to, and called "Madonna -
the Mother of God"? Mother goddesses have long been a feature of false worship, for
example Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Cybele, Artemis and Diana. The similarity of the 'mother
and child' pose used for these false gods and the composition of the so-called Madonna
and Child are striking. Members of Christendom have even worshipped these images
in ignorance, not realising they were actually the pagan versions! Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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064 Scarab Beetle

Museum Description: Colossal Scarab


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 74
Scripture: Psalms 36:9

The scarab beetle was sacred to the Egyptians for a number of reasons. Observing the
beetles coming out of the sand, seemingly without cause, led the Egyptians to think
they could spontaneously generate, creating life. The theory of evolution is based on a
similar premise. Life supposedly started spontaneously somewhere on earth, or
started on another planet and then came to earth on a meteor. Scarabs are actually
dung beetles. Seeing the beetles rolling around their balls of dung led the Egyptians to
think a giant scarab would roll the sun into the sky in the morning, and back down in
the evening. They were also thought to represent resurrection and immortality, so are
often found wrapped up in the bandages of a mummy, though not of the same size as
the one we see here!

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155 Persian Satrap

Museum Description: Satrap


Room: 4/Case: None/Number: EA 90
Scripture: Daniel 6:3

A satrap was the governor of a province, the term literally meant "protector of the
kingdom". We can see just how rich and powerful they must have been with this
beautifully carved coffin lid. Interestingly, the face has been knocked off, which we see
on other depictions of rulers in the British Museum. It was often done by their
replacements or conquering armies as a form of humiliation, to exert their new power.
This further shows the power of a satrap, if it was thought necessary to deface their
image in this way. This helps us to better understand the elevated position that Daniel
had, as he was the foremost of three high officials over the 120 satraps in Persia. They
were powerful enemies who became envious of his position and had him thrown into
the lion's pit. Their plan backfired when Jehovah protected Daniel by using his angel
to shut the mouth of the lions, only for the satraps and their families to then be thrown
in by the king.

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001 The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Museum Description: The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III


Room: 6/Case: None/Number: ANE 118885
Scripture: 2 Kings 10:31

There are no pictures in the Bible, so the chance to see a representation of someone
mentioned in the scriptures is truly special. On the side facing out to the main room,
on the second panel down we have a depiction of a tribute being paid to Assyrian King
Shalmaneser III. The cuneiform writing on the top says this was by ‘Jehu, son of
Omri’. This may be Jehu himself, or perhaps his emissary, but this direct reference to
a Biblical king makes it one of the most famous Biblical artefacts in the world.
Although this event is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, we can see from this
verse he was not faithful to Jehovah so it would be of no surprise if he was at the mercy
of the foreign kings. The king of Syria, Hazael, is also mentioned on this obelisk on the
right-hand side as you face it, line 2-3.

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159 'Ahab' Stela

Museum Description: Kurkh Stela


Room: 6/Case: None/Number: ME 118884
Scripture: 2 Kings 3:1

This stele provides us with a valuable lesson about trying to fit archaeological artefacts
with Bible accounts. It records the Assyrians fighting an enemy coalition of 12 kings,
primarily Syrians. In the list appears one king whose name is regularly translated as
“Ahab the Israelite” in modern reference works. However, there is no mention in the
Bible of Ahab forming an alliance with Syrian kings against Assyria, and this is
especially unlikely as they were enemies. There is also a discrepancy comparing the
dates of these battles with the chronology of Israelite kings. Finally, it is said that this
king gave 2,000 chariots to the battle, when King Solomon at the height of his power
had only 1,400! Although accepted by most scholars as being a record of Ahab, the
reality is it cannot have been him. Our desire to have confirmation in archaeology of
Bible characters should not lead us to ignore the evidence, particularly evidence in the
Bible record itself, which we know to be correct.

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002 Assyrian Cross

Museum Description: Stela of Shamshi-Adad V


Room: 6/Case: None/Number: ANE 118892
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:14

This is a stela of an Assyrian king and what do we see around his neck? A cross! This
stela dates from 800 BCE, so long before it became common for Christendom to
encourage the use of the cross, and obviously many centuries before Christ died. How
many of the millions of people who wear a cross around their neck today know of its
origins in false religious worship? The symbols above the King's head are one of the
forms of an Assyrian Trinity, consisting of the sun, moon and stars, again showing how
false religion became mixed with true worship after the death of the apostles. It is
thought that the Emperor Constantine was responsible for introducing many false
religious teaching into his version of Christianity in the 4th century.

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158 City Gates

Museum Description: Reconstruction of the Balawat Gates


Room: 6/Case: None/Number: None
Scripture: Judges 16:3
Seeing a recreation of these ancient city gates helps us to imagine the account about
Samson in the city of Gaza. He pulled up the gates and posts, as we can see here with
tree trunks as the gateposts, and took them to the top of a mountain! We can
understand it could only have been done with Jehovah's help. The Philistine city of
Gaza would then have been left undefended.

Cities typically had as few gates as possible, as they were a weak point when the city
was under attack. For this reason, they were often designed as part of a fortification in
the wall, with towers to defend the gates. In fact, as Solomon is said to have built
Megiddo, Hazor and Gezer, the discovery of identically designed gates at Megiddo and
Hazor caused archaeologist to also search at Gezer. Sure enough, exactly the same
design was found there too! The Bible proved to be accurate history and a reliable
guide for their excavations. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The
British Museum.

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160 The Balawat Gates

Museum Description: The Balawat Gates


Room: 6/Case: None/Number: ANE 121651-121663
Scripture: Isaiah 10:24
These scenes are from the actual gates of the ancient city of Balawat in Assyria. They
show the conquests of Shalmaneser III, the same king depicted on the famous Black
Obelisk. They give the names of the countries captured, or from which the king was
receiving tribute. We can imagine what it was like for the Israelites to be dominated by
this fearsome nation.

Cities typically had as few gates as possible, as they were a weak point when the city
was under attack. For this reason, they were often designed as part of a fortification in
the wall, with towers to defend the gates. In fact, as Solomon is said to have built
Megiddo, Hazor and Gezer, the discovery of identically designed gates at Megiddo and
Hazor caused archaeologist to also search at Gezer. Sure enough, exactly the same
design was found there too! The Bible proved to be accurate history and a reliable
guide for their excavations. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The
British Museum.

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003 Assyrian Cruelty

Museum Description: Triumphal March


Room: 7/Case: None/Number: WA 124550
Scripture: Nahum 3:1

This frieze shows chariots bearing the military standards of Assyrian gods. Notice that
soldiers are playing catch with enemy heads, and a vulture carries another head away.
Musicians are celebrating with harps and tambourines.

The Assyrians had a reputation for cruelty and violence. The Assyrian capital city,
Nineveh, is described as the "city of bloodshed" in the Bible. This has been proved to
be historically accurate with the discovery of artefacts such as these. We can have a
better understanding why Jonah fled in the opposite direction, when asked by Jehovah
to proclaim a judgement message to such a frightening people. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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161 Adjutant

Museum Description: Battle Scene


Room: 7/Case: None/Number: WA 124540
Scripture: 2 Kings 9:25

The term 'adjutant' is used nine times in the Bible, in the books of Kings and in 2
Chronicles. This image helps us to understand the meaning of this unfamiliar term.
The English word literally means 'one that helps', whereas the Hebrew word means
'third man'. It refers to the third warrior in a chariot, as we can see here. One is the
driver, one fights with either a sword, lance or bow, and the third usually carried a
shield. It had the extended meaning that this person was an assistant commander, and
so a measure of responsibility and trust was placed upon them. It is interesting to see
where they appear in the Scriptures, often as a trusted servant of the king who was
used to carry out his will. We can imagine if he was the person standing behind
someone in a war chariot, protecting them with a shield, it would want to be someone
they could trust!

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162 Tiglath-pileser III

Museum Description: Tiglath-pileser III


Room: 8/Case: None/Number: WA 118900
Scripture: 2 Kings 16:7

This is another excellent opportunity to see the actual likeness of a Bible character.
King Ahaz of Judah chose to send a bribe to Tiglath-pileser III, so he would come to
his rescue when he was threatened by the combined forces of King Pekah of Israel and
King Rezin of Damascus. This was despite the fact that the prophet Isaiah had already
reassured him their alliance would ultimately be unsuccessful.

Tiglath-pileser III is the first Assyrian king mentioned by name in the Bible. His name
is also spelled Tilgath-pilneser and he was known as Pul, as is mentioned in 1
Chronicles 5:26. Inscriptions referring to his reign even mention his conquest of the
northern kingdom of Israel and the tribute that they paid. Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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185 Deportation

Museum Description: Deportation


Room: 8/Case: None/Number: ANE 118882
Scripture: 1 Chronicles 5:26

This records the campaign of Tiglath-pileser III in southern Iraq and the civilian
prisoners he took. He is thought to be the first Assyrian monarch to use the mass
deportation of people to break their spirit and prevent them from fighting back. Up to
154,000 people are recorded to have been forcibly moved in just one year. Notice the
clerks recording the details on clay tablets.

Tiglath-pileser III is the first Assyrian king mentioned by name in the Bible. His name
is also spelled Tilgath-pilneser and he was known as Pul, as is mentioned in 1
Chronicles 5:26. Inscriptions referring to his reign even mention his conquest of the
northern kingdom of Israel and the tribute that they paid. Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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017 Winged Bull Excavation

Museum Description: Bull for Sennacherib's Palace 5 Approach Nineveh


Room: 9/Case: None/Number: WA 124823
Scripture: Isaiah 51:1

We can just make out some ropes in this carving. Something is being pulled by slaves
from a stone quarry, some of whom would have been Israelites captured at Lachish,
but what is it? Perhaps you can see that it seems to be lying on its side, there are two
legs at the lower part, a body in the centre and then the head with a fluted headdress.
Yes, this is one of the colossal winged bull likes those we can see today in The British
Museum! To split the stone, narrow channels were carved and dry wood forced into
the gap. This was then soaked with water. As the wood swelled, the rock would crack
and could then be moved. The winged bulls caused a sensation in British society when
they were first displayed in The British Museum, fuelling the fascination for the new
discipline of archaeology, so many more expeditions and digs were started.

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016 Israelite Prisoners

Museum Description: Bull for Sennacherib's Palace 4 Approaching River


Room: 9/Case: None/Number: ANE 124822
Scripture: Micah 1:13

In much the same way as we might use flags today, headdresses in ancient carvings
were used to denote people of different nations. Here we can see prisoners working
under a slave master with different hairstyles and headdresses, indicating the different
nations the Assyrians had conquered and enslaved. In the middle, we see the same
distinctive headband from the siege of Lachish reliefs, also from Sennacherib's palace.
So this is the sad result for Israelites conquered and captured by Assyria! Those who
were not tortured or killed were enslaved. Here they are shown being forced to work
in a stone quarry. The city of Lachish was evidently not faithful to Jehovah, so
suffered the consequences of being at the mercy of the Assyrians.

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018 Burnt Nineveh Reliefs

Museum Description: Attack on the town of -alammu


Room: 9/Case: None/Number: WA 124785
Scripture: Isaiah 30:33

Topheth in this verse refers to a 'place of burning' according to the footnote. It also
says that the breath of Jehovah, like a torrent of sulphur, will set fire to it. When we
see the blacken remains such as these from Nineveh, it is as if we can see Jehovah's
breath against these stones!

Jonah famously preached Jehovah's message of destruction to the Assyrians in


Nineveh, but much to his surprise and annoyance they repented! Unfortunately, their
repentant attitude did not last, and Jehovah again prophesied that they would be
destroyed. This time he was specific about how it would happen - by fire. After
centuries of being buried and virtually forgotten, Nineveh started to be excavated at
the beginning of the 19th century. What did they find? This mighty city had indeed
been destroyed by fire, and virtually wiped off the map. Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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019 Assyrian Reputation for Violence

Museum Description: Campaign in Southern Iraq


Room: 9/Case: None/Number: WA 124825
Scripture: Nahum 3:1

One Assyrian inscription tells how their army would dismember their captives. They
would make two piles outside the defeated city, one of limbs and the other of heads. In
this frieze we can see just such a pile of heads.

The Assyrians had a reputation for cruelty and violence. The Assyrian capital city,
Nineveh, is described as the "city of bloodshed" in the Bible. This has been proved to
be historically accurate with the discovery of artefacts such as these. We can have a
better understanding why Jonah fled in the opposite direction, when asked by Jehovah
to proclaim a judgement message to such a frightening people. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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004 Captured Lion

Museum Description: Ashurbanipal, on Foot, Killing a Lion


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 124874-7
Scripture: Nahum 2:11

How did Assyrian kings find their lions to hunt? This frieze is very revealing, showing
a lion being released from a cage. Above the cage is perhaps a child releasing it,
hopefully kept safe by being in his own little cage! To the left of the lion you can see
the Assyrian king waiting to hunt it.

Described as the lair of lions in the Bible, some critics ridiculed the very existence of
Nineveh. It was eventually discovered at the beginning of the 19th century after a long
search, proving the was Bible correct. They found Ashurbanipal’s library and palace,
and the ruins of the palace of Sennacherib. Other similar or related artefacts are on
display in The British Museum.

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005 Lion Hunt Reliefs

Museum Description: The Royal Lion Hunt


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 124855-7
Scripture: Nahum 2:11

These reliefs are somewhat gruesome, as we might expect from the fearsome
Assyrians, but they have also been carved with a remarkable amount of skill. They are
thought by some to be the greatest examples of ancient art in The British Museum.
Why would the Assyrian depict such things on their walls? It was likely for the benefit
of visiting dignitaries from other nations. Seeing such fear inspiring acts from the king
would certainly have encouraged them to be obedient!

Described as the lair of lions in the Bible, some critics ridiculed the very existence of
Nineveh. It was eventually discovered at the beginning of the 19th century after a long
search, proving the was Bible correct. They found Ashurbanipal’s library and palace,
and the ruins of the palace of Sennacherib. Other similar or related artefacts are on
display in The British Museum.

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006 Siege of Lachish

Museum Description: Beginning of the Attack on Lachish


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 124904-5
Scripture: Micah 1:13

We know that Jerusalem was spared by Jehovah from destruction at the hands of the
Assyrian King Sennacherib, but the city of Lachish was not. Why was that? The Bible
is not specific on this point, but remarkably King Sennacherib chose to record his
attack on Lachish on the wall of his palace, and it is those very walls you are looking at
today! One detail we can see is that the city of Lachish was on a high hill, and you can
see the city walls and guard towers on these panels. It is possible that Lachish trusted
in these defences rather than Jehovah, unlike King Hezekiah. It is interesting that
when talking about Lachish, the Bible does record that they had a reputation for being
rebellious.

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007 Battering Ram

Museum Description: The Assault on Lachish


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 124906
Scripture: Ezekiel 21:22

It seems from these panels that the Assyrians built ramps to be able to attack the walls
of Lachish, as the Romans famously did against the city of Masada. They could then
use the piece of military hardware you can see here, the battering ram. Can you spot
them? They were likely so called because the action of banging against the wall was
similar to that of a charging ram. Some battering rams even had a carved ram's head
on the end. You can see here they were enclosed to protect those inside from objects
and fire thrown down from the walls. This is something the Israelites would do to
defend their cities, as recorded several times in the Bible.

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008 Booty from Lachish

Museum Description: Booty from Lachish


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 124907-8
Scripture: 2 Kings 18:13

When the Israelites are mentioned in the Bible, what do you imagine? As there are no
pictures in the Bible, it would be up to our imagination where it not for the discovery
of artefacts such as these. Here we can actually see Israelites from the time of King
Hezekiah. Notice their distinctive headdresses. This is not necessarily the headdress
that Israelites would have actually worn. Headdresses were used in ancient carvings in
the same way we might use flags today - to denote different nations. Carvings of
people from each nation were shown with distinct and different headdresses. Notice
also in the background the fruit trees and vines depicted. Lachish was evidently in a
beautiful and fertile part of Israel, so it is no surprise Sennacherib decided to be based
there while he was taunting King Hezekiah.

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009 Prisoners from Lachish

Museum Description: Prisoners from Lachish


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 124908-9
Scripture: 2 Chronicles 32:15

It was a very sad fate for some of the prisoners from Lachish. The Assyrians prided
themselves on having a fearsome reputation. This no doubt helped them frighten
cities and nations into surrendering. Here we see two people being skinned alive. This
intimidation was a tactic Sennacherib's representatives used against the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, to try and weaken their faith in Jehovah, but without success.

The Assyrians had a reputation for cruelty and violence. The Assyrian capital city,
Nineveh, is described as the "city of bloodshed" in the Bible. This has been proved to
be historically accurate with the discovery of artefacts such as these. We can have a
better understanding why Jonah fled in the opposite direction, when asked by Jehovah
to proclaim a judgement message to such a frightening people. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

https://sites.google.com/site/jwmuseumbibletours
010 Sennacherib

Museum Description: Sennacherib Watches the Capture of Lachish


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 124910-2
Scripture: 2 Kings 18:14

Here we have an actual representation of one of the most famous kings from the Bible,
Sennacherib. How do we know this is him, and what is depicted in this scene? Above
his head we can see a cuneiform inscription which says: “I am Sennacherib, king of the
world, king of Assyria, sat upon a throne and passed in review the booty taken from
Lachish.” Imagine the excitement when this was translated for the first time, showing
it had such a direct link with the Bible! Sennacherib's faced has been knocked off,
likely by a conquering Babylonian army. This was standard practice, to humiliate the
defeated king. This "king of the world" was to be put to death by his two sons, while in
the temple of one of his false gods.

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163 Prisoners Playing Lyres

Museum Description: Prisoners Playing Lyres


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 124947
Scripture: Psalms 137:2

Here we see an Assyrian leading away captives who are playing on harps, or lyres.
Even the British Museum on their label mention this is reminiscent of the account in
Psalms 137, immortalised in the Rastafarian song 'Rivers of Babylon'. After the
destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian, however, they were so distressed they
could not even play their harps, and so hung them on the trees.

Music is mentioned throughout the Bible from the earliest days in the book of Genesis
right through to the end chapters of Revelation. It has been used both to give praise to
God, and also to express emotions from great happiness to deep despair. The Bible
gives little information about the design of musical instruments in Bible times
therefore much has depended on archaeological discoveries such as those we can see in
the British Museum. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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011 Assyrian Slingers

Museum Description: Assyrian Slingers in Action


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 124775
Scripture: 2 Kings 3:25

We can see in this frieze how the sling was used in ancient warfare. One string of the
sling would be tied around the wrist or around a finger. The other string would have
been held in the palm of the same hand. A stone would be placed in the sling and held
out directly in front of the slinger with the free hand. As they released the stone and it
fell, they would swing their arm backwards in a circle. At exactly the right moment,
probably the moment we can see in this frieze, they would release the unattached
string in the palm of their hand. This would send the stone flying forward. A stone
thrown this way would travel with such force it could have punched a hole through a
modern car door! The left-handed tribe of Benjamin had seven hundred slingers and
"every one of these men could sling a stone to within a hairbreadth and would not
miss".

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012 Slings and Sling Stones

Museum Description: Sling Stones with Modern Sling


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: None
Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:40

A sling and stones were most famously used by David against the giant Goliath. What
size of stone do you picture David using? The account just says that they were "smooth
stones from the streambed." It is easy to picture a small stone as might be used in a
handheld catapult, or perhaps something the size of a bullet. The stones, however,
were probably actually this size. These are examples of the type used in ancient time.
If we image a stone of this size striking someone in the forehead at around 150mph, it
makes it easy to understand it would have been fatal, no matter how big the enemy
was! Of course, the victory was not due to David's personal strength or skill, but
because Jehovah was on his side.

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014 Winged Bull Inscription

Museum Description: Inscription from under the Stomach of a Bull


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 118815
Scripture: 2 Kings 18:14

This is a truly remarkable artefact that is an independent, secular record of an event


mentioned specifically in the Bible. Before he relied fully on Jehovah, King Hezekiah
tried to stop Sennacherib attacking Jerusalem by paying a tribute. Even the quantity
of gold paid mentioned here matches what is recorded in the Bible. Sennacherib,
however, says Hezekiah paid 800 talents of silver, rather than 300. Who do you
believe? It seems they used political propaganda even back then! Layard, who
excavated Nineveh, said: “Who would have believed it probable or possible, before
these discoveries were made, that beneath the heap of earth and rubbish which marked
the site of Nineveh, there would be found the history of the wars between Hezekiah
and Sennacherib, written at the very time when they took place by Sennacherib
himself, and confirming even in minute details the Biblical record?”

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013 Sargon II Winged Bull

Museum Description: Khorsabad The Palace of Sargon


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 118809
Scripture: Isaiah 20:1

Sargon II is mentioned in only one verse in the Bible. The trouble was, archaeologists
already had what they thought was a complete list of the Assyrian kings, and Sargon II
was not mentioned. This was a prime opportunity for the higher critics of the Bible to
claim it was historically inaccurate, so therefore was just a work of fiction. That was
until 1843, when a 200-room palace was discovered, covering 25 acres. Who did this
palace belong to? None other than the 'missing' King Sargon II! He is now one of the
best known of all the Assyrian kings, and it is rare today to hear anyone question the
historical, geographical or scientific accuracy of the Bible. The lesson seems to have
been learnt that if you claim the Bible is wrong, before long it will be your own
understanding that is proved to be incorrect.

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164 Game Scratched on Winged Bull

Museum Description: Game Scratched on Winged Bull


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: WA 118809
Scripture: 1 Samuel 26:15

This game board is similar in configuration to the Royal Game of Ur, which is also in
the British Museum. It shows that someone did not have much respect for this statue,
and in fact similar games have been found scratched on other ancient statues. If it was
used by the guards who were supposed to be guarding this palace, they do not seem to
have been very conscientious!

Archaeologists have discovered various forms of gaming boards, dice, and game pieces
all over the ancient world. Even in Egypt there is an image of a Pharaoh playing a
board game, and some games date back to before the times of Abraham. This shows a
basic human desire for entertainment, one that we are careful to keep in its proper
place. Today, some games can also involve gambling, or have links to the occult.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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015 Sargon II and Sennacherib

Museum Description: Sargon II


Room: 10/Case: None/Number: ME 18822
Scripture: 2 Kings 19:36

Not only do we have artefacts in The British Museum from the palaces of Sargon II and
his son Sennacherib, but this panel means we can even see what they looked like. This
is special also because it was the practice of conquering armies to deface the images of
the kings they had defeated. It could have been that no record of their likenesses
survived. Now when we read the Bible accounts about these kings, and how they
oppressed Jehovah's people, we can visualise the accounts more vividly. In one of his
inscriptions Sargon wrote “For me, Sargon, who dwells in this palace, may the god
Asshur decree as my destiny long life, health of body, joy of heart, brightness of soul.”
The records indicate, however, that just a year later Sargon was killed.

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025 Temple of Artemis Treasure

Museum Description: Round-mouthed Jug


Room: 13/Case: 5/Number: GR 1907.12-1.686
Scripture: Acts 19:27

The oldest hoard of coins discovered, 19 electrum coins found at the Temple of
Artemis. The temple was so revered it could be used as a virtual bank, as no-one
would dare steal from it.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and
there are many parts of it in The British Museum. Skilled artisans and workmen
laboured on it for 220 years. It was so sacred treasures could be deposited in it
without any fear of being stolen. The silversmith's worry was that Paul's preaching
would mean their temple would be brought to nothing, and they were exactly right.
The temple no longer stands, but what Paul preached has spread throughout the earth.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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026 Temple of Artemis Sculpture

Museum Description: Marble female head


Room: 13/Case: 5/Number: GR 1873.5-5.38
Scripture: Acts 19:27

The Temple of Artemis was damaged by an earthquake, set on fire by the Goths, and
finally plundered as a source of building materials. We can see from these faces how
finely it was originally carved, only to be reduced to rubble.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and
there are many parts of it in The British Museum. Skilled artisans and workmen
laboured on it for 220 years. It was so sacred treasures could be deposited in it
without any fear of being stolen. The silversmith's worry was that Paul's preaching
would mean their temple would be brought to nothing, and they were exactly right.
The temple no longer stands, but what Paul preached has spread throughout the earth.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

https://sites.google.com/site/jwmuseumbibletours
165 Gold Daric

Museum Description: Gold Daric


Room: 13/Case: 4/Number: 20
Scripture: 1 Chronicles 29:7

The daric is from Persia, and is made from approximately 8.4 grams of gold, so was a
relatively valuable coin in its day. For more than two centuries it had the image you
can see clearly on this coin, a king half-kneeling with a bow. In the Bible, darics are
mentioned as part of the contribution that David made towards the construction of
what would become Solomon's Temple, but this would have been before the daric
came into use. The Bible writer Ezra evidently converted the amount donated into the
currency his readers would have been most familiar with. We do the same today, as we
try to understand the values of coins and other financial transactions in the Bible so we
can better understand the point being made. The example here is from the reign of the
famous Biblical king Darius I.

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027 Alabastron

Museum Description: Group of Alabastra


Room: 13/Case: 6/Number: GR 1864.10-7.1147
Scripture: Matthew 26:7

Note the different sizes, materials and styles of this collection of 'alabaster' jars.

Alabastron is actually a place in Egypt, where this type of stone was originally
quarried. The stone became known by the same name, alabaster, as did the small
vaselike containers made from it. Cheaper materials were also used, but they were still
called alabastra because they had the same use. A narrow hole would be bored into the
middle of the vessel, so it could be easily sealed to protect the contents. Genuine
alabaster is nearly as hard as marble, so vases with the most expensive contents would
be made out of the real thing, as we read in the accounts about Jesus. By contrast we
are described as being weaker "earthen vessels, so that the power beyond what is
normal may be God’s and not from us" - 2 Corinthians 4:7. Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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028 Mother and Child - Isis and Horus

Museum Description: Limestone Statuette of Isis with Horus


Room: 13/Case: None/Number: GR 1888.6-1.31
Scripture: Exodus 9:11

This mother and child image is of the Egyptian goddess Isis and the child Horus. Isis
supposedly had the power of healing, but couldn't prevent the sixth plague of boils.
Horus was a solar god, but couldn't stop the lights going out during the ninth plague of
darkness.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a humble Jewish woman, calling herself Jehovah's
slave girl. How, then, did she become worshipped, prayed to, and called "Madonna -
the Mother of God"? Mother goddesses have long been a feature of false worship, for
example Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Cybele, Artemis and Diana. The similarity of the 'mother
and child' pose used for these false gods and the composition of the so-called Madonna
and Child are striking. Members of Christendom have even worshipped these images
in ignorance, not realising they were actually the pagan versions! Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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029 Baboon God Thoth

Museum Description: Glazed Stone Baboon of the Egyptian God Thoth


Room: 13/Case: None/Number: GR 1888.6-1.78
Scripture: Exodus 9:23

Thoth was a prominent Egyptian god often presented by either a baboon or with the
head of an ibis bird. He was thought to have many powers, so would have been
exposed as particularly powerless during the ten plagues of Egypt. As the so-called
'lord of magic', he could not help the Egyptian magicians replicate the third plague
when Jehovah turned the dust turned to gnats. He could not prevent the fourth plague
of gadflies, which affected all of Egypt except the land where the Israelites were living.
As a healer god, he did not stop the sixth plague of boils. Finally, he was said to be a
god of rain and thunder, meaning the seventh plague of thunder and hail was
particularly humiliating!

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166 Persian Arrowheads from Marathon

Museum Description: Persian Arrowheads from Marathon


Room: 15/Case: 3/Number: GR 1935.8-23.35
Scripture: Isaiah 13:18

These little arrowheads were used at one of the most important battles in history, the
Battle of Marathon. The Greeks were fighting against the World Power of the time, the
Persians, and were outnumbered perhaps five to one. They had no cavalry or archers,
unlike the invading Persians who were renowned for their skill with the bow and
arrow. The Bible even says the Medes ‘polished the arrows’ before a battle, so they
would fly further and cause more damage. The Greek Athenians had a superior
strategy, however, and purposefully left the centre of their forces weak. When the
Persian broke through, they were surrounded and it became a massacre. The Persians
lost around 6,400 men, but the Greeks just 192. A young Greek ran the 26 miles back
to Athens to declare the victory and then dropped dead from exhaustion, which is the
origin of the marathon race we know today. This was a foregleam of the future
fulfilment of Bible prophecy, when Greece would replace the Medo-Persian World
Power.

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020 Metal Mirror

Museum Description: Bronze Hand Mirror with Nike (Victory) as Support


Room: 19/Case: 2/Number: GR 1974.1-29.1
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:12

This mirror has a handle depicting Nike, the goddess of victory. Evidently the handle
is much newer than the ancient mirror face.

Viewing this artefact helps us better understand Paul's use of the illustration in this
verse. Mirrors today are made of a thin coating behind a sheet of glass, so are highly
reflective. Ancient mirrors, however, were made of metal and had to be kept polished.
Even then the outline would be only hazy. As we can see, without constant polishing
the mirror will eventually be so tarnished it will not reflect at all. This pictures what
has happened to Christendom's understanding of the Bible, where as we have accurate
knowledge from Jehovah. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The
British Museum.

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021 Alabastron

Museum Description: Alabastron (Oil Flask) from a Tomb on Rhodes


Room: 19/Case: 2/Number: GR 1864.10-7.1822
Scripture: Mark 14:3

Alabastron is actually a place in Egypt, where this type of stone was originally
quarried. The stone became known by the same name, alabaster, as did the small
vaselike containers made from it. Cheaper materials were also used, but they were still
called alabastra because they had the same use. A narrow hole would be bored into the
middle of the vessel, so it could be easily sealed to protect the contents. Genuine
alabaster is nearly as hard as marble, so vases with the most expensive contents would
be made out of the real thing, as we read in the accounts about Jesus. By contrast we
are described as being weaker "earthen vessels, so that the power beyond what is
normal may be God’s and not from us" - 2 Corinthians 4:7. Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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022 Dionysus God of Wine

Museum Description: Dionysus, God of Wine


Room: 19/Case: 2/Number: GR 1875.3-9.21
Scripture: Ps 106:35

Dionysus is holding an egg, an ancient fertility symbol. How many of the millions who
buy chocolate eggs at Easter consider why they are doing so, and why it is supposed to
be related to the resurrection of Jesus? This is yet another example of false worship
being merged into the churches of Christendom, to make them appealing to the
nations.

Dionysus (Dionysos) was the Greek god of wine, with his Roman counterpart Bacchus.
The Bible shows there is nothing wrong with having a wholesome, good time, but the
worship of these gods were characterised by revelries and wild parties, specifically to
be avoided by Christians. Many of the carnivals and parties in the world today would
be nearly identical to those in Greece and Rome. Other similar or related artefacts are
on display in The British Museum.

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023 Mother and Child

Museum Description: Woman and Baby


Room: 15/Case 10: None/Number: GR 1911.4-16.2
Scripture: Luke 1:38

This mother and child image was likely made in Greece, but found in Thebes in Egypt,
showing how international the appeal was for such items.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a humble Jewish woman, calling herself Jehovah's
slave girl. How, then, did she become worshipped, prayed to, and called "Madonna -
the Mother of God"? Mother goddesses have long been a feature of false worship, for
example Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Cybele, Artemis and Diana. The similarity of the 'mother
and child' pose used for these false gods and the composition of the so-called Madonna
and Child are striking. Members of Christendom have even worshipped these images
in ignorance, not realising they were actually the pagan versions! Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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024 Metal Mirror

Museum Description: Caryatid Mirror


Room: 15/Case: 9/Number: GR 1898.2-22.1
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:12

A 'caryatid' is a draped female figure, a form sometimes used for the columns of a
building. Here it is used as the handle of a metal mirror. Corinth was a very rich city,
and was famous for producing luxury goods such as mirrors. The Corinthians written
to by Paul would have understood his illustration well.

Viewing this artefact helps us better understand Paul's use of the illustration in this
verse. Mirrors today are made of a thin coating behind a sheet of glass, so are highly
reflective. Ancient mirrors, however, were made of metal and had to be kept polished.
Even then the outline would be only hazy. As we can see, without constant polishing
the mirror will eventually be so tarnished it will not reflect at all. This pictures what
has happened to Christendom's understanding of the Bible, where as we have accurate
knowledge from Jehovah. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The
British Museum.

https://sites.google.com/site/jwmuseumbibletours
035 Parthenon Frieze - Elgin Marbles

Museum Description: The Parthenon Galleries


Room: 18/Case: None/Number: 122
Scripture: Acts 17:22

In 1801 the 7th Earl of Elgin, Thomas Bruce, received a permit not only to copy the
beautiful marble friezes around the Parthenon, but also 'to take away any pieces of
stone with old inscriptions or figures thereon'. This has famously been disputed, even
until the present day. It does give us an opportunity to see them up close, and the
remarkable details considering they would have been so high in the air.

Situated on a raised rocky outcrop in the centre of Athens, the Parthenon was a
masterpiece of Greek architecture. Originally it served as a temple to Athena, the
Greek goddess of wisdom. In 438 C.E. Emperor Theodosius started converting
temples into churches, including the Parthenon. It was apparently enough just to
install a cross in order to purify it! From 869 C.E. it served as the main cathedral of
Athens, and then in the 15th century it was converted by the Ottomans into a mosque.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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184 Wrestling

Museum Description: Wrestling


Room: 18/Case: None/Number: South Metope XXXI
Scripture: Ephesians 6:12

This relief vividly helps us to picture our fight against wicked spirit forces! Here we
have depicted a Lapith, one of the legendary people of Greek mythology, fighting
against a half-man, half-horse Centaur. This wrestling was thought to represent the
internal battle between civilised and wild behaviour.

The Bible likens our fight to stay faithful to Jehovah to hand-to-hand combat, literally
"a wrestling”. In ancient Greece, the contestants would try to unbalance each other in
an attempt to throw their opponent to the ground. We can see clear parallels with our
efforts to maintain our spiritual balance. Other similar or related artefacts are on
display in The British Museum.

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036 Back of Sculpture Detail

Museum Description: East Pediment, K, L and M


Room: 18/Case: None/Number: None
Scripture: Acts 17:22

These sculptures would have been at one end of the Parthenon, more that 14m from
the ground. It is one thing that friezes were beautifully carved, but the back of these
figures would never have been seen. The carver has still shown the cloth draping over
the rock, even with the hem along the edge of the garment. This truly is an example of
the 'fear of the deities'.

Situated on a raised rocky outcrop in the centre of Athens, the Parthenon was a
masterpiece of Greek architecture. Originally it served as a temple to Athena, the
Greek goddess of wisdom. In 438 C.E. Emperor Theodosius started converting
temples into churches, including the Parthenon. It was apparently enough just to
install a cross in order to purify it! From 869 C.E. it served as the main cathedral of
Athens, and then in the 15th century it was converted by the Ottomans into a mosque.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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034 The Areopagus

Museum Description: The Acropolis


Room: 18a/Case: None/Number: None
Scripture: Acts 17:34

A 1:500 scale model of the Acropolis, which literally means 'high city', and the
surrounding area. In the top right corner is part of the Areopagus, or Mars Hill. At the
time of Paul, it would have had temples, statues and the open air supreme court. Paul
was lead there to explain his 'new teaching'. Today there is a bronze plaque on the site
with Paul's speech.

Situated on a raised rocky outcrop in the centre of Athens, the Parthenon was a
masterpiece of Greek architecture. Originally it served as a temple to Athena, the
Greek goddess of wisdom. In 438 C.E. Emperor Theodosius started converting
temples into churches, including the Parthenon. It was apparently enough just to
install a cross in order to purify it! From 869 C.E. it served as the main cathedral of
Athens, and then in the 15th century it was converted by the Ottomans into a mosque.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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033 Model of the Parthenon

Museum Description: Model of the Parthenon


Room: 18b/Case: None/Number: None
Scripture: Acts 17:24

This is a 1:50 scale model of the Parthenon, so we can get an idea of what it would have
looked like to Paul as he stood on the Areopagus giving his famous speech. We can
imagine him pointing to it as he said the words of verse 24.

Situated on a raised rocky outcrop in the centre of Athens, the Parthenon was a
masterpiece of Greek architecture. Originally it served as a temple to Athena, the
Greek goddess of wisdom. In 438 C.E. Emperor Theodosius started converting
temples into churches, including the Parthenon. It was apparently enough just to
install a cross in order to purify it! From 869 C.E. it served as the main cathedral of
Athens, and then in the 15th century it was converted by the Ottomans into a mosque.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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039 Temple of Artemis Column Drum

Museum Description: Sculptured Marble Column Drum


Room: 22/Case: None/Number: GR 1872.8-3.9
Scripture: Acts 19:27

The Temple of Artemis is said to have had 127 columns each erected by a king or a
prince. As we can see here, the columns were supported on drums beautifully sculpted
with life-size figures. Up to 700,000 people would visit the temple for the main festival
each year.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and
there are many parts of it in The British Museum. Skilled artisans and workmen
laboured on it for 220 years. It was so sacred treasures could be deposited in it
without any fear of being stolen. The silversmith's worry was that Paul's preaching
would mean their temple would be brought to nothing, and they were exactly right.
The temple no longer stands, but what Paul preached has spread throughout the earth.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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040 Philosophers - Socrates

Museum Description: Sokrates


Room: 22/Case: None/Number: GR 1873.3-27.16
Scripture: Ezekiel 18:4

Socrates lived from 470-399 B.C.E. It may seem like some of his teachings are correct,
such as his belief that lasting happiness is not found in the pursuit of pleasure or
material things. He said that true happiness comes from a life devoted to the quest for
virtue. This highlights the danger of human philosophy, as Socrates and his student
Plato are also credited with being among the first to suggest the soul is immortal, in
opposition to what is clearly written in the Bible. Obviously they were not the origin of
this teaching, but they turned it into a philosophical teaching so it could be accepted by
the supposedly 'cultured' people of the time. Socrates was quoted as saying "the soul
departs to the invisible world - to the divine and immortal and forever dwells in
company with the gods."

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041 Philosophers - Antisthenes

Museum Description: Antisthenes


Room: 22/Case: None/Number: GR 1873.8-20.724
Scripture: Psalms 103:9

Antisthenes was a student of Socrates, who had developed a different method of


teaching compared to other philosophers of the time. Rather than give evidence for his
own theories, Socrates would listen to the theories of others and expose their flaws.
This bred a critical spirit, and influenced Antisthenes who expanded on the teachings
of Socrates. He believed that virtue was the only good, and the pursuit of pleasure was
evil. This led him and his followers to have contempt for other people. They would
appear miserable and unfriendly, so they became known as the Cynics, meaning
'doglike'. Even today a cynical attitude is unappealing, and does not reflect the
qualities of Jehovah.

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042 Philosophers - Chrysippus

Museum Description: Chrysippus


Room: 22/Case: None/Number: GR 1824.2-1.2
Scripture: Acts 17:18

Chrysippus developed the Stoic philosophy mentioned by Paul. The Stoics did not
believe in the resurrection, so took issue with his preaching. It was the issue of the
resurrection of the dead that prevented Paul from finishing his famous speech on the
Areopagus. The crowd had three different reactions. Some mocked at the thought,
some wanted to hear more later, but some became believers. The Stoics thought fate
governed the world, so even suicide was not wrong, and that everything, including the
soul, came from an impersonal deity. Paul cleverly used his understanding of their
teachings when he quoted from the Stoic poets Aratus of Cilicia and Cleanthes saying
‘For we are also his progeny.’

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043 Philosophers - Epicurus

Museum Description: Epikouros


Room: 22/Case: None/Number: GR 1873.8-20.726
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:32

In complete contrast to the teaching of other philosophical schools, the Epicureans


believed that pleasure was the chief good in life, as highlighted by the famous phrase
"let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die." This demonstrates that with human
wisdom and philosophy you can find every different type of opinion to suit your own
personal preference. Interestingly, Epicurus taught that rather than seek immediate
pleasure, it was better to pursue pleasure that lasted for a lifetime. People should live
with courage, self-control and justice. In reality, the Epicurean philosophy was
dangerous to the early Christians, as without a belief in the resurrection, or that God is
interested in mankind, it leads to a short-term view of life. Epicurus himself called life
a “bitter gift.”

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167 Diadem

Museum Description: Diadem


Room: 22/Case: 7/Number: GR 1905.11-2.1
Scripture: Revelation 19:12

We might think of a diadem being like a modern crown, but we can see from this
artefact it is more like a royal headband, as described in the footnote of this verse. The
Hebrew word for diadem can mean something separated, or dedicated, whereas their
word for crown came from a word meaning 'surround'. The kings of Israel are spoken
of as wearing a diadem or crown, and several bands or diadems could be worn at the
same time to make a grand crown, as Jesus is described as wearing in Revelation. The
Greek word is used in the Bible as a sign of kingly dignity, and obviously in the case of
Jesus this comes from Jehovah as the source of true authority and power. The 'great
fiery-coloured dragon' representing Satan the Devil in Revelation, however, has a
diadem upon each of its seven heads. A diadem is also on each of the ten horns of the
symbolic seven-headed wild beast. It both cases it would represent the kingly dignity
they claim, rather than any they actually possess.

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046 Lamps

Museum Description: Clay Wheelmade Lamps


Room: 22/Case: 1/Number: GR 1859.12-26.280
Scripture: Matthew 5:15

These lamps are from the 3rd-2nd century B.C.E. They show how a different number
of spouts would be needed in different situations. Perhaps just one or two were
needed in a handheld lamp, or up to twelve to light a room on a lampstand, an
example of which we see here.

Lamps were a common part of everyday life in Bible times, and so are frequently
mentioned. The same style of oil lamps are not used today, so seeing them as artefacts
in The British Museum can help us understand and visualise the accounts better. In
general, olive oil would have been used as it burns with a bright flame. In times of
famine, however, other less bright oils were used and the number of wicks increased to
compensate. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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044 Bust of Alexander the Great

Museum Description: Marble Portrait Head of Alexander the Great


Room: 22/Case: None/Number: GR 1872.5-15.1
Scripture: Daniel 7:6

This bust of Alexander the Great is perhaps the most famous image of him in the
world. He looks very young, and that is because he died in Babylon of malarial fever at
the age of just 32. Accurately prophesied in the Bible to be like a swift leopard with
four wings, in just a short time he turned Greece into the new world power.

Alexander the Great is not mentioned by name in the Bible, but Daniel accurately
prophesied concerning him 200 years in advance. It is easy to think these prophecies
could just have been written after the event. Daniel, however, also records details such
as the existence of the Babylonian king Belshazzar that were not known in the time of
the Greeks. The book of Daniel must have been written at the time. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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045 Inscription of Alexander the Great

Museum Description: Marble Wall Block from the Temple of Athena


Room: 22/Case: None/Number: GR 1879.3-20.88
Scripture: Daniel 11:3

This is an inscription mentioning Alexander the Great, the first king of Greece.
According to the Jewish historian Josephus, when Jerusalem surrendered to
Alexander he was shown a copy of the book of Daniel. There it foretold a mighty king
of Greece would conquer the Medo-Persian Empire. Apparently this caused Alexander
to spare the city.

Alexander the Great is not mentioned by name in the Bible, but Daniel accurately
prophesied concerning him 200 years in advance. It is easy to think these prophecies
could just have been written after the event. Daniel, however, also records details such
as the existence of the Babylonian king Belshazzar that were not known in the time of
the Greeks. The book of Daniel must have been written at the time. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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047 Four Generals Coins

Museum Description: Coin Portraits


Room: 22/Case: 2/Number: 9, 10, 11, 14
Scripture: Daniel 8:8

This is one of the most famous prophecies in the Bible. Once the first mighty Greek
king had died, his empire would be split into four. How do we know this happened?
By studying secular history and archaeology we learn that Alexander's empire was
indeed divided between four of his generals. Coin 11 in this case depicts Ptolemy I
King of Egypt. 14 is Seleucus I King of Syria. 10 is Cassander King of Macedonia. 9 is
the coin of Lysimachus King of Trace.

Alexander the Great is not mentioned by name in the Bible, but Daniel accurately
prophesied concerning him 200 years in advance. It is easy to think these prophecies
could just have been written after the event. Daniel, however, also records details such
as the existence of the Babylonian king Belshazzar that were not known in the time of
the Greeks. The book of Daniel must have been written at the time. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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030 Dionysus God of Wine

Museum Description: Dionysus God of Wine


Room: 23/Case: None/Number: 1861,0725.2
Scripture: 1 Peter 4:3

Holding a bunch of grapes, this statue of Dionysus is from an entire temple dedicated
to his worship in Libya, illustrating how far the influence of these false gods extended.
He is supposed to have suffered a violent death but then was restored to life.

Dionysus (Dionysos) was the Greek god of wine, with his Roman counterpart Bacchus.
The Bible shows there is nothing wrong with having a wholesome, good time, but the
worship of these gods was characterised by revelries and wild parties, specifically to be
avoided by Christians. Some of the carnivals and parties held in the world today would
be nearly identical to those in Greece and Rome. Other similar or related artefacts are
on display in The British Museum.

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031 Boxing Champion

Museum Description: Boxing Champion?


Room: 23/Case: None/Number: GR 1805,0703.77
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:26

This is perhaps from a full-length statue of a heavy-weight boxer, though it might also
be a representation of a young Hercules.

Boxing in ancient Greece was even more barbaric than it is today. Rather than gloves
with padding, the boxers would wear strips of leather studded with metal. The
contests could last for hours, and one ancient boxer records that after a four hour
boxing match he could no longer recognise himself in a mirror! Obviously
inappropriate as entertainment for Christians, it does bring to life Paul's illustration
about putting into practice what we learn from the Bible. When fighting against Satan
and our own imperfections, Paul said: "the way I am aiming my blows is so as not to be
striking the air." Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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032 Victorious Athlete

Museum Description: Victorious Young Athlete


Room: 23/Case: None/Number: GR 1864,1021.4
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:25

This runner has evidently won his race, but what is his prize? Merely the right to tie a
ribbon around his head. This well illustrates what Paul mentioned, all that effort and
self-control for such a simple prize, whereas for obedience to Jehovah he promises to
give us everlasting life.

Several times in the Bible running is used to illustrate a spiritual point. A winner was
not crowned unless he followed the rules (2 Timothy 2:5), not running in vain
(Galatians 2:2, Philippians 2:16), pursuing the goal for the prize (Philippians 3:14),
running the course to the finish (2 Timothy 4:7) and several more. The runners in the
Greek games trained hard and were very disciplined, both in their behaviour and diet,
hence a rich source of illustrations. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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113 Medes and Persians

Museum Description: Old Persian Cuneiform Inscription


Room: 52/Case: None/Number: None
Scripture: Daniel 8:3

The Bible refers to the Medes and the Persian ruling together as a world power, but
secular historians, and even this room in The British Museum, refer to only Persia.
Was it really a dual world power? Originally, the empire was ruled by the Medes, but
when Cyrus the Persian defeated them he united the nations under the same rulership.
This accurately follows what is written in this verse in Daniel, the part that came later
would be the stronger half. In his visions of beasts coming out of the sea, the bear that
represented Medo-Persian was raised up on one side indicating that one side would be
stronger. Bear in mind that both these were prophecies written long before they came
true! On this frieze we have proof of the same fact. The ruling class are leading those
paying tribute. On the left they have the round Median headdress, and on the right the
fluted Persian headdress. Truly a dual world power!

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173 Oxus Treasure

Museum Description: Oxus Treasure


Room: 52/Case: 3/Number: Various
Scripture: Haggai 2:8

This whole cabinet well illustrates the wealth and craftsmanship of the Persian
Empire. It is one of the greatest treasures in the British Museum, and was found on
the banks of the Oxus River in what is now Tajikistan. Notice the pair of gold
armbands, the gold model chariot and four horses, gold fish and gold heads. There are
also 51 thin metal plates known as votive plaques, which would have been left in a
temple as an offering to the gods. On them we can see examples of both Median and
Persian dress, confirming it was a dual world power, as accurately described in the
Bible. Haggai was a prophet during the rebuilding the Temple, after the Jew returned
from exile in Babylon. The Persians are recorded as contributing to the work from the
treasury of the king, so seeing these artefacts helps to bring to life Jehovah's statement
in this verse in Haggai.

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111 Medo-Persian Wine Cup

Museum Description: Silver and Gold Bent-Horn Cup


Room: 52/Case: 3/Number: 116411
Scripture: Esther 1:7

This verse contains an almost throw-away detail, the fact that Persian drinking cups
were different from one another. This is an example of just such a cup the Medo-
Persian of the time would have used. We can see how beautifully it is made and can
imagine a table filled with different types. This particular cup could hold more than
two modern bottles of wine, and this verse in Esther also mentions that the royal wine
was in great quantity! Persians were famous in antiquity for their great love of wine.
This shows the Bible really is a true historical document. It includes even small details
from the time which have been proved accurate.

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110 Artaxerxes I Bowl

Museum Description: Silver Bowl with Inscription of Artaxerxes I


Room: 52/Case: 3/Number: Me 1994,0127.1
Scripture: Nehemiah 2:1

We are familiar with this account of Nehemiah, as he quickly said a silent prayer to
Jehovah before boldly asking the King of Medo-Persia if he could return to Jerusalem
to rebuild its walls. What were the circumstances of that account? Nehemiah brought
wine to King Artaxerxes, as his cupbearer. This was a very responsible position, as it
included testing the wine to ensure it was not poisoned. Cupbearers were held in high
regard because they had to be trustworthy, as demonstrated by the fact Artaxerxes
provided Nehemiah with a military escort when he returned to Jerusalem. This silver
bowl has a cuneiform inscription around the inner edge to say that it belonged to none
other than this King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah may have even handled this very bowl!

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119 Victory of Alexander the Great

Museum Description: Rare Historic Documents of Persian Kings


Room: 52/Case: 3/Number: Darius III 36T61
Scripture: Daniel 2:32

The Bible outlines the major world powers of history, based on those having an
influence over God's chosen people. This tablet is a record of the transition from one
world power, Medo-Persia, to the next, Greece. At the battle of Gaugamela near
Nineveh, Alexander the Great's 47,000 men defeated the army of Darius III who were
more than one million men!

Alexander the Great is not mentioned by name in the Bible, but Daniel accurately
prophesied concerning him 200 years in advance. It is easy to think these prophecies
could just have been written after the event. Daniel, however, also records details such
as the existence of the Babylonian king Belshazzar that were not known in the time of
the Greeks. The book of Daniel must have been written at the time. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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168 Stone Weight with Inscription of Darius I

Museum Description: Stone Weight with Inscription of Darius I


Room: 52/Case: 3/Number: 91117
Scripture: Proverbs 11:1
Although all written in cuneiform, this stone actually records the same texts in three
different languages: Elamite, Babylonian and Old Persian, illustrating the scope of
people ruled over by the Medes and Persians. The Elamite and Persian text says that
this is '2 karsha' in weight, but the Babylonian say it is '1/3 of a mana'. It also says 'I
am Darius, the great king', a good piece of advertising to be used throughout the
kingdom!

As all business transactions would have involved weighing, understanding weight was
necessary to know monetary values. There was a large scope for fraud, however, with
cheating scales and inaccurate weights. Modern values for the price of metals used for
money in ancient times often do not give a true picture of their worth. It is normally
more useful to know the value in terms of a day's wage for a labourer. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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172 Lion Weight

Museum Description: Lion Weight


Room: 52/Case: 3/Number: E32625
Scripture: Matthew 25:24

This beautifully cast lion weighs just over 31kg, so roughly corresponds to a
Babylonian talent. A talent was the heaviest of the Hebrew weights, at about 34kg, but
in the first century the Greek standard was 20.4kg. Usually referring to a weight of
silver, we can understand even one talent would have been very valuable.

As all business transactions would have involved weighing, understanding weight was
necessary to know monetary values. There was a large scope for fraud, however, with
cheating scales and inaccurate weights. Modern values for the price of metals used for
money in ancient times often do not give a true picture of their worth. It is normally
more useful to know the value in terms of a day's wage for a labourer. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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174 Silver Wine Pourer

Museum Description: Silver Wine Pourer


Room: 52/Case: 3/Number: 124081
Scripture: Esther 1:7

This description of a banquet from the book of Esther has the ring of truth about it.
Including the detail that "each cup was different from the other" is unnecessary to
include, but is the sort of comment an eyewitness might record. We can see in this
cabinet that there were indeed many different styles of cup which the wine was served
in. According to the British Museum, this particular example is perhaps the most
famous in the world, often being sited and studied in academic literature. Known as a
rhyton, it could contain 1.5 litre of wine, or two standard modern-day bottles, and the
wine would have come out through the hole we can see in the chest of the creature.
This would have been used to top up drinking bowls, or in the case of more wild
banquets, would have poured directly into the mouth of the drinker. Even the ancient
historian Herodotus recorded "The Persians are very fond of wine".

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112 Potsherds with Aramaic Inscriptions

Museum Description: Potsherds with Aramaic Inscriptions


Room: 52/Case: 3/Number: No. 5 AES 45035
Scripture: 2 Kings 18:26

With the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek Scriptures, it is easy to forget that some of
the Bible was also written in Aramaic. Here we can see what this ancient language
looks like, and it even refers to people with Jewish names. The parts of the Bible
written in Aramaic are Ezra 4:8-6:18 and 7:12-26, Jeremiah 10:11 and Daniel 2:4b to
7:28. There are also Aramaic expressions found in other parts. The Hebrews would
have had close contact with the Aramaean, and their language, for a long time, so it is
not surprising to find it in the Bible. In fact, it seems one of the first languages the
Hebrew Scriptures were translated into was Aramaic with the Aramaic Targum. These
include some very old manuscripts, some even being found with the Dead Sea Scrolls.
They have been a useful source for modern translations of the Bible.

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170 Darius I Seal

Museum Description: Darius I Seal


Room: 52/Case: 3/Number: 89132 (2 in case)
Scripture: Ezra 6:1

This is one of the most famous cylinder seals in the world, that of Darius I. He is
depicted on a chariot, hunting a lion. This was not his personal seal, so probably
belonged to one of his officials. He was one of the most outstanding rulers of the
Persian Empire, making sure that the Temple in Jerusalem could be rebuilt and even
contributing to the cost.

Imagine the excitement of rolling a newly discovered seal for the first time, to see an
image that was created perhaps thousands of years ago! Seals were used to make an
impression into clay or wax, to signify authenticity or ownership. They were therefore
precious to the owner, and would often have a hole bored through so they could be
kept on a string. Someone who was trusted with the king's seal could even make
decrees in his name. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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117 Shushan Glazed Bricks

Museum Description: Glazed Brick Guardsman


Room: 52/Case: 5/Number: 132525
Scripture: Esther 1:2

These glazed brick are from the palace at Susa, known as Shushan in the Bible. This
was the city of Esther and Mordecai, where Nehemiah was cupbearer to Artaxerxes,
and was even where Daniel was taken in his vision of the ram and male goat. Just
think! Those Bible characters could well have looked upon these very tiles you are now
seeing. This image is of a Persian guardsman. Persians were particularly famous for
being expert archers. They even invented the 'Parthian shot' where, at a full gallop,
they would turn around on their horse and fire backward at anyone who was following.
This guardsman is evidently one of the one thousand special royal guards, known as
the 'Immortals'.

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118 Inscription of Ahasuerus

Museum Description: Royal Inscription of Xerxes


Room: 52/Case: 5/Number: 118840
Scripture: Esther 8:1

This inscription is from the palace at Persepolis and says it is by "Xerxes the son of
Darius the King, an Achaemenian". This is apparently the King Ahasuerus from the
book of Esther.

This is written in cuneiform, a form of writing that literally means 'wedge-shaped'. It


took many years for cuneiform to be deciphered, and it was solved largely due to a
carving in a cliff in Behistun in multiple languages. 1-2 million cuneiform tablets are
estimated to have been found already, and about another 25,000 are found every year.
Only about one tenth of the tablets in existence have been read even once, so there
could be many more interesting discoveries just waiting to be found. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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171 Column Base

Museum Description: Inscribed Column Base Fragment


Room: 52/Case: 5/Number: 90854-90855
Scripture: Ezra 6:2

This was found at the summer palace in Ecbatana, and records that Artaxerxes II "King
of Kings" was ruling at the time. He evidently was not quite as powerful as he thought
though, as during his rule Egypt broke away from the Persian Empire. Ecbatana had
previously played a vital role in Bible history. Officials appointed by the Persians
challenged the Jew rebuilding the Temple in the time of Zerubbabel, and wrote to the
Persian King Darius I. Darius made a search of the records, and in Ecbatana found the
decree by Cyrus authorising the reconstruction of the Temple. Darius therefore
decreed that the work should continue, and even made the opposers provide some of
the building materials. This decision was out of respect for the Medo-Persian principle
that, once a decree has been made by the king, it cannot be changed. This principle is
also mentioned in the book of Daniel, causing him to be thrown into the lion's pit.

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114 Grave Finds from Nineveh

Museum Description: Gold Grave Finds from Nineveh


Room: 52/Case 6/Number: 123894
Scripture: Jonah 3:3

Nineveh was a great city and very wealthy, as shown by this gold mask found in a grave
there. Was it really a walking distance of three days across? Just as Greater London
today contains all the surrounding suburbs, Nineveh was part of an unbroken string of
settlements 26 miles across.

Jonah famously preached Jehovah's message of destruction to the Assyrians in


Nineveh, but much to his surprise and annoyance they repented! Unfortunately, their
repentant attitude did not last, and Jehovah again prophesied that they would be
destroyed. This time he was specific about how it would happen - by fire. After
centuries of being buried and virtually forgotten, Nineveh started to be excavated at
the beginning of the 19th century. What did they find? This mighty city had indeed
been destroyed by fire, and virtually wiped off the map. Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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115 The Death of Alexander

Museum Description: The Death of Alexander


Room: 52/Case: 6/Number: 45962
Scripture: Daniel 11:4

This cuneiform tablet tells us exactly when Alexander the Great died, one of the most
significant dates in history. His empire was divided between four of his generals, in
fulfilment of Bible prophecy. The tablet contains astronomical and weather
observations for 323-322 B.C.E., and on the 29th day of the lunar month simply states
"the king died". Interestingly, this prevented him from rebuilding Babylon as he had
wished. Jehovah had said it would never be rebuilt.

Alexander the Great is not mentioned by name in the Bible, but Daniel accurately
prophesied concerning him 200 years in advance. It is easy to think these prophecies
could just have been written after the event. Daniel, however, also records details such
as the existence of the Babylonian king Belshazzar that were not known in the time of
the Greeks. The book of Daniel must have been written at the time. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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169 The Latest Dated Cuneiform Tablet

Museum Description: The Latest Dated Cuneiform Tablet


Room: 52/Case: 6/Number: 40084
Scripture: Amos 5:8

This text refers to rising of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. It was known as
the Bringer of the Nile, as the Egyptians noticed that the flooding of the Nile always
followed its appearance. It also mentions the position of planets in zodiac signs,
showing how easily astronomy turned into astrology. Dating from as late as 61 C.E., it
illustrates how long the cuneiform writing system was in use.

The signs of the zodiac are generally thought to originate with the Babylonians,
although it was not until the time of the Greeks that the sky was formally divided into
12 equal part each represented by one of the signs. In fact, the word 'zodiac' is Greek
and means "circle of animals". It is amazing to think this ancient false worship is still
so widespread today! Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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116 Cyrus Cylinder

Museum Description: The Cyrus Cylinder


Room: 52/Case: 4/Number: ME 1880.0617.1941
Scripture: Isaiah 44:28

This is one of the four most important cuneiform tablets for Bible students, all four of
which are in The British Museum. They tell the story of the destruction of Jerusalem
by the Babylonians, and their return 70 years later. This is the fourth, the Cyrus
Cylinder. Not only did Jehovah prophesy that Babylon would fall, but he also named
the one who would do it - Cyrus. The Cyrus Cylinder confirms this took place. What is
more, it also confirms that Cyrus would let captives return to their homelands and
rebuild their temples, just as the Israelites did. This detail in the Bible seemed almost
unbelievable, that a conquering king would treat his captives so kindly, so it is
remarkable to have secular confirmation. The Cyrus Cylinder has been called the first
bill of human rights. A copy is in the headquarters of the United Nations in New York.
It also appears on Iranian coins and stamps.

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109 Ahasuerus Relief

Museum Description: Cast of Palace Doorway


Room: 53/Case: None/Number: ME 225
Scripture: Esther 5:2

The book Esther records the details of incidents during the rule of King Ahasuerus.
We get a fascinating insight into the workings of the Medo-Persian world power, how
the empire was controlled, and the sort of rules and customs they had. As we read that
account, how do you picture the king? Evidently the Biblical King Ahasuerus is the
same as the secular King Xerxes, so here we can see what he actually looked like. It
took tremendous bravery for Esther to try to approach the king as we read in chapter
5. If she was not favourably received, she could have been put to death. With
Jehovah's blessing, however, she was able to speak to the king and save the Jews from
being wiped out. To show that she was permitted to enter, the king held out the golden
sceptre that was in his hand. How easy it is to picture that important moment as we
look at this relief!

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108 Silver Bull

Museum Description: Silver Bull with Gold Inlay


Room: 54/Case: 2/Number: ME 135851
Scripture: Exodus 32:4

We do not know the size of the golden calf that was created, which would have
depended on the amount of gold jewellery collected. Perhaps it could have looked
something like this. This one is made out of silver, with gold only being used for the
inlays.

When the Israelites were waiting for Moses as he received the Ten Commandments,
they evidently were not very patient. They persuaded Aaron to make an idol for them
to worship, directly against one of the very commandments Moses was receiving. Why
did they choose the form of a calf or young bull? Perhaps this was because they were
familiar with the image and practice from their time in Egypt. The Apis bull was
venerated to such a degree they were even embalmed and mummified when they died.
Over 60 examples have been found at just one site. Other similar or related artefacts
are on display in The British Museum.

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183 Electrum

Museum Description: Electrum Half Stater and Stater


Room: 54/Case: 5/Number: C&M HPB, p174N.1, RPK, p161A.1
Scripture: Ezekiel 1:27

This coin is made from electrum, the metal that is used in the Bible to describe the very
appearance of Jehovah God! Electrum is an alloy of the two precious metals gold and
silver, which can occur naturally. It is special because, when it is heated in a furnace, it
is said to have "a quivering beauty and a glowing yellow brilliance all of its own". Even
in its solid state as we can see here, the silver content gives a brightness that we do not
see with solid gold, but the gold gives a depth of colour and richness you do not get
with solid silver. Electrum was used to make some of the first known coins, and since
1980 the medals awarded for the Nobel prizes have also been made of electrum plated
with 24 carat gold. We frequently refer to the vision of Jehovah heavenly chariot
today, so it is useful to have an understanding of the materials that are described.

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102 Nabonidus Chronicle

Museum Description: The Fall of a Dynasty


Room: 55/Case: 7/Number: ME 35382
Scripture: Isaiah 45:1

This is one of the four most important cuneiform tablets for Bible students, all four of
which are in The British Museum. They tell the story of the destruction of Jerusalem
by the Babylonians, and their return 70 years later. This is the second, the Nabonidus
Chronicle, which reads in part “[Seventeenth year:] . . . in the month of Tashritu, when
Cyrus attacked the army of Akkad …The 16th day, Gobryas, the governor of Gutium
and the army of Cyrus entered Babylon without battle.” This tablet unfortunately is
damaged and so does not give the year that Cyrus conquered Babylon, but remarkably
gives us the precise day and month. With other sources it is possible to say it was
October 5, 539 B.C.E. It is also remarkable that it mentions Cyrus entered without a
battle. This agrees with the Bible, which even prophesied that the doors would be left
open.

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101 Nabonidus Cylinder

Museum Description: Nabonidus and Sacred Buildings


Room: 55/Case: 7/Number: ME 91125
Scripture: Daniel 5:29

This is one of the four most important cuneiform tablets for Bible students, all four of
which are in The British Museum. They tell the story of the destruction of Jerusalem
by the Babylonians, and their return 70 years later. This is the third, the Nabonidus
Cylinder. The Bible's account of the fall of Babylon has been questioned for its
historically accuracy. Secular history clearly showed Nabonidus as the ruler of
Babylon at the time, and yet in the Bible it said Belshazzar. Who would be proved
right? In 1924 this very clay cylinder was translated, it is an account of the conquests
of Nabonidus and refers to “Bel-sar-ussur, my eldest son”! While Nabonidus was the
ruler of the Babylonian Empire, Belshazzar was the ruler in the city of Babylon, so even
explains Daniel being offered the 'third place in the kingdom'. As Belshazzar was
unknown in Greek and Roman times, the book of Daniel must have been written at the
time, and its record of future events are true prophecies.

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103 Babylonian Chronicle

Museum Description: Nebuchadnezzar Captures Jerusalem


Room: 55/Case: 7/Number: ME 21946
Scripture: 2 Kings 24:10

This is one of the four most important cuneiform tablets for Bible students, all four of
which are in The British Museum. They tell the story of the destruction of Jerusalem
by the Babylonians, and their return 70 years later. This is the first, the Babylonian
Chronicle, which reads in part “In the seventh year, the month of Kislev, the king of
Akkad [Nebuchadnezzar] mustered his troops, marched to Hatti-land [Israel], and
encamped against the city of Judah and on the second day of the month of Adar he
seized the city and captured the king [Jehoiachin]. He appointed there a king of his
own choice [Zedekiah], received its heavy tribute and sent them to Babylon.” This
completely agrees with the Bible account of the King being deposed and another set up
in his place. This was also the beginning of the 'appointed times of the nations’ and so
is a vital date in Bible history. For us it is very interesting to see the secular
confirmation of this most important event.

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107 Rabshakeh Tablet

Museum Description: Nebuchadnezzar's Right Hand Man


Room: 55/Case: 7/Number: ME 114789
Scripture: Jeremiah 39:3

This tablet was discovered in 1870, but it was not until 2007 that it was read for the
first time. It is a receipt for a payment to a temple for a man named Nebo-sarsechim,
the chief court official of King Nebuchadnezzar. As this position was only held by one
person at a time, it makes it possible it is the exact man mentioned in this verse in
Jeremiah!

This is written in cuneiform, a form of writing that literally means 'wedge-shaped'. It


took many years for cuneiform to be deciphered, and it was solved largely due to a
carving in a cliff in Behistun in multiple languages. 1-2 million cuneiform tablets are
estimated to have been found already, and about another 25,000 are found every year.
Only about one tenth of the tablets in existence have been read even once, so there
could be many more interesting discoveries just waiting to be found. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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094 Brick of Nebuchadnezzar II

Museum Description: Brick by Brick


Room: 55/Case: 6/Number: ME 90136
Scripture: Daniel 4:30

One evidence of Nebuchadnezzar's boastful and proud attitude is he stamped his name
on the very bricks they used for building. Here is an example, and as we would expect,
there are many more in existence. Several of them are in The British Museum.

Nebuchadnezzar was famous for his building projects. His Hanging Gardens of
Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and were supposedly built for
his homesick Median queen. He greatly strengthen the walls around Babylon, until
they were so wide a chariot could be driven and turned on the top. All this boasting
caused Jehovah to humble him. He lost his sanity and lived as a beast for seven years.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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097 East India House Inscription

Museum Description: Building Babylon


Room: 55/Case: 6/Number: ME 129397
Scripture: Daniel 4:30

This is perhaps the most famous of all the records of Nebuchadnezzar's building
projects. It is a foundation document, so could be for public display, similar to a
plaque we might see to record who officially opened a building. They could also be
buried in the foundations, as a tribute to a god for the protection of the building. We
can see how much care has gone into its creation by the beauty and clarity of the
carving.

Nebuchadnezzar was famous for his building projects. His Hanging Gardens of
Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and were supposedly built for
his homesick Median queen. He greatly strengthen the walls around Babylon, until
they were so wide a chariot could be driven and turned on the top. All this boasting
caused Jehovah to humble him. He lost his sanity and lived as a beast for seven years.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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106 Creation Epic

Museum Description: Epic of Creation


Room: 55/Case: 8/Number: ME K 3473
Genesis 1:1

The Babylonian Creation Epic is well known, and focuses on Marduk, the national god
of Babylon who was possibly a deified Nimrod. It had been claimed that the Bible
'borrowed' from these myths. Scholars now accept this is a disproved theory. It is
interesting that the order of the Bible's creation account broadly agrees with current
secular scientific understanding.

This is written in cuneiform, a form of writing that literally means 'wedge-shaped'. It


took many years for cuneiform to be deciphered, and it was solved largely due to a
carving in a cliff in Behistun in multiple languages. 1-2 million cuneiform tablets are
estimated to have been found already, and about another 25,000 are found every year.
Only about one tenth of the tablets in existence have been read even once, so there
could be many more interesting discoveries just waiting to be found. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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105 Epic of Gilgamesh

Museum Description: Cuneiform Tablet


Room: 55/Case: None/Number: ME K 3375
Scripture: Genesis 8:12

The British Museum has called this the most famous cuneiform tablet in the world!
The Epic of Gilgamesh contains a flood account with some similarities with the Bible,
but not enough that it could be the origin of the Bible account as some have claimed.
He was told to build a huge cube to protect his family and some wild beasts. He sent
out a dove, a swallow and then a raven to see if the waters had abated.

If we are all descendants of Noah after the flood, it should come as no surprise that a
flood legend occurs in all the major cultures of the world. Hundreds of them are
known. There are often common elements, such as a Divine cause, a warning given
beforehand, at least some humans spared, the animals being spared, and the survivors
being preserved in some sort of vessel. The Bible account was believed by Isaiah,
Ezekiel, Paul and Peter, and was even referred to by Jesus Christ himself. Other
similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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104 Autobiography of King Ashurbanipal

Museum Description: Autobiography of King Ashurbanipal


Room: 55/Case 8/Number: ME K 2694
Scripture: Ezra 4:10

Ashurbanipal's library at Nineveh was the greatest in the world for 350 years. At least
22,000 clay tablets have been found, covering a huge range of subjects. He is evidently
Assyrian king Asenappar mentioned in the Bible, by translation of his name into
Aramaic. This is further confirmation the Bible is an accurate record of historical
people.

This is written in cuneiform, a form of writing that literally means 'wedge-shaped'. It


took many years for cuneiform to be deciphered, and it was solved largely due to a
carving in a cliff in Behistun in multiple languages. 1-2 million cuneiform tablets are
estimated to have been found already, and about another 25,000 are found every year.
Only about one tenth of the tablets in existence have been read even once, so there
could be many more interesting discoveries just waiting to be found. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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099 Burnt Cuneiform Tablet from Nineveh

Museum Description: Burnt Cuneiform Tablet


Room: 55/Case: 8/Number: ME K 5967
Scripture: Nahum 1:10

With this cuneiform tablet we can see evidence that Nineveh was destroyed by fire.
The fire was evidently so intense and so hot it caused this clay to bubble as if it were
glass. It must have been a terrifying end to a terrifying city.

Jonah famously preached Jehovah's message of destruction to the Assyrians in


Nineveh, but much to his surprise and annoyance they repented! Unfortunately, their
repentant attitude did not last, and Jehovah again prophesied that they would be
destroyed. This time he was specific about how it would happen - by fire. After
centuries of being buried and virtually forgotten, Nineveh started to be excavated at
the beginning of the 19th century. What did they find? This mighty city had indeed
been destroyed by fire, and virtually wiped off the map. Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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098 Nebuchadnezzar II Building Projects

Museum Description: Cylinder Describing Nebuchadnezzar's Building


Room: 55/Case: 7/Number: ME 85975
Scripture: Daniel 4:30

Nebuchadnezzar was known to be very religious. The Bible records in Ezekiel 21 how
he would consult omens before going into battle. There are also numerous records of
him building and repairing temples, such as those here which detail the rebuilding of
the temple of Shamash in Sippar.

Nebuchadnezzar was famous for his building projects. His Hanging Gardens of
Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and were supposedly built for
his homesick Median queen. He greatly strengthen the walls around Babylon, until
they were so wide a chariot could be driven and turned on the top. All this boasting
caused Jehovah to humble him. He lost his sanity and lived as a beast for seven years.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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100 Babylonian Swords

Museum Description: Bronze Swords from the Babylonian Army


Room: 55/Case: 1/Number: ME 123060
Scripture: 2 Chronicles 36:17

We read much in the Bible about the Babylonian army and what it accomplished.
Most significantly, Jehovah allowed them to destroy Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. For this
reason, the Babylonian Empire was represented as the head of gold in
Nebuchadnezzar's dream image. Captives were taken from Jerusalem to Babylon,
where they were in exile for 70 years. This would have included a young Daniel and his
companions. These swords would have been used for close fighting. The British
Museum says, based on their edges being heavily worn and often resharpened, these
swords were evidently regularly used! Though from an earlier date than the
Babylonian exile, these swords are a sobering reminder of what the Babylonians did.

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096 Marduk and Nebo Plaque

Museum Description: Plaque Dedicating a Property to a Nabu Temple


Room: 55/Case: None/Number: ME 118796
Scripture: Isaiah 46:1

The prophecy concerning the destruction of Babylon particularly mentions the


humiliation of two of their gods. Bel literally means 'Lord, Owner' and was another
name for the chief Babylonian god Marduk, who is also called Merodach in the Bible.
Since he was supposed to be the founder of Babylon, it has been suggested this could
actually be Nimrod made into a god. Nebo was the son of Marduk and his name is part
of several names in the Bible such as Nebuchadnezzar, Nabopolassar, Nebuzaradan
and possibly even Abednego. Marduk (Bel) is on the left and Nebo is on the right.
Notice they are both standing on dragons, which is also a symbol of Marduk and can
be seen on several reliefs.

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095 Destruction of Nineveh

Museum Description: The Babylonian Chronicle and the Fall of Nineveh


Room: 55/Case: 3/Number: ME 21901
Scripture: Nahum 2:10

Known as the Gadd Chronicle, this records the end of Nineveh and the Assyrian
Empire at the hands of the Babylonians and Medes. It says in part "the city they
turned into ruins - hills and heaps of debris"

Jonah famously preached Jehovah's message of destruction to the Assyrians in


Nineveh, but much to his surprise and annoyance they repented! Unfortunately, their
repentant attitude did not last, and Jehovah again prophesied that they would be
destroyed. This time he was specific about how it would happen - by fire. After
centuries of being buried and virtually forgotten, Nineveh started to be excavated at
the beginning of the 19th century. What did they find? This mighty city had indeed
been destroyed by fire, and virtually wiped off the map. Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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092 Lion of Babylon

Museum Description: Glazed Brick Panel Showing a Roaring Lion


Room: 55/Case: None/Number: None
Scripture: Daniel 1:3

It is a special moment to stand and look at this amazing relief of a lion. It is actually
from the city of Babylon. The main entrance to Babylon was through the famous
Ishtar Gate, with its blue glazed bricks and depictions of animals and Babylonian gods.
Leading up to that gate, and continuing as the main road in the city, was a roadway
with walls of the same glazed brick either side called the Processional Way. This lion is
from the Processional Way, so when the prophet Daniel entered Babylon as a young
man at one moment he was likely standing roughly where you are standing now. This
really highlights the value of visiting places like The British Museum. It does not fill in
any missing details from the Bible, and so is not necessary, but does give us a
connection to those events and makes them all the more easy to visualise.

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093 Taylor Prism

Museum Description: The Taylor Prism


Room: 55/Case: 3/Number: ME 91032
Scripture: Isaiah 37:36

This is another world famous artefact of Bible archaeology on display in The British
Museum. There are three identical records of Sennacherib's conquests. One is in
Chicago, one is in Jerusalem, and this is the third - the Taylor Prism. They are
important because they record of his campaign against Jerusalem. Sennacherib
famously states on this prism that he had King Hezekiah trapped "like a bird in a cage".
There the account ends. There is no record of him destroying Jerusalem, unlike all the
other town and cities he encountered. Of course, we know this was because Jehovah's
angel destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. Other ancient historians also
confirm Sennacherib had to return unsuccessful. One record states this was because a
sickness broke out in the camp, so they had to return home. Another says there was a
plague of field mice that ate the strings from all their bows, so they could no longer
fight!

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091 Boundary Stone

Museum Description: Babylonian Boundary Stones


Room: 55/Case: 2/Number: ME 90858
Scripture: Proverbs 22:28

When Israel conquered the Promised Land, each family were given their own
inheritance. This would have been sectioned off, either by natural landmarks or
boundary stones. To move a boundary was condemned in the Mosaic Law. It basically
amounted to theft, and people were dependant on their land and the food it could
produce. People of the nations would also use boundary markers, and some of them
were elaborately carved such as this one from Babylon. Notice at the top it has one of
the Babylonian trinities of gods. Ishtar represents the stars, Sin the moon and
Shamash the sun. From Babylon the idea of a trinity of gods spread throughout the
earth, even infecting the churches of Christendom.

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090 Goddess Ishtar

Museum Description: Bronze Amulet of Ishtar


Room: 56/Case: None/Number: ME 119437
Scripture: Jeremiah 44:19

Supposedly both the goddess of war and the goddess of love, Ishtar was called the
'Holy Virgin' and 'Virgin Mother' by her worshippers, who would pray directly to her.
Astarte (Ishtar) is even the origin of the word Easter.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a humble Jewish woman, calling herself Jehovah's
slave girl. How, then, did she become worshipped, prayed to, and called "Madonna -
the Mother of God"? Mother goddesses have long been a feature of false worship, for
example Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Cybele, Artemis and Diana. The similarity of the 'mother
and child' pose used for these false gods and the composition of the so-called Madonna
and Child are striking. Members of Christendom have even worshipped these images
in ignorance, not realising they were actually the pagan versions! Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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089 Queen of the Night

Museum Description: The Queen of the Night


Room: 56/Case: 23/Number: ME 2003,0718.1
Scripture: Jeremiah 44:17

During the time of Jeremiah, some Israelites were so convinced 'the queen of heaven'
had protected them, they thought their current poor state was due to stopping
sacrifices to her. The name Astarte (Ishtar) is even the origin of the word Easter.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a humble Jewish woman, calling herself Jehovah's
slave girl. How, then, did she become worshipped, prayed to, and called "Madonna -
the Mother of God"? Mother goddesses have long been a feature of false worship, for
example Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Cybele, Artemis and Diana. The similarity of the 'mother
and child' pose used for these false gods and the composition of the so-called Madonna
and Child are striking. Members of Christendom have even worshipped these images
in ignorance, not realising they were actually the pagan versions! Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

https://sites.google.com/site/jwmuseumbibletours
088 Liver Omen Model

Museum Description: Inscribed Model of a Sheep's Liver


Room: 56/Case: 22/Number: ME 92668
Scripture: Ezekiel 21:21

The Bible accurately records that the Babylonians would use the liver of a dead animal
to try to look for omens or foretell the future. This clay model of a liver was found in a
temple school in Babylon. It was evidently used to teach students the different signs in
the liver and their significance. They considered the liver a miniature reflection of the
heavens, so could use it to see what omens the gods were revealing to them. While this
practice may not continue today, it is still common for people to be superstitious and
trust in good luck. They also try to know the future by various bizarre means, such as
horoscopes, which is based on the same principle of the stars having an influence over
our lives.

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087 Atrahasis Flood Legend

Museum Description: The Babylonia Story of the Flood


Room: 56/Case: 22/Number: ME 78941
Scripture: Genesis 8:20

Containing a flood legend from Babylon, the story of Atrahasis tells how he was
warned about the flood by the god Ea. He then built a vessel based on measurements
given to him. After he survived, he made a sacrifice to the gods.

If we are all descendants of Noah after the flood, it should come as no surprise that a
flood legend occurs in all the major cultures of the world. Hundreds of them are
known. There are often common elements, such as a Divine cause, a warning given
beforehand, at least some humans spared, the animals being spared, and the survivors
being preserved in some sort of vessel. The Genesis account was referred to by Isaiah,
Ezekiel, Paul and Peter, and even by Jesus Christ himself. Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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178 Royal Game of Ur

Museum Description: Royal Game of Ur


Room: 56/Case: 16/Number: ME 120834
Scripture: Zechariah 8:5

The Royal Game of Ur is also known as the 'Game of Twenty Squares'. It is a beautiful
example of the sophistication of Ur, and the detailed works of art they could produce.
Versions of this game have been played for thousands of years, and the discovery of a
partial tablet containing some of the ancient rules has meant it can still be played
today.

Archaeologists have discovered various forms of gaming boards, dice, and game pieces
all over the ancient world. Even in Egypt there is an image of a Pharaoh playing a
board game, and some games date back to before the times of Abraham. This shows a
basic human desire for entertainment, one that we are careful to keep in its proper
place. Today, some games can also involve gambling, or have links to the occult.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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177 The Silver Lyre

Museum Description: The Silver Lyre


Room: 56/Case: 20/Number: ME 121199
Scripture: Genesis 4:21

A lyre was a type of harp, as we can see, and the very first musical instrument
mentioned in the Bible. David was skilled at playing the harp, even playing for King
Saul when he had a troubled spirit. We can imagine him playing one like this, as it is
made of silver and so would be fit for a king.

Music is mentioned throughout the Bible from the earliest days in the book of Genesis
right through to the end chapters of Revelation. It has been used both to give praise to
God, and also to express emotions from great happiness to deep despair. The Bible
gives little information about the design of musical instruments in Bible times
therefore much has depended on archaeological discoveries such as those we can see in
the British Museum. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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086 Treasures from Ur

Museum Description: Reconstructed Head of a Sumerian Woman


Room: 56/Case: 18/Number: ME 122348A
Scripture: Genesis 11:31

All the artefacts in this area are from Ur, including this beautiful headdress and
jewellery. We can really get an impression of just what an advanced civilisation it was.

We often say that Ur, hometown of Abram and Sarai, was an advanced and prosperous
city, so it would have been a real sacrifice for them to leave and live in tents. How do
we know that was the case? The Bible does not give many details about Ur, but the
ancient site has been extensively excavated by archaeologists. Ruins of what appear to
be private houses show that they were constructed of brick, were plastered and
whitewashed, and had 13 or 14 rooms surrounding a paved courtyard. If Abraham and
Sarah left such a home to dwell in tents, they indeed made a great sacrifice to be
obedient to Jehovah's command. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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175 Ram in the Thicket

Museum Description: Ram in the Thicket


Room: 56/Case: 17/Number: ME 122200
Scripture: Genesis 22:13
This was named 'the ram in the thicket' by the archaeologist who discovered it, as it
comes from Abram's home of Ur, and seems to fit quite well with the description in
Genesis. In reality, of course, it cannot be related to this actual account. It is,
however, an exquisite example of the amazing craftsmanship in Ur.

We often say that Ur, hometown of Abram and Sarai, was an advanced and prosperous
city, so it would have been a real sacrifice for them to leave and live in tents. How do
we know that was the case? The Bible does not give many details about Ur, but the
ancient site has been extensively excavated by archaeologists. Ruins of what appear to
be private houses show that they were constructed of brick, were plastered and
whitewashed, and had 13 or 14 rooms surrounding a paved courtyard. If Abraham and
Sarah left such a home to dwell in tents, they indeed made a great sacrifice to be
obedient to Jehovah's command. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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176 The Standard of Ur

Museum Description: The Standard of Ur


Room: 56/Case: 17/Number: None
Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:7
It is amazing to think that this artefact was created around 2,600 B.C.E.! It depicts
scenes of war and peace with inlaid shall, red limestone and the precious blue stone
lapis lazuli. The king is shown on both sides, being noticeably taller than the others.
Take some time to study the considerable detail that has been included.

We often say that Ur, hometown of Abram and Sarai, was an advanced and prosperous
city, so it would have been a real sacrifice for them to leave and live in tents. How do
we know that was the case? The Bible does not give many details about Ur, but the
ancient site has been extensively excavated by archaeologists. Ruins of what appear to
be private houses show that they were constructed of brick, were plastered and
whitewashed, and had 13 or 14 rooms surrounding a paved courtyard. If Abraham and
Sarah left such a home to dwell in tents, they indeed made a great sacrifice to be
obedient to Jehovah's command. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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085 Copper Bull

Museum Description: Copper Alloy Bull


Room: 56/Case: 6/Number: ME 116740
Scripture: Exodus 32:4

The Exodus account says the golden calf was a molten stature formed with a graving
tool, but here we have an example of another way the image of a bull could be created.
A beaten sheet of metal is formed over a wood and bitumen core.

When the Israelites were waiting for Moses as he received the Ten Commandments,
they evidently were not very patient. They persuaded Aaron to make an idol for them
to worship, directly against one of the very commandments Moses was receiving. Why
did they choose the form of a calf or young bull? Perhaps this was because they were
familiar with the image and practice from their time in Egypt. The Apis bull was
venerated to such a degree they were even embalmed and mummified when they died.
Over 60 examples have been found at just one site. Other similar or related artefacts
are on display in The British Museum.

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076 Shebaniah Lintel

Museum Description: Inscribed Lintel of a Rock-cut Tomb


Room: 57/Case: None/Number: WA 125205
Scripture: Isaiah 22:15
Due to its extremely rough surface, the writing now highlighted in white was
undiscovered for 80 years. It says: “This is the tomb of ... the Royal Steward” but the
name of the steward has been destroyed by the hole where the lintel has evidently been
reused. Only the ending of the name remains, and is three of the four letters of the
Tetragrammaton. This means the name ended in 'iah', like Isaiah, Zedekiah etc. The
Royal Steward from the time of Hezekiah is named in the Bible in Isaiah 22:15 as
Shebna, but as his name does not end in 'iah', it cannot refer to him. Until you read
Nehemiah 9:4, where the name Shebna is spelt Shebaniah, so now it could fit! So
could this be from his very tomb? Well, why is Shebna referred to in Isaiah 22? Verses
16-19 reveals he was counselled by Jehovah for having an elaborate rock-cut tomb! We
cannot say for certain, but it is possible this is actually what Jehovah referred to!
Evidently Shebna took the counsel, as he appears later in the book of Isaiah, though
demoted to secretary.

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074 Lachish Letters

Museum Description: The Lachish Letters


Room: 57/Case: 10/Number: WA 125701-7
Scripture: 2 Kings 8:13

These are some of the most significant Bible artefacts in the world, and today you get
to see them with your own eyes! Their picture is often used in the publications, so why
are they so important? The Lachish Letters are ostraca, broken pieces of pottery that
were used for writing. They are notes from an army officer in Lachish at the time of
Sennacherib, writing to his commanding officer back in Jerusalem. Perhaps the most
famous is the one in the top right. The last four letters of the second line from the top
are the Tetragrammaton - Jehovah's name! It is extraordinary that Jehovah's name
appears eleven times in the seven fragments we can read. The text contain phrases like
"To my lord Yaosh, may Jehovah cause my lord to hear news of peace." These prove
that Jehovah's name was commonly used in ancient Israel, just the same as we use it
today. It appears over 7,000 times in the Bible so there is no excuse not to use it.

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075 Pim Weight

Museum Description: Weights from Lachish


Room: 57/Case: 10/Number: WA 1980-12-14
Scripture: 1 Samuel 13:21

Something so small can still drastically change our understanding of a Bible verse.
Some critics believe the Hebrew Scriptures were not written at the time claimed, but
are a later forgery from the Roman period. They are therefore 'unhistorical' and are
simply modern literary inventions. This verse in 1 Samuel 13:21, however, uses a
Hebrew word 'pim' whose meaning had become lost, even during Roman times. As the
verse is talking about sharpening implements, it has been translated as 'file' in some
Bible translations, such as the King James Version. Later, sets of these stone weights
were discovered by archaeologists, and one had the Hebrew letters for 'pim' on the top.
So a pim was not a file used for sharpening, but a weight of silver used to pay those
doing the sharpening. This proves 1 Samuel could not possibly have been written
during the Roman period, when knowledge of the word 'pim' had already been lost for
several centuries.

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073 Hezekiah Jar Handles

Museum Description: Stamped Jar Handles from Lachish


Room: 57/Case: 10/Number: WA 132061
Scripture: 2 Chronicles 32:28

Faithful King Hezekiah prospered during his reign, and became very rich. Here we
have some jar handles from the period which are stamped with the letter LMLK in
ancient Hebrew. This is an acronym which stands for 'belonging to the king'.
Hundreds of handles with these seal impressions have been found throughout Israel.
So these could be from the very stores of wine and oil belonging to Hezekiah! Can you
imagine Hezekiah holding one of these very handles while one of the Bible accounts
concerning him took place? They are also stamped with the name of the city they come
from. Some of these are very familiar to us from the Bible. The ones here include the
names of Socoh, Ziph, Hebron and possibly Emmaus.

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070 Tomb Group

Museum Description: Figurines and Rattle from Lachish


Room: 57/Case: 10/Number: WA 1980-12-14
Scripture: Judges 2:13

So many times in the Bible we read of Jehovah asking the Israelites to be faithful to
him. He commanded them not to follow the foreign gods of the nations, and to clear
out their worship so they would not be tempted to follow them. The Israelites did not
listen and were not obedient, so Jehovah compared them to an adulterous wife. What
does secular history say about this period? Excavations of Israelite graves have
produced these sort of figures of foreign gods, proving they were indeed an apostate
nation. They wanted to be buried with idols, rather than trust in Jehovah and his
promises. The figurines we can see here are of the Canaanite fertility goddess
Ashtoreth and are from the city of Lachish, which was famously captured by King
Sennacherib of Assyria.

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071 Goddess Astarte

Museum Description: Bethlehem Tomb Group


Room: 57/Case: 10/Number: WA 65-8-5, 1-11
Scripture: Deuteronomy 7:16

Found in Bethlehem, the home town of David, Ruth and Boaz, and of course Jesus'
birthplace, this shockingly proves the Israelites were not faithful to Jehovah and did
indeed follow other gods. Astarte (Ishtar) is even the origin of the word Easter.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a humble Jewish woman, calling herself Jehovah's
slave girl. How, then, did she become worshipped, prayed to, and called "Madonna -
the Mother of God"? Mother goddesses have long been a feature of false worship, for
example Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Cybele, Artemis and Diana. The similarity of the 'mother
and child' pose used for these false gods and the composition of the so-called Madonna
and Child are striking. Members of Christendom have even worshipped these images
in ignorance, not realising they were actually the pagan versions! Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

https://sites.google.com/site/jwmuseumbibletours
072 Ivories from Samaria

Museum Description: Ivories from Samaria


Room: 57/Case: 10/Number: WA L 31-48
Scripture: 1 Kings 22:39

Ahab built a palace for himself that had so much expensive ivory it was called 'the
house of ivory'. That area has been excavated by archaeologist and here we can see
some of the artefacts, directly referred to in the Bible! These are said to have been
cleaned by Agatha Christie, the famous crime writer, using her hand cream. Her
husband was working as an archaeologist there.

Ivory has long been a luxury item, used to make jewellery, art and even furniture. As
the ultimate symbol of luxury, Solomon had a throne made of ivory and then overlaid
with gold. He would receive a new supply by ship once every three years. It comes
from the tusks of animals such as the elephant, hippo and walrus. Hard and dense,
which makes it very durable, ivory is also elastic and easy to carve. Some of the most
beautiful pieces of ancient art are carved from ivory. Other similar or related artefacts
are on display in The British Museum.

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077 Saucer Lamp

Museum Description: Two-spouted Lamp


Room: 57/Case: None/Number: WA 133118
Scripture: Luke 11:34

The earliest and simplest design of oil lamp was the Canaanite saucer shape we can see
here. When being made, the edge would be pinched to form a spout. The number of
spouts depended on how many wicks would be used, and so how bright the light would
be.

Lamps were a common part of everyday life in Bible times, and so are frequently
mentioned. The same style of oil lamps are not used today, so seeing them as artefacts
in The British Museum can help us understand and visualise the accounts better. In
general, olive oil would have been used as it burns with a bright flame. In times of
famine, however, other less bright oils were used and the number of wicks increased to
compensate. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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078 Goddess Astarte

Museum Description: Astarte Plaque


Room: 57/Case: 12/Number: WA 133132
Scripture: Jeremiah 44:19

Obviously a fertility goddess judging by this pose, Astarte in Canaan was also said to be
the wife of Baal. Astarte (Ishtar) is even the origin of the word Easter.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a humble Jewish woman, calling herself Jehovah's
slave girl. How, then, did she become worshipped, prayed to, and called "Madonna -
the Mother of God"? Mother goddesses have long been a feature of false worship, for
example Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Cybele, Artemis and Diana. The similarity of the 'mother
and child' pose used for these false gods and the composition of the so-called Madonna
and Child are striking. Members of Christendom have even worshipped these images
in ignorance, not realising they were actually the pagan versions! Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

https://sites.google.com/site/jwmuseumbibletours
079 Phoenician Ivories

Museum Description: Phoenician Ivories


Room: 57/Case: 12/Number: WA 118147=8
Scripture: Amos 6:4

The Phoenicians specialised in ivory carvings, as we can see from these amazingly
detailed pieces. Ahab, who the Bible tells us built for himself a 'house of ivory', had a
Phoenician wife - the infamous wicked Queen Jezebel. It comes as no surprise that he
was influenced by her tastes!

Ivory has long been a luxury item, used to make jewellery, art and even furniture. As
the ultimate symbol of luxury, Solomon had a throne made of ivory and then overlaid
with gold. He would receive a new supply by ship once every three years. It comes
from the tusks of animals such as the elephant, hippo and walrus. Hard and dense,
which makes it very durable, ivory is also elastic and easy to carve. Some of the most
beautiful pieces of ancient art are carved from ivory. Other similar or related artefacts
are on display in The British Museum.

https://sites.google.com/site/jwmuseumbibletours
080 Murex Shells

Museum Description: Murex Shells


Room: 57/Case: 12/Number: None
Scripture: Acts 16:14

These amazing little shells may not look much, but back in Bible times they were
incredibly valuable. They are the source of the purple dye mentioned in the Bible as
"wool dyed reddish purple," or the purple cloth used for royal garments. Each shell
would produce a single drop of cream coloured liquid. Exposed to the air and sunlight,
this would become a deep purple colour. It could take at least 10,000 shells to produce
enough dye for a single garment, hence the reason they were so expensive and the sign
of someone very wealthy! The city of Tyre was famous for producing this dye, which
became known as Tyrian purple, and Lydia evidently had a business trading in this
colour.

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081 Nimrud Ivories

Museum Description: The Nimrud Ivories


Room: 57/Case: 12/Number: None
Scripture: Genesis 10:11

These are some beautifully detailed ivory carvings from the city of Nimrud. In the
Bible, this city is called Calah and was one of the cities built by Nimrod. The modern
name for the city therefore maintains the name of its founder.

Ivory has long been a luxury item, used to make jewellery, art and even furniture. As
the ultimate symbol of luxury, Solomon had a throne made of ivory and then overlaid
with gold. He would receive a new supply by ship once every three years. It comes
from the tusks of animals such as the elephant, hippo and walrus. Hard and dense,
which makes it very durable, ivory is also elastic and easy to carve. Some of the most
beautiful pieces of ancient art are carved from ivory. Other similar or related artefacts
are on display in The British Museum.

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082 God Baal

Museum Description: Bronze Figure with Silver Overlay


Room: 57/Case: None/Number: WA 25096
Scripture: Zephaniah 1:4

This is possibly the god Baal, frequently mentioned in the Bible. Baal is often depicted
as a storm god with a club in one hand that made the sound of the thunder, and a
stylised spear in the other hand representing lightning. The Canaanites were primarily
farmers. They would want to ensure the rain came on time and to avoid droughts, so
would sacrifice to this god. There would be local versions of Baal, for example the Baal
of Peor mentioned in Numbers 25. The names of these Baals would even become part
of the place name, such as Baal-hermon, Baal-hazor etc. It was understood, however,
that despite these local variations there was only actually one god Baal.

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083 Bowls and Lamps

Museum Description: Bowls and Lamps


Room: 57/Case: 6/Number: WA 1984-6-11
Scripture: Jeremiah 18:4

It is amazing to see so much ancient pottery from Israel and the surrounding areas. It
reminds us of the frequent references to pottery in the Bible, and how Jehovah is the
Great Potter.

Lamps were a common part of everyday life in Bible times, and so are frequently
mentioned. The same style of oil lamps are not used today, so seeing them as artefacts
in The British Museum can help us understand and visualise the accounts better. In
general, olive oil would have been used as it burns with a bright flame. In times of
famine, however, other less bright oils were used and the number of wicks increased to
compensate. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

https://sites.google.com/site/jwmuseumbibletours
084 Jericho Bone Inlay

Museum Description: Decorative Bone Inlay


Room: 57/Case: 7/Number: WA 138899
Scripture: 2 Kings 2:4

These are from the ancient city of Jericho. The account of Joshua and Rahab is
perhaps the most famous concerning this city, but when Elisha took over from Elijah,
he was also in Jericho. In the time of Jesus, it was the location where Zacchaeus the
tiny tax collector climbed a mulberry tree.

Jericho is said to be the oldest city in the world. We get interesting insight into two
scriptures that first appear to contradict each other. When Jesus healed a blind man,
Mark 10:46 says he was coming into Jericho, but in Matthew 20:29 it says he was
coming out of Jericho. Excavations have shown there were actually two cities of
Jericho, old and new. Jesus was evidently leaving one and entering the other when he
performed the miracle. With only one account, he could have been at any point
entering or leaving the city, but using them both we know exactly where he was. Other
similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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067 Amarna Letters

Museum Description: Amarna Letters


Room: 57/Case: 8/Number: EA 29831
Scripture: Joshua 10:1

The Amarna letters are fascinating as a record of diplomatic communications between


the rulers of Egypt and Canaan from around three thousand years ago. What is even
more interesting from our point of view is some were written to the ruler of Jerusalem,
mentioning the name of the city as 'Urusalim', and confirming there was indeed a city-
kingdom there at the time.

This is written in cuneiform, a form of writing that literally means 'wedge-shaped'. It


took many years for cuneiform to be deciphered, and it was solved largely due to a
carving in a cliff in Behistun in multiple languages. 1-2 million cuneiform tablets are
estimated to have been found already, and about another 25,000 are found every year.
Only about one tenth of the tablets in existence have been read even once, so there
could be many more interesting discoveries just waiting to be found. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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068 Philistine Coffin Lids

Museum Description: Coffin Lids


Room: 57/Case: 9/Number: WA 1980-12-14
Scripture: Exodus 23:31

These coffin lids are from Lachish, showing the Philistines ruled the area before the
Israelites moved in. Artefacts such as these show they were an advanced culture for
their time

The Philistines were the enemies of the Israelites. They were immigrants who
migrated from Crete and settled on the southern coast of Israel. During the Exodus
from Egypt, Jehovah told the Israelites to avoid Philistia, as they probably would have
viewed the approaching nation as an act of aggression. They were sent instead to
Sinai, where there were only nomadic tribes who would not have been threatened by
them. David famously defeated the Philistine giant Goliath, and when he became king
subdued the rest of the Philistine nation. They remained a thorn in the side of Israel,
though, for many years. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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069 Philistine Pottery

Museum Description: Philistine Pottery


Room: 57/Case: 9/Number: WA 1.1148
Scripture: Exodus 23:31

All these items demonstrate the skill and the advanced culture of the ancient
Philistines. Excavations have produced large quantities of exquisite pottery decorated
with birds, fish, and geometric designs.

The Philistines were the enemies of the Israelites. They were immigrants who
migrated from Crete and settled on the southern coast of Israel. During the Exodus
from Egypt, Jehovah told the Israelites to avoid Philistia, as they probably would have
viewed the approaching nation as an act of aggression. They were sent instead to
Sinai, where there were only nomadic tribes who would not have been threatened by
them. David famously defeated the Philistine giant Goliath, and when he became king
subdued the rest of the Philistine nation. They remained a thorn in the side of Israel,
though, for many years. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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066 The Jericho Tomb

Museum Description: The Jericho Tomb


Room: 58/Case: None/Number: None
Scripture: Joshua 6:25

This is from a tomb of seven people, six of whom died at the same time, perhaps in a
raid or due to a family feud. It is from Jericho, most famous for being the home city of
Rahab, who with her family, were the only survivors of the destruction of the city by
Joshua and his army.

Jericho is said to be the oldest city in the world. We get interesting insight into two
scriptures that first appear to contradict each other. When Jesus healed a blind man,
Mark 10:46 says he was coming into Jericho, but in Matthew 20:29 it says he was
coming out of Jericho. Excavations have shown there were actually two cities of
Jericho, old and new. Jesus was evidently leaving one and entering the other when he
performed the miracle. With only one account, he could have been at any point
entering or leaving the city, but using them both we know exactly where he was. Other
similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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132 Egyptian House

Museum Description: Pottery Model of a Simple Dwelling


Room: 61/Case: None/Number: EA 32610
Scripture: Matthew 24:17

This is a representation of a house from Egypt, and gives us an impression of the type
of dwelling used in Bible lands. Of particular interest is the roof area, with a staircase
separated from the inside of the house. The Bible speaks of different activities taking
places on such flat roofs. Announcements could be made to those in the area, flax was
dried, people could meet and talk, engage in true or false worship, and even sleep. The
law required a parapet wall to be built, such as the one we can see here, for safety. This
configuration also helps us understand Jesus' words "let the man on the housetop not
come down to take the goods out of his house." When the time came, he should just
flee and not let material possession hold him back.

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131 Sandals

Museum Description: Pair of Child's Sandals Made from Woven Cord


Room: 61/Case: None/Number: EA 4418-19
Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:4

These are children's sandals, but they give an idea of the sort of clothing the Israelites
might have worn while in Egypt. They were slaves, so would have had only the basics.
Imagine a child wearing these sandals as the tenth plague is completed. The very
shortest route to the Promised Land would have been more than 250 miles, yet that
would have passed through the land of the Philistines. They not only passed through
the Red Sea, but also travelled a much longer route through the Wilderness. We can
see too it was truly miraculous that later, during their forty years in the Wilderness,
their clothing did not wear out, nor did their feet become swollen. This should have
been a daily reminder that Jehovah cared for them.

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157 Shabti Figures

Museum Description: Shabti Figures


Room: 62/Case: 15/Number: Various
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 9:10
Thousands of these figures have been found all over Egypt. Their exact significance
remained a mystery until papyrus texts were discovered that explained their use. The
Egyptians believed that when someone died, they could be called to work each day in
the underworld. Rather than do the work themselves, however, they could send one of
the shabti, or "answerers', to do the work for them. One was needed for every day of
the year, hence their abundance.

The Egyptians had an elaborate belief in the immortality of the soul. They believed
that there were several other aspects of their being. The 'ka' was a spiritual copy of the
physical body. The 'ba' could be likened to a person’s character or personality. The
'akh', “germinated” from the mummy as magic spells were said over it, and would then
live in the underworld with the gods. What a contrast to the simple truth in the Bible
that "the dead know nothing at all"! Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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130 Bull Mummy

Museum Description: Mummy of a Young Bull


Room: 62/Case: 28/Number: EA 6773
Scripture: Exodus 32:4

Here is an example of a mummified bull from Egypt. This was part of a pattern of
animal worship where gods were represented by animals, and these animals would be
kept in the temple of that god. They were then mummified when they died.

When the Israelites were waiting for Moses as he received the Ten Commandments,
they evidently were not very patient. They persuaded Aaron to make an idol for them
to worship, directly against one of the very commandments Moses was receiving. Why
did they choose the form of a calf or young bull? Perhaps this was because they were
familiar with the image and practice from their time in Egypt. The Apis bull was
venerated to such a degree they were even embalmed and mummified when they died.
Over 60 examples have been found at just one site. Other similar or related artefacts
are on display in The British Museum.

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156 Zodiac Coffin

Museum Description: Lid of the painted wooden coffin of Soter


Room: 62/Case: 27/Number: EA 6705
Scripture: 2 Kings 23:5

This is the inside of a coffin lid, so the dead person would effectively be looking up at
this image. The woman is the Egyptian goddess Nut (pronounced 'Noot'), the goddess
of the sky. Her toes are outstretched onto one horizon, and her fingers touch the
opposite horizon. The Egyptians believed that all the stars of the heavens were on her
belly. Around her we can see the familiar images of the signs of the zodiac.

The signs of the zodiac are generally thought to originate with the Babylonians,
although it was not until the time of the Greeks that the sky was formally divided into
12 equal part each represented by one of the signs. In fact, the word 'zodiac' is Greek
and means "circle of animals". It is amazing to think this ancient false worship is still
so widespread today! Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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127 Frog God Heqt

Museum Description: Relic Boxes and Bronze Votives


Room: 62/Case: 29/Number: EA 67191
Scripture: Exodus 8:5

Well done if you have been able to find this tiny artefact! It is the only representation
of the frog goddess Heqt in The British Museum. It is easy to know which of the ten
plagues of Egypt humiliated this goddess - the second, the infestation of frogs. The
frog was considered a symbol of fertility and resurrection for the Egyptians, but was an
unclean animal for the Israelites. The Egyptians used many animals and birds to
represent their gods. They would often make an image of the whole animal, or
represent the head on a human body. The animals and birds would be kept in their
respective temples and even mummified when they died.

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129 Book of the Dead

Museum Description: The Book of the Dead


Room: 62/Case: 24/Number: EA 9901/3
Scripture: Exodus 8:18
Anubis, god of the dead, is leading the soul of a scribe called Hunefer. On a pair of
scales his heart is weighed against the feather of truth. Thoth records the results. He
was also the god of magic, so unable to help the magic-practicing priests from
recreating the third plague of gnats. Since the heart is not heavy with guilt, he is
allowed to receive immortality. Sobek, the crocodile headed god is by the scales and is
ready to devour the deceased if he fails.

The Egyptians had an elaborate belief in the immortality of the soul. They believed
that there were several other aspects of their being. The 'ka' was a spiritual copy of the
physical body. The 'ba' could be likened to a person’s character or personality. The
'akh', “germinated” from the mummy as magic spells were said over it, and would then
live in the underworld with the gods. What a contrast to the simple truth in the Bible
that "the dead know nothing at all"! Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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179 Chief Baker Papyrus

Museum Description: Book of the Dead of the Chief Baker Padiamenet


Room: 62/Case: 24/Number: EA10063
Scripture: Genesis 40:22

A version of the Egyptian "Book of the Dead" has been found inside thousands of
coffins. This one is particularly interesting for students of the Bible, however, as it
belonged to the coffin of a "Chief Baker". This reminds us of the account in Genesis of
the Chief Baker in prison with Joseph, who would ultimately lose his life in fulfilment
of his own prophetic dream.

The Egyptians had an elaborate belief in the immortality of the soul. They believed
that there were several other aspects of their being. The 'ka' was a spiritual copy of the
physical body. The 'ba' could be likened to a person’s character or personality. The
'akh', “germinated” from the mummy as magic spells were said over it, and would then
live in the underworld with the gods. What a contrast to the simple truth in the Bible
that "the dead know nothing at all"! Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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128 Mummy

Museum Description: Mummy of a Young Man


Room: 62/Case: 7/Number: None
Scripture: Genesis 50:2

This mummy is from the Roman period, showing just how long this practice
continued. The term 'mummy' comes from the Arabic 'mummiya', which means
'bitumen'. When the body was soaked in resin as part of the embalming process it
appeared black. Jacob (Israel) was embalmed, though this must not have included the
Egyptians spiritistic practices.

The Egyptians had an elaborate belief in the immortality of the soul. They believed
that there were several other aspects of their being. The 'ka' was a spiritual copy of the
physical body. The 'ba' could be likened to a person’s character or personality. The
'akh', “germinated” from the mummy as magic spells were said over it, and would then
live in the underworld with the gods. What a contrast to the simple truth in the Bible
that "the dead know nothing at all"! Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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124 Coffin with Two Ways

Museum Description: The Book of Two Ways


Room: 63/Case: 4/Number: EA 30839
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 9:5

Two paths to the underworld are painted on the inside of this coffin, for the person’s
spirit to follow. Notice the 'eyes of Horus' painted on the outside. In fact, you can see
these on the outside of every Egyptian coffin here. They were thought to allow the
spirit to pass through and leave the coffin.

The Egyptians had an elaborate belief in the immortality of the soul. They believed
that there were several other aspects of their being. The 'ka' was a spiritual copy of the
physical body. The 'ba' could be likened to a person’s character or personality. The
'akh', “germinated” from the mummy as magic spells were said over it, and would then
live in the underworld with the gods. What a contrast to the simple truth in the Bible
that "the dead know nothing at all"! Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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125 Egyptian Granary

Museum Description: Wooden Model of a Granary


Room: 63/Case: 5/Number: EA 41573
Scripture: Genesis 41:49

Egyptians would be buried with everything they needed for life in the underworld.
Here we have a miniature granary including a scribe recording the quantities on a
writing board. This reminds us of Joseph in Egypt, stockpiling grain ready for seven
years of famine. There was so much grain they gave up writing down the quantities.

The Egyptians had an elaborate belief in the immortality of the soul. They believed
that there were several other aspects of their being. The 'ka' was a spiritual copy of the
physical body. The 'ba' could be likened to a person’s character or personality. The
'akh', “germinated” from the mummy as magic spells were said over it, and would then
live in the underworld with the gods. What a contrast to the simple truth in the Bible
that "the dead know nothing at all"! Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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180 Baking Bread

Museum Description: Baking, Brewing and Butchery


Room: 63/Case: 4/Number: EA 41576
Scripture: Genesis 18:6

Bread was a staple in the diet of many ancient nations, including the Israelites. Here
we can a depiction made for an Egyptian tomb, so bread could be eaten in the afterlife.
One man pounds grain into flour, while a woman grinds grain on a quern. We can also
see a yoke being used to carry the flour, and a woman baking the bread in an oven.
Seeing such an ancient depiction of everyday life can really bring Bible accounts to life.

The Egyptians had an elaborate belief in the immortality of the soul. They believed
that there were several other aspects of their being. The 'ka' was a spiritual copy of the
physical body. The 'ba' could be likened to a person’s character or personality. The
'akh', “germinated” from the mummy as magic spells were said over it, and would then
live in the underworld with the gods. What a contrast to the simple truth in the Bible
that "the dead know nothing at all"! Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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123 Ankh

Museum Description: Faience Composite Amulet


Room: 65/Case: 10/Number: EA 49726
Scripture: 1 John 5:21

This cross of life is combined with an Egyptian sceptre and the head of the god Heh,
supposedly the god of 'everlastingness'.

Here we have an example of the ankh, or ‘crux ansata’, which means “cross with
handle”. The New Catholic Encyclopaedia admits: “The cross is found in both pre-
Christian and non-Christian cultures, where it has largely a cosmic or natural
signification.” Why, then, have the churches chosen the cross as their most sacred
symbol? W. E. Vine, a respected British Biblical scholar, mentions these facts: “By the
middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. pagans were received into the churches and were
permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols”. You will be amazed by the
number of ankhs you can find in the Egyptian galleries! Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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120 Ankh with New Year Inscription

Museum Description: Faience Ankh with the Cartouche of Malonaqan


Room: 65/Case: 10/Number: EA 65274
Scripture: 1 John 5:21

This ankh also has an inscription in hieroglyphics about a New Year's celebration,
showing the pagan origins of that practice.

Here we have an example of the ankh, or ‘crux ansata’, which means “cross with
handle”. The New Catholic Encyclopaedia admits: “The cross is found in both pre-
Christian and non-Christian cultures, where it has largely a cosmic or natural
signification.” Why, then, have the churches chosen the cross as their most sacred
symbol? W. E. Vine, a respected British Biblical scholar, mentions these facts: “By the
middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. pagans were received into the churches and were
permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols”. You will be amazed by the
number of ankhs you can find in the Egyptian galleries! Other similar or related
artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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122 Leather Boot

Museum Description: Roman Military Footwear


Room: 65/Case: 13/Number: EA 71829
Scripture: Ephesians 6:15
Christians are to have their "feet shod in readiness to declare the good news of peace".
It is the opportunity to preach to others that takes us out on the field ministry, wearing
out our shoe leather! These boots are from the 1st century and give us an idea of the
type they would wear.

Armour is often mentioned in the Bible. When he went to fight Goliath, David
removed the armour given to him by Saul. It was too heavy for him, plus it was
Jehovah he trusted in rather than the protection the armour would give. A soldier's
equipment had two elements, the offensive part (arms) such as a sword, club, bow and
arrows, or a javelin. There was also the defensive part (armour) to protect the body,
essentially a second skin made of a tough material such as leather or metal. In the
spiritual battle that Christians face we "take up the complete suit of armour from God" -
Ephesians 6:13. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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121 Leather Belt

Museum Description: Chest Armour


Room: 65/Case: 13/Number: EA 71832
Scripture: Ephesians 6:14
Christians are encouraged to have "the belt of truth fastened around your waist". This
is labelled as a chest guard, but is similar to a soldier's belt. It was not just a narrow
strip of leather as most belts are today, but a wide band providing both support and
protection. In the same way the truth helps us to stand firm despite trials we may face.

Armour is often mentioned in the Bible. When he went to fight Goliath, David
removed the armour given to him by Saul. It was too heavy for him, plus it was
Jehovah he trusted in rather than the protection the armour would give. A soldier's
equipment had two elements, the offensive part (arms) such as a sword, club, bow and
arrows, or a javelin. There was also the defensive part (armour) to protect the body,
essentially a second skin made of a tough material such as leather or metal. In the
spiritual battle that Christians face we "take up the complete suit of armour from God" -
Ephesians 6:13. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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149 Denarius of Tiberius

Museum Description: Coin from Biblical Times


Room: 68/Case: 5/Number: 20, 21
Scripture: Matthew 22:19

One of Jesus' most famous illustrations, his superlative reasoning even caused his
opposers to marvel. The coin he held up that day was a denarius, and the Caesar at
that time was Tiberius, so this coin is of the very type that Jesus held! It is amazing to
think such a small coin was the wage for a whole day for a labourer. Why did Jesus
show them the coin, and not just tell them the point? Everyone surely already knew
whose head was on the coin. It was a object lesson, seeing it with their own eyes made
a deeper impression. That really is the value of seeing these artefacts in The British
Museum, it can help to bring the Bible accounts to life, as with this coin Whenever we
see the head of a monarch on a coin or banknote, we can remember Jesus' illustration
and the point he made, that it is more important to pay God's things to God.

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144 Gladiator Helmet

Museum Description: Bronze Helmet of a Murmillo


Room: 69/Case: 20/Number: GR 1946.5-14.1
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:32

We can imagine how fearsome these contests would have been by looking at this
artefact. One account from Rome recounts that, to celebrate a military victory, Trajan
organised a contest involving 10,000 gladiators and 11,000 animals.

Gladiatorial games were a barbaric form of bloody-thirsty contest. They were very
different from the Greek games with their focus on athletic ability. They may have had
their origin in false worship - the Bible records pagan priests cutting themselves to
appease their gods, or to honour the dead. Gladiatorial fights also started as part of
funeral services. From the time of Nero, Christians were subjected to these cruel
contests either against humans or animals. As Paul was teaching the Corinthian
Christians, it is faith in a resurrection that can help us during the severest trials. Other
similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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145 Boxing Vase

Museum Description: Black-Figured Panathenaic Amphora


Room: 69/Case: 18/Number: GR 1872.8-20.271
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:26

This vase shows a boxing contest, a popular sport and part of the ancient Isthmian and
Olympic Games.

Boxing in ancient Greece was even more barbaric than it is today. Rather than gloves
with padding, the boxers would wear strips of leather studded with metal. The
contests could last for hours, and one ancient boxer records that after a four hour
boxing match he could no longer recognise himself in a mirror! Obviously
inappropriate as entertainment for Christians, it does bring to life Paul's illustration
about putting into practice what we learn from the Bible. When fighting against Satan
and our own imperfections, Paul said: "the way I am aiming my blows is so as not to be
striking the air." Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British
Museum.

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146 Female Gladiators

Museum Description: Female Gladiators


Room: 69/Case: None/Number: GR 1847.4-24.19
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:32

This artefact shows that even women took part in gladiatorial battles. The British
Museum adds a note that they could win their freedom if they had a series of
outstanding performances.

Gladiatorial games were a barbaric form of bloody-thirsty contest. They were very
different from the Greek games with their focus on athletic ability. They may have had
their origin in false worship - the Bible records pagan priests cutting themselves to
appease their gods, or to honour the dead. Gladiatorial fights also started as part of
funeral services. From the time of Nero, Christians were subjected to these cruel
contests either against humans or animals. As Paul was teaching the Corinthian
Christians, it is faith in a resurrection that can help us during the severest trials. Other
similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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147 Runners Vase

Museum Description: Panathenaic Prize-Amphora with Three Runners


Room: 69/Case: 24/Number: GR 1856,1001.1
Scripture: Hebrews 12:1

The runners on this vase well illustrate what it means to put off every weight when
running in a race! Interestingly, the way they are shown to be running indicates that
they are not sprinters, but long distance runners, so in great need of endurance.

Several times in the Bible running is used to illustrate a spiritual point. A winner was
not crowned unless he followed the rules (2 Timothy 2:5), not running in vain
(Galatians 2:2, Philippians 2:16), pursuing the goal for the prize (Philippians 3:14),
running the course to the finish (2 Timothy 4:7) and several more. The runners in the
Greek games trained hard and were very disciplined, both in their behaviour and diet,
hence a rich source of illustrations. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in
The British Museum.

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148 Sun-god Helios

Museum Description: Bronze Figure of the Sun-god Helios


Room: 69/Case: 34/Number: GR 1865.0712.17
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:16

Helios was the Roman sun god, and is the origin of the word 'halo'. The practice of
representing gods with a circle of light, though, is much older. Ironically, this statue
has lost its halo, but we can still see the struts that would have held it in place.

Often in Christendom's religious art Jesus, Mary, angels and the 'saints' are depicted
with the familiar halo around their head. Even in popular culture, a 'good' person is
often shown with a halo, whereas a 'bad' person is shown as the devil. Where did this
practice originate? Here it is plain to see, and it can actually be traced all the way back
to Babylon, where a circle of light was the symbol of their sun god. Other similar or
related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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133 Augustus Caesar

Museum Description: The Meroe Head of Augustus


Room: 70/Case: 1/Number: GR 1911.9-1.1
Scripture: Luke 2:1

Octavian Caesar was later given the title of Augustus, meaning “exalted, sacred” by the
Roman Senate, becoming known as Augustus Caesar. In fulfilment of the prophecy in
Daniel 11:20, he caused "an exactor to pass through the splendid kingdom". He likely
ordered a census so he could learn the population for the purposes of taxation and
military conscription. This caused Jesus to be born in the town of Bethlehem, as
foretold by the prophet Micah. The Bible is even accurate in mentioning it was the
time of the first registration in 2 B.C.E. and not the later one in 6 C.E. This is a fact that
has embarrassed Bible critics, who claimed the Bible writer Luke was mistaken on this
point. Caesar Augustus was effectively the ruler of the world at that time, and yet was
unaware he was just a puppet in Jehovah's hands. Jehovah can use world leaders
today to fulfil his prophecies when the time is right.

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134 Tiberius Caesar

Museum Description: Marble Head of the Emperor Tiberius


Room: 70/Case: None/Number: 1812.6-15.2
Scripture: John 19:15

Caesar Augustus’ successor was his stepson Tiberius. The prophecy in Daniel 11:21
records that he would be a 'despised one'. We can see how this might have been true
just looking at the expression on his face! One quote about him reads: “Tiberius did
many other wicked deeds under the pretext of reforming public morals—but in reality
it was to gratify his lust for seeing people suffer”. Tiberius is important as he was the
Caesar ruling at the time Jesus was preaching. Luke 3:1 says Jesus was baptised in the
15th year of the reign of Tiberius. This began in 14 C.E., so we can calculate that Jesus
became the Messiah in 29 C.E., exactly at the time foretold in Daniel’s prophecy of the
'seventy weeks'. He could also have played a part in Jesus’ death. He strictly enforced
the law of 'laesa majestas' (injured majesty). In addition to seditious acts, merely
libellous words against the emperor would be a death sentence. Presumably on the
strength of this law, the Jews pressured Pontius Pilate to have Jesus killed.

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182 Vespasian Caesar

Museum Description: Vespasian Marble Head


Room: 70/Case: None/Number: 1850.3-4.35
Scripture: Luke 21:24

Vespasian was initially famous for his military success. He was not only the
commander of a Roman legion during the invasion of Britain in 43 C.E., but he also
put down the first Jewish rebellion in 66 C.E. during which his son Titus was his
second-in-command. As prophesied by Jesus, there was a lull in the fighting in Judea
due to political turmoil in Rome, which allowed the Christian to escape from
Jerusalem. During this time, Vespasian return to Rome, and was officially appointed
Caesar in 69 C.E. This followed the suicide of Nero, and the failure of no less than
three other people who tried to succeed him. Vespasian was therefore ruling when the
Jesus' prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem was ultimately fulfilled, when
Titus resumed the siege 70 C.E. Funded by treasure looted from the temple in
Jerusalem, Vespasian built the famous Colosseum in Rome.

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135 Titus Caesar

Museum Description: Marble Head of the Emperor Titus


Room: 70/Case: None/Number: 1909.6-10.1
Scripture: Luke 21:6

Jesus famously prophesied that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed. Titus,
later to be Caesar, was a General at the time and fulfilled that prophecy. In 70 C.E. he
built a wall of pointed stakes around the city, in fulfilment of Jesus' words at Luke
19:43. This was also recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus, who travelled with
the Roman army. There is a story that the gold of the temple melted when the city was
set on fire, and the soldiers moved the stones to get the gold out. This is just a possible
theory, however, as there is no account from the time that records this. Josephus does
record that the entire city was demolished: "the rest of the wall encompassing the city
was so completely levelled to the ground as to leave future visitors no reason for
believing that it had ever been inhabited." An inscription found in the Colosseum of
Rome says it was "erected with the proceeds of the treasure." The treasure was taken
by Titus in the war against the Jews, including the gold in the temple in Jerusalem.
The Arch of Titus in Rome also commemorates this event.

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181 Claudius Caesar

Museum Description: Claudius Marble Head


Room: 70/Case: None/Number: GR 1870.3-20.200
Scripture: Acts 18:2

Claudius Caesar was the fourth to be emperor of Rome. He was the nephew of
Tiberius and uncle of the notorious Caligula, who actually reigned before him. He was
supported by Herod Agrippa I, and in return gave him Judea and Samaria to be part of
his kingdom. He is the last of three Caesars, along with Augustus and Tiberius, to be
mentioned by name in the Bible. His name occurs twice, the first in Acts 11, in
connection with the famine foretold by the prophet Agabus, which came true during
his reign. He also ordered all the Jews to leave Rome, which resulted in Aquila and
Priscilla leaving for Corinth where they met the apostle Paul. The secular Roman
historian Suetonius recorded that Claudius did indeed issue such an order. After
ruling for nearly 14 years, he was apparently murdered by being poisoned by his wife,
allowing Nero to come to the throne.

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136 Hair Braiding

Museum Description: Inscribed Marble Portrait of Claudia Olympias


Room: 70/Case: None/Number: GR 1812.0615.3
Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:9

This is a good example of how an understanding of the culture at the time helps us to
better understand a Bible verse. On first reading, we might wonder what is wrong with
a Christian woman braiding her hair. Here, however, we can see just what that might
have entailed. It was popular among the Greek women to have very elaborate
hairstyles. They would take many hours to complete by a trained beautician and
would be very expensive. The result would certainly draw attention to wearer. For all
these reasons we can see why qualities such as modesty and soundness of mind should
be more important to Christian women. Doing good works may not draw attention
from admirers, but it is always noticed by Jehovah.

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137 Herod the Great Coin

Museum Description: Bronze Coin of Herod the Great


Room: 70/Case: 27/Number: CM 1908.1-10.263
Scripture: Matthew 2:13

Herod the Great was the ruler at the time of Jesus' birth. He was responsible for the
murder of all the male children two years of age or under in the area around
Bethlehem. This act was in itself a fulfilment of the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:15.
Jehovah provided protection for Jesus by sending an angel to warn Mary and Joseph
to flee to Egypt. This also fulfilled Hosea 11:1 that says: "out of Egypt I called my son".
Jesus stayed there until the death of Herod the Great. This Herod was famous for his
building projects. He built the huge seaport of Caesarea, and greatly expanded the
temple in Jerusalem. The original temple was destroyed by the Babylonians 420 years
after it was built by Solomon. Zerubbabel replaced it 90 years later, but it was Herod
the Great who turned it back into one of the most magnificent buildings in the world.
It was built on a platform of huge stones that remain to this day, and was covered with
plates of gold.

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138 Philip, Son of Herod Coin

Museum Description: Bronze Coin of Philip, Son of Herod


Room: 70/Case: 27/Number: CM 1899.4-2.83
Scripture: Luke 3:1

This is the coin of Philip the Tetrarch, a title which means he was one of four joint
rulers. He was the ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis. This helps us to fix the date of this
verse to 29 C.E., the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist. This Philip was a
son of Herod the Great by Cleopatra of Jerusalem, and so was a half-brother of the
other Philip, who was husband to Herodias and whose daughter was Salome.
Herodias persuaded Salome to ask for John the Baptist's head on platter, because John
had exposed her adulterous marriage when she left Philip for his brother Antipas.
Interestingly, the Bible does not record the name of the daughter as Salome, we learn
this from the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus. Philip the Tetrarch later
married Salome, the daughter of his half-brother, whose mother was now married to
his other half-brother. This must have made family reunions complicated and
awkward! It does show, however, that the Bible is grounded in historical facts,
accurately recording the rulers of the time.

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139 Pontius Pilate Coin

Museum Description: Bronze Coin Minted at Jerusalem by Pontius Pilate


Room: 70/Case: 27/Number: CM 1908.1-10.530
Scripture: Mark 15:15

Pontius Pilate's name does not appear on this coin, and yet The British Museum is
happy to attribute it to the time of his rule, as we can see from their description. Why
is this? There was no archaeological proof of Pilate's existence. That was, until 1961.
An inscription was found in Caesarea mentioning Pontius Pilate, a prefect of the
Roman province of Judaea from 26-36 C.E. Now historians are happy to attribute
coins from the era to him. Legal cases at the time that required the death penalty were
evidently referred to the Roman governor, rather than being handled by the Jewish
courts. Pilate was aware that the Jews handed over Jesus due to their envy, and made
some attempts to free him. Pilate may have wanted to do what was right, but
ultimately he wanted to save himself and please the crowd. No judge should condemn
a man he knows to be innocent.

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140 Herod Agrippa Coin

Museum Description: Bronze Coin of Herod


Room: 70/Case: 27/Number: CM 1985.10-2.1
Scripture: Acts 12:23

Herod Agrippa was the grandson of Herod the Great. He was the last Herod to be king
over all of Palestine. Educated with the son of Tiberius Caesar, he was part of their
social circle. Tiberius put him in prison for expressing a desire for Agrippa's friend
Caligula to become Caesar. Tiberius dies before he could punish him further, and then
indeed Caligula did become Caesar. He freed Agrippa, and promoted him to king over
the area where his family had previously ruled. Agrippa's sister was Herodias, the wife
of Herod Antipas. That did not stop him manoeuvring against them, however,
eventually having Antipas banished and the land of his kingdom added to his own.
Agrippa sought to gain the favour of the Jews by claiming to be a devoted Jew himself.
He prevented Caligula installing a statute of himself in the temple in Jerusalem. He
killed James the brother of John and imprisoned Peter, who was then freed by
Jehovah's angels. Later, when Agrippa was receiving the adulation of a crowd,
Jehovah caused Agrippa to become eaten up with worms and die.

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141 Pool of Siloam Lamp

Museum Description: Wheelmade Terracotta Lamp


Room: 70/Case: 27/Number: 12 GR 1908.11-20.19
Scripture: John 9:7

This oil lamp, formed in the Herodian style, is said to come from the Pool of Siloam.
This is familiar to us as the scene of one of Jesus' miracles. This lamp dates from
around the time, so can you picture it in the background as the blind man washed his
eyes and regained his sight? Perhaps it was one of the very first things he saw!

Lamps were a common part of everyday life in Bible times, and so are frequently
mentioned. The same style of oil lamps are not used today, so seeing them as artefacts
in The British Museum can help us understand and visualise the accounts better. In
general, olive oil would have been used as it burns with a bright flame. In times of
famine, however, other less bright oils were used and the number of wicks increased to
compensate. Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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142 Tetradrachm of Nero

Museum Description: Base Silver Tetradrachm of Nero


Room: 70/Case: 28/Number: CM BMC Alexandra 114
Scripture: Acts 25:12

Nero is not mentioned by name in the Bible, but we know he ruled from 54-68 C.E. so
he must have been both the Caesar appealed to by Paul, and all the subsequent times
Caesar is mentioned in the Bible. Nero committed suicide at just 31 years of age, but
that was long enough to have established a fearsome reputation. Paul's appeal to
Caesar served his desire to go to Rome, which also had Jehovah's backing. Paul wrote
several of his letters while under the house arrest of Nero, and refers to some of his
spiritual brothers actually in the 'household of Caesar'. If these were not part of Nero's
immediate family, they were at least working in his service. Nero is famous for
blaming a great fire in Rome on the Christians, a fire he was rumoured to have started
himself. Many Christians were put to death during this time, and it is generally
accepted that Paul too was killed by this Caesar.

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143 Gold Jewellery

Museum Description: Gold Pendant with a Head of Medusa


Room: 70/Case: 32/Number: GR 1917.6-1.2737
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:3

Peter found it necessary to counsel the congregation about the wearing of gold
ornaments. These would have been very expensive, so would have drawn attention to
the wearer and could have encouraged a spirit of materialism. Looking at an example
here, we can see another reason for Peter's counsel. The gold ornaments were often
made from a sheet of gold decorated with images. Here we have an example with an
image of Medusa. They were religious symbols, so would depict various gods and
goddesses. Essentially a form of idolatry, they provided another snare for Christians if
they wanted to follow the latest fashion.

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037 Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Museum Description: Ephesus Fourth Century Temple of Artemis


Room: 77/Case: None/Number: 1872.8-3.13
Scripture: Acts 19:27

The Temple of Artemis was approximately 100m long and 50m wide. It was said that
gold was used between the bricks instead of mortar, but sadly we can't see any of that
here! With these column capitals we do get an impression of its impressive size.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and
there are many parts of it in The British Museum. Skilled artisans and workmen
laboured on it for 220 years. It was so sacred treasures could be deposited in it
without any fear of being stolen. The silversmith's worry was that Paul's preaching
would mean their temple would be brought to nothing, and they were exactly right.
The temple no longer stands, but what Paul preached has spread throughout the earth.
Other similar or related artefacts are on display in The British Museum.

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038 Politarchs Inscription

Museum Description: List of Civic Officials from a Roman Gateway


Room: 78/Case: None/Number: 1877.5-11.1
Scripture: Acts 17:6

Higher critics of the Bible seek to find any detail they can use to undermine its
authenticity. In this verse, Luke used the obscure Greek title 'politarchs', which is
translated as 'city rulers'. This title did not exist in Greek literature outside the Bible,
so was thought to be an example of the Bible being historically inaccurate. That was
until this inscription was found on part of an arch in Thessalonica - the very city where
Paul was, according to Luke. The word 'politarchs' occurs on the top line. Since then,
several other inscriptions have been found using the same term. It seems it took a
while for archaeology to catch up with the accurate record in the Bible!

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