Archaeology helps us better discern our history, which in written form is highly subjective. There’s a reason we’ve all heard the phrase, “History is written by the victors,” even though none of us know who said it (hint: it wasn’t Churchill). Archaeologists provide physical clues to our past and help us read through the hyperbole of ancient “historians.”

Archaeology help us understand that God and community are intrinsic to human nature. Our concept of both has evolved over tens of thousands of years. This is relatively new scholarship. For decades, researchers accepted that humans didn’t formalize religion until the development of farming. Once we could settle down and grow food instead of having to wander all over the place for it, we could think about more existential things, the thinking went. Then, in 1994, Gobekli Tepe was discovered. Humans, it seems, have been dreaming of God since we first awoke in this incredible universe.

Biblical archaeology is a scientific discipline that focuses on the search for a broad range of artifacts from the biblical eras, not to “prove” or “disprove” anything, necessarily, but instead to shed light on the context in which these stories were written. Biblical archaeology helps us more intimately comprehend the real-world, everyday lives of the people in the Bible, and what they thought about the Cosmos. From buildings to apocryphal texts, biblical archaeology helps us better discern the environment in which the biblical stories occur, and the people who lived there, thousands of years ago.

One of the best places to learn more about biblical archaeology is on the Biblical Archaeology Society’s website. They also publish a magazine, Biblical Archaeology Review, which I’ve subscribed to on and off for more than 30 years. It’s now available in a digital version that looks great on an iPad. BAS is a phenomenal resource for anyone who wants to learn more about what the world was like in the Ancient Near East, and how that world influenced the development of the Bible for thousands of years.