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Explore 10 Biblical Sites: Photos

These tantalizing archaeological finds may—or may not—offer material evidence of ancient locations, characters and stories written about in the Bible.

Tel Meggido

Tel Megiddo

Current Location: Israel

Megiddo is better known to some by its Greek name of Armageddon, which some Christians believe will be the site of the end-times battle prophesied in the Book of Revelation. Archaeologists have uncovered an astounding 26 layers of human occupation at this site, which is located about 30 km southeast of Haifa, Israel. A leading Canaanite city during the Bronze Age, it later became an important royal city in the Kingdom of Israel, according to the Hebrew Bible. 

Qumran

Qumran

Current Location: Israel's West Bank

This ancient settlement, located on the northwest shores of the Dead Sea, gained international fame in the late 1940s, when Bedouin shepherds stumbled into nearby caves and discovered the first of the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic texts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contain biblical text and other ancient writings. Subsequent excavations revealed the ruins of buildings and an extensive aqueduct system. Some scholars believe Qumran was home to the Essenes, an isolationist Jewish sect often credited with authorship of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

Tel Hazor

Tel Hazor 

Current Location: Israel (Galilee)

At some 200 acres, this site in Upper Galilee (now a national park) is the largest of Israel’s “tels,” the artificial mounds that have formed over centuries of human settlement, as older buildings crumble and new ones are built. According to the Old Testament, Hazor was the site of one of Joshua’s key victories in his conquest of Canaan after Moses’ death; he supposedly burned the city to the ground, clearing the way for Israelite settlement. Excavations are ongoing, and though some evidence of burned materials and structures have surfaced, archaeologists are still debating whether the biblical battle actually took place.

READ MORE: The Bible Says Jesus Was Real. What Other Proof Exists?

Machaerus

Machaerus

Current Location: Jordan

This ancient desert fortress, located just over 30 km to the southwest of Madaba, Jordan, sits atop a hill overlooking the Dead Sea. After its destruction by Roman troops, King Herod the Great rebuilt Machaerus and used it as a military base. The Bible (and Jewish historian Flavius Josephus) identified the palace-fortress as the site where John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed on the orders of Herod the Great’s son Herod Antipas. 

READ MORE: Where is the Head of John the Baptist?

Jerusalem

Old City of Jerusalem

Current Location: Israel (also claimed by Palestine)

According to Jewish tradition, the Temple Mount (which now lies within a walled compound inside the Old City) was where God gathered the dust to create the first human, Adam, and where King David’s son, Solomon, built the first temple circa 1000 B.C. (later torn down by the Babylonians). Muslims also worship at the site, now home to the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine, and the al-Aqsa Mosque. These competing claims have led this to become one of the most contested spots in the world. The Old City contains other key religious sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and his (empty) tomb, and the Western Wall, a remnant of the Second Temple (built by King Herod in the first century B.C.) that is the holiest site Jews can go to pray.

READ MORE: History of Jerusalem

Tel Be'er Sheva

Tel Beersheba

Current Location: Israel (Negev desert) 

Located in the Negev desert in southern Israel, this site is thought to be the remains of the biblical town of Beersheba; it lies a few miles east of the modern city by that name. According to the Old Testament, the Hebrew patriarch Abraham negotiated a deal with the Philistine king Abimelech over a well here, and planted a tamarisk tree. The site’s well-preserved water system of cisterns dates to the Iron Age.

Mount Nebo

Mount Nebo

Current Location: Jordan

According to the Old Testament, Moses lived his final days here, and climbed to the top to look out over the Promised Land before he died. Some believe Mount Nebo was also where the Hebrew prophet and leader was buried. A pilgrimage site since the fourth century, it was home to a church built around that time, the ruins of which were discovered in the 1930s. Mosaics created in the sixth century by Byzantine-era monks are still on view, as well as stunning views of the Holy Land and the Jordan River valley from its peak.

READ MORE: Where is the Head of John the Baptist?

Petra

Petra

Current Location: Jordan

This ancient city, carved into the red rock cliffs of Jebel al-Madhbah, near the Dead Sea in southern Jordan, was known as “Sela” in the Bible. Scholars believe Petra was likely built circa 312 B.C. by the Nabateans, a mysterious ancient Arabian society that founded an independent kingdom with its capital here. The world-famous ruins still yield new discoveries, such as the massive, mysterious structure found near its center in 2016, which scientists spotted using Google Earth, satellite imagery and drones.

Biblical-Archaeological-Sites-GettyImages-827217230

El-Araj

Current Location: Israel (Galilee)

Recent excavations of Roman-era ruins at this site located at the delta of the River Jordan, on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, suggest it may be the ancient Jewish fishing village of Bethsaida, later the Roman city of Julias. Frequently mentioned in the Gospels as the birthplace of three of Jesus’ apostles—Peter, Andrew and Philip—the village also saw Jesus himself perform several memorable miracles. Though another group of scholars claims et-Tell, on the Jordan River's east bank, is actually Bethsaida, archaeologists at el-Araj argue that the site’s location makes it the strongest candidate for the biblical fishing village.

READ MORE: Ancient Middle East

Saida

Sidon (Saida)

Current Location: Lebanon

 Along with nearby Tyre, this ancient port city (locally known as Saida) was important in both the Old and New Testaments for its association with the Canaanites, the ancient inhabitants of land west of the River Jordan in modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. When Jesus visited the region, according to the New Testament, many came out to hear him preach. The city is home to the Temple of Eshmun (the Phoenician god of healing), a site of great archaeological importance; it suffered extensive damage in the Lebanese civil war, but has been partially restored.

Watch a preview of the four-week special event Jesus: His Life, premiering Monday, March 25 at 8/7c.

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