A World in Miniature: Creation, Cosmos, and Ecology on Seals from the Biblical Times
Since the dawn of civilization, seals have been widely used from Egypt, Babylonia, to Assyria and other surrounding nations. These seals, were stamps of a hard material such as crystal, stone, or metal with illustrations engraved onto the stone. The seals would cause impressions on wax, clay or any other soft substances, which were attached to documents to prove ownership, or authenticate documents. Today we can learn so much more from these miniature objects then where they came from or who owned them. These intricate illustrations show abundance information on topics and themes that speak on the perspective of their world in that era.
The themes Creation, Cosmology, and Ecology show us that life in the ancient times was not so secluded as it is assumed today, but instead has profuse dimensions and elements. Through these seals we can have a better understanding of what life in the ancient world entailed. Mainly the public will be able to look into the daily life, religions, traditions of the ancient people through the seals. From Egypt to Mesopotamia, cosmopolitan worldviews—where chaos leads to creation, and animal-human hybrids take the form of deities—are consistently found in stark contrast to the creation and cosmological accounts found in the Bible.
This exhibit brings together approximately 65 ancient seals and artifacts from the Yale Babylonian Collection at Yale University, the Siegfried H. Horn Archaeological Museum at Andrews University, and the Badè Museum at Pacific School of Religion. These intricately carved objects reflect how ancient cultures during biblical times understood existential questions of origins, worldview, and their relationship with the natural environment. This exhibition will be on display from September 13, 2016 to April 26, 2019.
The Battle Over King David
The story of David and Goliath is one of the most memorable in the Bible. The setting for this legendary battle is the Valley of Elah in the Judean foothills. Today the Elah valley has become a battleground for a new controversy, this time concerning the historical accuracy of the Bible. Archaeological discoveries from biblical Sha’arayim, known as Khirbet Qeiyafa or the “Fortress of Elah,” are challenging skeptical scholars’ claims that there is no evidence for biblical David and his Kingdom. For the first time outside of the country of Israel, a sampling of these important artifacts is on display at Southern Adventist University’s Lynn H. Wood Archaeological Museum. The exhibition showcases ceramic, stone, and metal objects uncovered at the Khirbet Qeiyafa excavations from 2007 to 2011. Many of these pieces were uncovered by Southern Adventist University’s own excavation team who, in partnership with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been excavating the remains of this fortress-city since 2009. The objects are on loan from the collection of the National Treasures Department, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The theme of the exhibition highlighted the scholarly controversy over the historicity of the United Monarchy of Israel. According to some scholars, Saul, David, and Solomon were little more than tribal leaders who ruled a small chiefdom in the highlands of Judah. The biblical description of their kingdom is an exaggerated version of history invented by writers with a political agenda. In the last century, the so-called Solomonic gates were discovered at the biblical sites of Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. The Bible (1 Kings 9:15) credits Solomon with rebuilding the fortifications of these three cities. New fortifications uncovered at the Fortress of Elah have provided evidence of a kingdom in Judah during the reigns of Saul and David (c. 1020-980 BC). The exhibition opening was the culmination of a yearlong process to create the first museum exhibition to display the finds of the Khirbet Qeiyafa Archaeological Project. The project, which was started by professor Yosef Garfinkel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Saar Ganor (Israel Antiquities Authority) in 2007, received extensive media coverage since the oldest Hebrew inscription was found at the site in 2008. Documentary crews from National Geographic and the BBC visited the site in 2010 and major news outlets like CNN, Fox News, The New York Times, and the Huffington Post have released various stories as recently as this year. “We have the unique distinction to be the first museum in the world to share these important archaeological finds,” remarked Michael G. Hasel, PhD, curator. “The discoveries at Khirbet Qeiyafa have revolutionized our understanding of the biblical kingdom of Judah and now we have the privilege to share them with our community and the Seventh-day Adventist Church."
Exhibition highlights included a collection of stamped and finger-impressed jar handles, stamp and scarab seals, and bronze and silver coins from the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman periods. Famous artifacts like the potsherd with the Hebrew inscription (Qeiyafa Ostracon) and a portable stone shrine found in 2011, that were not available for loan, were replicated for the exhibition. Also on display was a scaled model of one of the two gates that give the city its name (Sha’arayim means “two gates” in Hebrew). The special exhibition was free of charge and open to the public during regular museum hours (see our website for hours, directions, and other information). The exhibition was on display from November 2012 to May 2015.
Faces of Power: Ancient Coins of the Biblical World
Since their inception coins have been much more than just money. Ancient coins, like today’s currency, are symbols of power—monetary, political, and cultural power. Bearing the identifying image or emblem of the emperor who issued them, coins established his legitimacy as the supreme authority, advertised his image throughout his empire, and broadcasted his greatest accomplishments. Circulating farther and longer than the best newspaper, coins effectively carried their message long after their issuer was gone.
Under Julio-Claudian family rule, Rome reached a new pinnacle of power and prosperity—the Pax Romana. These emperors capitalized on the power of coins to portray an image or transmit an idea. Imperial portraiture on coins made the Julio-Claudians international celebrities. More than mere self-aggrandizement, coin iconography commemorated major events in history—military victories, building projects, official appointments, death, and deification. Coins became snapshots of history.
The exhibition featured a prominent display of coins from the Persian, Hellenistic/Greek, and Roman periods of antiquity, and was on display from October 2008 to May 2009.