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Biblical Archaeology Review 47:1, Spring 2021

Strata: In Situ

You recognize this famous artifact. What is it called, and who created it?

1. Victory Stele of Merneptah Merneptah

2. Kurkh Stele Ashurnasirpal II

3. Gezer Calendar unknown

4. Kurkh Stele Shalmaneser III

5. The Mesha Stele Mesha of Moab

Answer: (1)

Erected during the reign of the Pharaoh Merneptah (1213–1203 B.C.E.) and discovered by Flinders Petrie in 1896, this stele contains the earliest known extra-biblical mention of Israel.

Known as the Victory Stele of Merneptah, this monument describes the pharaoh’s victories over his rebellious vassals in Canaan and over a large force of Libyans and Sea Peoples who intended to migrate and settle in Egypt. The Sea Peoples were a group of seemingly displaced peoples, likely originating in the Aegean, that included the famous Philistines, among others. Unlike typical invading armies, the Sea Peoples brought their families and animals with them, as recent research indicates that theirs was more of a steady migration to the eastern Mediterranean coast.

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