BOOK OF DANIEL – Some Interesting Archaeological Finds

Posted by on Oct 3, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Some Interesting Archaeological Finds

Some Interesting Archaeological Finds

Robert Johann Koldewey (1855-1925) was a German self-trained archaeologist, famous for his in-depth excavation of the ancient city of Babylon. His digs at Babylon revealed the foundations of the ziggurat Marduk and the Ishtar Gate. He also developed several modern archaeological techniques including a method to identify and excavate mud-brick architecture. This technique was particularly useful in his excavation of what Koldewey believed to be the Hanging Gardens of Babylon which he excavated from 1899 to 1917. These gardens were built around 580 BC using, for the most part, unfired mudbricks. Koldewey obtained the support of the German Oriental Society and in 1899 his team unearthed Babylon’s central Processional Street. For the first time, the modern world at that time took its first look at the site of this ancient city. The expedition also found the outer walls, inner walls, and foundation of Etemenanki, a temple sometimes identified as the “Tower of Babel”, as well as Nebuchadnezzar’s palaces. A member of Koldewey’s team, Walter Andrae (1875-1956), later created models of Babylon for the Berlin Museum. In his book, “A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the book of Daniel”, James A. Montgomery (1866-1949) referenced Koldewey discovering the largest room of the castle or the throne room of the Babylonian kings. Koldewey said it was distinguished in every respect from all the other rooms he discovered and that he felt sure it was the chief royal chamber. He believed this room to be the very room Belshazzar held his ill-fated banquet. It measured 17 meters wide by 52 meters long (this measurement is approx. 56 feet wide by 171 feet long). Here is the interesting part. Koldewey described the room as having a niche in the center that was opposite the entrance where he felt the throne originally stood. He noticed that the walls were covered with white plaster.

While the above is conjecture and in no way can we categorically state it as being the actual room mentioned in Daniel we can deduce that there were rooms large enough to hold large banquets. We know also that the walls were covered in white plaster. This seems a logical color to have chosen for electricity was not known to the Babylonians. White would have enhanced any light used to brighten a room. They, like many ancient societies, relied upon lights by oil that were used in lampstands.

As I read the above that I share with you, it became apparent that Belshazzar and his guests would have had no problem in immediately seeing the hand and the writing on the wall. Some have suggested this niche and the light shining from the lampstand against the plaster would have certainly brought attention to this incredible sight.

Whatever room Belshazzar held his banquet in is irrelevant to the story. The important thing is what occurred and why. In desperation for an answer, we are told in Daniel 5:7, “The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” (ESV)

A couple of things are apparent in this verse. First is the fact that Belshazzar made the same mistake as Nebuchadnezzar. He called the same pagan “experts” that Nebuchadnezzar called although, perhaps, with more arrogance than his predecessor. I say that because he would have known what occurred to Nebuchadnezzar and also how and who had interpreted the king’s dreams. Given his attitude and clear disdain for the God of the Jews, the suggestion has been made that perhaps Daniel was no longer in service to the court. The other thing that is apparent in this verse is Belshazzar’s promise to whomever that could tell him the meaning of the writing would become the third ruler in the kingdom. This points to the fact that Belshazzar was indeed regent to Nabonidus’s throne and therefore the second ruler in the kingdom.