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A recently translated inscription on a stone altar discovered in the ancient city of Ataroth in Jordan may reference the rebellion of Mesha king of Moab, described in 2 Kings 3. The 2800-year-old round, stone altar was discovered in 2010 in a Moabite sanctuary. A translation of the inscription on the altar was recently published in the journal Levant. The altar bears two inscriptions: one that records quantities of bronze, likely looted from the conquered city, that were presented as an offering, and the other describes Ataroth as "the desolate city," and "4,000 foreign men" who were scattered and abandoned in great number. Both the inscription and the archaeological context in which the altar was found date to the late ninth or early eighth century BC. The importance of the inscribed altar, and its connection to the battle described in 2 Kings 3, lies in the fact that the Moabite Stone/Mesha Stele records how the King of Moab conquered the Israelite city of Ataroth during the rebellion. It states: "Now the people of Gad had dwelt in the region of Atarot for a long time, and the king of Israel built Atarot for them. But I fought against the city and I took it, and I killed all the people, and the city was a satiation for Kemosh and for Moab." The researchers conclude that the altar was placed in a Moabite sanctuary at Ataroth to commemorate this event. If this interpretation is correct, it would confirm that the Moabites succeeded in conquering Ataroth during Mesha's rebellion. The inscription also demonstrates that 2800 years ago, the Moabites had skilled scribes and used their own script.

Off-site Links:

- https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00758914.2019.1619971
- https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00758914.2019.1620010
- https://www.livescience.com/alter-tells-story-of-biblical-war.html

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ABRT 28 | 8/1/2019