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Ancient Mesopotamia
Assyria Nineveh
Arslan Tash Til Barsip
Iran Palace of Darius
Phoenicia Arabia Palmyra
Syrian coast
Ougarit Byblos

Model of the Ruins of
the Palace of Mari           SN
Richelieu room 3
This model of the Palace of Mari,
a complex described as
a ‘ jewel of archaic architecture ’, 
bears witness to the brilliant civilisation
that was the city-state of Mari, destroyed by Hammurabi
around 1760 BCE.  A186

Model of the Ruins of the Palace of Mari

One can imagine the Jews passing in front of these ruins as they were led in exile to Babylon.
The discovery of this site, where more than 15,000 clay tablets engraved in cuneiform writing have been unearthed, has enabled a better understanding of the world in which Abraham lived. A187

For André Parrot, the archives “reveal astonishing similarities between the people they mention and what the Old Testament tells us about the time of the patriarchs”. Some of the documents refer to Peleg, Serug, Nahor, Terah and Haran, names that are also found in the story of Genesis as being those of Abraham’s ancestors. - Genesis 11:17-26. A189

 The palace of Mari helped to better understand
the world in which Abraham lived

“Before the discovery of the Mari archives,
we knew practically nothing about the history, institutions and everyday life in Mesopotamia and Syria at the beginning of the second millennium. Entire chapters of history have
been able to be written thanks to them.”
A. Lemaire, The World of the Bible

“Archaeology has rendered

the Bible more intelligible
through a fuller knowledge of its background and setting.”
Sir Frederic Kenyon
The Mari tablets also shed light on some passages of the Bible. A190 

Taking possession of the harem of one’s enemy was ‘a fundamental premise of royal conduct at the time’. A191 This therefore explains Ahitophel’s treacherous recommendation in pushing Absalom, son of King David, to have relations with his father’s concubines. (2 Samuel 16:21). Note additionally the high-ceilinged rooms and terraced roofs, common during biblical times.

Archaeology has made the Bible more intelligible
by understanding the historical background.

Ebih II
AO 17557
Richelieu room 1 b
The Minister of Finance is
dressed in a tufted skirt.
The translucid alabaster in which
he is fashioned adds great subtlety
to the form of the bust.
The eyes have retained their shell and
lapis lazuli incrustations.
This masterpiece of Mari sculpture
bears witness to the wealth of the city.
Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of six temples, including the Temple of Lions (which is identified as belonging to Dagon, a local divinity, the Dagan of the Bible), as well as shrines devoted to Ishtar and Shamash. In Mari, religion was at the centre of life. Serving the gods was the duty of mankind, so much so that before any important decisions were made they first consulted the wishes of the gods.


Carte Chronologie Début du départementSceau cylindre de roi prêtreAntiquités EgyptiennesAntiquités Romaines Haut de page