Is there evidence of raadiometric dating of the Mesha Stele?

The Mesha Stele (Moab Stone) was found by a German Missionary in 1868.

This stone was damaged a year later, however, recent technology in digital photography has enabled researchers to read more of this stone such that it is quite clear that the stone contains information about:

King Mesha (2Kings Ch3) and
King David

1In the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat’s reign over Judah, Jehorama son of Ahab became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria twelve years. 2And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as his father and mother had done. He removed the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had made.

3Nevertheless, he clung to the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them.

4Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder,b and he would render to the king of Israel a hundred thousand lambs and the wool of a hundred thousand rams. 5But after the death of Ahab, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6So at that time King Jehoram set out from Samaria and mobilized all Israel. 7And he sent a message to Jehoshaphat king of Judah: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?”

Thus we have an ancient artifact (quite a large one in fact) containing writings of not only King Mesha as depicted in 2 Kings 3 , but also of the “House of David” proving that King David really existed.

Of even more interest is the date of this artifact…approx 900 B.C. This shows clearly that the genealogies in Matthew and Mark, when combined with the account of the various kings of Israel, are accurate back to at least the time of King David in 1000 B.C.

This means that Bible history dating back 3,000 years is spot on…i am wondering if there is any evidence of radiometric dating of this object? My suspicion is that if there is any dating research, it would have to agree with the bible timeline on this.

Dating the stone, if possible, would be some irrelevant geological age. You cannot date the chiseled inscription. So no.


Are you saying bassalt cannot be dated outside of documented history?

Why do you ask when Ron clearly just said the exact opposite? Your correction of granite should have one ess. There are three sites of columnar jointed volcanics in the Golan alone. My guess is Palaeocene.

Here’s an example of something that has been dated radiometrically within documented history: the Vesuvius eruption, using 40Ar-39Ar dating. The result was accurate to within seven years, well within the error bars of ±94 years.


I think the point Ron is making is that radiometric dating would given you the date that stone was formed by geological processes. It wouldn’t give you the date that the inscription was made.

By analogy, this is a bit like trying to date a painting by looking up when the art gallery was built. Or to borrow an analogy from @jammycakes trying to weigh the ingredients for a cake on scales used to weighing trucks.

It’s not so much that it can’t be done as much as one would be using the wrong tool for the job and thus not get a usable result at all. Or at least that’s how I understand it and I’m sure others will correct me if I’ve gone wrong somewhere.


Using radiometric dating on rocks would tell you when the rocks were formed, not when they were carved. Inscriptions are dated using archaeological information and comparisons with other artifacts. Archaeologists would analyze the writing sytstem used, features of the style, the tools used, what archaeological layer an artifact was found in, and things like that.

There have been many times that archaeology has supported information recorded in historical sections of the Bible. It isn’t surprising that multiple records of a history existed. People generally do not dispute that those sections were based on historical people and their interpretation of events. The question is often how accurate those records are (for example, when it comes to the Exodus or the Canaanite conquest.) You can’t reason to “this specific description of events is true” simply by establishing that a King existed or a people group lived somewhere. Also, some Christians seem to think that if you can establish that the Bible accurately recorded a historical fact in a section dedicated to recording historical facts, that makes the entire canon literal, accurate history. That does not follow logically and ignores the fact that diverse texts with many different origins and functions make up the Bible.


If it had been discovered in modern times it might have been possible to radiometrically date the layer in which the object was found which would give you the latest date possible for it’s inscription. However, in 1868 archeologists tended to use the dig it up and send it to a museum method with little documentation on the site the object was found. However the style of writing, language, and content would allow the dating of the inscription, if the archeologists can all agree. Just not to the same degree of accuracy as a properly calibrated radiometric date of the layer in which it was found.


As has already been noted, dating of the rock would give when the rock formed. (The rock is igneous and so should have a specific date for its formation, although intrusive igneous rocks may cool relatively slowly. Sedimentary rocks are both made of pieces of other rocks and often rather deficient in radioactive elements, like the limestone that makes up much of the region of Israel. Metamorphic rocks may have some dates reset by the heat and pressure and others reflecting the age of the original rock, depending on the amount of heat and pressure [which can be measured based on the changes that happened in the rock].)

Radiation hitting the surface of a rock or sediment can affect the atoms, so it can be possible to get a date of “how long has this been exposed to the air” or “how long has this been buried.” Techniques such as thermoluminescence measure this. However, if I remember correctly, the stone had been found by locals and venerated for some time; who knows if it was buried for some of the time between Mesha’s carving and the rediscovery? Plus the heating of the stone by the locals would have had an effect.

It is possible to obtain radiometric dates for Hezekiah’s tunnel, as there are associated carbon-containing deposits (not the original limestone, which is too old to have significant 14C left and of course is much older than Hezekiah, but mortar and/or new mineral growth on the new surfaces would provide datable material.)

Detailed measurements of the magnetic field of objects can provide another means of dating. At high temperature or in loose pieces, magnetic bits can wiggle and tend to line up with the earth’s field at the time. But once they are locked in place, they preserve a record of what the earth’s field was like at that time. Measuring the field in objects of know age gives a reference for comparing other things; it is also possible to say “these things match and are the same age but those are different”. In an archaeological context, bricks can provide a good record of the magnetic field. Although normal brickmaking cools them and then builds with them, so that we don’t know which way really was north when the brick was fired, sometimes bricks are subjected them to high temperature after they are put in place. In fact, subjecting existing cities to high temperatures was a fairly popular activity in the ancient Near East (for the visitors, not so popular for the locals), which allows frequent use of this technique. Again, it won’t work for the Mesha Stele because it was made by carving existing rock, not by casting lava into the desired shape.


Wrong thread. :grin: (Dark humor though. :cry:)

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