© Erich Lessing/lessingimages.com

MESHA STELE. Almost 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide, the Mesha Stele from the ninth century B.C.E. is the longest Moabite inscription. Its 34-line-long text chronicles how the Moabites were subjected to Israelite rule until King Mesha—with the divine help of Chemosh, the main Moabite deity—overthrew the Moabites’ oppressors. The first European to see the Mesha Stele was Anglican missionary Frederick Augustus Klein. In 1868, local Bedouin led him to the basalt stone at Dhiban (Biblical Dibon, the capital of the Kingdom of Moab). Arrangements were immediately made to purchase the stone on behalf of the Prussian government and Berlin Museum, but this deal fell through.