Erich Lessing

According to the ninth-century B.C.E. Mesha Stele (shown here, compare with photo of Mt. Nebo)—also called the Moabite stone—the city of Nebo, which Cross locates in the valley between Mt. Nebo and Mt. Peor, contained a sanctuary. The largest monumental inscription ever discovered in pre-Exilic Palestine and written by the order of the Moabite king Mesha, the more-than-3-feet-high and 2-foot-wide black basalt stone boasts of having conquered Israelite territory and to have humiliated the tribe of Dan. After its discovery in 1868, in Dhiban, Jordan, the stone was broken into many pieces, perhaps to make the individual parts more valuable than the stele would have been in one piece. After a long hunt, the French diplomat and amateur archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau recovered some of the fragments. Combining those with partial copies of the text that had been made of the stone before its destruction, Clermont-Ganneau was able to piece together nearly the entire inscription. The smooth areas on the stone indicate Clermont-Ganneau’s reconstruction.