The study of inscriptions on ancient buildings and statues, many of which are relevant to the NT. After discovery, they are deciphered and then related to the history of the period. For example, that officials at Thessalonica were called ‘politarchs’ (Acts 17: 6–8) is confirmed by an inscription at the western side of the city, and the date of Gallio's proconsulship at Corinth is established as 51–2 CE by an inscription found in 1905 at Delphi.
More generally, inscriptions from Palestine in Greek testify to the widespread use of the language and to the influence of Hellenistic culture—previously it had been supposed there was much resistance to it. Light has also been thrown on social life and customs which parallel descriptions in the NT of the Christian communities, as also on those at Qumran as revealed in the Manual of Discipline.