Inscription from time of David & Solomon found near Temple Mount in Hebrew University excavation

July 10, 2013

Working near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar has unearthed the earliest alphabetical written text ever uncovered in the city.

The inscription is engraved on a large pithos, a neckless ceramic jar found with six others at the Ophel excavation site. According to Dr. Mazar, the inscription, in the Canaanite language, is the only one of its kind discovered in Jerusalem and an important addition to the city's history.

Dated to the tenth century BCE, the artifact predates by two hundred and fifty years the earliest known Hebrew inscription from Jerusalem, which is from the period of King Hezekiah at the end of the eighth century BCE.

A third-generation archaeologist working at the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology, Dr. Mazar directs archaeological excavations on the summit of the City of David and at the southern wall of the Temple Mount.

The discovery will be announced in a paper by Dr. Mazar, Prof. Shmuel Ahituv of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Dr. David Ben-Shlomo of the Hebrew University, following their extensive research on the artifact. Prof. Ahituv studied the inscription and Dr. Ben-Shlomo studied the composition of the ceramic materials. The paper, "An Inscribed Pithos From the Ophel," appears in the Israel Exploration Journal 63/1 (2013).

The inscription was engraved near the edge of the jar before it was fired, and only a fragment of it has been found, along with fragments of six large jars of the same type. The fragments were used to stabilize the earth fill under the second floor of the building they were discovered in, which dates to the Early Iron IIA period (10th century BCE). An analysis of the jars' clay composition indicates that they are all of a similar make, and probably originate in the central hill country near Jerusalem.

According to Prof. Ahituv, the inscription is not complete and probably wound around the jar's shoulder, while the remaining portion is just the end of the inscription and one letter from the beginning. The inscription is engraved in a proto-Canaanite / early Canaanite script of the eleventh-to-tenth centuries BCE, which pre-dates the Israelite rule and the prevalence of Hebrew script.

Reading from left to right, the text contains a combination of letters approximately 2.5 cm tall, which translate to m, q, p, h, n, (possibly) l, and n. Since this combination of letters has no meaning in known west-Semitic languages, the inscription's meaning is unknown.

The archaeologists suspect the inscription specifies the jar's contents or the name of its owner. Because the inscription is not in Hebrew, it is likely to have been written by one of the non-Israeli residents of Jerusalem, perhaps Jebusites, who were part of the city population in the time of Kings David and Solomon.
-end-
Excavations at the site are conducted in collaboration with the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the East Jerusalem Development Company. The site is in the national park surrounding the walls of Jerusalem's Old City, near the southern wall of the Temple Mount compound. The Israel Antiquities Authority maintains the excavation site as a national park open to the public.

The excavations are made possible through a generous donation by Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman of New York. Participants in the dig include Israeli students and workers, along with students or alumni of Herbert W. Armstrong College sent to Jerusalem from Edmond, Oklahoma to participate in the excavation.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Related Temple Mount Articles from Brightsurf:

Criteria to predict cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients identified by Temple Researchers
Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have developed and validated predictive criteria for early identification of COVID-19 patients who are developing hyperimmune responses, raising the possibility for early therapeutic intervention.

RTL1 gene a likely culprit behind temple and Kagami-Ogata syndromes
Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) have found that Rtl1, which is a mouse ortholog of the human RTL1 gene, appears to be the major gene responsible for muscle and placental defects in models of Temple and Kagami-Ogata syndromes, which are serious genetic conditions.

Temple researchers discover new path to neuron regeneration after spinal cord injury
The astrocytic glial cell has the unique ability to form scar tissue around damaged neurons.

Temple scientists identify key factor regulating abnormal heart growth
In new work, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University cast fresh light on a key molecular regulator in the heart known as FoxO1.

Temple researchers track new path to therapeutic prevention of abdominal aortic aneurysm
New research by scientists at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University suggests that abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) can be prevented therapeutically.

Temple finds link between blood vessel inflammation, malfunctioning cellular powerhouses
In new research, scientists at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have uncovered a novel mechanism by which abnormalities in mitochondrial fission in endothelial cells contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress in the cardiovascular system.

Philadelphia had 46 neighborhood mass shootings over 10 years, Temple-led team finds
The definition of mass shooting varies widely depending upon the information sources that are used.

Temple scientists ID new targets to treat fibrosis -- a feature of many chronic diseases
When it comes to repairing injured tissue, specialized cells in the body known as fibroblasts are called into action.

Temple researchers identify new target regulating mitochondria during stress
Like an emergency response team that is called into action to save lives, stress response proteins in the heart are activated during a heart attack to help prevent cell death.

Temple scientists identify promising new target to combat Alzheimer's disease
In the case of Alzheimer's disease, Temple researchers show that mitochondrial calcium transport remodeling -- what appears to be an attempt by cells to compensate for flagging energy production and metabolic dysfunction -- while initially beneficial, ultimately becomes maladaptive, fueling declines in mitochondrial function, memory, and learning.

Read More: Temple Mount News and Temple Mount Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.