Tuesday, October 09, 2018

New inscription mentioning Jerusalem

ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY PRESS RELEASE: Second Temple Period stone inscription noting the full spelling of Jerusalem found. The unique stone inscription, found this last winter, dates to the Second Temple Period (first century CE) and mentions Jerusalem for the first time using the Hebrew spelling as we know it today. (Posted at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.) Many readers will have heard that the IAA promised to make public an important epigraphic discovery today. This is it.
The inscription was found this last winter near the Jerusalem International Convention Center, during an excavation directed by the IAA's Danit Levy, prior to the construction of a new road, undertaken and funded by Moriah – the Jerusalem Development Company and the Jerusalem Development Authority. During the excavations, the foundations of a Roman structure were exposed, which were supported by columns. The most important discovery was a stone column drum, reused in the Roman structure, upon which the Aramaic inscription appears, written in Hebrew letters typical of the Second Temple Period, around the time of Herod the Great's reign. The inscription reads:

Hananiah son of
of Jerusalem
There is a lot more information about the excavation in which it was found, the historical importance of the inscription, and other interesting artifacts that are going on display with it at the Israel Museum.

Unlike the "Jerusalem Papyrus," which came to light in 2016 and could well be a forgery, this Jerusalem inscription was scientifically excavated. It is a genuine ancient inscription. It is the oldest surviving example of the modern (plene or full) spelling of the name [update: that is, on a stone inscription], but it is not the oldest surviving mention of the city. The oldest Hebrew rendering I know of is from Beit Lehi. See here and here, and also (under the name Khirbet Beit Lei) here. Jerusalem is also mentioned in Akkadian in the fourteenth century BCE Amarna Letters.

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