Friday, October 31, 2008


In what is being hailed as one of the most important archaeological find in Israel since the Dead Sea Scrolls, Israeli archeologists Yossi Garfinkel and Sa'ar Ganor of Hebrew University have discovered the oldest Hebrew text ever found. The five-line text is written in ink on a pottery shard, written in Proto-Caanite letters separated by lines. (Proto-Caanite is the script used to write Hebrew prior to the destruction of the First Temple and the Babylonian Exile. Use of the so-called "Assyrian script" in which Hebrew is written today began after the return of Jews to the Land of Israel from the Babylonian Exile.)

Carbon-14 dating and chemical analysis of the pottery found at the site show that it dates from between 1,000 and 975 B.C. – the time according to tradition of King David's reign. If the dating is correct, the shard predates the Dead Sea Scrolls by about 1000 years.

The writing on the shard seems to be a letter sent from one person to another and archaeologists have still not deciphered it completely. Preliminary analysis shows that it contains the words "king" (melech), "judge" (shofet), and "eved" (slave), but the terms seem to be parts of names, as in "Achimelech" or "Evedel" (lit. "King's brother," "Servant of God").

The find was made at what Israeli archaeologists believe to be King David's front-line fortress in his war against the people of Pleshet, commonly called the Philistines. The site overlooks the Valley of Elah, the site where a young David, according to tradition, slew the giant Philistine warrior Goliath with the sling of a well-aimed stone. Read more about the find at Israel National News.


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