Thursday, July 11, 2013

Archaeologists discover Jerusalem's earliest alphabetical written text

As reported by Xinhua, July 10, 2013:

JERUSALEM, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Working near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, archaeologists have unearthed the earliest alphabetical written text ever uncovered in the city.

Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University's Institute of Archeology, who led the team, told Xinhua on Wednesday that the inscription dated to the 10th century BC, and predates by 250 years the earliest known alphabetical written text found in Jerusalem.

The excavation was conducted in collaboration with Israel Antiquities Authority, Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the East Jerusalem Development Company. The findings are published in the current issue of Israel Exploration Journal, in a co-authored article by Mazar, Prof. Shmuel Ahituv of Ben-Gurion University, and Dr. David Ben-Shlomo of the Hebrew University.

The text was engraved on the rim of a large ceramic jar before it was fired, and only a fragment of it has been found, along with fragments of six other jars of the same type.

According to Ahituv, the inscription is engraved in an early Canaanite, an ancient group of Semitic languages spoken by the people of Canaan, a region stretching across modern-day Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Syria.

The jar was made before the Israelite rule and the prevalence of Hebrew script, the researchers said. Therefore, according to Ahituv, the text was 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.

Mazar said archeologist can read the letters engraved on the jar -- M, Q, P, H, N, possibly an L, and N, but the meaning of these letters will remain a mystery. "No one today can decipher Canaanite," said Mazar.

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