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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

1/29/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3,000-year-old inscription believed to be the oldest fragment retrieved from archaeological dig

A small fragment, believed to be from a cheap jug of wine intended for slave laborers, may now confirm the Old Testament stories of King David and King Solomon. Discovered last year, the 10th century BC "Ophel Inscription" is believed to be the oldest yet artifact to be mined from Jerusalem to date.

The middle portion, or 'wine, part' indicates the type of wine contained in the jar and in the Ugarit language from northern Syria. 'Yayin' means the lowest quality of wine.

The middle portion, or "wine, part" indicates the type of wine contained in the jar and in the Ugarit language from northern Syria. "Yayin" means the lowest quality of wine.

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/29/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Jerusalem, wine, archaeology, Old Testament, King David, King Solomon


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Researchers were initially baffled by the unusual language inscribed on the fragment. A new translation sheds new light on society at the time.

"We are dealing here with real kings, and the kingdom of David and Solomon was a real fact," Gershon Galil from the department of Jewish History at Haifa University says. Galil believes the inscription is actually a form of ancient Hebrew.
 
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Eight letters long, the inscription was engraved on a large clay pitcher in the second half of the 10th century B.C. during Biblical times.

Found in the Ophel area of the city, south of Temple Mount, the discovery was part of a dig by the Archaeological Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

A word on the pitcher reads "yayin" or wine and he believes the whole inscription should read "in the year [.] M, wine, part, m [.]."

Galil explains that the first missing word ends with 'mem,' which is the final part of the word for the 20th or 30th year of the kingdom which effectively dates the wine.

The middle portion, or "wine, part" indicates the type of wine contained in the jar and in the Ugarit language from northern Syria. "Yayin" means the lowest quality of wine.

The final letter has been cut off from a longer word. Gahil thinks it could indicate where the wine came from.

"This wine wasn't served to Solomon's emissaries, or in the temple, but apparently was for the slave construction workers who worked in the area," Galil says.

Galil thinks the carving was produced after King Solomon had built the first temple, his palaces and city walls.

The find is being used to illustrate the Biblical kingdom's sophisticated society. Many people were thought to be literate, taxes were collected and builders recruited and bought to Jerusalem to build palaces and other infrastructure.

Some have debated the findings gleaned from the Bible that Jerusalem was an important city, but supporters of the Biblical accounts, including Professor Galil, believe the inscription supports stories that tell of complicated administrative systems and a strictly hierarchical society.

"Scribes that could write administrative texts could also write literary and historiographic texts and this has very important implications for the study of the Bible and understanding the history of Israel in the biblical period," he added.

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