Monday, November 3, 2008

New Old Stuff Found in Israel

Possibly the oldest Hebrew inscription was found near Beit Shemesh recently.

An archeologist digging at a hilltop southwest of Jerusalem believes a ceramic shard found in the ruins of an ancient town bears the oldest Hebrew inscription ever discovered.

The five lines of faded characters written 3,000 years ago, and the ruins of the fortified settlement where they were found, are indications that a powerful Jewish kingdom existed at the time of King David, says Yossi Garfinkel, the Hebrew University archeologist in charge of the new dig at Hirbet Keiyafa.
Naturally, everyone is arguing about the meaning of the find. Archaeologists are arguing:
The discoveries are already being wielded in a vigorous and ongoing argument over whether the Bible's account of events is meant to be taken literally.
And the Palestinians are now arguing over it, too:
Palestinians, saying biblical claims have been superseded by the long-standing Arab population in Jerusalem, want the eastern part of the city, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, to be the capital of the state they hope to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Amazing how everything here ends up in a fight.

Another find is a newly discovered water shaft in Jerusalem's "city of David" excavations.
A water tunnel dating back to the First Temple era - but that might have been used even earlier, during King David's conquest of Jerusalem - has been uncovered in the ancient City of David, a prominent Israeli archeologist said Wednesday.
This is not to be confused with Hezekiah's tunnel, which incidentally contained the Siloam inscription [pictured left], one of the oldest and longest Hebrew inscriptions using the old alphabet.

A little related side note: thirty years ago the oldest portion from the Hebrew Bible was found on a small silver scroll [on right] in a valley next to the Old City walls in Jerusalem. Inscribed were excerpts from several verses including the Priestly Blessing of Numbers 6:24-26.

Many people are fascinated about the geography of Israel, archaeological sites, and finding new clues to the Biblical past. Not me. I love it when things like old inscriptions and writings are found. That there's what I call cool.

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