Biblical Archaeology Review 29:3, May/June 2003

The “Three Shekels” and “Widow’s Plea” Ostraca: Real or Fake?

By Hershel Shanks

One of the most astounding inscriptions to surface in recent years records a donation of three shekels to the Temple of the Lord (Beyt Yhwh) in Jerusalem. It is written on a broken piece of pottery (called an ostracon) and dates somewhere between the ninth and seventh centuries B.C.E. Another ostracon, apparently from the same hoard (the handwriting is the same), is a widow’s petition for part of her deceased husband’s estate—to which, however, she was not entitled under Biblical law.

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