Biblical Archaeology Review 40:3, May/June 2014

The New Jerusalem Inscription—So What?

By Alan R. Millard

In 2012, while excavating at the southern wall of the Temple Mount, Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar discovered the oldest alphabetic inscription ever found in Jerusalem. It had been inscribed on a storage jar, but, alas, the jar had not fared well. Made of pottery, it had broken into pieces. Along with at least seven other broken jars, the pieces had somehow found another use. Masons at work on a new building used the pieces to level an uneven patch of ground. On two small pieces of one jar that fitted together were scratched letters of an early alphabet.

Although the letters are big (about an inch high), only five are complete. Traces of perhaps three additional letters are dimly visible. The beginning and end of the inscription are missing, and some letters are broken. The letters were inscribed just below the rim of the vessel before it was fired in the potter’s kiln.1

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