View Full Version : Archeologist finds 3,000-year old Hebrew text

11-01-2008, 03:23 PM
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An Israeli archaeologist has discovered what he says is the earliest-known Hebrew text, found on a shard of pottery that dates to the time of King David from the Old Testament, about 3,000 years ago.

The shard -- or ostracon -- contains five lines of text divided by black lines.

Carbon dating of the ostracon, along with pottery analysis, dates the inscription to time of King David, about a millennium earlier than the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, the university said.

The shard contains five lines of text divided by black lines and measures 15 by 15 centimeters, or about 6 inches square.

Archaeologists have yet to decipher the text, but initial interpretation indicates it formed part of a letter and contains the roots of the words "judge," "slave," and "king," according to the university. That may indicate it was a legal text, which archaeologists say would provide insights into Hebrew law, society, and beliefs.

The researchers say the text was clearly written by a trained scribe....

...The shard was discovered at the Elah Fortress in Khirbet Qeiyafa, about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem. The fortress, measuring 2.3 hectares (about 5.7 acres), is the earliest-known fortified city of the biblical period in Israel.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are the earliest-known copies of the Bible, some dating back about 2,000 years.

It is widely believed that the first set of Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd who ventured into a cave in the Judean Desert in search of a lost sheep or goat.

The texts, written on crumbling parchment and papyrus, were found wrapped in linen inside earthenware.

Source (http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/10/30/israel.ancient.text/index.html)

Very interesting Archeological find.

11-01-2008, 03:30 PM
An interesting find on an interesting period. I wonder what, if anything, it will reveal (despite the preliminary findings that show it to be a form of legal text)?

11-01-2008, 03:44 PM
The only references I have come across in study to ostrakia have been primarily to do with Ancient Athenian ostracisms, so it will be interesting to see them in another legal context. Perhaps a section of a pronouncement of judgement?

It is fascinating - even moreso to think that while the Roman Empire was little more than Romulus' hut (if even that), Eastern kingdoms had organised legal systems

11-03-2008, 01:17 PM
Just because a group has not achieve statehood doesn't mean that they don't have some form of a legal system. Archaeology 101 according to Prof. Robertshaw.

Anyway this is a great find considering that I do believe that the figures listed in the Bible may have existed at some point in time. Of course some ideas based on archaeological evidence really put the Church in a funk considering that it is a more likely possibility. Or it can be declared a fake or debate can ensue on that. The most famous example is the ossuary containing the supposed remains of James, the brother of Jesus.

Another is the Sangreal, the whole Holy Grail thing. Of course things with evidence will be disputed for years to come especially if they challenge normative thinking. This discovery however is just another step to reconstructing a past that exists only from what is left behind.