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The 3,000-year-old inscription that could prove Old Testament stories are TRUE

(on the DailyMail News/UK)


  • The label dates from second half of the 10th Century BC and was discovered in the Ophel area of Jerusalem, south of Temple Mount
  • It is thought to be the most ancient Hebrew engraving to emerge from the archaeological digs in the area so far
  • Could mean Bible stories of King David and King Solomon were not passed down orally but written down at the time and are accurate
  • Historians believe the type of cheap wine held in the containers would have been drunk by slaves and soldiers

A small fragment of ancient pottery researchers believe shows the first wine label could prove that the reigns of King Solomon and King David actually occurred.

The 10th century BC 'Ophel Inscription' was unearthed last year, and scientists were initially baffled by the bizarre language that was inscribed on the remains of a jug.

A new translation reveals the contents of a jar was 'lousy' plonk intended for slaves - and sheds new light on society at the time.

The label is thought to be the most ancient Hebrew engraving to emerge from the archaeological digs in Jerusalem to date.

'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 told FoxNews.com.

Some experts previously claimed it was written in an ancient near Eastern language, but Galil believes it is actually a form of ancient Hebrew.

The inscription is eight letters long and was engraved on a large clay pitcher in the second half of the 10th century BC in Biblical times, which was used to store cheap wine.

It was found in the Ophel area of the city, south of Temple Mount, as 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[…]’.

Professor Galil explained the first missing word ends with ‘mem,’ which is the final part of the word for the 20th or 30th year of the kingdom and 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, a similar word to 'yayin' means the lowest quality of wine.

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

Professor Galil recently  told The Archaeology News Network: ‘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.’

Archaeologists already know that poor quality wine was drunk by soldiers and slave builders and believe that it was stored in large vessels that did not keep it particularly fresh, like the one found in the dig six months ago.

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

The find sheds light on the Biblical kingdom’s sophisticated society, where many people were thought to be literate, taxes were collected and builders recruited and bought to Jerusalem to build palaces and other infrastructure, according to the study, which was published in the journal New Studies on Jerusalem.

Some historians dispute information 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.

Dr Jonathan Stokl, a lecturer in Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament, from King’s College London told MailOnline: ‘The inscription is written in what is variously called “proto-Canaanite” or “late Canaanite” script.


The language is probably an early form of Hebrew, but it could be a closely related dialect spoken in Jerusalem in the 10th century.’

He explained that at the time the inscription was made, the way words were written had not been agreed upon so some people wrote from left to right (like English) while others wrote in the opposite direction, like with modern Hebrew and Arabic.

While Professor Galil has interpreted the inscription from right to left, another academic, Professor Christopher Rollinston has read it in the opposite way, but has not arrived upon a clear meaning.

‘Irrespective of what the reading of the inscription is, it attests to someone writing Hebrew (or a closely related language) in the 10th century in Jerusalem, probably for administrative reasons,’ he said.

‘Professor Galil suggests that this indicates that the inscription was made by some royal administration (something like an early civil service) and I believe that he is probably correct with that The inscription was found among a pile of pottery (pictured).  Leading expert Douglas Petrovich believes the language is a primitive form of Hebrew which suggests the ancient Israelites were recording history much earlier than previously thought



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It's always nice when archeological findings confirm the Bible account.


Yet, I am not sure exactly why this particular inscription is so important. It doesn't say anything about David or Solomon, it's just eight letters on a jar saying it contained cheap wine.


The common claim among scholars is that the Hebrew Scriptures (including the Pentateuch) were composed after the exile in Babylon. The reason for this is that they believe that Palestine in the time of David and Solomon was inhabited only by tribes of illiterate savages, so they wouldn't have been able to write anything. David and Solomon, in case they existed, would have been just some local tribe leaders.


If I am getting it right, this inscription contradicts that theory because it  demonstrates that in the 10th century in Israel there were people who were able to read and write Hebrew, so the Scriptures might have been written much sooner than thought. It also hints that important commercial activity was developing in the area at that time, which agrees with an organized and flourishing kingdom. It was found among remains of building activity, and that agrees with the construction works performed by David and Solomon.


Anyway, several other inscriptions had been found previously that show the same thing, as well as some seals (the sealing thing, not the animal :) ) which mention the house of David.


EDIT: OK, I got it. There existed several other inscriptions, but they are from a couple centuries later. This one is the oldest inscription of its kind, and it dates from the very time of David and Solomon. So what this demonstrates is that Israelites from the time of David were able to write Hebrew. Therefore, there's no need for the Bible accounts about David to have been written centuries later, they might have been written shortly after they happened.

Edited by cvillarrubia
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