Members‘Jerusalem’ on Ancient Papyrus

A rare papyrus mentioning Jerusalem and dating back to the First Temple Period has been recovered from antiquities thieves.

By David Lazarus |
Papyrus
RARE INSCRIPTION: The mysterious message has the antiquities world buzzing Photo: Shai Halevi/IAA

The extraordinary Hebrew document which dates to the Kingdom of Judah some 2,700 years ago is the earliest extra-biblical source referring to Jerusalem. In a clandestine operation carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the ancient message was seized from a gang of thieves who stole the papyrus from a cave in the Judean Desert.

The note reads: From the king’s maidservant, from Naʽarat, jars of wine to Jerusalem.” According to experts, the message indicates the payment of taxes on wine, or the transfer of the beverage to storehouses in Jerusalem.

“The document represents extremely rare evidence of the existence of an organized administration in the Kingdom of Judah,” said IAA archaeologist Eitan Klein. “It underscores the centrality of Jerusalem as the economic capital of the kingdom in the second half of the seventh century BCE. According to the Bible, the kings Menashe, Amon, or Josiah ruled in Jerusalem at this time.”

The archaeological and academic...

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