August 18, 2013
A link to Jerusalemites at the end of the First Temple period
First Temple-era pottery fragment features name similar to Biblical prophet’s father, archaeologists say
by Gavriel Fiske
Archaeologists working in Jerusalem have discovered what they say is a 2,700 year-old pottery fragment with an ancient Hebrew inscription possibly containing the name of a Biblical figure.
The fragment, discovered just outside the capital’s Old City at the City of David site, in what is now the Arab village of Silwan, was likely part of a large ceramic bowl dating from between the 8th and 7th centuries BCE, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said Sunday.
The text fragment on the shard, roughly transliterated without vowels into English characters as “ryhu bn bnh,” is similar to the name of Zechariah son of Benaiah, the father of the prophet Jahaziel, whose name appears in 2 Chronicles 20:14 when Jahaziel spoke prophecy to King Jehoshaphat before the king went off to war.
“While not complete, the inscription presents us with the name of a seventh century BCE figure, which resembles other names known to us from both the Biblical and archaeological record… and provides us with a connection to the people living in Jerusalem at the end of the First Temple period,” the statement said.
The City of David, while today located outside the southern walls of the Old City, is understood by archaeologists to be the site of the ancient city of Jerusalem mentioned in the Bible.
The bowl fragment, along with a number of other small artifacts dating from the same period, was discovered by archaeologists Joe Uziel and Nahshon Zanton during an investigation of remains associated with the destruction of the First Temple, which occurred in 587 BCE at the hand of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.
Uziel and Zanton said that the letters inscribed on the bowl shard likely date from “sometime between the reign of Hezekiah and the destruction of Jerusalem under King Zedekiah.” Based on their analysis, they noted, the inscription “was engraved on the bowl prior to firing, indicating that the inscription originally adorned the rim of the bowl in its entirety, and was not written on a shard after the vessel was broken.”
The bowl possibly contained an offering, given by the person whose name was inscribed on the vessel, they said.