Iyar 26, 5769, 20 May 09
by Hana Levi Julian
Archaeologists from Israel’s Antiquities Authority (IAA) have revealed two important artifacts recently discovered in Jerusalem, both dating from the First Temple Period (8-7 BCE).
The first, a bone seal engraved with the name “Shaul” was found in an excavation being conducted under the auspices of the IAA, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority in the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park, located in the City of David.
The dig, which is underwritten by the “Ir David Foundation” (City of David) is being carried out under the direction of Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the IAA.
The seal, which is made of bone, was found broken and is missing a piece from its upper right side. Two parallel lines divide the surface of the seal into two registers in which Hebrew letters are engraved. A period followed by a floral image or a tiny fruit appear at the end of the bottom name.
The name of the seal’s owner was completely preserved and it is written in the shortened form of the name, Shaul, which is known from both the Bible (Genesis 36:37; 1 Samuel 9:2; 1 Chronicles 4:24 and 6:9) and from other Hebrew seals.
Another Hebrew seal and three Hebrew bullae (pieces of clay stamped with seal impressions) were previously discovered nearby.
The second artifact, an ancient jar handle bearing the Hebrew name “Menachem” was uncovered in the neighborhood of Ras el ‘Amud during an excavation prior to construction of a girls’ school by the Jerusalem municipality.
The jar handle, inscribed with the name "Menachem" carved in Hebrew, was found among settlement remains dating to different phases of the Middle Canaanite period (2200 – 1900 BCE), and the last years of the First Temple period (8-7 BCE) that were recently uncovered during the excavation.
The name Menachem Ben Gadi is noted in the Bible as that of a king of Israel who reigned for 10 years in Samaria, as one of the last kings of the Kingdom of Israel. According to Kings II, Menachem Ben Gadi ascended the throne in the 39th year of Uzziah, King of Judah (Judea).
The names Menachem and Yinachem both are expressions of condolence, noted excavation director Dr. Ron Be’eri, who speculated they might be related to the death of family members. The archaeologist added that such names already appeared earlier in the Canaanite period, on Egyptian pottery sherds and a document about an Egyptian governor on the Lebanese coast.
This is the first time that a handle with the name “Menachem” has been found in Jerusalem.