Archaeological finding: “Earliest non-biblical mention of Jerusalem”

Archaeologists have unveiled what they claim is the earliest Hebrew reference to Jerusalem outside the Bible – a discovery the government swiftly enlisted in a diplomatic battle reinforcing the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. The 11 by 2.5 cm piece of papyrus, dated by the Israel Antiquities Authority to the 7th century B.C., was presented at a news conference in Jerusalem.

“The significance of this document – first of all, this is the first time that Jerusalem is mentioned in a script outside of the Bible, this is the ancient Hebrew script that Jerusalem is mentioned with. This is from the first temple period. And it emphasizes the centrality of Jerusalem as the capital city of the Kingdom of Judea. And it also shows us, we can understand from that the administration, the organised administration of the Kingdom of Judea during that period,” said Dr. Eitan Klein, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Two lines of ancient Hebrew script on the frail and faded artifact suggest it was part of a document detailing the payment of taxes or transfer of goods to storehouses in Jerusalem.

“At first, when I read it, when I held the document, it was amazing. Because I can read everything, ok? It’s so obvious. You can read every letter of the document without any doubt. And you can just read it and understand. We, as archaeologists, we know to read ancient Hebrew script,” added Klein.

The unveiling came shortly after Paris-based UNESCO adopted a resolution on Jerusalem which refrained from mentioning the biblical names of the historical-religious sites in the ancient city.