This could hardly be a more timely piece since my item of last week on David and Goliath.
This evidence confirms the existence of a Bronze Age City at least a century before the Israelites made their home in the region and long before the city was conquered by them.
It is also written in cuneiform, confirming the presence of Mesopotamian scribes. Both them and Egyptian documents would be available to support the production of a complete body of relevant scripture, we now know as the Bible. In fact this place is well located to borrow documents far and wide.
This was not some stray village and may have been a long time cultural center throughout. It is located well away from the coast in inaccessible country that supports defense.
I notice that David is placed in the tenth century. The collapse of the Sea Peoples began with
Hekla in 1159 BCE. It is reasonable that their displaced colonies hung on for a century of so before intermarriage diminished them. It is reasonable that Goliath appeared prior to 1159 BCE or immediately after. Thus a good date for King David taking would be around 1100 BCE. Jerusalem
This is around two hundred years after the exodus from
which is a short enough time for complete records to remain intact. Four hundred years appears to be overly long to avoid language drift. Egypt
It is amazing that we can know so much about any locale of this era.
Oldest Written Document Ever Found in
ScienceDaily (July 12, 2010) — A tiny clay fragment -- dating from the 14th century B.C.E. -- that was found in excavations outside Jerusalem's Old City walls contains the oldest written document ever found in Jerusalem, say researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The find, believed to be part of a tablet from a royal archives, further testifies to the importance of
as a major city in the Late Bronze Age, long before its conquest by King David, they say. Jerusalem
The clay fragment was uncovered recently during sifting of fill excavated from beneath a 10th century B.C.E. tower dating from the period of King Solomon in the Ophel area, located between the southern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem and the City of David to its south. Details of the discovery appear in the current issue of the
Exploration Journal. Israel
Excavations in the Ophel have been conducted by Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology. Funding for the project has been provided by Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman of New York, who also have provided funds for completion of the excavations and opening of the site to the public by the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Company for the Development of East Jerusalem. The sifting work was led by Dr.Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Zweig at the Emek Zurim wet-sieving facility site.
The fragment that has been found is 2x2.8 centimeters in size and one centimeter thick. Dated to the 14th century B.C.E., it appears to have been part of a tablet and contains cuneiform symbols in ancient Akkadian (the lingua franca of that era).
The words the symbols form are not significant in themselves, but what is significant is that the script is of a very high level, testifying to the fact that it was written by a highly skilled scribe that in all likelihood prepared tablets for the royal household of the time, said Prof. Wayne Horowitz , a scholar of Assyriology at the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology. Horowitz deciphered the script along with his former graduate student Dr. Takayoshi Oshima, now of the University of Leipzig,
Tablets with diplomatic messages were routinely exchanged between kings in the ancient Near East, Horowitz said, and there is a great likelihood, because of its fine script and the fact it was discovered adjacent to in the acropolis area of the ancient city, that the fragment was part of such a "royal missive." Horowitz has interpreted the symbols on the fragment to include the words "you," "you were," "later," "to do" and "them."
The most ancient known written record previously found in
Jerusalem was the tablet found in the Shiloah water tunnel in the City of area during the 8th century B.C.E. reign of King Hezekiah. That tablet, celebrating the completion of the tunnel, is in a museum in David . This latest find predates the Hezekiah tablet by about 600 years. Istanbul
The fragment found at the Ophel is believed to be contemporary with the some 380 tablets discovered in the 19th century at Amarna in
in the archives of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), who lived in the 14th century B.C.E. The archives include tablets sent to Akhenaten by the kings who were subservient to him in Canaan and Egypt and include details about the complex relationships between them, covering many facets of governance and society. Among these tablets are six that are addressed from Abdi-Heba, the Canaanite ruler of Syria . The tablet fragment in Jerusalem Jerusalem is most likely part of a message that would have been sent from the king of Jerusalem, possibly Abdi-Heba, back to , said Mazar. Egypt
Examination of the material of the fragment by Prof. Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University, shows that it is from the soil of the Jerusalem area and not similar to materials from other areas, further testifying to the likelihood that it was part of a tablet from a royal archive in Jerusalem containing copies of tablets sent by the king of Jerusalem to Pharaoh Akhenaten in Egypt.
Mazar says this new discovery, providing solid evidence of the importance of Jerusalem during the Late Bronze Age (the second half of the second century B.C.E.), acts as a counterpoint to some who have used the lack of substantial archeological findings from that period until now to argue that Jerusalem was not a major center during that period. It also lends weight to the importance that accrued to the city in later times, leading up to its conquest by King David in the 10th century B.C.E., she said.