A tiny clay fragment – dating from the 14th century B.C. – 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 royal archives, further testifies to the importance of Jerusalem as a major city in the Late Bronze Age, long before its conquest by King David.
The clay fragment was uncovered recently during sifting of fill excavated from beneath a 10th century B.C. 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 Israel Exploration Journal.
Dr. Eilat 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.), 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., she said.
The tiny clay fragment – dating from the 14th century B.C.E. – found by Hebrew University archaeologists in excavations outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls contains the oldest written document ever found in Jerusalem. (Photo: Sasson Tiram)