In the City of David, a stone slab with a 2000-year-old Hebrew inscription was discovered, attesting to the Jewish presence at that time.
The little fragment of a stone tablet with a monetary-related inscription was found during excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of David, inside the Jerusalem Walls National Park, and supported by the City of David Foundation.
Fragmented Hebrew names with letters and numerals written beside them can be seen on the seven partially preserved inscription lines.
For instance, the Hebrew letter mem is placed at the end of the name “Shimon” in one line, and symbols in the other lines represent numerals.
The Hebrew letter mem, which stands for ma’ot (Hebrew for “money”), or the Hebrew letter resh, which stands for reva’im (Hebrew for “quarters”), are used to indicate the economic significance of some of the numerals.
It is noted in an article by Nahshon Szanton, Excavation Director for the Israel Antiquities Authority, and epigraphist Prof. Esther Eshel of Bar Ilan University that four other comparable Hebrew inscriptions have been discovered so far in Jerusalem and Bet Shemesh, all of which mark names and numbers carved on related stone slabs and date to the Early Roman era.
But this is the first inscription discovered to date within the confines of Jerusalem at that time.
The researchers claim that a sharp tool was used to carve the writing onto a piece of chalkstone. Before the fall of the Temple, researchers think the stone slab was first employed as an ossuary (burial chest), a frequent practice in Jerusalem and Judea during the Early Roman period (37 BCE to 70 CE).
The exciting find was made on the Pilgrimage Road near the lower city square. This Road, which was about 600 meters long and connected the Temple Mount and Second Temple gates to the city gate and the Shiloach Pool region in the south of the City of David, was essentially the principal road in Jerusalem at the time.
This remarkable discovery confirms the area’s commercial nature by joining similar discoveries.
The stone tablet with the inscription was found in a tunnel of an earlier excavation at the location, carried out by British archaeologists Bliss and Dickie towards the end of the 19th century.
They dug tunnels and pits along Stepped Street. Although the inscription was discovered outside of its original archaeological setting, based on the type of script, the type of stone slab, and its closeness to other contemporary inscriptions, it was feasible to date it to the Early Roman period at the end of the Second Temple period.
The experts claim that this straightforward object “expresses the daily existence of the inhabitants of Jerusalem who lived here 2,000 years ago.
The list of names and numbers may not seem exciting at first, but to think that receipts were used for commercial purposes in the past, just like today, and that such a receipt has been discovered, is a rare and satisfying find that provides a glimpse into daily life in the holy city of Jerusalem.
“The combination of the architectural and tangible space of the enormous paved stones of the square that were preserved at the site, and the discovery of small finds in this area, such as the measuring table and the new inscription, allow us to reconstruct parts of the incredibly unique archaeological puzzle in one of the vibrant centers that existed in ancient Jerusalem,” claim Szanton and Prof. Eshel. Each piece of information, undoubtedly an ancient inscription, gives the city’s past a fresh and fascinating perspective.
According to Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu, minister of heritage, the astonishing find on the Pilgrimage Road in Jerusalem reveals yet another facet of Jewish life in the city 2,000 years ago.
The City of David has now positioned as a critical location in the history of the Jewish people worldwide thanks to the distinctive excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authority in the region.
The Ministry of Heritage will keep working to strengthen and promote national heritage in all areas.
The Pilgrimage Road, which is constantly being unearthed in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem, is a hallmark project of the Israel Antiquities Authority, according to Eli Escusido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who commented on the finding.
It is no accident that the numerous discoveries made during the excavation are shedding insight into how important this road was even during the Second Temple era. Our knowledge of the area grows with each find, demonstrating the significance of this street in the daily lives of Jerusalem’s citizens 2,000 years ago.