Monday, February 23, 2009

Wealth of Inscriptions Found South of Jerusalem

Recent excavations have uncovered six inscriptions from the Iron Age and one from the Hasmonean period.  The site has been identified with biblical Netofa (2 Sam 23:28-29).  From the Israel Antiquities Authority:

Royal seal impressions were discovered in excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authority at Umm Tuba, in the southern hills of Jerusalem.

A large building that dates to the time of the First and Second Temples, in which there was an amazing wealth of inscriptions, was discovered in a salvage excavation conducted by Zubair Adawi, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the village of Umm Tuba in southern Jerusalem (between Zur Bahar and the Har Homa quarter), prior to construction work by a private contractor.

Considering the limited area of the excavation and the rural nature of the structure that was revealed, the excavators were surprised to discover in it so many royal seal impressions that date to the reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah (end of the eighth century BCE). Four “LMLK” type impressions were discovered on handles of large jars that were used to store wine and oil in royal administrative centers. These were found together with the seal impressions of two high ranking officials named Ahimelekh ben Amadyahu and Yehokhil ben Shahar, who served in the kingdom’s government. The Yehokhil seal was stamped on one of the LMLK impressions before the jar was fired in a kiln and this is a very rare instance in which two such impressions appear together on a single handle.

The full press release is here.  A link to 7 photographs is given only on a non-permanent posting of the release.  The story is reported by Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post.  Umm Tuba is located near Tsur Baher, south of Talpiot and north of Har Homa.  You can see a map here.  You can read more about LMLK seals here.

HT: Joe Lauer

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