Sifting Project Reveals First Temple Bulla

Bible and archaeology news

Jerusalem archaeologist Gabriel Barkay announced this week that the Temple Mount Sifting Project has discovered a fragment of a seventh-century B.C.E. clay bulla impressed with the ancient Hebrew inscription [g]b’n lmlk, or “Gibeon, for the king.” According to Barkay, the bulla is evidence for royal taxation of different Judahite cities, in this case the town of Gibeon. More than 50 other such “fiscal bullae” are already known, but most lack contextual information. “All the fiscal bullae known until now come from the antiquities market, and our bulla is the first one to come from a controlled archaeological project,” wrote Barkay on the project’s Web site. “This bulla enables us to fully illuminate and discuss the entire phenomenon of the fiscal bullae.”

Sifting Project Reveals First Temple Bulla


Learn more about the Gibeon bulla.

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  • Tom says

    Follow-up to my previous post: I see now, from the source article that the material sifted may not have come from beneath the TM platform but rather the “eastern slope” of the TM. My point remains the same: If it did not come out of a controlled archaeological excavation, then it’s “contectual information” is practically nil.

  • Tom says

    The find is interesting and important, however, once again, overblown claims are being made for the value of the TM Sifting Project: Of the known bullae of this type, “most lack contextual information”, the article correctly observes, while at the same time drawing a false contrast — But, (says Barkay) “our bulla is the first one to come from a controlled archaeological project.” OK, yes, it was found in a “controlled project”, BUT… The material beneath the Temple Mount was almost certainly NOT stratified in the first place but laid down as fill in antiquity. It was dug up in the crudest possible way a few years ago and dumped in the upper KIdron Valley. It was then dug up again from the dump and brought to the Mt. Scopus site. And now, yes, it is being sifted in a “controlled” manner. But, what does this mean in the end? I mean, how many times does an object have to be disturbed and displaced before it loses its “contextual information”. A little more intellectual honesty is called for here, I think.

    TOM POWERS / Jerusalem

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