Bible and archaeology news
For the first time, archaeologists have unearthed a Second Temple period stone inscription that spells the name Jerusalem as Yerushalayim (as it’s spelled in Hebrew today), rather than Yerushalem or Shalem. The inscription, dating to the first century B.C.E., reads:
Hananiah son of
The Jerusalem inscription, carved on a limestone column drum, was uncovered during excavations led by Danit Levy on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in Binyanei Ha’Uma, a massive convention center in Jerusalem. The IAA press release announcing the discovery describes the inscription as Aramaic but written with Hebrew letters.
“First and Second Temple period inscriptions mentioning Jerusalem are quite rare. But even more unique is the complete spelling of the name as we know it today, which usually appears in the shorthand version,” explained Dr. Yuval Baruch, Jerusalem Regional Archaeologist for the IAA, and Prof. Ronny Reich of Haifa University, in an IAA press release. “This is the only stone inscription of the Second Temple period known where the full spelling appears.”
In the Times of Israel, Dr. Alexey Yuditsky of the Academy of the Hebrew Language told reporter Amanda Borschel-Dan that the inscription is more likely Hebrew than Aramaic, although both were used interchangeably during this time period. According to Yuditsky, the spelling Yerushalayim reflects a Hebrew pronunciation, while an Aramaic one would have spelled the name Yerushalem.
The column drum on which the Jerusalem inscription was written had been re-used in a structure occupied by the Tenth Roman Legion. While the inscription doesn’t provide information on Hananiah’s occupation, researchers believe he was an artist-potter. The IAA has been excavating in Binyanei Ha’Uma for years, gradually revealing a pottery production center in operation from the time of the Hasmoneans to the Late Roman period.
“This is the largest ancient pottery production site in the region of Jerusalem,” said excavation director Danit Levy.
The Jerusalem inscription will be on display at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, along with other artifacts unearthed in the city.
The King of Judah, Jars of Wine, and the City of Jerusalem by Christopher Rollston
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