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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oldest Hebrew Writing Discovered From Era of King David

The ancient Hebrew fortified city of Khirbet Qeiyafa, or Elah Fortress, was the Biblical site where the legendary battle between David and Goliath took place. Now, archeologists exploring the area have unearthed what may be the oldest known example of Hebrew writing ever found. A 3,000 year old pottery shard has been discovered by a Hebrew University team (actually, by a teenaged volunteer), that predates the Dead Sea Scrolls by 1,000 years. According to a BBC article, the characters are written in a precurser to the Hebrew alphabet, known as proto-Canaanite.

So far, words deciphered on the shard include judge, slave and king, along with a three-letter verb meaning "to do," which seems to peg the words as Hebrew. It is the longest proto-Canaanite text ever found.

Lead archeologist Yosef Garfinkel says the artifact sheds important light on the period of the reign of King David.

"The chronology and geography of Khirbet Qeiyafa create a unique meeting point between the mythology, history, historiography and archaeology of King David."

After slaying the Philistine giant Goliath, David would go on to become the second king (after Saul) of a united kingdom of Israel, and was the father of King Solomon. There is little archeological evidence of King David's reign (or existence), so this find may be significant in filling in gaps in the historic record.

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