- Title: ISRAEL: Archaeologists claim to have found oldest Hebrew text
- Date: 3rd November 2008
- Summary: (L!1) ELAH VALLEY, CENTRAL ISRAEL (NOVEMBER 2, 2008) (REUTERS) "HA ELAH FORTRESS" EXCAVATION SITE WHERE POTTERY SHARD WAS FOUND VARIOUS OF SITE
- Embargoed: 18th November 2008 12:00
- Location: Israel
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz
- Reuters ID: LVABNSPYCRQYNPAC8XQY2HA8IDN9
- Story Text: Archaeologists in Israel said on Thursday (October 30) they had unearthed the oldest Hebrew text ever found, while excavating a fortress city overlooking a valley where the bible says David slew Goliath.
The dig's uncovering of the past near the ancient battlefield in the Valley of Elah, now home to wineries and a satellite station, could have implications for the emotional debate over the future of Jerusalem, some 20 km (12 miles) away.
Yosef Garfinkel, Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who led the excavations told Reuters that "This inscription...
is the oldest Hebrew inscription in the world. It's pre-dated the Dead Sea Scrolls by 1,000 years."
Experts have not yet been able to decipher the text fully, but several words, including "judge", "slave" and "king", could be identified and the experts said they hoped the text would shed light on how alphabetic scripts developed.
"It is written in Proto-Canaanite script which is the father and mother of all the alphabetic script in the world, the Greek, the Latin, the Hebrew, the Phoenician, the Aramein (Aramaic), all the alphabet in the world derived from this script that appears here on this specific piece of pottery," Garfinkel said.
Carbon dating of artefacts found at the site indicate the Hebrew inscription was written about 10th century B.C., during the period scholars believe that King David ruled Jerusalem and ancient Israel.
"This inscription was found in a site... located on the border between Judah and the Philistine. It was a fortified city from the time of King David, about 3,000 years ago," Garfinkel told reporters.
Garfinkel said the recent findings could have wider repercussions.
"Currently there is a heated debate about the historical value of the Bible if we have historical information, or it's only theological and literary composed hundreds of years later. Our site clearly proves that already in the early 10th century B.C. there was a kingdom in Judea and that King David existed as a king and that he built fortified cities," he said.
However, Dr. Raphael Greenberg of Tel Aviv Archaeology department, recommends more caution. In a phone conversation Greenberg told Reuters that although the Elah site is certainly an interesting one, and the inscription is a fascinating find, it does not constitute proof of the existence of any king, let alone King David.
Modern-day Israel often cites a biblical connection through David to Jerusalem in supporting its claim, which has not won recognition internationally, to all of the city as its "eternal and indivisible capital".
Palestinians, saying biblical claims have been superseded by the long-standing Arab population in Jerusalem, want the eastern part of the city, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, to be the capital of the state they hope to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
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