Saturday, August 7, 2010

Archaeologists Unearth Oldest Hebrew Text

Israeli archaeologists claim to have unearthed the oldest Hebrew text ever found. Discovered while excavating a fortress city, apparently it dates back from the 10th century B.C. and refers to the Bible when King David slew Goliath. Here's more on the story.

Archaeologists uncover Israel's most foregone past near the ancient battlefield in the Valley of Elah. It is now home to wineries and a satellite station.

The professor of archaeology at the Hebrew University led the archaeology excavations.

[Yosef Garfinkel, Archaeology Professor]:
"This the oldest Hebrew inscription in the world. It's pre-dated the Dead Sea Scrolls by 1,000 years."

Experts have not been able to decipher the full text as yet, but several words, including "judge", "slave" and "king," were identified. They hope the text will shed light on how alphabetic scripts developed.

[Yosef Garfinkel, Archaeology Professor]:
"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."

Carbon dating of artifacts found at the site indicate the Hebrew inscription was written about 10th century B.C. This is a time when scholars believe King David ruled Jerusalem and ancient Israel.

[Yosef Garfinkel, Archaeology Professor]:
"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 says the recent findings could have wider repercussions over the future of Jerusalem.

[Yosef Garfunkel, Archaeology Professor]:
"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."

Modern-day Israel often mentions a biblical connection through King David to Jerusalem in supporting its claim to all of the city as its "eternal and indivisible capital."

For the Palestinians, however, the long-standing Arab population in Jerusalem takes over any biblical claims. They want the eastern part of the city to be the capital of the state they hope to establish in the West bank and Gaza trip.

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