Thursday, July 15, 2010

14th Century BCE Akkadian Chicken Scratches Found in Jerusalem

I'm a bit late on this news that broke while I was on vacation, but apparently the big archaeological news of the week was the discovery of a 14th century BCE cuneiform tablet found in Jerusalem. 

From the Jerusalem Post:
Hebrew University excavations recently unearthed a clay fragment dating back to the 14th century BCE, said to be the oldest written document ever found in Jerusalem.
The tiny fragment is only 2 cm. by 2.8 cm. in surface area and 1 cm. thick and appears to have once been part of a larger tablet. Researchers say the ancient fragment testifies to Jerusalem’s importance as a major city late in the Bronze Age, long before it was conquered by King David.
The minuscule fragment contains Akkadian words written in ancient cuneiform symbols. Researchers say that while the symbols appear to be insignificant, containing simply the words “you,” “you were,” “them,” “to do,” and “later,” the high quality of the writing indicates that it was written by a highly skilled scribe. Such a revelation would mean that the piece was likely written for tablets that were part of a royal household.
Now this find has little bearing on biblical archaeology per se, but since it was found by Eilat Mazar's excavation in Jerusalem, a biblical tie-in somewhere in the article was required. The article closes with this completely unrelated tidbit.
In February, Hebrew University excavations led by Mazar in the Ophel area found ancient stone fortifications dating back some 3,000 years to the time of King Solomon and the First Temple.
Archeologists said that the 70-meterlong and 6-m.-high wall indicated that there had been a strong central government in Jerusalem at the time, which had the manpower and resources to construct large-scale fortifications.
Also, a quick perusal of the 400+ as-yet-unread posts in my feed reader reveals that several other blogs have also commented on these Akkadian chicken scratches. There may be more, but here's what I've seen so far: Christopher Rollston, Robert Cargill, Jim Davila,  Duane Smith, Todd Bolen, and Chip Hardy


  1. You may be "a bit late" reporting the news, but as far as I'm concerned, you've got the best headline.


  2. Thanks, Joel. I like to keep it light around here when I can. Plus it reflects my utter lack of interest in cuneiform.