2,000-year-old inscription is earliest-ever spelling of Jerusalem

Rare artifact going on display for public to see.

Sure, Jerusalem is known as an ancient city. But rarely has the archaeological spotlight shone on the name of the city itself. That is, until today. Archaeologists have unearthed a 2,000 year-old stone inscription that notes the full Hebrew spelling of the word Jerusalem. Previous artifacts have either been in Aramaic or used an abbreviated version of Jerusalem. The discovery was announced today at a joint press conference of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Museum.

The inscription was discovered during an excavation where the foundations of a Roman structure were exposed. On a stone column, they found the words: "Hananiah son of Dodalos of Jerusalem."

Danit Levy, director of the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, beside the inscription as found in the field. Danit Levy, director of the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, brushing the inscription as found in the field. (Photo: Yoli Shwartz / IAA)

"The archaeological context of the inscription does not allow us to determine where it was originally displayed, or who Hananiah son of Dodalos was," explained Dudy Mevorach, the Chief Curator of Archaeology at the Israel Museum. "But it is likely that he was an artist-potter, the son of an artist-potter, who adopted a name from the Greek mythological realm, following Daedalus, the infamous artist. It is interesting that he decided to add his origin from nearby Jerusalem to his family name."

Excavations have been taking place in this area for many years and have slowly exposed extensive portions of a potter's quarter, which produced vessels for Jerusalem for more than 300 years. The production was focused on manufacturing cooking vessels and, spread across the site, archaeologists have found kilns, pools for preparing clay, plastered water cisterns and work spaces for drying and storing the vessels. Alongside the area where the pottery was produced, a small village developed, whose economy was based on pottery production. The pots were sold in large quantities to the population in Jerusalem and its surrounding areas.

The archaeological excavations unearthed an entire pottery workshop in ancient Jerusalem. The archaeological excavations unearthed an entire pottery workshop in ancient Jerusalem. (Photo: Yoli Shwartz / IAA)

The discovery is just the latest in a string of archaeological discoveries in Israel of late. In recent months, archaeologists discovered the lost home of Jesus' apostles, found out that the Mediterranean may have been home to 16th-century pirates, and that colored fabrics were found in an ancient copper mine. To help store the influx of findings, a 350,000-square-foot complex is being built in Jerusalem. It will soon open to the public and be home to two million ancient artifacts.

For many, Israel is the epicenter of archaeological studies. "If you want to really study human evolution, you have to come to Israel," Israel Hershkovitz, one of the country's leading archaeologists, told From The Grapevine. "You have to start with Ethiopia in East Africa, where everything had began. But afterwards, if you want to know more about human expansion and about the evolution of our own species, you have to come to Israel because Israel is really the central part."

The new stone inscription will be on display at the Israel Museum beginning tomorrow.

The inscription will be on display for the public to see. The inscription will be on display for the public to see. (Photo: Yoli Shwartz / IAA)

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2,000-year-old inscription is earliest-ever spelling of Jerusalem
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