Scientists say they have found the earliest known reference to Jerusalem — written in Hebrew as it’s spelled today — on a 2,000-year-old stone unearthed in Israel.
The inscription was found by workers digging near Binyanei Ha’Uma, where they were excavating to clear the way for a new road. The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Museum presented the limestone column drum at a news conference Tuesday.
The message, “Hananiah son of Dodalos of Jerusalem,” was etched into the column as part of a building in a Jewish potters village.
In Hebrew, Jerusalem was typically referred to as Shalem in ancient times. On the column, it’s spelled Yerushalayim. No older reference with that spelling has ever been found.
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“As a resident of Jerusalem, I am extremely excited to read this inscription, written 2,000 years ago, especially when I think that this inscription will be accessible to every child that can read and uses the same script used two millennia ago,” Israel Museum director Ido Bruno said.
The only other reference to Yerushalayim from that period of time was found on a coin.
“First and Second Temple period inscriptions mentioning Jerusalem are quite rare,” said Yuval Baruch, regional archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “But even more unique is the complete spelling of the name as we know it today, which usually appears in the shorthand version.”
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Danit Levy, who led the excavation, said the area was popular for pottery and cooking vessel production during Herod the Great’s reign.
The reference to Dudolos might be more of an homage to the Greek artist that shares the same name, scientists said.