“Jerusalem” 2,000 Year-Old Stone Inscription Uncovered During Dig

An inscription dating from the time of the Second Temple (the time of Herod the Great and the ministry of Jesus, up to A.D. 70) has been uncovered in a salvage excavation by The Israel Antiquities Authority. According to an IAA news release the stone inscription is the first inscription discovered “mentioning Jerusalem written in Hebrew letters, and using the spelling as we know it today.”

The release says,

The inscription was found this last winter near Binyanei Ha’Uma [International Convention Center], during an excavation directed by the IAA’s Danit Levy, prior to the construction of a new road, undertaken and funded by Moriah – the Jerusalem Development Company and the Jerusalem Development Authority. During the excavations, the foundations of a Roman structure were exposed, which were supported by columns. The most important discovery was a stone column drum, reused in the Roman structure, upon which the Aramaic inscription appears, written in Hebrew letters typical of the Second Temple Period, around the time of Herod the Great’s reign. The inscription reads:

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. Photo: Yoli Shwartz, IAA

Danit Levy, Director of the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, beside the inscription as found in the field. Photo: Yoli Shwartz, IAA.

Among other reasons, I find this stone interesting because it reminds me of the post on a side street just inside Jaffa Gate. There is no indication that this was ever a column; it was just a post with an inscription mentioning the Tenth Roman Legion.

Close-up of Roman column mentioning 10th Roman legion. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Close-up of Roman column mentioning 10th Roman legion. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Murphy-O’Connor (The Holy Land) says the post honors the Legate of the emperor Septimius Severus, and was erected about A.D. 200. He gives the following reading of the inscription:

M(arco) Iunio Maximo leg(ato) Aug(ustorum) Leg(ionis) X Fr(etensis) — Antoninianae — C. Dom(itius) Serg(ius) str(ator) eius.

The tenth legion participated in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and remained in the city for about 200 years.

The recently discovered inscription is now on display in the Israel Museum. If you have visited the Israel Museum you will notice that the inscription has been placed beside the stone jars and others items from the so-called Herodian Mansion (Wohl Museum) in the Old City.

More details about this discovery may be found in the IAA Press Release here.

The unique inscription from Jerusalem, as displayed at the Israel Museum. Photo: Laura Lachman, Courtesy of the Israel Museum.

The unique inscription from Jerusalem, as displayed at the Israel Museum. Photo: Laura Lachman, Courtesy of the Israel Museum.

Check our index on the Index of articles on the Romans and the Ministry of Jesus here.

HT: Joseph Lauer and the various Israeli newspapers.

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