Archaeologists unearth 2000-year-old Hebrew 'Jerusalem' inscription

The find is the first written evidence of the name "Jerusalem" found on a column drum dating from the Herodian period.

October 9, 2018 11:12
2 minute read.
2000 year old engraving found in an archeological dig in central Jerusalem reads "Hananya Bar Dudolo

2000 year old engraving found in an archeological dig in central Jerusalem reads "Hananya Bar Dudolos from Jerusalem". (photo credit: ESTI DESIOVOV/TPS)


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The earliest written inscription of the word Jerusalem written in Hebrew on a 2,000 year old column drum was unveiled on Tuesday at a press conference at The Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The limestone column drum that dates back to the Second Temple period, was discovered 10 months ago on an excavation site near the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.

The words: “Hanania son of Dudolos from Jerusalem” was etched on the column which was part of a building that stood in a Jewish potters village near the entrance of the Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago.

2000-year-old engraving found in an archeological dig in central Jerusalem (ESTI DESIOVOV/TPS)

Prior to this discovery, the city's name was written as Yerushalem or Shalem in Hebrew, this inscription was the first time the city was written as Yerushalayim in Hebrew characters.

The word Jerusalem was found on silver coins dating before the time of this column, but they were written in Aramaic.

Details of who Hanania was and why he etched his name and Jerusalem on the column are yet to be uncovered, however what can be confirmed is that he was Jewish and that he was connected to artisanship.

According to Dudy Mevorach, Chief Curator of Archaeology at the Israel Museum, "It is likely that he (Hanania) was an artisan or the son of an artisan.”

2000-year-old engraving found in an archeological dig in central Jerusalem (ESTI DESIOVOV/TPS)

Mevorach also noted that Dudolos was not his father and was more of an homage to the mythical Greek artist, Dudolos and shows how the Jews of that time were influenced by Greek culture under Alexander the Great.

It is also unclear whether this was a dedication for a public building or if Hanania was he showing his connection to his craft. These are questions that will help guide further excavations in this site.

Danit Levy, the head of this excavation explained the significance of this site: “This is the largest ancient pottery production site in the region of Jerusalem and in the latter part of the Second Temple period, particularly during Herod's reign, the production was focused on manufacturing cooking vessels.”

The location was based on its proximity to the relatively heavily populated city of Jerusalem and to raw materials such as stone, water and wood, all used by artisans at that production site.

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