The bulla “(belonging) to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King,” discovered March 31st, 2019 .
(photo credit: ELIYAHU YANAI/CITY OF DAVID)
A 2,600-year-old seal from the Kingdom of Judah bearing the inscription “(belonging) to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King” was recently discovered in the City of David, according to an announcement Sunday.
The seal was deciphered by Dr. Anat Mendel-Geberovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Center for the Study of Ancient Jerusalem.
“Although it is not possible to determine with complete certainty that the Nathan-Melech who is mentioned in the Bible was in fact the owner of the stamp, it is impossible to ignore some of the details that link them together,” Mendel-Geberovich said.
The statement notes that the name Nathan-Melech appears once in the Hebrew Bible, in II Kings 23:11, where he is described as an official in the court of King Josiah.
The clay bulla (seal impression), along with other artifacts, was discovered inside a public building that was destroyed during the destruction of the First Temple and was uncovered during the archaeological excavation of the Givati parking lot in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem. The dig was conducted by archeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Tel Aviv University (TAU).
“Since many of the well-known bulla and stamps have not come from organized archaeological excavations but rather from the antiquities market, the discovery of these two artifacts in a clear archaeological context that can be dated is very exciting,” Prof. Yuval Gadot of TAU and Dr. Yiftah Shalev of the IAA said in a statement.
“They join the bullae and stamps bearing names written in ancient Hebrew script, which were discovered in the various excavations that have been conducted in the City of David until today. These artifacts attest to the highly developed system of administration in the Kingdom of Judah and add considerable information to our understanding of the economic status of Jerusalem and its administrative system during the First Temple period, as well as personal information about the king’s closest officials and administrators who lived and worked in the city.”
They added the discovery helps provide a window into the era.
“The discovery of a public building such as this, on the western slope of the City of David, provides a lot of information about the city’s structure during this period and the size of its administrative area,” they said. “The destruction of this building in the fire, apparently during the Babylonian conquest of the city in 586 BCE, strengthens our understanding of the intensity of the destruction in the city.”
A second artifact was also located during the dig. A stamp-seal was also in uncovered, made of “bluish agate stone, engraved with the name – ‘(belonging) to Ikar son of Matanyahu,’” according to the release.
Both artifacts will be presented in the Israel Exploration Journal, the archaeological journal published by the Israel Exploration Society.
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