A Unique Stamped Piece of Clay unearthed in the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem

January 3, 2018

 

The important find was discovered over the course of the IAA's excavations at the site, together with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. According to the excavator, Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, "the Bible mentions two governors of Jerusalem, and this finding reaffirms that such a position was actually held by someone in the city some 2,700 years ago."

 

 

This extraordinary find is a lump of clay, stamped and pre-fired. It measures 13 X 15 mm and is 2-3 mm thick. The upper part of the sealing depicts two figures facing each other, and the lower part holds an inscription in ancient Hebrew script.

The sealing was presented to the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, during his visit to Davidson's Center, near the Western Wall, last week. After the completion of the scientific research, the sealing will be on temporary exhibit in the mayor's office.


Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, excavator of the site located in the northwestern part of the western Wall Plaza, on behalf of the IAA,believes that "the sealing had been attached to an important transport and served as some sort of logo, or as a tiny souvenir, which was sent on behalf of the governor of the city." Dr. Weksler-Bdolah further suggests that "it is likely that one of the buildings in our excavation was the destination of this transport sent by the city governor. The finding of the sealing with this high-rank title, in addition to the large assemblage of actual seals found in the building in the past, supports the assumption that this area, located on the western slopes of the western hill of ancient Jerusalem, some 330 ft. west of the Temple Mount, was inhabited by highly ranked officials during the First Temple period." According to Dr. Weksler-Bdolah "this is the first time that such a sealing is found in an authorized excavation. It supports the biblical rendering of the existence of a governor of the city in Jerusalem 2,700 years ago."


Prof. Tallay Ornan of the Hebrew University, and Prof. Benjamin Sass of Tel Aviv University, studied the sealing and describe it thus
: "above a double line are two standing men, facing each other in a mirror-like manner. Their heads are depicted as large dots, lacking any details. The hands facing outward are dropped down, and the hands facing inward are raised Each of the figures is wearing a striped, knee-length garment. In the register beneath the double line is an inscription in ancient Hebrew: לשרער, with no spacing between the words and no definite article. It denotes לשר העיר, i.e., "belonging to the governor of the city." Prof. Ornan and Prof. Sass add, that "the title 'governor of the city' is known from the Bible and from extra-biblical documents, referring to an official appointed by the king. Governors of Jerusalem are mentioned twice in the Bible: in Kings B, Joshua is the governor of the city in the days of Hezekiah, and in Chronicles B, Maaseiahis the governor of the city in the days of Josiah.


Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem, when the find was presented to him said that "it is very overwhelming to receive greetings from First Temple-period Jerusalem. This shows that already 2,700 years ago, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was a strong and central city. Jerusalem is one of the most ancient capitals of the world, continually populated by the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years. Today we have the privilege to encounter another one of the long chain of persons and leaders that built and developed the city. We are grateful to be living in a city with such a magnificent past, and are obligated to ensure its strength for generations to come, as we daily do."


According to Dr. Yuval Baruch, archaeologist of the Jerusalem District in the IAA:"the outstanding significance of the finds brought upon the decision to conserve the First Temple-period building exposed in the Western Wall plaza excavations and open it to visitors". 

The William Davidson Foundation funded the construction of the Davidson Center and archaeological park, which is currently being completely renovated. The Foundation was founded in 2005 by William Davidson, noted businessman and philanthropist, and is a private family foundation that works to honor its founders' memory by preserving and enhancing the cultural, civic and economic vitality, in Southeast Michigan, Israel and the Jewish Community. 

The Davidson center and archaeological park offer a window into Jerusalem on the eve of its destruction by the Romans in 70 C.E. The site contains direct artifacts from the city's destruction as well as a significant archaeological remains from the Byzantine and early Arab periods. 

 

Photos & Video Credits: Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, Clara Amit, 

Yoli Schwartz, Yaniv Berman, 

Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

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