Archaeologists in Jerusalem have unearthed the most ancient written document ever found in the Holy City – a tiny fragment of a letter thought to be addressed to Akhenaten, the “heretic” pharaoh who ruled Egypt during the 14th century B.C.
Discovered outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, the document consists of a minuscule clay fragment -- about one square inch -- covered with cuneiform script in ancient Akkadian.
Thought to date back some 3,400 years, the fragment appears to have been part of a tablet from the royal archives.
Indeed, the script on the chip, which includes the words “you,” “you were,” “later,” “to do” and “them,” is of a very high level, according to Wayne Horowitz, a scholar of Assyriology at the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology.
“It was written by a highly skilled scribe that in all likelihood prepared tablets for the royal household of the time,” said Horowitz, who deciphered the script with colleague Takayoshi Oshima of the University of Leipzig, Germany.
The fragment is believed to be a contemporary of the 380 tablets discovered in the 19th century at Amarna in Egypt in Akhenaten’s archives.