For the first time ever, a 2,000-year-old stone inscription with the full name of Jerusalem was exposed in the area of the Jerusalem International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’Uma). The inscription will be presented to the general public on Wednesday at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, as part of a new exhibition of special finds from the capital.
The stone inscription dates back to the Second Temple period (1st century BCE) and marks Jerusalem’s name in Hebrew letters in full script, as it is known today. The inscription reads, in three lines: Hanania Bar / Dodalos / M’Yerushalaim (Hanania son of Dodalos from Jerusalem).
Also discovered: a first century CE coffin cover, with the Hebrew inscription “Son of the High Priest.” The cover was found in a village estate north of the city, and attests to the high stature and wealth of the priestly families in the Second Temple period.
Prof. Ido Bruno, Director of the Israel Museum, stated: “As a resident of Jerusalem, I am extremely excited to read [the Jerusalem] inscription, written 2,000 years ago, especially when I think that this inscription will be accessible to every child that can read and uses the same script used two millennia ago.”
Prof. Bruno stressed the importance of the cooperation between the IAA and the Israel Museum, which provides an opportunity for the public to “learn about the ancient cultures that developed in Israel over generations.”
Dr. Yuval Baruch, Jerusalem Regional Archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Prof. Ronny Reich of Haifa University, who read and studied the inscription, note that “First and Second Temple period inscriptions mentioning Jerusalem are quite rare. But even more unique is the complete spelling of the name as we know it today, which usually appears in the shorthand version.”
According to the two experts, “this is the only stone inscription of the Second Temple period known where the full spelling appears. This spelling is only known in one other instance, on a coin of the Great Revolt against the Romans (66-70 CE). The unusual spelling is also attested to in the Bible, where Jerusalem appears 660 times, with only 5 mentions – of a relatively late date – having the full spelling (Jeremiah 26:18, Esther 2:6, 2 Chronicles 25:1, 2 Chronicles 32: 9, and 2 Chronicles 25: 1).”
According to Dudy Mevorach, Chief Curator of Archaeology at the Israel Museum, “the archaeological context of the inscription does not allow us to determine where it was originally displayed, or who Hananiah son of Dodalos was. But it is likely that he was an artist-potter, the son of an artist-potter, who adopted a name from the Greek mythological realm, following Daedalus, the infamous artist. It is interesting that he decided to add his origin from nearby Jerusalem to his family name.”
In Greek mythology, Daedalus is a skillful craftsman and artist, creator of the Labyrinth and the father of Icarus, who flew into the sun.