The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) this week identified the third rare ancient Hebrew papyrus manuscript from the First Temple period around 2,700 years ago and released the fragments. It had been located in the United States by archaeologists and handed over to Israel by its owner.
The four-line document begins with “Send to Ishmael”, but the rest of the text is incomplete and illegible. “We don’t know what went where,” Joe Uziel of the Judean Desert Records Division told the Antiquities Authority.
At the time, papyrus was used for official documents, said Eitan Klein of the agency’s anti-corruption unit. The arid climate of the Judean Desert appears to have preserved the papyri, and there are only two confirmed papyri records from the First Temple period before this.
The discovery of the document is the result of chance. In 2018, agency researcher Shmuel Ahituv was commissioned to complete unfinished work on ancient Hebrew texts by the late researcher Ada Yardeni. .
Mr. Ahitub found a photo of this papyrus document which he did not know existed in the draft of the book. With the help of Mr. Crane and Mr. Yardeni’s daughter, I managed to contact researchers in the United States. It was the American researcher who introduced Yardeni to the owner of the document.
The owner, who lives in Montana, inherited the document from his late mother. The mother is believed to have been purchased or given away by the curator of the Palestinian Archaeological Museum in 1965. Originally found by Bedouins in a cave in the Judean Desert, it is likely that they sold it to an antiquities dealer in Bethlehem in the West Bank, which ended up in the hands of a conservative.
The antiquities agency invited the owner to Israel in 2019 and persuaded him that it would be better preserved in an Israeli facility, which the owner agreed to.
The documents were dated using radiocarbon dating. Uziel said the discovery “allows us to have a closer connection with people from the past.” (c) ATP