Daily Israel Report

Biblical Era Royal Seals Found in Jerusalem Hills

Archaeologists have found royal seals dating back to the times of the First and Second Temples in the southern Jerusalem hills.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/23/2009, 9:50 PM

The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of royal seal impressions from the times of the First and Second Temples. The finds were made at a site in the southern Jerusalem hills.

The seal impressions are believed to date back to the time of King Hezekiah, who ruled over Judea in the late eighth century BCE. Four “LMLK”-type seals were found, as were seals from high-ranking administrators Ahimelech ben Amadyahu and Yehokhil ben Shahar.

One seal impression combined the LMLK-type seal and the seal of Yehokhil, an occurrence that archaeologists confirmed is highly unusual.

A later inscription, estimated to have been made 600 years after Hezekiah's reign, was found on a jar neck. The inscription is believed to date back to the early Hasmonean period.

The finds were made at an excavation in the village of Umm Tuba, located between the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Tzur Baher and Har Homa. The dig is operating under the supervision of Zubair Adawi, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority.

The excavation is centered in a large building dating back to the time of the First and Second Temples. The building includes several rooms and a courtyard with pits, agricultural installations, underground silos, a kiln and pottery vessels.

The name of the current Arab village, Umm Tuba, was derived from the Byzantine name, Metofa, which in turn is a variation on the Biblical name, Netofa. The ancient Judean village of Netofa is mentioned in the second book of book of Samuel (23:28-29) as the birthplace of two of King David's warriors.