Artifacts from City of David excavations in Jerusalem reveal an interesting tidbit of information about the ancient postal system in Israel.

In an archaeological excavation being carried out at the “Spring House,” near the Gihon Spring in the City of David – in the valley east of Jerusalem’s Old City, soil was excavated which contained pottery shards that date to the Iron Age 2 (eighth century BCE).

“Whereas during the ninth century BCE, letters and goods were dispatched on behalf of their senders without names, by the eighth century BCE the clerks and merchants had already begun to add their names to the seals,” concluded the Antiquities Authority.

Wet sifting and sorting through the soil revealed three fragments of clay stamps used to seal letters or goods in ancient times. Two more stone seals were recently found as well. All of the objects bear Hebrew names and all date to the eighth century BCE.

Among them is a seal that was discovered intact, bearing the Hebrew name “Rephaihu (ben) Shalem”, who lived in the City of David in Jerusalem during this period. The seals were primarily used by public officials, according to Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who oversee the dig.

“In contrast with the large cluster of bullae (seals) that was found two years ago, in which all of its items contain graphic symbols (such as a boat or different animals – fish, lizards and birds) but are of an earlier date (end of the ninth-beginning of the eighth century BCE), the new items indicate that during the eighth century BCE the practice had changed and the clerks who used the seals began to add their own names to them.”

The Israel Antiquities Authority, together with the Nature and Parks Authority and the Elad Association, discovered the seals during ongoing intensive excavations being carried out on the eastern side of the Old City of Jerusalem.