Friday, October 22, 2010

Ancient Letter to Pharaoh Akenhaten Discovered

Archaeologists in Jerusalem have unearthed the most ancient written document ever found there. It is small piece of a letter thought to be addressed to the pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled Egypt during the 14th century B.C. The tiny clay fragment, which is about one square inch in size, was discovered outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, and is covered with cuneiform in ancient Akkadian. Archaeologists believe it is from the royal archives and is about 3,400 years old. The chip includes the words “you,” “you were,” “later,” “to do” and “them,” which 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. Akhenaten, who is the son of Amenhotep III and the father of Tutankhamun, was the first pharaoh to introduce monotheistic religion; he overthrew the pantheon of gods to worship the sun god Aton. “The tablet fragment in Jerusalem is most likely part of a message that would have been sent from the king of Jerusalem, possibly Abdi-Heba, back to Egypt. The find testifies the importance of Jerusalem as a major city in the Late Bronze Age, long before its conquest by King David," said Eilat Mazar, the Hebrew University archaeologist who carried the excavation. The oldest known text previously found in Jerusalem was a tablet unearthed in the Shiloah water tunnel in the same area, which celebrated the completion of the tunnel. It dated back to the eight century B.C., so the tiny clay fragment predates it by about 600 years.

by Kendall C. Period 8

1 comment:

Brian said...

I found it interesting that Jerusalem even back then was such a major influence on the ancient world that the oldest artifact in Jerusalem was writing from the Egyptians. The Egyptians writing from Jerusalem must have had much influence at the time since they were in contact with the royal family and had Egyptian scholars. It just shows how major cities were always in the sight of powerful leaders