A 2,700-year-old greeting from a man called ´Matanyahu´ (ISRAEL HAYOM) Yori Yalon and Israel Hayom Staff 05/02/12)
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Archaeologists find personal seal in remains of ancient building near
the Western Wall • Excavation director: "The name [on the seal]
Matanyahu, like the name Netanyahu, means giving to God.”
The Israel Antiquities Authority recently announced that a Hebrew
seal from the late First Temple period had been discovered on the
floor of the remains of an ancient building next to the Temple Mount
in Jerusalem´s Old City.
The remains were discovered below the base of an ancient drainage
channel, currently being excavated under Robinson´s Arch in the
Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, adjacent to the Western Wall. The
building is the closest structure to the First Temple found to date
The seal is made of semi-precious stone and is engraved with the name
of its owner, "Lematanyahu Ben Ho..." ("Belonging to Matanyahu Ben
Ho..."). The owner´s full name and the rest of the inscription have
eroded. Such seals, set in signet rings, were used during the First
Temple period to sign letters and identify their owners, similar to
the stamps that officials use today.
"The name Matanyahu, like the name Netanyahu, means giving to God,”
said Eli Shukron, excavation director on behalf of the Israel
Antiquities Authority. “These names are mentioned several times in
the Bible. They are typical of the names in the Kingdom of Judah in
the latter part of the First Temple period, from the end of the
eighth century B.C.E. until the destruction of the Temple in 586
Archaeologists in charge of the excavation had decided that all soil
removed from the site would be carefully sifted, including wet-
sifting and a thorough sorting of the remnants left in sieves.
Thousands of student visitors to the Tzurim Valley National Park,
located on the lower slope of the Mount of Olives, north-east of the
Old City, are responsible for the meticulous sorting. The tiny seal
was discovered during the sieving process.
"To find a seal from the First Temple period at the foot of the
Temple Mount walls is rare and very exciting," Shukron said. "This is
a tangible greeting of sorts from a man named Matanyahu who lived
here more than 2,700 years ago."
"We also found pottery shards characteristic of the period on the
floor in the ancient building beneath the base of the drainage
channel, as well as evidence of a stone collapse and fire," he said.
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