Betlehem antiquity ´confirmed´ by ancient seal find (BBC) British Broadcasting Company) 23 May 2012 Last updated at 20:24 GMT)
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Israeli archaeologists say they have discovered the first physical
evidence of Bethlehem´s ancient origins.
They say they found a small clay seal, dating from the 7th or 8th
Century BC, with the word Bethlehem written in ancient Hebrew on it.
It would be the earliest mention of the town´s existence outside the
pages of the old Testament.
The town, south of Jerusalem, features in the New Testament as the
birthplace of Jesus.
The archaeological dig has been controversial, because it is financed
by an organisation which advocates the creation of Jewish settlements
in Palestinian areas with ancient Hebrew links.
The tablet - which is the size of a small coin - was found near the
walls of Jerusalem´s Old City.
The archaeologists said its age appears to prove that the town
already had an ancient history by the time of Jesus´ birth.
Eli Shukron, from the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the tablet
sealed a shipment of silver or agricultural produce sent from
Bethlehem to Jerusalem.
"This is the first time the name Bethlehem appears outside the Bible
in an inscription from the First Temple period [1006 - 586 BC]", he
said. (© BBC MMXII 05/23/12)
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