Advanced imaging reveals First Temple era inscription unnoticed for half a century

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A collage including the verso of Arad Ostracon No. 16. (A) color (RGB) image; (B) MS image corresponding to 890 nm; (C) manual drawing (facsimile) of the proposed reading. Hollow shapes represent conjectured characters. (Image courtesy Tel Aviv University)

Using advanced imagery technologies, researchers from Israel’s Tel Aviv University discovered an inscription on a shard of pottery dating from the First Temple era.

Using an interdisciplinary approach and Multispectral imaging, researchers from Tel Aviv University’s and Mathematics and Archeology departments were able to decipher the ”hidden” text.

The antiquity dates back to around 600 B.C.E. from Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the Kingdom of Judah.

Researchers were able to use this advanced image technology to uncover the 17 words and 50 characters on the back of the ostracon. The front of the ostracon reportedly includes a prayer to God, followed by text in the back.

The text is of correspondence between masters and military, with the name “Elyashiv” who is believed to have been the main author. One of the professors from the project described “Most of the ostraca unearthed at Arad are dated to a short time span during the last stage of the fortress’s history on the eve of the kingdom’s destruction in 586 BCE by Nebuchadnezzar… Many of these inscriptions are addressed to Elyashiv, the quartermaster of the fortress. They deal with the logistics of the outpost, such as the supply of flour, wine and oil to subordinate units.”

The shattered pottery was found 50 years ago in Arad. It was discovered in 1965, all the pieces in one place. It was recovered and has been in the Israel Museum for most of the past 50 years. There were reportedly 91 pieces found.

This article originally appeared on Behold Israel, June 15, 2017, and reposted with permission.