The area encompassing modern-day Israel is rich with artifacts representing millennia of human history. First inhabited by ancient nomadic tribes some 200,000 years ago, this slice of the Fertile Crescent went on to host some of the most influential early western civilizations after we transitioned into settlement-building agricultural societies roughly 15,000 years ago. The city of Jerusalem specifically, a site central to many key narratives in the Semitic and Christian faiths, has existed for roughly 6,000 years.
As a consequence, exciting relics of the past are continually being discovered; often simply as soon as one starts digging somewhere new.
In the latest example of this omnipresent archaeology, a large stone bearing the earliest known written inscription mentioning Jerusalem with its full Hebrew spelling has been found near the city center. According to a press release sent to IFLScience by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) the block, which was once part of a carved column in a Roman-style structure, was unearthed near the International Convention Center last winter, during a routine excavation undertaken before a road construction project could begin.
The stone, which has been dated to the first century CE, near the end of the Second Temple Period in Jewish history, reads: Hanania Bar, Dodalos, M’Yerushalaim or Hananiah, son of Dodalos of Jerusalem.
Yuval Baruch, a Jerusalem specialist with the IAA, and Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University, who studied the inscription, note that First and Second Temple period inscriptions mentioning Jerusalem are quite rare.