In the footsteps of Jesus: 2,000-year-old trade receipt found in Jerusalem
An ancient 2,000-year-old receipt was discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) along the City of David’s Pilgrimage Road in Jerusalem, according to an announcement Wednesday.
A small fragment of a stone tablet was found with the name “Shimon” inscribed in Hebrew, reportedly accompanied by lines of letters and numbers suggesting a financial record was taken and indicating that money was involved in a transaction.
“At first glance, the names and numbers may not seem exciting, but to think that, just like today, receipts were also used in the past for commercial purposes, and that such a receipt has reached us, is a rare and gratifying find that allows a glimpse into everyday life in the holy city of Jerusalem,” the IAA said in a statement posted to Facebook.
“The everyday life of the inhabitants of Jerusalem who resided here 2,000 years ago is expressed in this simple object.”
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Four other similar Hebrew inscriptions dating to the Early Roman period, the era also known as the time of Jesus Christ, have also been found in Jerusalem and Bet Shemesh, according to Excavation Director Nahshon Szanton and Esther Eshel, an epigraphist and a professor with Bar-Ilan University.
But the most recent discovery is the first of its kind to have been found from this historic period within boundaries of the city of Jerusalem.
According to researchers, the inscription was carved using a sharp tool on a chalkstone slab, which was traditionally used as an ossuary or burial chest in Jerusalem and Judea between 37 B.C. to 70 A.D.
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“Ossuaries are generally found in graves outside the city, but their presence has also been documented inside the city, perhaps as a commodity sold in a local artisan’s workshop or store,” the statement noted.
The historic receipt was found in the lower city along the Pilgrimage Road, roughly one third of a mile in length and connecting the city gate from the south of the City of David to the Temple Mount.
This road “essentially served as the main thoroughfare of Jerusalem at the time,” the IAA said.
“The combination of the architectural and tangible space of the huge, paved stones of the square that were preserved at the site and the discovery of small finds in this area, such as the measuring table and the new inscription, allow us to reconstruct parts of the incredibly unique archeological puzzle in one of the vibrant centers that existed in ancient Jerusalem,” Szanton and Eshel said in a joint statement published in the journal Atiqot.
“Each piece of information, and certainly an ancient inscription, adds a new and fascinating dimension to the history of the city.”
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“The Pilgrimage Road, which is continually being uncovered in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem, is a flagship project of the Israel Antiquities Authority,” Eli Escusido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a press release.
“It is not a coincidence that the many discoveries which are being revealed in the excavation shed light on the centrality of this road even during the Second Temple period. With every discovery, our understanding of the area deepens, revealing this street’s pivotal role in the daily lives of Jerusalem’s inhabitants 2,000 years ago.”