BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
    You are in: World: Middle East  
News Front Page
World
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent
-------------
Letter From America
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 03:41 GMT
'Biblical Temple' tablet found
The Western Wall and Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif
The tablet was reportedly found where the Temple stood
Israeli geologists say a purportedly ancient stone tablet detailing repair plans for the Jewish Temple of King Solomon is genuine, an Israeli newspaper has reported.

The fragment is said to date from the period of the Jewish King Joash, who ruled the area 2,800 years ago.

Our findings show that it is authentic

Shimon Ilani
Israeli Geological Institute
If officially authenticated, the find would be the first piece of physical evidence backing up biblical texts.

It could also intensify competing claims to the site in Jerusalem's Old City, where the stone is said to have been found, which go to the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Muslim clerics have denied any Jewish historical connection with the site, revered by Jews as the location of their biblical temples.

'Biblical' instructions

The blackened stone was unearthed during renovations by Muslim authorities on a mosque compound, known to Muslims as Haram as-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount, according to the Ha'aretz daily.

Tablet
The tablet is inscribed with ancient Phoenician
The incomplete sandstone tablet contains an inscription in ancient Phoenician in which a king tells priests to take "holy money... to buy quarry stones and timber and copper and labour to carry out the duty with the faith".

If the work is completed well, it adds, "the Lord will protect his people with blessing".

The words closely resemble descriptions in the biblical Book of Kings II and refer to King Joash.

The first Temple, Judaism's holiest shrine, was built by King Solomon and stood for 400 years before it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.

'Sensational' find

The tablet was examined by experts at Israel's Geological Institute.

"Our findings show that it is authentic," Ha'aretz quoted Shimon Ilani from the institute as saying.

Mr Ilani said carbon dating showed the tablet was inscribed around the 9th Century BC.

The stone was also said to have been found to contain microscopic gold flecks, which mean it may have existed in the Temple itself.

A top Israeli archaeologist, Gabriel Barkai, said that if the tablet was definitively authenticated, it would be a "sensational" discovery.

The director of the Islamic Trust that administers the mosque compound, however, denied that the tablet had been discovered there.


Key stories

Profiles

FACTFILE

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

27 Aug 02 | Middle East
04 Jul 02 | Middle East
20 Mar 02 | Middle East
28 Sep 00 | issues
28 Sep 00 | Mideast Peace Process
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes