A three thousand year old inscription on a clay pottery fragment captures some of the countless bureaucratic efforts behind building an empire.
An ancient eight-letter inscription — dating back to King Solomon’s reign in Jerusalem some 3,000 years ago — was deciphered by a researcher from the University of Haifa, shedding light on the Solomonic kingdom’s impressively sophisticated administrative system.The ancients probably referred to it as camel piss.
[...]According to Galil, the first intact letter of the inscription was actually the last letter of a longer word that got cut off and represented the date. The middle portion refers to the type of wine in the jug, a cheap variety. The final letter was also cut off from a longer word, and according to Galil listed the location from which the wine was sent.
Galil estimated that the carving was written in the middle of the tenth century BCE, after King Solomon built the First Temple, his palaces, and the surrounding walls that unified the three areas of the city — the Ophel area, the city of David, and the Temple Mount. These tremendous infrastructural projects contributed, Galil said, to the sudden need for copious quantities of poor-quality wine.
The engraving found on a 3,000-year-old clay jug in Jerusalem
“The ability to write and store the wine in a large vessel designated for this purpose, while noting the type of wine, the date it was received, and the place it was sent from, attests to the existence of an organized administration that collected taxes, recruited laborers, brought them to Jerusalem, and took care to give them food and water,” Galil said.
“Scribes that could write administrative texts could also write literary and historiographic texts, and this has very important implications for the study of the Bible and understanding the history of Israel in the biblical period.”